Social Media and Genealogy

Social Media has been an amazing force in the world of Genealogy, especially for amateur Genealogists like me.   I hadn’t thought of FaceBook and Twitter being sources of knowledge in this field, but they are.  On FaceBook, I am a member of several Closed Groups including Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy, Irish Genealogy,  and the Omagh (N. Ireland) Family History Society, as well as some public groups.  In a Closed Group one must ask for membership to the group and then follow the group rules or risk being thrown out.  On Twitter, there are many genealogical organizations tweeting, as well as individuals who have genealogy blogs or who just are Genea-fanatics like me.  It’s amazing how much information is shared on these forums.

On the Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy FaceBook page, I recently read a post about Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865 – Library and Archives Canada.  Now, my husband’s paternal grandmother was descended from some early pioneers, who were rumored to be United Empire Loyalists…so, of course, I thought this could be a good source for me.  Following the instructions of one of the site members, I found the original petitions for land for a pair of those ancestors.

My husband’s great-grandmother was SARAH ANN VERMILYEA.  Sarah’s father was SOLOMON VERMILYEA and her mother was ELIZABETH JONES.  I knew that Solomon’s father was PETER VERMILYEA (who was married to MARY JEWELL) and that they had come from New York state (probably in the Catskill Mountains) and had arrived sometime after Solomon’s birth.  I looked in the Land Petitions and found Peter Vermilyea’s petition, dated 11th July 1808.

VERMILYEA PETER 1808 Land petition snippet

Unlike many of the Land Petitions, Peter wasn’t requesting land outright, as a Loyalist.  He was requesting the Lease of Land that was in the Crown Reserve.  This was granted in December of that year.

What did I learn from the record?  Peter Vermilyea and his family were in Upper Canada by 1808.  He never said he was a Loyalist, so that may not have been the reason for his move from New York.  It could have been that land was plentiful in Upper Canada and that it was good, fertile farm land.  He had no other Land Petitions, so it was not likely that he was a Loyalist, given that Loyalists were rewarded with outright grants of land.  Peter Ruttan was named as his guarantor in the Lease.  Later, Peter Vermilyea’s son, WILLIAM VERMILYEA, would marry Peter Ruttan’s daughter RACHEL RUTTAN.  From other research, I found that Peter Ruttan and Peter Vermilyea were neighbors.

All that (and more) I discovered just because someone posted the information about the Land Petition site on FaceBook.  Who knows how long it would have taken to me figure out that the site existed?

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