Purcell Family of America
An association to help those trace the Purcell family line
The Purcell Name
Gone….But Not Forgotten
Posted: 22 April 2012 at 3:08 p.m.
One either reads a newspaper every day or, as I did last fall, one puts a bunch of papers in a bin in the utility room to read at a later time. This was the reason I am only just now sharing with you an intriguing discovery I made in an article that was published in the November 12, 2011, issue of Newsday.
The article by Nicholas Spangler on page G2 was entitled: “Shipwreck victims’ story lives in Lynbrook.“ It is the story about 215 people sailing from Liverpool in the 1830s who lost their lives when two ships met their fate off the south shore of Long Island (less than 10 minutes from my home here in Oceanside, NY.) One man has revived that distant, tragic tale. That man is Arthur Mattson. It is this story of interest which compelled me to contact Arthur, and that ultimately led me to discover the history of Pearsalls in Lynbrook, NY. The article begins as follows:
“Late in the summer of 1972, a young banker named Arthur Mattson walked into the Rockville Cemetery, a small and plain public burial ground on Lynbrook’s edge. He’d moved into the village just days before and was reeling from news he had gotten before the furniture was unpacked: his sister Irene had drowned when her yacht was struck by a larger vessel and sank off the French coast. At the cemetery's center was a mass grave marked by a chipped 18-foot marble obelisk. The inscription on the east face reads in part: ‘To commemorate the melancholy fate of the unfortunate sufferers belonging to the Bristol and Mexico, this monument was erected.’”
Matson, now 68, still lives in Lynbrook, where he is the village’s official historian. He has, in tribute to his sister, spent nearly two decades researching documents and articles (in Ireland and in the U.S.) related to the wrecks of the Bristol and the Mexico, only two months apart, which immensely fascinated him. He found a brief mention of them in an 1839 history of Long Island at the Lynbrook Public Library and, for a time, nothing more. “Nobody knew about it,” he said. Yet 215 immigrants, most from Ireland, were killed off the coast of Long Island in 1836 and 1837. The result of this dogged research is his book Water and Ice, the authoritative and vivid account of the loss of the Bristol and the Mexico and so many of their passengers. (Lynbrook Historical Books, 2009.) There is more to this story in the Newsday article, itself a stirring account of the tragedy:
You may request a print copy from our editor, Connie Rinaldi
Arthur Mattson also wrote a book on the history of Lynbrook, New York, which is described in detail on page 20. He dedicated the book to his wife Nori. “Without her editing skill, advice and encouragement The History of Lynbrook would be just another item on my ‘to do’ list.”
Good Things Happening in the PFofA…
This last March 24th, members of your Board had a call-in conference in which we reviewed various items of interest to your Purcell Family of America. I’m pleased to report that your Association is financially sound, which will afford us the opportunity to consider areas of development that were heretofore untenable. Some of the ideas under discussion are:
The formulation of a Research Grant in the name of our Founder: Todd Y. Purcell. We will welcome input from those interested in doing genealogical research but who might need financial resources to complete their research.
We would like to create a Grant Program to promote yDNA testing to help us understand the genealogical connections in the Purcell family tree. Vice President Douglas Purcell will use his expertise to work out the details.
We will be making a donation of a set of Purcell Family of America Journals to the New York State Library in Albany. This is being done because there are so many Purcells (in various spellings) in New York State.
I am happy to report that our Vice President, Douglas Purcell, is feeling better after surgery and is proceeding full-steam ahead with the planning of our triennial PFofA Reunion in Eufaula, Alabama, scheduled for the weekend of June 14-17, 2013. I’ve viewed pictures of our host facility and antebellum homes in the Eufaula area, and I can’t wait to be there and see them. See our Reunion announcement on page 25 in this issue with updates in upcoming issues.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Ancestry Day, March 3, 2012...
I traveled to Philadelphia for HSP's Ancestry Day in Philadelphia featuring speakers from their member-driven Association plus representatives from Ancestry.com. Amazingly, it was attended by over 1000 genealogy enthusiasts, which necessitated the booking of the Philadelphia Convention Center's Ballroom. Presentations were given on the Pennsylvania Vital Records collection, now available on Ancestry.com; the various other collections acquired by HSP, including immigrations, wills, newspapers, etc.; and how to optimize searches on Ancestry.com. There was a preview of the 1940 US Census, which Connie has detailed here on pages 27-28. In addition, there were a dozen or so tabletop exhibits from local genealogical groups, cemeteries, and the Philadelphia office of the U.S. Archives. It was an exciting and memorable day for me, well worth the trip. Should you have the opportunity to attend an event like this in your area, I would recommend doing so.
I am asking, or better yet, challenging each PFofA Member to recruit at least one other family during 2012. The member who recruits the most renewals, will be eligible for free membership for 2013, a $30 value, plus a free PFofA lapel pin. (Value: $9.95)
Local Libraries are good source for member development…
I have been to several local libraries on Long Island, and introduced them to the Purcell Family of America. They have indicated a willingness to accept our quarterly PFofA eNewsletter.
As I pointed out in my President’s Story, you never know when you’ll meet a Purcell or a Pearsall. So, it pays to have 2-3 membership brochures for disseminating. If you would like several membership brochures, please let me know.
Historical Societies as Reference locations…
This past February I visited the Brooklyn Historical Society. It like others with similar names and missions will make excellent resources for research, or for an afternoon’s moment in history. Please note that these institutions may have limited hours, so plan accordingly when doing your genealogical research.
Please let us know your Purcell family story and histories. In sharing there is a wealth of knowledge!
JF Purcell, President
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