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Monday, May 18, 2009

Just like I always say...

One of the things that I always tell people in many of my lectures, is to always try to utilize local resources. I can't believe I took so long to heed my own advice on this one! I've been looking under every stone I could find for information on the parentage of my 4th great grandfather, David Stevens. I know lots about him, his wives, his divorce in 1817, his kids, and all the descendants. But not knowing who his parents were has plagued me for the past few years.

I recently joined the Berkshire Family History Association, of Berkshire, Massachusetts, thinking that perhaps since the last known residence of David prior to his move to the virtual wilds of Ohio in 1818, had been Pittsfield, Massachusetts in Berkshire County. I noticed that one of the "perks" of membership was three free hours of research by a volunteer of the society, but it took me close to a year to get around to submitting everything I knew about David in the hopes of finding just one tiny clue to his ancestry.

The package of photocopies came in the mail today, and I saved it for last, hoping beyond hope that the answer would be inside, but at the same time preparing myself for disappointment. I opened the envelope, and sat down with the stack of 20 photocopies and started with the research report of what resources they had searched. The first several references listed had noted in the "relevant page #" column, "nothing relevant found". I feared the worst.

I started slowly going through the photocopies. Some were information that I had found myself earlier, others were "long shots" but contained the name I was looking for, David Stevens. Then halfway through the stack I hit gold - notes from the will of one Eliphalet Stevens, a Revolutionary war patriot, who left land to his sons Jeremiah, Abner and David. That alone didn't excite me, until I continued to read what Eliphalet had willed to his daughters - and named daughter Olive's husband as David Ashley and that they lived in Ohio. BINGO! An early history of Ohio had clearly mentioned that Olive Stevens Ashley had been driven in a sled to Ohio by her brother David Stevens of Pittsfield.

Now on to serious proving, details, citations and reports, and more ancestors. If I can see through my tears of joy. I love this stuff.

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