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Article Published July 14, 2001

Sandra Devlin EAST COAST KIN (Canada)
By: Sandra Devlin, Biography & Archived Articles

BOOK REVIEW - Important Stief (Steeves) book is ready

Move over Esther Clark Wright, Les Bowser’s much-anticipated book is finally in print.

I can say without reservation that The Search for Heinrich Stief, A Genealogist on the Loose has been worth the wait.

Les, you might remember, is the sleuth who nearly four years ago cracked the puzzle of origin that had baffled Steeves historians for many decades -- when he came upon the marriage certificate and other 18th Century documentation for Heinrich Stief and Regina Stahleker in Munsingen, Germany.

If you are a Steeves descendant, you already recognize the name and fame of the late Dr. Wright, the imminent researcher who in 1942 discovered the original pre-settlement document with 10 significant signatures, called the Articles of Agreement signed in Pennsylvania in 1766. That document and its discovery changed the tide of the history of Albert and Westmorland County, N.B. forever. Dr. Wright was also the author of the long out-of-print, bible of the flock, The Steeves Descendants printed in 1967.

If you have a Steeves in your family tree, they are 99.9 per cent likely to trace to the eight sons of Heinrich and Regina, early settlers of the Petitcodiac River area of what would become and is New Brunswick today.

Les, my long-time acquaintance, fellow genealogy buff and distant cousin has produced a consequential volume, full of intriguing new facts about, not just about the Steeves (Stief) family, but others of the original Pennsylvania-German settlers on the Petitcodiac ... Lutz, Trites, Somers, Ricker, Wortman and Jones families.

Anyone with the even slightest interest in the history of the Pennsylvania-German settlers will be astounded by Les’ newest discovery about the Jones family mentioned in the concluding chapters. The fodder for another book, we can only hope.

Steeves descendants today number in the hundreds of thousands and are dispersed nationwide from Corner Brook, Nfld. to Coquitlam, B.C. and worldwide from China to Chile.

That phenomenal breakthrough four years ago is the pivotal point of Les’ 269-page book, but it is by far and away not the only startling new evidence unearthed by Les in his relentless search for historic relevance and context.

You may also remember Les as having discovered an obscure map of 1767 Monckton Township drawn by Anthony Wayne, whose name deserves higher recognition in the saga than it had previously known.

We have often heard of the eight Steeves sons, but do you know there were also two daughters? And, that one of Heinrich’s brothers also left Germany for the New World? Who were Heinrich’s parents and grandparents? What was Heinrich Stief connection to the famed Benjamin Franklin?

These and a few dozen other questions are answered in Les’ book.

Thirty-two pages of endnotes, 14 pages of bibliography and 16 pages for four appendices all back up the well-written text and trace a journey of discovery that will obviously keep going because, as with every good piece of solid research, as many questions are posed as are answered.

CLICK HERE for more information about this book

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