Book Lovers Day–23 April 2010–and Genealogy Optimism!

Today is Book Lovers Day.  And I visited a new public library–with familiar posters about reading mounted in all the hallways and in the reading areas showing young movie actors and current music idols telling us to read.  Not reading as they used to do, but ocean surfing, riding horses, singing on the stage, and quoted:  “Read.”

On the 23rd of April, William Shakespeare was born and died.  And on the very same day, Cervantes who gave us Don Quixote, also died.  These two great writers knew each other.  And their stories are re-lived in movies and television and book plots.

Finding time to read for pleasure or for profit today takes much ingenuity as you juggle and multi-task and re-schedule to get it all done.  Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s I-PAD pre-loaded with thousands of digital books of your choosing–or chosen for you for that matter–now are carried, although they may not be read as much you would like.

I carry a Sherlock Holmes mystery in my purse, snatching a few minutes here or there to read a few paragraphs.  Somehow I think to myself  that if I have the book with me, I am a reader.  Me, who read every book in the Bountiful Public Library when I was 12-13 years old!  And who’s entire existence is surrounded by books–in every room.  On built-in book shelves.  On tables small and large.  Stacked high near and around my bed, my chairs, my sofa, my breakfast nook.  Loaded in my pick-up truck to be transported to my Genealogy Library Center for preservation.

And my idea of a good day is discovering Virginia books new to me, that include specific ancestors I am researching.  Let me re-visit just two Virginia books about early churches:

  1. Nelson, John K.  A Blessed Company:  Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in Anglican Virginia, 1690-1776. 2001.  University of North Carolina Press, PO Box 2288, Chapel Hill NC 27515-2288. There were 47 parishes in 1690 and 95 in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution which changed established religious worship and record keeping for all time.  Appendix A is a “Biographical Dictionary of Virginia’s Anglican Parish Clergy, 1690-1776″–some 365 clergyman.  Included among these is William Stith, born 1707 in Virginia.  He married Judith Randolph.  He graduated from the College of William and Mary and served as master of the grammar school.  He was also a local historian. I’m hunting now for what he wrote.
  2. Worrall, Jay R.  The Friendly Virginians:  America’s First Quakers. 1994.  Available Iberian Publishing Company, 548 Cedar Creek Drive, Athens GA 30605-3408.  Quakers appeared first in Virginia in Sep 1655.  The population was 18,000 scattered through the woods along the rivers and creeks of the Tidewater.  About 50% of these were indentured servants who had to serve their masters for a period of years before they could acquire lands of their own.  There were also about 5,000 Black slaves and 4,000 Indians.  Appendix A is a “List of Quaker Meetings in Virginia” and there is an accompanying map showing the locations by number.  Quakers brought America their commitment to peace and their desire to end war and violence; their belief in religious freedom, civil rights, women’s rights, aid for Native Americans, and recommended changes to the penal system.  Included among the pages at random are several references to John Hunnicutt, of Burleigh who along with James Ladd, a minister from Charles City County, and Pleasants Terrell of Caroline Meeting partnered with Robert Pleasants to represent the Virginia Monthly Meeting in 1787.  Virginia was in the middle of an earnest debate over whether slavery should be abolished.  And Robert Pleasants and six other Friends, including John Hunnicutt, proposed the formation of the Virginia Abolition Society in 1790.  They invited other churches to participate.  George Washington suggested that this took real courage, since “nearly all Virginians are convinced that the general emancipation of Negroes cannot occur in the near future and for this reason they do not wish to organize a society which might  give their slaves dangerous ideas.” p. 243.

I just love to discover entries showing pedigree ancestors involved in important historical events of the day.  Churches led the way in the drive to abolish slavery and in several states, when the civil authorities moved too slow, they held organizing meetings, collected funds to compensate slave owners, encouraged their own members to emancipate their Blacks in their wills (even when it was illegal to do so).

How excited I am to discover that the Hunnicutts and their relatives put their actions behind their beliefs.  Such discovery requires reading.  Actually sitting down with the book.  Studying the index.  Testing its completeness–is every name included?   Checking each entry.  And savoring the story present in what is recorded.   Then doing the follow-up:  taking the story to the original church records, where almost without exception, there are other details that endear these ancestors to the reader.

And in celebration of Book Lovers Day, 23 April 2010, I offer this recommendation to you:  As you hurry from task to task, take some time each and every research session to check a Virginia book new to you, that can supply the story of your ancestors and their lives in Virginia.  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle.    http//

PS  The more Virginia records I search, the more I am convinced that there are more records out there than we will ever live long enough to search–or read.  And that gives me my genealogy optimism!  We can find those hard-to-find ancestors and reveal the stories they lived.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

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One Response to Book Lovers Day–23 April 2010–and Genealogy Optimism!

  1. Hysaw47 says:

    Dear Arlene,
    Amen….somebody say Amen. (a recently retired second grade teacher from Colorado)…Book Lover, Virginia genealogy book lover. A love of reading is the key to a well educated nation. Susan C. Hollis

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