Monday, August 18, 2014

Oh Canada!

It is so strange that here in Northwest Ohio we are so close to the Canadian border,  but seldom do any of us take into consideration that our roots could be in Canada. Those of us who live in Lucas County and have boats on Lake Erie are well aware that there is a border out there in the middle of the lake. It used to be that all you needed to have on board was your drivers license or birth certificate -- just something to prove you are a United States Citizen.

When I was in high school we traveled back and forth across the bridge or through the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor all the time. No big deal. When we all grew up and got married we piled everyone into a limo and headed to Windsor for bachelorette and bachelor parties.

And that is the way it was until September 11, 2001  Then everything changed. We still have a lot of Canadian money in our pockets but now we need a passport to head across the bridge or the lake to Canada.

So why do we think that none of our ancestors ever freely crossed the Canadian border like we used to do? Ask anyone around here if they think that any of their ancestors ever came here from Canada and the answer will usually be "no". Ask anyone from around here if they know anything about Canadian genealogy research and the answer will be a resounding "no".

Lucas County, Ohio, USA, borders on Essex County, Ontario, Canada!! Hello??!!!

So I was so excited when I found out that Who Do You Think You Are was going to deal with Canadian research. Rachel McAdams and her sister, Kayleen,  have ancestors who came to America from England and settled on land in northern New York. They were Loyalists. Loyal to the Crown of England.

There were two sides to the American Revolution and sometimes we tend to forget this when we go back into the 1700's to research our ancestors.Eventually Rachel's ancestors fled to Canada where they stayed even though they were originally living in the 13 Colonies. I can only assume that at one time they were very confident that England would defeat the rebels. After all, England was a superpower! How hard it must have been for those families to accept defeat. To lose their land and all they had worked for in the new world!

I hate to admit that I am one of those who know nothing about Canadian research, but if you think that you have Canadian roots, this episode of WDYTYA is worth your viewing time. Probably more than once because there is so much information here.

Don't ever assume anything in genealogy. It is so easy to view your ancestors through your eyes, your values, your politics, your lifestyle! Remember all of your ancestor's traits have combined to make you what you are today. Research your family with one thing in mind - to find out who you think you really are.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Help! We are living in the 1800's!!

My granddaughter woke me up this morning with the announcement that we have a water emergency. Do not use any city water until further notice. I, of course, responded immediately by throwing the covers over my head and going back to sleep! Problem solved -- until I realized that I couldn't sleep and I had to face reality.

First thought was to brush my teeth, shower, get dressed and head to Kroger for 20 cases of bottled water. Wrong. Cannot drink the water, wash dishes, shower (absolutely no skin contact with the water), do laundry. Nothing. Bring on the Hydroapocalypse!

So my granddaughter and I just sat in the living room and stared at each other. Apparently the pioneer spirit does not pass from generation to generation in our family! Since we are creatures of habit, we found that our hands were trying to get water out of the faucets. So the first thing we did was cover all our faucets with plastic bags. That rendered them useless. The faucets, not the plastic bags.

Brushing out teeth with bottled water was relatively simple but the thought of washing my face with expensive bottled water didn't fly. And hydrating my dog with designer water sounded so "House Wives of Wherever." Then I remembered the water from the hose in the back yard is from a well. That became our source of water for the next three days.

The pioneer spirit that I inherited from my ancestors finally rose to the surface. It started out quite simply at first but by sunset, we were rocking! We were bringing water from the well into the kitchen. I poured it, as we needed it, into an old fashioned-looking bowl in the sink. Who needs city water when you can just go out to the well. Ok, maybe not out to the well, but to the hose outside the back door. Close enough. 

This whole situation which is probably going to go on for another 24 hours has given me a whole new outlook on the role that water plays in our everyday lives. And I can now see how important it was in our ancestor's lives. A river, a stream, a creek, a lake, an ocean. These sources of water determined where our ancestors set up camp.

Water could be a way to travel to a new world. A way to escape persecution. 
It could be a way to transport tobacco from Cincinnati to New Orleans. 

Water could determine where a pioneer family settled. It determined where large cities and small towns were located. 

And, of course, don't forget if you add some limestone to the sparking water of that mountain creek, you've got moonshine.

Right now the people who live in the Northwest Ohio/Lower Michigan area have received a wake-up call. We took for granted that Lake Erie was an unlimited source of fresh water and all we had to do was reposition a faucet in order for water to run freely into our homes. 

That can change overnight. And, we have all found out that it doesn't hurt to have a couple cases of water stored in the garage in case of emergency. Another thing I personally learned is that I can use this well water for something beside watering flowers. I can use it for cleaning. I can keep a bowl of well water in the kitchen sink to rinse dishes, dish cloths. My dog can drink it. In other words I have found a way to save $$ on my water bill. Every little bit helps.

So it wasn't such a bad experience after all. It was a learning experience.