School Year Books wanted

School Yearbooks – the Essex County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (collection located in the Family History Reading room, Windsor Public Library) is looking for donations of Windsor & Essex County school yearbooks for indexing, scanning, and adding to the EssexOGS Collection. These books are valuable to family history researchers. Contact EssexOGS at regarding the yearbooks.

Any branch of the OGS would welcome school yearbooks to add to their collection, which is a valuable asset to family history researchers.

Partial Year OGS membership $37 – Good time to try the OGS

Partial Year Membership ($37.00 – available June 1 to October 31)
An introductory offer for brand new members that allows you to join right away rather than waiting for the next calendar year (this category is also available to those who have not been an OGS member for the past two years and would like to come back).

If you have any questions contact EssexOGS at

New Books on the Members Only page

We recently added new books to the Members Only page.  The Refugee by Benjamin Drew is a collection of “narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada”.  Included are stories from former slaves who settled in Chatham, Buxton, Dresden, Dawn, Windsor, Sandwich, Amherstburg, Colchester and Gosfield.

For those with ancestors who settled first in the USA, Colonial Families of the United States may be of interest. Included are the history, genealogy and armorial bearings of colonial families who settled in the American colonies from the time of the settlement of Jamestown 13 May 1607 to the Battle of Lexington 19 April 1775.

For those with ancestors from France and the interest in what was happening in Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Francis Parkman 8 part series France and England in North America may be of interest. The eight parts include Part 1: Pioneers of France in the New World;  Part 2 : The Jesuits of North America; Part 3:   La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West; Part 4: The Old Regime in Canada; Part 5: Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV; Part 6: A Half Century of Conflict; Part 7: Montcalm and Wolfe; Part 8: The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada.

New additions to the library

We have two new additions to our library shelves.  Come in for a visit!

An extract from A Fluid Frontier: Slavery. Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland.  Edited by Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker.

pg 27 ” At the riverfront, vanes of French windmills paddled the breeze, the steeples of St. Anne’s Catholic church graced the sky, the wolves in forests surrounding the town howled through the night.  Native peoples and Metis voyageurs canoed the river and inland waterways.  British colonists and American settlers plied lakes and rivers in sailboats, and farmers from the Canadian side of the river  carried their produce to Detroit markets in a horse-powered ferry.  Enslaved U.S. blacks also navigated the river, seeking freedom in colonial Canada, while blacks held in bondage in the British colony crossed from the opposite shore seeking freedom in frontier Detroit.  Elizabeth Denison’s father, like all black Americans who  had earned their freedom, also had to negotiate the international boundary and his political identity and national loyalty, just as had Native peoples, French and British settlers, and enslaved African Canadians in this frontier borderland.”

An extract from Peter Robinson’s Settlers 1823 and 1825 by Carol Bennett.

pg 4 “The government-sponsored emigration scheme whereby impoverished Irish families were transported to Upper Canada under the leadership of Peter Robinson was an experimental venture.” “The economic situation in the early 1820s was grim.  The Napoleonic Wars had only recently come to a close, and as the war industry came to a halt, the price of grain fell sharply throughout Britain, of which Ireland at that time was a part. In addition to this there was a decline in world markets for goods, which Ireland produced, for American entrepreneurs newly free from their own war with the British, were stepping in with cheaper goods. Their cotton began to replace Irish linen, a factor which put many weavers out of work, and they also cut into the market with salt beef, another staple.. ”  “In 1821, the potato crop failed.  The cause was  a disease known as curl, or dry rot, not different from the fungus which led to widespread famine in the 1840s.  This 1821 failure caused great distress among the poor, who subsided mainly on a diet of potatoes and buttermilk. ” “Many people, unable to find work and thus deprived of the means of livelihood, starved to death, while whole families huddled together in primitive, earth-floored dwellings which contained little or no furniture.”

“pg5 “Economic problems were not the only reason that so many people were willing to try their luck in a strange country.” “The vast amount of the poorer people in southern Ireland were Roman Catholic.”  “After the defeat of the Jacobites, the British parliament devised a plan which would limit the power of the Catholic aristocracy who remained, and which would severely limit the lives of other classes of Catholic society.”  “Smaller land owners were forced to follow the ancient system of gavelkind, a system of land inheritance in which a farm had to be equally divided among all the heirs at the death of the owner.  After a few generations, the plots of land became quite small and it was impossible to support a family on them. ” “Catholics could not buy land , and when they rented it, they could not obtain a lease longer than 31 years.  Inter-faith marriage was discouraged, and if a Protestant land owner married a Catholic girl, he forfeited all lands and titles.  Among the Peter Robinson settlers there were a number of couples who ran away to this country because their families disapproved of a mixed marriage, and this may have  been not simply because of bigotry, as one might expect, but because of these Penal Laws which were still being enacted in living memory.”