First Families of Pennsylvania

Well it finally happened.  It was a long time coming, lots of research, but I finally made it into First Families of Pennsylvania through the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.  It is a wonderful program that honors the Pennsylvania ancestors and preserves your research.  There are 3 levels of participation:  Colony and Commonwealth: 1638-1790; Keystone and Cornerstone:  1791-1865; and Pennsylvania Proud:  1866-1900.  I was awarded a Colony and Commonwealth certificate for proving my 8th great grandmother, Sarah Shoemaker, came to Philadelphia in 1686, with her 7 children and bought 200 acres of land in Cheltenham area.  She must have been a very hardy soul.  Her son, George married Sarah Wall, who inherited a house from her grandfather, Richard Wall.  The Wall house still stands in Elkins Park, PA and is owned by Cheltenham Township.  You can tour the house on Sundays or just relax in their lawn any day.

What have you done lately to preserve your history?

18th Century Market Fair at Fort Frederick

Today a friend and I went to Big Pool, MD for the 17th annual Market Fair at Fort Frederick State Park.  What a wonderful time.  If you want to get back to the 18th century living, you shouldn’t miss this next year.  Everything has to be authentic.  No visible signs of this century.  The porta potties are behind a burlap wall so you can’t see them.  Credit card machines are out of sight.

Lots of people are in 18th century dress, buying 18th century clothing or dreaming of that next purchase.  The beautiful gowns, hats, shoes, etc for the women is so fun, I almost left reason behind and purchased a beautiful silk gown.  But where would I wear it?  I had a gown made for the PSSDAR State Conference Banquet, but it wasn’t truly authentic.  I had a zipper put in so I could dress myself at the banquet, since I didn’t have my trusty, Pal Al with me.

The men had even more to chose from.  They had wonderful handmade shoes, hats, coats, stockings, and guns.  I was surprised how much the men got into dressing as men of yore.  They had wonderful costumes from kilts to waistcoats and buckskins.  There was even a VERY authentic Native American walking about.

There were almost 150 vendors with everything you could want for your 18th century outfit or home.  Because this is a juried show, you can count on the authenticity of everything.  The seamstresses and taylors have studied for a long time to provide good quality products.

Can you tell I enjoyed myself?  Despite the threat of rain, the turn out was phenomenal.  Fort Frederick is a wonderful place to visit when there isn’t a Market Fair, they have plenty of activities coming up this summer.  Woodmont Open House May 14 & Sept 10, Colonial Children’s Day June 4th, Artillery Programs, French and Indian War Muster Aug. 27-28 and a ghost walk on Oct. 22nd.


Genealogy Consultant Course at NSDAR

I took the Genealogy Consultant course at NSDAR last week.  What a way to get rejuvenated in genealogy.  Much of it was aimed at completing NSDAR applications, but everyone learned a thing or two about doing research and where to look.  There are so many sites available for free that contain valuable information about our ancestors.

When working on a Revolutionary War ancestor for DAR, service and location is key.  If they were in the militia in Cumberland County, but they lived in Chester County, you probably have the wrong soldier.  Militia groups were formed locally.  It is not unheard of that they may have joined somewhere else, but doubtful.

NSDAR has put the Genealogy Research System (GRS) on the public site at  If you think you know of an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War or provided civil or patriotic service you may be eligible to join this lineage society.

Revolutionary War Patriot Homes in Pennsylvania

The Harrisburg Chapter DAR Historic Preservation Committee started a project to identify and document Revolutionary War Patriot Homes in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  It is an ambitious project, but very interesting to see how many homes that were built in late 1700s or early 1800s are still standing and many still occupied.  Another Chapter asked me to do a talk on this project and so my search began in other counties outside of Dauphin.  It doesn’t take too much searching to find these homes, thanks to the folks who preserve them, put them on the National Registry of Historic Places or those folks so long ago who did an Historic American Building Survey (HABS).

Working on this project has taught me so much about the history of the area.  Here is something for you to look up — “Conway Cabal”.  I learned a lot about the Revolutionary era military and people in general.  They had petty little squabbles in Congress in the 1770s just like they do today, but this country remains strong despite it all.

Who Do You Think You Are?

For those of you who are following WDYTYA on Fridays, this past week was different from the others.  Kim Cattrall was tracing her long, lost grandfather and found out he was quite the scoundral.  This is a far cry from the wonderful, wonderful lives of most of the other people researched.  I think it gives you an idea that you may not always find you are related to the Queen of England or high society, but there is an occasional horse thief or two that you should be prepared to find.  That’s what makes genealogy so interesting.  It is also something to think about ahead of time in how you are going to handle the information you find.  Would your grandmother be horrified if this got out?  Kim’s mother and aunts initially didn’t want to contact  the other family involved, but after the filming did contact them.

Watch for this week’s episode of WDYTYA on NBC.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Another good week on Who Do You Think You Are?  This week was Rosie O’Donnell, last week Tim McGraw and the first week was Vanessa Williams.  All were well researched by the best in the industry.  It will give you an idea it is very easy, but it took a lot of researchers and alot of hours.  Don’t let that deter you.  There are lots of professional researchers who are willing to help, but be humble.  It took them many years to learn what they know. Listen to their advice and don’t try to tell them their business.

Try out and pick up a book on genealogy, or better still, take a course in genealogy.  Ancestry and FamilySearch are two of the best websites.  Write everything down and cite your sources.

Beardsley/Beardslee Family Reunions

This week I’m working on my Beardsley family and found a distant cousin.  Kevin helped me to connect my family to my elementary school best friend, Diane.  I’m beginning to think I’m related to all of my school buddies from Bradford County, PA.

I’m looking for a Beardsley who may have fought in the Revolutionary War (on our side) to get another supplemental in the DAR.  The Beardsleys I’m looking at are the family of my gr., gr., gr., gr. grandmother Ruth Beardsley who married Ziba Morse.  Her father was William, who was born in the middle of the Revolutionary War (1777) so couldn’t have joined the fray.  His father, Jesse, was born 1737, so could have been in the war.  This will take a bit more research to connect the whole way back to William Beardsley who immigrated here in 1625. Until then, I’ll just keep collecting cousins and hope to find more Beardsley/Beardslee’s to share research.  If you have information to share, please reply to my blog.

Duart Name Official

I’m working with the Duart family again and taking a course in One-Name study to improve my website to help the Duarts around the world locate others researching the same name.

The one big thing that my research and website have done so far, is to get Duart included in the Septs of the Clan Maclean.  When we went to the Clan Maclean gathering on the Isle of Mull in 2007, I inquired with the researchers of the Clan about proving all of this.  Their response was that it would be hard to prove otherwise, so go with it.  That doesn’t deter me from trying.  I might even prove them wrong and find some information that explains the Duart Sept.  A little help from my friends would be appreciated.

Clan Maclean Centenary International Gathering

Well folks, it has been 100 years since Sir Fitzroy MacLean bought and restored Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.  It lay in ruin for over a hundred years before that and probably was built in the 13th century.  In 2012 the Clan Maclean will hold an international gathering of Macleans, Duarts and all the septs that incompasses.  You will have to go on line to their website   to see who is a member sept.

The 2012 Clan Maclean Centenary International Gathering will take place on the Isle of Mull Jun 18-24.  If you want to have a great time with “the clan”, this is the time to visit.  Al and I went to the last gathering in 2007.  We didn’t have a clue what we were getting into, but had such a wonderful time, I’m ready to go back. You might want to get a kilt and learn some dances for the Grand Dance on Saturday night.

Pack you kilt, scabbard and warm coat and head to Mull (it’s an island after all and gets very cold).  We flew into Glasgow, rented a car then drove to Oban.  We took the ferry to Craignure on Mull and drove to Tobermory where many of the events took place.  Some events were held at Duart Castle.  Because it was a “family” thing, we had the run of the Castle on the public side.  Sir Fitzroy Maclean lives on the other half.  What a trip!

If you want to see the inside of the castle, watch “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  The movie was filmed inside the castle.

We got to meet many clansmen from all over the World.  I still get occasional emails from some.  If you join the Clan Maclean Heritage Trust, you may also get invited to a private party held at one of the Maclean private residences.  That in itself was worth the trip.  The Maclean’s of Duart and Lochbuie owned many castles in the “good ole” days.  Some are “crumbledowns” and some are fully restored.  A journey to Urqhart Castle (another family property), will help you understand how truly large they were.  Urqhart is a crumbledown, for the most part, but if you walk around, you start feeling like you’ve been here before in some other life and could really enjoy living in a castle, if it had central heating.

You will not be sorry for going to this gathering.  It certainly gives you a real sense of family when everyone is dressed in our family tartans.  Happy Trails

Revolutionary War Patriot Homes

Our local DAR Chapter has been working on documenting Revolutionary War Patriot Homes that are still in existence in Dauphin Co., PA.  We have made a good start, but have opened up to the remainder of the State of Pennsylvania to add additional homes that have been found.  I have received a few names and am now putting together a talk on some of these homes.  The purpose is to keep them preserved for future generations.

If you go on line at HABS or the National Registry of Historic Places you will find information about some of these homes.  With that and copies of the deeds, you can put together quite an interesting story.  You can also find some disturbing news, such as the very old, Mendenhall Inn was demolished in 2002 and replaced with a new building.  This is the kind of thing we want to keep from happening to these historic old homes.  By making people aware of the age and history of these homes, we hope to help preserve them.

If you know of any old homes that were occupied in the 1700 or early 1800s by a Revolutionary War veteran, let me know.  We would love to document and preserve their history.