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Samuel Rider: American Pilgrim

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall Nineteen years after the Mayflower’s 1620 arrival in America, Samuel Rider, and his family sailed from England to join the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony. By the time Samuel arrived in New England, Plymouth’s population was nearing 600 families. Over the next few decades, Rider would become a prominent name throughout the colony, with several of Samuel’s children and grandchildren marrying the descendants of Mayflower passengers. The early years of samuel rider Samuel Rider...

Johan Peter Steigerwald (Stierwalt): German Craftsman

  Coming to America Johan Peter Steigerwald, known as Peter, was born in 1730 in the Hesse region of Germany and grew up in Floersbach, about 35 miles east of Frankfurt. In 1749 Peter is named on a Hesse Lutheran Parish registry with his father, Johannes (John), as one of the emigrants who left for Pennsylvania. Much like the Swiss Anabaptist movement, the early 1700’s saw large numbers of German Lutherans moving to the English Colonies in search of religious freedom. Johannes...

A May Day Tradition: New York Moving Day

“Never knew the city in such a chaotic state. Every other house seems to be disgorging itself into the street; all the sidewalks are lumbered with bureaus and bedsteads to the utter destruction of their character as thoroughfares, and all the space between the sidewalks is occupied by long processions of carts and wagons and vehicles omnigenous laden with perilous piles of moveables.” -The Diary of Templeton Strong (Cover Photo: May Day in New York, Harper’s Magazine, 1850) Moving Day…packing...

Finding Jacob Ove: Researching Norwegian Ancestors

Jacob Ove (left) with an unidentified person (right) My memories of visiting Great-grandma and Grandpa Conlin while growing up are primarily connected to sweets — namely butterscotch candies and fig newtons. Grandma needed those candies to keep Grandpa sweet…or so she said. When I grew older and began genealogy research there were plenty of stories and information passed down about Grandpa Conlin’s Irish Family and Grandma Conlin’s mother’s Norwegian family, but when it came to her father, I only knew two things:...

John Joseph “JJ” Carroll: Overcoming the Odds

(Illustration above: New York City in 1851)  “What place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps?…This is the place; these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth…See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl...

Mathew Conlan: Death by Gravel?

La Grande Famine, Illustrated in London News by Smyth, 1847. May they feel the warmth of a tear! May they hear the piper’s lament, May they know we, the survivors, keep vigil. irish tenant farmers Mathew Conlan was born in 1795 in the North Connaught region of Ireland to John and Anna Conlan, poor farmers near the town of Sligo. Similar to the Husmann in Norway, Irish tenant farmers rented land from wealthy landowners, primarily English and Scottish supporters of Elizabeth...

Gregoire Deblois: Our First Gregoire in the New World

View of Chateau-Richer and the Île d’ Orléans, Québec (1787) by Thomas Davies french roots Gregoire Deblois was born in the small village of Champagne-Mouton, France to Francois Deblois and Marguerite Papelong. The year of his birth, 1632, brought welcome peace after decades of tension between the Huguenots (French Protestants) and Catholic King Louis XIII, which culminated in the Siege of La Rochelle, a nearby shipping port. french Dit Names As the progenitor of our Gregoire family in North America,...

Laughlin McLaren and Celia Ann Losh: A Short Valentine Story

Laughlin McLaren was born in Greenock, Scotland and immigrated to America around 1849 with his family.  It was a mysterious dream that resulted in meeting his wife, Celia Ann Losh. Laughlin and Celia’s nephew, Earl Clinton Burnside, shared the story of how they met and a bit about their lives. According to Earl, after losing a pair of horses, Kate (Celia’s sister) had a dream about where the horses would be. In her dream, she walked along Cedar Creek until she came...

George Gordon: Naming Historic Georgetown

City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard by George Cooke, 1833 Visitors to Washington, D.C. today appreciate historic Georgetown for its cobblestone sidewalks, great food, walkable shopping and grand homes. As part of our capital city, it would be easy to assume that Georgetown was named in honor our first President, George Washington, but that is likely not the case since he was a young boy when Georgetown was established. There are a few theories about how the city...

Eliza (Sherlock) Duffy: A Young Mothers Determination

“In Heaven a noble work was done when God gave man a Mother”. -old Irish proverb Stories of the valor of frontier men during America’s colonization are fairly common. However, the achievements of frontier women are seldom heard. As a businesswoman and mother, Eliza Duffy’s accomplishments, during a time when a woman’s identity was derived entirely through their spouse, were extraordinary. coming to America Elizabeth “Eliza” Sherlock, was born April 27, 1821, to Thomas and Hannorah (White) Sherlock of Kings...