My interest in genealogy came at an early age. My mother documented my progress as a child in a "baby book" with a beautiful tree that included the names of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. There were some question marks on some of the blank spaces and I wanted to know who those people were. Needless to say I spent more time "growing up" than working on that little mystery.
But about 25 years ago, when visiting my aunt Ann, she shared with me the contents of a shoe box on a high closet shelf. Along with a deed to the home farm, newspaper articles showing how the community helped replace the roof of grandpa's barn after a tornado, lots of old pictures, also In that box were a few photocopied sheets from the book "The Fate of the Fenwick's 1798-1828" edited by A. F. Wedd (I now own the copyright to that book). We read them together out loud...Who was this Eliza Fenwick that wrote the letters that composed the book and who was this William Rutherford referred to in those letters, and how could I find the rest of the story? The time had come to fill in those blank spaces.
It took over a year to find a copy of the book, on line, at a used book store in England. I spent more than I could afford and waited for the parcel to arrive in the mail. During the time I was looking for the book I did a lot of research and found out that Eliza Fenwick was my 5x great grandmother, William Rutherford, her son in law, his wife Elizabeth Fenwick Rutherford my 3x great grandfathers parents.
An internet search of Eliza Fenwick's name came up with some exciting results. She had written a novel for adults in 1795 titled "Secresy, Or, The Ruin on the Rock" as well as several children's books. The novel was edited and reprinted by Dr. Isobel Grundyand included a detailed introduction consisting of Eliza's history. The novel is still used in the English programs of universities world wide. Dr. Grundy was very helpful in sharing any information she had on Eliza and my thanks to her continue to be expressed.
Then my package from England arrived! "The Fate of the Fenwick's", it contained a series of letters written by Eliza over the time period of 1798-1828 to a variety of people. What a treasure, it contains the day to day struggles and accomplishments of this woman's life through that time period.
The story doesn't end there though, Dr. Lissa Paulfrom Brock University in Ontario became interested in Eliza's story and has continued to delve into her life and accomplishments. Her research was able to turn up a further collection of letters detailing Eliza's daily activities up to the time of her death in 1840. Dr. Paul was able to use her research to write and publish a book titled "The Children's Book Business, Lessons from the Long Eighteenth Century". Lissa has generously shared her research with myself and another esteemed WikiTree member, a recently found cousin Dave Rutherford. Dave and I look forward to any other information Dr. Paul can share with us on this amazing ancestor of ours.
(this is a work in progress...stay tuned for updates and additions)
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