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The World is a Stage

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One thing I like about Aquafit at the Complex is the socializing. We have ladies of every age and from every walk of life, so one thing we never lack is something to talk about and trust me we can talk.

This past weekend while research the Pioneer Graveyard families I had a genealogical ‘tadaaa’ moment. I knew just who to talk to about it too, my friend Rose. Rose is a long time genealogical researcher of her own family and seems to have relatives not only around the world but in high places. She is related to four US presidents and movie stars! Not me, the only famous connection I have is to Laura Secord and I can’t even understand how (Laura is my paternal grandfather of husband of aunt of wife of 3rd great grand uncle’s child James).

Well, I was doing some more research on the Flewelling Family in the Pioneer Graveyard when a surname cropped up that sounded familiar. But let me tell you about the family and how I researched them. I had taken the tombstone information of Elizabeth Flewelling which states she is “wife of Abel Flewelling died May 24, 1868, 55 days 6 months.  Married women are always difficult, especially in finding their maiden names. The census back in the 1850s and 60s really didn’t have a lot of information in them and too often all you can find is information on the husband, but that is where I started.

Husband, Abel’s family, were United Empire Loyalists who camp up from New York State to New Brunswick. His father, John D. Flewelling married Mary Watts and started having their 10 children. It seems that John, and Mary, started their trek across Canada about 1811 with a parcel of little kids including Abel. This was no easy trip for there were few roads, virtually no amenities and mouths to feed. Eight years later we find them in Nelson Twp, Halton Co. Ontario (Burlington area) and amazingly still with 10 children. Many of these children stayed and settled there.

Abel met Elizabeth Douglass whose family also came up from the States but to Ontario. They married and in 1827 they had Elizabeth Caroline Flewelling, the first of their 16 children.  Can you imagine having 16 children? No electricity, no gas stoves, no washing machines? Of course you needed all the help you could get on the farm and in the house but still… 16 children?

Their fourth child, Agnes Nancy Flewelling’s birth registration says Dereham Twp Oxford, so we know the family is now here in our township, somewhere. Unfortunately the exact location of their farm has not yet been pinpointed as there were not a lot of records being kept back then.

Dereham was still pretty primitive back then; in fact we hadn’t yet renamed Dereham Forge to Tillsonburg yet. Now settled, Abel and Elizabeth finish having the rest of their kids, the last one arriving a few months too late to be recorded on our first census in 1851. Agnes Nancy got marry that same year to Alfred Courtney and lived in the Culloden area.

Ten years later in the 1861 census, Abel and family are now listed as living in North Oxford which then puts them up past the Salford to Ingersoll area. That same year disaster struck and father Abel died and is said to be buried in Ingersoll. Seven years later in 1868 Elizabeth Douglass Flewelling died and was buried in our cemetery. It is a shame they were not buried together.

The eldest daughter, Elizabeth Caroline, married David S. French and they moved to Oxford County with her family and had their first child, Lucy A. French in 1848. Now Lucy married Walter Burtch. Burtch! That was my genealogical tadaa moment. I am a descendant, through my mother, of the Burtch family that was also United Empire Loyalist. They came up and settled on the Grand River at Burtch Landing, today known as Newport. Then a branch moved to settle and Zachariah Burtch actually built the first home in Woodstock.

So I frantically got out my family genealogy and set down to figure if I was related to Walter. I was trying not to get too excited, after all what are the chances that I, growing up in Windsor, could be related to someone in Tillsonburg’s Pioneer Graveyard.

So I followed Walter’s line back and it turns out that Zachariah was his great-grandfather and then we followed it back to 1719 when it merged into my line of the Burtches. Now trust me, I did not know how to work out the relationship, but I did find out that Elizabeth Douglass Flewelling is my maternal grandmother of wife of 3rd cousin 3x removed.

Confusing, right? But all it really means is that beside the odds I really am related to someone in the Pioneer Graveyard. Are you?

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