We're home again and another of the trips on our wish list has been completed. We have been saying for years that someday we want to go to eastern Ontario to see where Leroy's grandmother, Mary Brubacher, was born and lived until her family moved to Iowa in 1901. She was a teenager by then and that's where she met and married Eli Stauffer. He had moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa with his family when he was a preschooler. Eli and Mary had three children when they moved back to Pennsylvania and the rest of their children, including Leroy's father, were born there.
Some of Mary's siblings returned to Ontario when they left Iowa so Leroy has relatives there today. His parents used to go up to visit his dad's aunts, uncles, and cousins, but Leroy never went with them. All the aunts, uncles, and cousins are gone now but Leroy has second cousins there. After asking a bit we were put in touch with Clare Frey (a historian in the area) who could show us all the places we wanted to see and helped us find some of the second cousins. We learned long ago that you will see a lot more if you have a local guide and that certainly was true this time. On our own, we would not have been able to find and see everything we did in one day.
On Friday, our family history day, Clare showed us the places Leroy's grandmother and several other of his ancestors lived. This is the farm the Brubacher family left when they moved to Iowa. Of course, there have been some changes to the place, such as the silo which would not have been there in 1901.
Clare also took us to quite a few cemeteries where Leroy's ancestors are buried. His great-grandfather, Jacob Brubacher (Mary's father), returned to Ontario and died there. Clare knew which of Leroy's ancestors was buried in a certain cemetery and could point out their stones without much of a search.
We also made a quick stop at the Mennonite Archives in Waterloo to pick up a file of Burkholder information I had ordered. The purpose of this trip was to find Leroy's ancestry but somehow the Burkholders kept sticking their noses into it and I couldn't ignore them. Our first stop in Ontario (Thursday afternoon) was the First Mennonite Church in Kitchener were Christian Burkholder and some of his descendants are buried. Christian (the son of Ulrich Burkholder of Bowmansville) moved his family to Canada in 1818. The Mennonite Archives has copies of the family register pages in Christian's 1805 family Bible. I stumbled upon that information the week before we left and it was a must-have. At least one of those pages will be included in the Burkholder genealogy I am preparing for publication in the Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage magazine.
Saturday was our visiting day. Leroy wanted to visit some of his second cousins but did not know who they were or where to find them. We got one or two names and that's all we needed. They knew who his relatives were and would invite others to come too. One of these places was Earl and Joyce Martin. Joyce's grandmother was a sister to Leroy's grandmother. Joyce also invited her mother, Vera, and daughter Romayne. Although she spells it with a y instead of an i, the name is pronounced the same. It is not often that two Romaines are at the same place at the same time.
On this trip we also visited all the Canadians who had been on the same tour to Israel we took four years ago as well as some other people we knew. We stayed in private homes three nights, winding up at Howard and Barbara Bean at Tavistock. We went to their church Sunday morning and then headed toward home.
We drove two hours Sunday afternoon and spent the rest of the day seeing Niagara Falls. We walked around the Canadian side before we crossed the border and then took a long hike from our motel to the American side of the falls. After dark we drove to Goat Island from which we could see both falls. We've seen the falls several times but this was the first time we saw the colored lights at night.
On Monday morning we angled southeast toward home, stopping to visit friends and relatives at two places along the way. It was good to see their parts of the world, but when we left the last place at 6:30 we knew we still had a three-hour drive ahead of us.
We arrived home at 9:45 p.m. Monday, tired but very satisfied with the trip. We had achieved our goals of finding relatives, seeing family history sites, and visiting with friends. It was one of the least expensive trips we have ever taken as everywhere we went people wanted to feed us and/or give us a room for the night. If you can "Mennonite Your Way," that's the way to go!