Do you ever search for books related to places where your family settled, hoping to glean new clues about their lives? Many researchers seem to only look for online trees, laden with untold numbers of errors, and lack the desire to do any original research of their own.
Kudos to those of you who spend time searching for clues and then diligently verifying sources before adding new ancestors to your tree.
However, I believe that most who actually do original research might overlook non-traditional or less common websites during the hunt. Among my favorite finds are books written about very specific locales – towns, villages or very complete tomes about cities. Learning about life in the time period in which my family lived there, as well as life before and much later than their arrival, provides a way to flesh out lives to more than an existence of names on paper.
Thanks to the multitude of search engines and website at our disposal today, it is possible to find rarer works that might have terrific information in them.
We all know the biggie, Google, but I often use several other websites. HathiTrust and WorldCat have extensive catalogs of titles. Amazon is great for seeking out book titles even if you aren’t planning to purchase.
There is one other website that I love. AbeBooks is a bookseller that I discovered when I was looking for less expensive textbooks for my son’s college classes.
Here’s another hint – if you are looking to buy a book, check AbeBooks along with Amazon. I have found more than one book listed for sale at an outrageous price, like hundreds of dollars, on Amazon. I checked AbeBooks and found a copy in good condition for $30.
Here are two examples of wonderful books I’ve found using “Miramichi” as my search term:
I have Loyalist ancestors who settled first on the Gaspé in Chaleur Bay, Quebec, and on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada. I found two gems, one about the history of each place.
Treasure Trove in the Gaspé and the Baie des Chaleurs by Margaret Grant Macwhirter, a classic reprint that I found for $4.00, that taught me much about the early history of the region. My family was there in 1783 and 1784 and perhaps stayed a few more years before relocating to the Miramichi River area in Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada.
Part I – Gaspé
Part II – The Baie des Chaleurs: Bonaventure
Part III – The Baie des Chaleurs: Restigouche
Part IV – The Baie des Chaleurs: Gloucester
Part V – Treasure by Sea and Land
Part VI – Pioneer Days on the Gaspé Coast
Part VII – Driving the Mail
Part VIII – the Indian Remnant
Part IX – Treasure Seeking in Gaspé
Biographical details are found in:
There is also a two page list of illustrations.
I now know much more than I did about the Gaspé area of Quebec.
I have to admit I already knew about this second book, but had I not, my search for “Miramichi” brought it up.
Bill MacKinnon has written a terrifically detailed book about the Loyalist settlers in Ludlow and Blissfield. My Astles lived in Ludlow, which even today only has about 1,500 residents.
Preface to This Edition
One – In the Beginning
Two – The Founders
Three – All in the Family
Four – Go West, Young Man
Six appendices conclude the book.
My Astle family is part of the early Miramichi history and they are included in Over the Portage. Plus, talk about figuring out our ancestors’ FAN (friends, associates, neighbors) – since the Astles were among the original Loyalist settlers, this book is a complete accounting of their FAN club. 🙂 I couldn’t ask for more.
Nowadays, I find that someone somewhere has published a book about almost every nook and cranny where my ancestors lived. I hope I’ve convinced you that there is much value in taking some time to search out locality books.
If you’ve come across gems that tie into your own family research, please leave a comment and share.