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  • 12 Oct 2022 4:12 PM | Anonymous

    File this article under “history.” It also may explain why your ancestors left New Brunswick in the late 1820s, along with my great-great-grandmother and most of her siblings.

    We often forget just how difficult life was for our ancestors. Oh, we may talk about their "trials and tribulations," but what does that mean? Just how tough was it? For thousands of residents of New Brunswick, the summer of 1825 and the succeeding years were indeed terrible.

    The 1825 Dee, or Great Miramichi Fire, or Great Fire of Miramichi, as it came to be known, was a massive forest fire complex that devastated forests and communities throughout much of northern New Brunswick in October 1825. It ranks among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America.

    I had ancestors in Miramichi, New Brunswick, at that time, and apparently so did tens or even hundreds of thousands of today's citizens.

    Miramichi is the name of a city, a river, and an area, all in northern New Brunswick. In 1825 the town was called Newcastle, but the name was changed to Miramichi some years later. (Miramichi is pronounced Mir-ra-mah-SHE' with emphasis on the last syllable.) What is now the city of Miramichi is the terminus of the Miramichi River at the point where it empties into Miramichi Bay in the St. Lawrence River. The surrounding area is known as the Miramichi Region.

    The thin, acid soils of the Miramichi are not conducive to agriculture; thus, the lumber industry and Atlantic salmon fishery were the region’s mainstays in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Overseas lumber exports became the predominant industry, and the Miramichi Region was well known for supplying straight, tall masts for the British navy. All that changed on October 7, 1825.

    The summer of 1825 had been dry and warm, and the crops did well. No rain fell from July until October 8. On September 19 a fire had broken out in Government House, Fredericton, and burned the whole place to the ground. Fortunately, it took place in daylight and caused no loss of life. Other fires broke out in the forests and sometimes burned many acres, but they seemed to avoid the populated regions.

    While the land in the Miramichi Region was not suitable for large scale farming, almost every family had a garden, and their crops were generally good that year although the lack of rain meant smaller vegetables than normal. Much of the farming centered on cattle: both dairy farms and beef cattle. Many of the crops and almost all the cattle feed were stored in dry, wooden barns.

    As autumn advanced, the leaves turned brilliant colors and then dried. The woods were tinder dry, and the dried leaves on the forest floor were waiting for a spark. The spruce budworm, a periodic pest that, like locusts, visits every few years, descended on the region in 1825. The worms attack the spruce trees, which then die, become dry, and thereby provide perfect tinder for a fire.

    Nobody knows the cause of the fire that started on October 7, but everyone soon knew of it. The forest was quickly ablaze, and the flames moved forward with the wind at an estimated one mile per minute. That's sixty miles per hour. The telegraph, telephone, and two-way radio had not yet been invented, so there was no way of warning residents of the impending danger.

    The flames engulfed the northwest Miramichi area, first killing twenty-two people. A gentleman named William Wright worked in the woods and was the first to warn of the fire. He ran into Newcastle and warned the people by beating a drum. Unfortunately, no one listened; they all thought it was a rain storm. Because the flames were not seen by the townspeople, no one worried. By ten o'clock in the morning, the flames had burned the whole north side of the Miramichi River. Newcastle, a town of one thousand people, was burned to the ground in less than three hours. Out of two hundred and sixty buildings, only twelve were left standing.

    At one point, the wall of advancing flame was believed to be fifteen miles wide and advancing at one mile per minute. Wooden ships anchored in Miramichi Bay caught fire as the crews desperately tried to weigh anchor and escape the flames. They were unable to hoist sails because of the flames and high winds, so the burning ships drifted with the wind, spreading the flames to the other side of the river. Soon the houses, crops, and forests on the opposite side of the river were burning as fiercely as on the original shore.

    The tales of human suffering are immense. Those who were lucky enough to be near a river walked into the water, often trying to coax their farm animals with them. Most of the domesticated animals were confounded by the smoke, the flames, and the confusion, and refused to enter the water. Most farm animals perished.

    On the other hand, the wild animals had no such fear of water. The humans in the river found themselves surrounded by wildlife, including raccoons, deer, bears, and even large moose. All the creatures seemed to cooperate with one another, fearing the common enemy: the flames. Even the bears left the other creatures alone.

    Due to the extreme heat, the humans stood in water up to their necks and frequently put their faces into the water to keep cool. Temperatures above the water were estimated to be 140 degrees or higher while the water itself in October was probably quite chilly. At least ten people drowned. The flames passed, and most of those who sought refuge in the icy rivers did survive.

    Those who were not near a river typically were not so fortunate. Every town lost fifty or even one hundred citizens that afternoon. Larger towns lost more. The prisoners in the Newcastle Jail all perished as no one nearby had a key to let them out. The jail was made of stone and did not burn. However, it became a stone oven, and nobody survived.

    The Miramichi/Maine fire of 1825 was by far one of the most devastating, consuming more than 3 million acres and killing 160 people (although some reports put that number closer to 300). Located in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, Miramichi had experienced a particularly dry summer that year. While the cause of the fire is unknown, its devastation is well recorded with reports of the fire traveling at nearly 60 miles per hour across the wilderness in Miramichi and a portion of Maine along the Miramichi River. It left more than 15,000 people homeless, burning their crops and seeds for the next year’s planting season. Many more died because of exposure to the elements and a lack of food.

    A man from Bushville who thought St. Paul's Church would burn rushed to the church to see what he could save. In fact, the church did not burn. When he returned home, he found that his house had been destroyed and all his family members had perished in the flames.

    New Brunswick was in the midst of a typhoid fever epidemic at the time, and many people were at home, sick in bed. Many perished by not leaving their beds. There were many similar stories that day.

    During the flames, the winds reached hurricane force (70 miles per hour or more). It was October, and the air had been cold but now became super-heated. Once the wet people crawled out of the rivers, the temperatures dropped below freezing that night, and people in wet clothes with no place to go suffered from exposure. Many stood by still-burning buildings and trees for the warmth.

    Lieutenant Governor Sir Howard Douglas drove through the blackened and devastated area in the following days. He wrote, "Any poor soul who was caught in the forest and could not reach the Miramichi River in time, was doomed to death."

    The fire was felt far out at sea in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The master of a sloop that traded along Northumberland Strait, between the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island coasts, reported that, while he was running before the gale, the heavy fall of ashes and cinders caused the sea to hiss and boil around his deck, while the smoke on his deck was so heavy and thick as to affect both his sight and hearing. He had great difficulty in saving his ship.

    About one fifth of the province of New Brunswick was damaged. An exact count was impossible, but estimates place the loss of human life at more than 300 with approximately 600 buildings destroyed and 875 cattle lost.

    On the night of October eighth, it rained hard, and this helped to douse the fire. Most of the trees had burned by that time, so there was no where for the fire to go. In the following days, the surviving residents often trudged through deep ashes as they went about their lives. The ashes landed in many far off areas of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and even as far away as Bermuda! The ashes also fell into the water, killing many of the fish. The crops had been destroyed, and even wildlife had been decimated, making hunting and fishing for food very difficult for several years. In a single day New Brunswick lost "nearly four million acres of the best lumbering region of the province" along with most of its food supplies.

    At Douglastown, only one house escaped the flames and remained standing. Strangely, that house contained the body of a person who had died the day before the fire and had not yet been buried.

    As bad as the flames were, perhaps the cruelest fate still awaited the survivors. Many covered the cellars of their burned homes and crowded into them for shelter. All the crops and all the seeds for the next year's crops had been "safely" stored in wooden barns, but most of the buildings were destroyed, along with their contents. Many families lost their homes as well as their barns, their livestock, their food, and even the seeds for the following spring planting. It was late October, and winter would soon arrive. In 1825, there was no Red Cross, no Salvation Army, and no other relief organizations.

    For a few days the local residents had food in the form of baked potatoes. The were still in the ground but had been baked by the heat of the fire. The locals were able to dig up the potatoes and eat them immediately. However, this supply ran out within a few days. In the following months, many people starved to death or died of complications caused by malnourishment.

    The Mik-maq Indians in the area thought that the fire had been sent to kill the white man. Alexander Rankin had been a good friend to the Indians, and they surmised that this was why his home did not burn. After the fire, Alexander Rankin opened his home to those who were in need, Indians and whites alike. He was a good friend to one and all in the Miramichi Region. His house still stands today and now contains a museum of the Great Miramichi Fire.

    Rankin led a group of fifteen men who set out to build houses and perform other acts as needed. Sir Howard Douglas arrived on the scene from Fredericton to offer his help. The town of Gretna Green, now Douglastown, was named in his honor. Sir Howard called on England, the United States, and other parts of Canada to come to the aid of the people. He later became the Lieutenant-Governor of Canada. Money, food, and clothes began to arrive by ship and by land although transportation required weeks. Winter and deep snow were upon the survivors before the first goods arrived.

    Construction began with the people using what was left of the burned trees for wood, supplemented later by the newly arrived lumber from distant locations. One year later, the towns of Newcastle and Douglastown had been rebuilt.

    Food was still in short supply. Although the following year saw mild weather, the fire had parched the land and burnt the plants that provided nutrients to the soil. Seeds were in short supply although some seeds were shipped in by the government. The surviving citizens did manage to grow some crops the following summer.

    My ancestors left Miramichi a couple of years later and moved to Maine. I do not know of any family stories handed down over the years about their move, but I suspect their reason was related to the fire and its aftermath.

    In all, the fire destroyed more than five hundred buildings (an exact count was never made) and also destroyed millions of acres of woodlands and settled towns and villages alike. Of the hundreds who perished in the fire, their bodies were mostly buried where they were found. There are almost no tombstones for the people who died in the fire as local tombstone carvers were either overwhelmed with work or perhaps also perished in the flames themselves. In later years, many sad memorials were erected in the burying grounds along the Miramichi.

    Entire towns were destroyed. Some of them were rebuilt as new towns in different locations that had escaped the flames and provided better soil, including the new towns of Campbellton, Dalhousie, Belledune, and the southern Gaspé coast. It is also probable that some of the displaced persons established a community in the Ottawa Valley formerly known as Miramichi, now known as Pembroke, Ontario.

    The cause of the fire remains unknown, but it was probably caused by humans. This was in the day when houses were heated by wood, cooking was done on wood stoves or over open flames, and lumbermen often kept flames burning for cooking purposes or to drive away insects. Open flames were everywhere, and the woods were tinder dry.

    A large fire occurred in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the same day: October 7. Fredericton is more than 100 miles from Miramichi. It is believed that the two fires were not connected, other than by the fact that all of New Brunswick had very dry forests at the time. More than one-third of all the dwellings in Fredericton were destroyed by the flames; but the rest were spared.

    For many years after, on October 7th, the people of the Miramichi area did not eat for the day and all shops closed in remembrance. The Great Miramichi Fire ranks among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America. Today people still tell stories of the Miramichi Fire as if it happened yesterday.

    The Miramichi Fire is still listed as one of the three greatest fires in North American history.

    For more information about the fire, you can also read Firebreak  - How the Maine–New Brunswick Border Defined the 1825 Miramichi Fire by Alan MacEachern online at:

  • 12 Oct 2022 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG):

    Free BCG-Sponsored Webinar
    “Misled by Records: Identifying Adam Cosner's Parentage”
    by Pam Stone Eagleson, CG
    Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

    Pennsylvania and Ohio records, correlated with those of a German immigrant who died in Virginia revealed Adam Cosner's parents. Pam Stone Eagleson, CG, is a researcher, writer, and educator. She is a graduate of Northwestern University with a B.A. degree in history and sociology, University of Southern Maine with a M. Ed., and Tufts University with a C.A.S. in Museum Studies. Winner of the 2004 National Genealogical Society’s Family History Writing contest, Pam has attended NIGR, IGHR, SLIG, GRIP, and VIGR. Certified since 2005 by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, Pam has served six years on the Board of APG and the Board of NGS, and is a member of several local, state, and regional historical and genealogical societies. She lectures on genealogy sources and problem solving. Her articles have appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal, the NGS Magazine, and the APG Quarterly.

    BCG’s next free monthly webinar in conjunction with Legacy Family Tree Webinars is “Misled by Records: Identifying Adam Cosner's Parentage” by Pam Stone Eagleson, CG. This webinar airs Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

    When you register before September 20 with our partner Legacy Family Tree Webinars ( you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Anyone with schedule conflicts may access the webinar at no charge for one week after the broadcast on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

    “We are pleased to present these high-quality educational webinars,” said President LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, FASG. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists promotes public confidence in genealogy by supporting uniform standards of competence. We strive to provide educational opportunities to family historians of all levels of experience.”

    Following the free period for this webinar, BCG receives a small commission if you view this or any BCG webinar by clicking our affiliate link: (

    To see the full list of BCG-sponsored webinars for 2022, visit the BCG blog SpringBoard at For additional resources for genealogical education, please visit the BCG Learning Center (

  • 11 Oct 2022 9:40 PM | Anonymous

    Losing a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with, and trying to find meaningful ways to remember them can be difficult. Obituaries and memorials are a great way to highlight your loved ones' experiences through the lives that they lived. But when you are mourning, it can be difficult to think about how to structure an obituary and what to include in it. I know about this as I have been the one to write several of my relatives' obituaries. It can be a gut-wrenching experience at a time when you are coping with grief.

    Fortunately, there are online tools available online to guide you during that process. In this article, you’ll find seven websites to help you create obituaries and memorials for your loved ones.

    You can find a list of them in an article by Omega Fumba published in the Make Use Of (MUD) web site at:

  • 11 Oct 2022 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    IrishCentral has published an article that will interest many people with Irish ancestry: Irish Ancestry Unearthed - Every Census Since 1926 Online.

    However, be aware this article does not contain names and addresses of individual Irish residents. Instead, it is a collection of statistical information.

    As stated on the web site:

    "In a move that will open up a treasure trove of statistical information, censuses from 1926, 1936, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1979, 1981, 1986, and 1991 are all now just a few clicks of the mouse away.

    "For sociologists, genealogists, or any member of the 70 million-strong Irish diaspora around the world, this development could provide a huge amount of valuable information about the development of Ireland and its people.

    "The censuses contain standard data like population and valuation of each area, occupation, religion and birthplace, housing, ages, orphanhood, and conjugal conditions, industrial status, Irish language, dependency, and general report."

    The article is available at

  • 11 Oct 2022 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    Kimberly Dawn Neumann has written a review of MyHeritage DNA and the article has been posted in the Forbes web site.

    Note: MyHeritage is the sponsor of this newsletter.

    This interesting review may be found at

  • 11 Oct 2022 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release written by IGGnite DNA, LLC.:

    Hartford, Connecticut Oct 10, 2022 – Alumni of the first cohort to graduate from the new Forensic Genetic Genealogy certificate program offered by the University of New Haven have launched their own Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) company called IGGnite DNA, LLC.

    The founding members met during the program, and in the summer of 2021 were selected to intern with the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit organization that uses genetic genealogy to assist law enforcement agencies with unidentified remains cases. During their internship, the women recognized the growing need for forensic investigative genetic genealogy involving suspect identification in cases of violent crimes.

    Together, the founding members of, have worked more than 80 cases as volunteers with non-profit organizations including Search Angels, the Cold Case Coalition, and the DNA Doe Project.

    IGGnite DNA, LLC will offer forensic investigative genetic genealogy to law enforcement agencies as well as genetic genealogy services for private individuals in need of assistance with their own family DNA research.

    “We are all very dedicated to bringing resolution to unsolved cases. We have combined our unique skill sets and diverse experience in forensic science, biological research, and unknown parentage cases to create a genetic genealogy powerhouse”.

    About IGGnite DNA, LLC:

    IGGnite DNA, LLC is a women-owned small business based out of Connecticut. Team members are located across the country, allowing for a diverse set of skills to conduct the research needed for each case. It is their mission to spark new investigative leads while ensuring the use of best practices and adhering to industry guidelines.

  • 11 Oct 2022 10:31 AM | Anonymous

    My thanks to the organizers of the Family History Show for writing this report (and video) AFTER the show to document the success of the show:

    The Family History Show, London that took place at Kempton Park Racecourse on Saturday 24th September 2022 was a resounding success. The show, organised by Discover Your Ancestors Magazine went down extremely well in its new venue.

    Visitors flocked to the free talks in the large lecture theatres and had the rare chance of asking the experts for help in a one-to-one session to break down the brickwalls in their research.

    I do like the venue, it's really easy to get to from the station, I came on public transport and it was easy; I just got off at the station, walked down and there it is!”

    Elsa Churchill from the Society of Genealogists

    Steve, who attended with his wife, emailed “Just wanted to say thank you for the excellent event you laid on this weekend. First time my wife and I have been and we really enjoyed it… We loved the day and look forward to returning again soon!”

    Another visitor to the show said:

    I just felt that the location is brilliant. I love the light and the airiness of the venue. I think the venue is super, you should come here again… I'll definitely come again if you hold it here.”

    Exhibitors comments were also positive about The Family History Show and its venue:

    Terrific location, well signposted off the main roads and motorways…the catering was excellent with efficient staff, with good food and drink” – This Way Books

    It’s been really interesting coming back again and just seeing the family history community coming together again…to promote what we do and just say how friendly, collaborative and helpful this community can be.”

    Elsa Churchill from the Society of Genealogists

    Easy to get to, easy to park, easy to unload, good facilities, lovely food, plenty of loos, nice and airy with plenty of room to walk around in.” – The London Westminster & Middlesex Family History Society

    The organisers of the Family History Show London were very happy with the way the event went and are bringing it back to Kempton next year on the 2nd September 2023. With the on-site railway station, plentiful parking, food court and the courteous and friendly venue staff this is set to become a regular for family historians in London and the South East.

    See the video of The Family History Show, London 2022:

  • 11 Oct 2022 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The world’s largest family history gathering will return in 2023, and registration for the event is now open.

    RootsTech is scheduled for March 2–4, 2023, including an in-person event in Salt Lake City, Utah, to complement its extensive online conference. Millions of virtual and in-person attendees are expected to gather for inspiring learning opportunities that will help them connect to their family — past, present and future.

    Though 2023 marks the 13th year of RootsTech, it will be the first year since 2019 that the in-person experiences are being offered for the popular global event, which has been completely virtual since 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The incredible blessing and miracle of the RootsTech virtual experiences is that we were able to confirm that there are so many more people worldwide who are interested in learning more about their family history, stories and connecting,” said Jonathan Wing, creative manager for RootsTech.

    The theme for RootsTech 2023 is “Uniting.”

    “RootsTech really is about uniting … with your family first and foremost, but also to connect with stories and discovery experiences through your family history,” said Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch. “We connect like-minded people who want to gather and learn similar things, [and] with new knowledge, learning, innovation and services that will help you make new connections to your family history.”

    In 2022, over 3 million people participated online. Since the beginning, innovation has been a guiding principle for RootsTech. Each year, the event organizers adapt the content to appeal to people worldwide and to stay current. The 2023 event is striving to do the same by bringing the best of the virtual and in-person experiences together.

    “I think it would be really easy for people to assume we are having two separate events happening at the same time,” Wing said. “But we will be connecting what’s happening virtually with what’s occurring in person. We’re creating ways for virtual attendees to participate with some of the in-person activities."

    There will be inspiring keynotes, entertainment and more than 200 new classes at the event. The Expo Hall will also return with over 200 exhibitors, product demonstrations and interactions with research specialists.

    RootsTech is sponsored by FamilySearch. Register now at

  • 10 Oct 2022 8:09 PM | Anonymous

    Different cultures have varying customs of dealing with deceased ancestors. One of the more macabre is popular in Madagascar:

    "All cultures have rituals and celebrations to honor the dead—Halloween among them, even if its modern form is mostly about costumes and candy. In Madagascar, the famadihana is a ceremony during which families speak with deceased ancestors. But it involves a very different type of dressing: exhuming and rewrapping ancestors’ remains.

    "When a Malagasy person dies, it is traditional for their body to be wrapped in a sheet and placed in a family crypt, usually a large stone structure in the village where the family is from. These crypts will contain dozens of ancestors going back many generations. Once every six or seven years, the family will open the crypt for a famadihana, a day-long ceremony in which some of the ancestors are taken out, rewrapped in new sheets and returned.

    “When you get out the ancestors, and you see their remains, you cry. But it is also a moment of happiness. You are happy to see your relatives and you ask for their blessing,” says Nancy Rahaingoarivony, a Malagasy who now lives in Switzerland.

    “Physically an ancestor may be dead, but they are still there,” she adds. You talk to them, and introduce to them new members of the family. “The dead are the link between God and the living, and it is very important to respect this culture. The famadihana is when we ask our ancestors for their blessings. For the Malagasy, a successful life is one that has had the blessing of the ancestors and the grace of God.”

    You can read more at:

  • 10 Oct 2022 7:55 PM | Anonymous

    From an article by Peter White published in the web site:

    "Who Do You Think You Are?, the rebooted genealogy docuseries, is the latest unscripted series to find itself in limbo.

    "Deadline understands that the network has parked the show, which returned in July after nearly 10 years after it first aired on NBC, with no current plans for a second season. A final decision is expected to come in early 2023.

    "The show comes from exec producers Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky."

    You can read more at:

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