Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gather Around the Fire

I was thinking today about genealogy blogging. Could the most boring thing in the world be reading someone else's family history and struggle to complete their family trees? Or do people like hearing all the family stories, folksy anecdotes, and puzzling pasts?

Why am I writing this stuff anyway? To fill some inner need within myself and sort it all into some linear form to follow? I don't really know. So I thought about it all... I think about the blogs I read. I find some writers who have poured themselves into relaying hidden pasts and unearthed skeletons to display to the world and you know what? I love it. And sometimes when I find a story I really love, I read it aloud to my husband around the fire at night. And you know what? He loves it too. So, there must be something to this... We can't be that different. Can we? So gather around the fire, people. There are stories to be told.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seeing the Branches for the Trees

I am submitting this for my Thankful Thursday post in gratitude to the Library and Archives of Canada for sending me the book, A Part of the Family of Ruttan (1590-1986), by Henry N. Ruttan, U.E.  This book was a tremendous source for information to complete documentation to my ancestor, Capt Peter Ruttan, 1742.  This post is first in a multi-part series. Thank you!

What a trip it's been finding ancestors and connecting them to historic events! This week's path has taken me to a break out of clouds and fog, into bright light, sky, sun and vistas I never thought I would see! But the path has been long and exhausting, with rocks, boulders, loose gravel, fallen trees, broken branches, dark canopies, brambles and thickets of narrow, rarely followed trails that nearly dropped me off cliffs!  I had to stop and sit on stumps more than a few times to gain my strength. It was getting dark, and my light was fading... I needed a new route.

I had clung to a glimmering hope that I was related to Capt Peter Ruttan (1742), the Ruttan who led those who were loyal to the Crown out of New York to the area later know as Adolphustown, Ontario.  If a person had the surname Ruttan, born in Peterborough, Ontario in the late 1800's, as my grandfather did, the chances are probable that person was a part of the early Ruttan (Rutan, Rattan) Loyalist families.  So I set out to learn where my grandfather fit in to this maze and tangled web of branches.

I started with only a few facts... My grandfather's father was David married to Emma Hardy and their marriage was clearly documented. I knew that his father's name was David, married to an Elizabeth. But then the trail went cold.  It went nowhere, and everywhere. In circles...with too many Davids, Emmas, Emilys, Elizabeths, dates didn't align... were there generations missing?  It seemed hopeless.  Nothing made any sense.

Then one day I was doing searches in Google books... I came across books about the Ruttans, most of which I would have to travel to Ontario to view at some historical society library. I decided I would try an inter-loan library service and ordered 5 or 6 books, just to see what was really available.  After receiving several notices that "this book is not available for loan", I was pleasantly surprised to receive a book from the Library and Archives of Canada:  A Part of the Family of Ruttan 1590 - 1986, by Henry N. Ruttan, U.E.!  I am still amazed at a library loan system that would send a book, not only 4,500 miles, but from another country!  Now that is cool!

I jumped right into the index and found the long list of Davids (40 of them!) and started sifting through the probable years to find one married to Elizabeth.  In several pages of reading I found: David (1820), son of Joseph Brant Ruttan (1783), married Elizabeth Content Griffis.  Joseph Brant's father: Peter Ruttan (1742).

All this proved nothing to tie this to my grandfather... My journey had just begun.  And like a fresh cut blaze on a tree, I had found a route to follow.

Next... Holding My Breath...Making the Connections