The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
Regular Branch Meeting
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March 14, 2009
Church of the Epiphany, Kingsville
by Bonnie L. Schepers UE

At leasure hours and Candle-light,
When others play, or lose their Sight,
Read ye these Books I here have set,
Or other good ones you can get.

This is a poem addressed by Francis Daniel Pastorius to his two sons Johann Samuel and Heinrich Melchior referring to The Bee Hive, a collection of several hundred folio pages begun by Francis Daniel in 1696. His intention in writing The Bee Hive was to inform and guide his sons in their reading. Following Francis Daniel's death in the winter of 1719-20, this family record was passed down to the eldest son in each generation and continued by the family to 1865. Today this manuscript is being studied by world scholars for its valuable recording of early colonial life in America.

In October of 2008, I had the opportunity to explore this manuscript first hand in the rare book room of the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library. My interest is a personal one and goes beyond Francis Daniel's insight into religion, law and natural science. On faded ink-stained pages, within the more than two thousand individual entries I found our family genealogy.

On March 14, 2009 I was able to share part of this story with the members of Bicentennial Branch. I hoped to express the thrill I felt in finding evidence of my Loyalist ancestor Abraham Pastorius after a search that began ten years earlier in 1998. In a beautiful script on a well-worn page I read, "Abraham Pastorius the second child of Daniel and Sarah Pastorius, was born the 10th day of the 8 month called October, at 2 o' th' clock in the morning - Anno Domini 1745."

My hope in presenting my story of the search for Abraham Pastorius is that others will feel the same desire to bring to light the struggles and accomplishments woven into their own family history. As I said to the forty-two members and guests in attendance at our meeting, "While I think my story is remarkable and unique I know that each of you has a story of equal or greater impact." The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada is an organization that supports and encourages the preservation and telling of stories just like mine.

This is why we erect historic plaques and burial site markers, present Loyalist history in school settings and attend services of remembrance so that no one who has walked this earth and toiled on this land will be forgotten. I encourage each of you, to seek out your roots and walk the streets or fields your ancestors walked. And once you have done that share your story.

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