Pearsalls: Introduction


This common salutation of reception, but unusual word of introduction, is to be taken in its broadest sense as indicating to you dear reader that the family of Pearsall, in all its spellings and wherever situated, is honored by your presence and is complimented by your attention. It also implies most strongly that you are welcome to wander as you please through this intimate account of our family history. While the events herein recounted are of course our family secrets, nevertheless they are hereby opened to your study, freely and unreservedly. So much so that we hand you the keys to the closet containing our most intimate family skeletons.

If you are a stranger to us, then we only ask of you the duty of a guest; namely, that when you lay down the book you will forget whatever may strike you unpleasantly, and only remember all the good that you have found; not that we need any such discrimination on your part, but that we may have for you the thought when we bid you farewell, that you were worthy of our entertainment.

If you are a relative and therefore our cousin, you are more than welcome as all this wealth of great deeds herein related, and this unbroken chain of noble ancestry which is herein woven into a connected pedigree is yours-yours alone if you so desire it. All that we ask is that you will most selfishly take it all to yourself, get all you possibly can of it, so that you may emulate as far as you may be able the greatness and goodness of your ancestors, remembering that he alone is great who does noble deeds, no matter how small those deeds may be nor how far they may be hidden from public observation.

It is too bad, but nevertheless it is a fact that notwithstanding all these hearty words of welcome we are still strangers to each other. You will therefore enjoy your visit all the more should you at least get acquainted with the writer of this work, therefore he asks of you that you will grant him the courtesy of your attention to these few more words of personal introduction.

During the summer vacations spent on my grandfather's farm in Pennsylvania, I was most pleasantly entertained when he so frequently spoke of his father Peter Pearsall and related anecdotes of his own boyhood spent on the farm near Saratoga Springs in New York State. My curiosity was aroused, and all my tears I had longed to see the place where he had lived when a boy. As a natural sequence, a promise made in the year 1915 to my aunt and sister to investigate their children's eligibility to membership in "The Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution," revived these fond recollections and re-kindled old desires to visit the Peter Pearsall farm. After a short visit the next year at my former home in Pennsylvania, I hastened to New York City, and thence to Saratoga Springs where, with almost childish anticipation, I expected to find the Pearsalls thicker than grasshoppers in a Kansas corn field. To my great disappointment, not one was to be found, save those who reposed in the cemeteries. Unable to ascertain whence the living had gone, I determined to locate, if possible the old Pearsall farm and pay a visit to the scenes so often depicted to me by my grandfather in my boyhood. I therefore repaired to Ballston Spa, County Seat of Saratoga County, where a careful perusal of the index of volume after volume revealed absolutely nothing of interest. Bitterly disappointed I resolved to journey to Albany and consult the records there. Then the motto, "Try, try again" came to mind so I decided to make a more thorough search at Ballston before my departure. This time my efforts were rewarded. I found a deed signed by George Pearsall, Jr. And his wife Priscilla in which the lands were described as being part of the Peter Pearsall farm, bought of John Muller and being part of Lots 1 and 4 of subdivision of lot 1 of the 18th enlargement, by which technical language the records located the property for me. This information in hand, I returned to Saratoga Springs, engaged an automobile and drove out on the highway towards Lake George. When the odometer clicked off two miles, the driver stopped as previously directed and I alighted. No one lived at this particular point. So after a careful survey of the surrounding country, we drove a mile distant to a brick house, which turned out to be the former home of the Brills. There I was informed that we had passed the Pearsall farm, so we returned to the cross roads, which they informed me, was formerly known as Pearsall's Corners. I alighted from the auto and leisurely walked about the old farm. A very nice lady, very nearly a relation, in that her sister had married into the Brill family, informed me that I was in the promised land of my childhood. I picked wild cherries from a tall tree along the roadside, which had no doubt been planted by Peter Pearsall, and as I ate the delicious ripe cherries, I dreamed of the dim and distant past when grandfather as a boy had probably enjoyed fruit from the same tree. I wandered about the old farm and memory pictures, faded in the lapse of years, were gradually restored. There was Peter's old saw mill now used as a granary. The old white pine stumps in the pond were relics of the great pine forest Peter had felled for the mill. Beyond the main thoroughfare was Peter's old home, a two story structure of old Dutch colonial style. True it was badly in need of repairs, still it retained its lines of former grace and grandeur. The interior was formerly in keeping with the exterior. I marveled that a home of this character should have been built upon a farm, in those days. The furniture of which grandfather had often spoken, was missing but the chartulary, or strong box, in which, according to the old English custom of my ancestors, the deeds, wills, other important papers and treasures were kept, remained and at the present is used by the occupants of the house as a wood box. At the base of a low range of hills, back of the house, nestled in a grove of oak and wild cherry is the family burying ground where my great grandmother, Mary Burtis Pearsall and my great great grandfather George Pearsall and his second wife repose waiting for the great day of judgment. On that cold gray autumn day, carried away with enthusiasm, my spirits soared to the very highest, and, as I sauntered about this beautiful, highly cultivated farm, that fairly teemed with interest, my one regret was that Peter Pearsall ever allowed so valuable a farm to slip away from him; and I wondered what could have been the cause, little dreaming that I should later learn that it was because of his very adherence to the customs of his ancestors. Strange as it may seem, another Pilgrim, on a similar mission, from that far off state where the setting sun casts its brilliant rays through the Golden Gate, crossed my path on the old farm, that afternoon; a descendant of John Brill, brother of my grandmother Deborah-Ann Brill-Pearsall. Prior to this, neither of us had known of the existence of the other She passed on and I returned to my dreams. Awakened therefrom by the rudely honking auto horn, I returned to Saratoga Springs, resolved to write the genealogy of my immediate branch of the family. As I spent considerable time and money unraveling the threads of my ancestry, I had to call upon those who were not in my immediate family and I soon accumulated a wealth of material relative to other lines. The thought that there might be others equally as interested as I, determined me to broaden my work so as to include all of the Pearsalls in America. Later I came in touch with a branch of the family in Australia as well an incident which of itself, I am told is very remarkable in works in this kind. I have derived a great deal of pleasure out of the work, as step by step, I traced the family genealogy back to the Second Virginia Company of 1609 in which my ancestor held a very valuable concession. From this point it was easy to pass into the English records and from there to our Anglo Saxon and Norman ancestors. Thus, from a purely personal family genealogy, the book resolved itself into a history of a family of which records existed running back to a time prior to the assumption of the family name. It is confidently believed that these historical facts will not only prove valuable and very interesting to those related to us, but they will open up new fields of research for others.

I trust that the reader will derive as much pleasure as he peruses this history, the result of my labor, as I have had in compiling it, and I use the word compile with a full comprehension of its meaning; namely, to make or form a printed work by putting together in due order materials gathered from various sources with only such changes and additions as may be deemed necessary of desirable. So marvelous a story as our family history could not be told in the words of anyone connected with the family, without his being accused of all sorts of disagreeable things. In fact it is all so wonderful that I have had difficulty in believing that I was really and truly connected with it, but the records are all so clear and indisputable that they cannot be gainsaid. I have therefore taken pains to fortify each statement as far as possible by reference to some recognized authority. It can also be easily comprehended that the nearer my text adheres to the original statements, the stronger will my story be held to be. Consequently, so as to avoid marring the book with quotation marks, the reader will kindly understand that a citation means that the text is as nearly the exact words of the authority as my own version of the weight of all the authorities would permit.... The Pearsall family is fortunate in this particular in that as early as 1530 Sampson Erdeswicke, a very able genealogist, was employed by the family to collate their pedigree which was used as the basis of the reports severally made by the Master of Arms at the visitations which followed shortly thereafter and hence was spread upon the public records. And Rev. Sir John Peshall published such a complete chart of the family in the year 1771, in England and for certain patent reasons no pedigree has ever had to undergo such a fusillade of criticism nor to stand such searching examination. Mr. Robert Pearsall of Teddington Middlesex, England, has kindly sent the writer a copy of the original notes of Rev. Sir John which contains reference to the proof and records upon which he relied for his statement. All the visitations to Staffordshire passed upon the right of the family to bear arms. The earliest of these was in 1558 and they continued at intervals until 1664. At each of these visitations, the marshals made charts of ancestry running back I the case of the Peshall family to before the middle of the thirteenth century. The Willsbridge Chart which appears in Burke's Founders and Royal Descendants, was made and approved by the College of Heraldry about 1809 and later published by Burke.

Finally it should be stated that no person has been permitted to contribute to his family history any fact based upon their own remembrance farther than would include the generation of their grandfather, while previously made pedigrees of any of the branches of the family genealogy have been accepted only in so far as they complied with this same regulation. With only these two exceptions, all of the pedigree of the family is based upon records of recognized authority, that have not been in any way tampered with, and which records are set out in full in the text, together with a reference to the place where the original may be consulted.

The reader will kindly understand that every fact stated in this history is supported by competent authority either in public or private records of England and America, as well as supplemented by the records belonging to or competent testimony given by the members of our family and others with whom we have consulted. To save multiplicity of citation the reader will find that the deductions as presented are supported by the next following citation in the same subdivision or section even though it may be more than one page after that on which appears the interesting fact which the reader desires to verify.

(History and Genealogy of the Pearsall Family in England and America, Introduction by Clarence Pearsall)

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