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October 15, 2016

Immigrant Ancestors Meme: Peter Bell

There is a lot of discussion about immigration in America right now. Tempers have flared, and different groups hold various strong opinions. There is also Brexit, where immigration was a large focus of the recent vote which resulted in the U.K. leaving the E.U.

I've been following this for several months and it occurs to me that those of us in Canada, America, and Australia have immigrant ancestors. Have you researched yours? Do you know who they were, why they came to your country and when? Do you know how they fared once settled in their new land? Were they welcomed? Were they shunned? Was their discrimination based on their religion or ethnic origin? These are all questions that are important, and interesting to discover. With that in mind, I'm the dedicating Saturdays (as many as needed) as the day to join me in discussing your immigrant ancestors.

You will be able to read any you are interested in by using the keyword Immigrant Ancestors. I'm going to share each week what I know of my immigrant ancestors to North America (whether that is USA or Canada)

My 3rd. great-grandfather, Peter Bell (1788 Middlewhich, Cheshire England - 1861 Arkell, Wellington Co. Ontario) left England for New York then immigrated to the brand-new settlement of Arkell Ontario in 1831.

Peter was one of the original group of Englishmen who settled this community in the wilderness of what was then Upper Canada.

His wife Betty Higginson and several of their children followed later on the Brig Joseph Charles sailing into New York then on to Upper Canada.

Peter and his wife worked hard to carve out an existence for their family. In 1855 Betty died and Peter followed 5 years later. They are buried in the Farnham Cemetery in Arkell.  

Betty's tombstone was discovered in Farnham Cemetery by Gerald and Chris Thiessen. They dug it from the ground where it lay buried. They interpreted the text on it as "In Memory of Elizabeth, wife of Peter Bell, Sep 1833" In reality the date she died was 1855.

One of Peter's daughters (Mary) married David King, the son of another Arkell pioneer, and my 2nd great-grandparents. I found their adventures so fascinating that I wrote a book "From England to Arkell" which is available at,, or CreateSpace


Dana Leeds said...

Over the past few weeks, I've been learning more about one of my immigrant families who came to America in 1859. As I "dig deeper," I am learning more about their passage. And, now, I think I might have discovered the village in present-day Germany where they came from! It's been an exciting journey!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

That's great Dana - so happy for you!