Lawrence G. Robbins: Family Researcher to Author, Part III

In Part II of this blog series, Lawrence Robbins traveled to central Michigan to further research his Robbins family history. There he found the ancestor who was the link between Nova Scotia and Michigan, his great-great grandfather, Prince H. Robbins.

In Part III of the series, Lawrence recounts how he found a valuable resource in a rather unexpected place.

Julie: To recap, during your trip to Michigan you found information about your Robbins family in the Isabella County vital records. You visited Gilmore Cemetery and located your great-great grandparents' memorials, and at the Central Michigan University Library archives you discovered newspaper articles about the Robbins in central Michigan, to include an article about Prince H. Robbins. That's a rather auspicious beginning to your research. Which sources did you turn to after that?

Lawrence: "I have had my share of genealogical “finds” over the years but none more surprising than my discovery of a book entitled Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Genealogies in the fall of 1996. After returning from Michigan, I was wondering what my next step would be in tracing my lineage from Prince Robbins back to Nova Scotia. I didn’t have a computer in those days, so there was no going on-line to see what others might have discovered about Prince Robbins and his roots. As my appetite was whetted by the Michigan findings, I began to poke around libraries to see what they might have on Nova Scotia history. In that way I came across the Yarmouth book in the Longview, Washington Public Library. How a copy of it happened to be there still amazes me. Perhaps some other descendant of the Yarmouth families had given it to the library. It does not seem like a book that a local librarian of a small community library would order for their general history collection. However it came to be there, I sat down with it for the rest of the afternoon and uncovered my Robbins family history back to the arrival of Nicholas Robbins in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635.

"Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Genealogies consists of a series of newspaper articles by George S. Brown, which originally appeared in the Yarmouth Herald between 1896 and 1909. These articles focused on the New England families who migrated to Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia commencing around 1762, many of whom were granted lands there by the English governor as a part of the English colonial effort to repopulate the area after the removal of the French Acadians. Collectively, this group of New England immigrants was known as the Yarmouth Proprietors. The book traces the lineage of each of the Yarmouth Proprietor families from their original arrival in New England through their subsequent immigration to Yarmouth County on up to the end of the 19th century.

"In the case of the Robbins family, the book traces the lineage from the arrival of Nicholas Robbins in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 through the immigration of his great-great grandsons, James and Benjamin Robbins from Plymouth County, Massachusetts to Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia in 1762, to Prince H. Robbins. Prince Robbins was the son of Rufus N. Robbins and wife, Letitia (Wyman) Robbins, who married Isabella Purdy in Yarmouth County and subsequently moved to central Michigan in 1870. Since many of the Yarmouth Robbins married other descendants of the Yarmouth Proprietors, much of the Robbins side of my family tree was filled in for me by this one book, including several lines back to the Mayflower. Much effort was required over the years to find “proof” in primary sources to support the lineages found in “Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Genealogies” but George S. Brown’s research has proved to be most sound and reliable. What a “find”! Of course, my Scottish ancestral roots story came to naught. But that’s okay. That story gave my dad a lot of happiness during his lifetime and it gave special meaning to his lifelong devotion to golf, which traces its roots back to Scotland."

Julie: You make an important point concerning finding proof to support the lineages. Newspaper articles can be a fantastic help to research, but the arduous work comes in locating primary sources. One of the things I admire and value so much about your book, The Nicholas Robbins Family, is the primary sources you cite. Clearly great care was taken to document your findings.

Dear Readers: A list of Standards for Sound Genealogical Research may be found on the National Genealogical Society web site. Employing these standards, such as recording the source for each item of information collected and seeking original records or unaltered copies of original records, demonstrates the accuracy and completeness of one's research.

Be sure to join us next week for another installment.

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