Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Homecoming Updates - Hotel Reservations

Following is information about Hotel Reservations.

Also contained herein, will be the following:
If You Can't Attend for the Whole Week
   * First Half of the Week
   * Mid Point of the Week
   * Last Half of the WeekChurch on Sundays
Travel Reservations

Hotel Reservations
Information follows for reserving your rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Ranson, WV. Keep in mind that reservations can be canceled easily without cost if necessary, therefore it might be good to go ahead now and make your reservations. Reserve rooms early so you can get the accommodations you prefer. We may not be able to increase the number of rooms or change room preferences if we wait too long.

There are currently 40 Rooms set aside for the homecoming with arrival dates beginning on Saturday, October 9, 2010 through the evening of Saturday, October 16 for departure on Sunday the 17th. You can book for the whole stay or for any part of the room block.

Rooms available are broken down as follows:

  • 5 King Smoking Rooms,
  • 10 King Non-Smoking Rooms,
  • 5 Double Queen Rooms with Smoking and
  • 20 Double Queen Rooms with Non Smoking.
Our group rate is: $89.00 Plus 12% Tax.  
This is a very good rate and especially for a nice new hotel. (To see the long list of amenities, see the Holiday Inn Express website and go to Charles Town, WV facility.) For example: Every room has a microwave, half-size refrigerator, and coffee pot plus more. Three computers, a printer, and photocopier are available 24/7 and are free to use. A very good hot breakfast is included each morning and is served in a spacious great room. Hot coffee is available most all day and we can probably make arrangements for it to be available later if anyone wants it available later.

To register:

  • call 304-725-1330
  • ask for reservations
  • give the dates you wish to arrive
  • ask for rooms in the Burr Block under the Code for our group: BFR (Burr Family Reunion)
This Holiday Inn Express is new (built within the last 10 years). The General Manager is on our Board of Directors for Reliving History, Inc. and is always very helpful. He likes us and encourages us to request that everyone make reservations as soon as possible. The hotel is very close (within a good walk) to the race track (horse racing) and slots and table games in Charles Town. October is a popular travel month for this area which becomes extraordinarily beautiful in the fall, so the hotel will NOT likely have vacancies if you do not make reservations. Last homecoming (in 2008) we canceled a room and about 30 minutes later changed our minds. Too bad, the room was gone and there were no vacancies.

If You Can't Attend for the Whole Week
I have intentionally divided the week into two distinct sections for those who can only attend part of the homecoming. In 2008, some of our participants requested more free time. So this year, we have planned for both well-structured, large-group activities (first 4 days) and a Menu of Options for shorter field trips, workshops, and free time with new-found family and friends (last 3 days).

Sunday through Wednesday will be the well-structured, large-group activities. Those who attended last homecoming already know that I tend to over-plan. That means a lot of "experiential activities" will be stuffed into these four days. And none of the plans will be a repeat of the last homecoming.

First Half of the Week
On Sunday, we will celebrate "All Things Family." We will look back at Peter Burr's roots and culture. We will learn of our ancestry including how various important people related to each of us. We will have displays, presentations, info and will focus especially on:

  • Immigrant Jehue Burre, our Puritan ancestor who arrived June 1630 with John Winthrop's famous fleet and who became a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the 12th member of the church at Roxbury and was quickly assigned the responsibility over the building of roads and cart bridges to facilitate transportation. Within the next 11 years he migrated inland twice and was a co-founder of two towns that today are known as Springfield, MA and Fairfield, CT.
  • Thaddeus Burr, a close friend of John Handcock and Samuel Adams, was also a spy for George Washington's Culper Spy Ring for gathering and communicating intelligence to colonial troops during the American Revolution. Thaddeus Burr entertained many people in his home in Fairfield, CT and many of these people are well-known in our history books. 
  • Col Andrew Burr, a renowned military officer and political leader in Fairfield, CT. He was Deputy and Assistant for Fairfield to the Connecticut General Court; commissioned Colonel and commanded the Connecticut 4th Regiment against Louisburg and shared in the hardships of the siege, and the glory of the final victory. He was appointed Commissary on Expeditions to West Indies in 1740 and 1746 just shortly before Peter Burr migrated to the Virginia Colony. Andrew was a member and assistant of the Committee of War, and was a Magistrate and a lawyer of eminence.
  • Rev Aaron Burr, founder of Princeton University and son-in-law of the well-known and very influential Rev Jonathan Edwards. This ancestor was a renowned scholar, graduated from Yale and fluent in about 5 different languages. He had a key role in the Great Awakening as the New Jersey College, now known as Princeton, was established to train young ministers according to the new religious movement.
  • Vice President Aaron Burr. While everyone has heard the version of Aaron Burr as first told by historians with political agendas, few know of the many well-documented, incredibly-important other things our cousin did. We will explore his life, accomplishments, and motives in context with his culture and political views.
On Monday, we will be at the Peter Burr House all day involved in hands-on experience. In other words we will prepare our own meals similar to the way the Burr family would have. Many other activities are scheduled including some hands-on service to the property, competitions, entertainment, etc. ALL activities will be guided by experts in their fields, but NONE of the activities will be "walk around and watch others demonstrate." The success of the activities will rest on all participants collectively. No activity is mandatory. All activities are designed to accommodate different needs and energy levels of various groups of people. The general public will be invited to participate and the event is intended to be high visibility and well publicized.

On Tuesday and Wednesday,
we will tour three very historic sites that will help us to place Peter Burr in his appropriate culture and setting in time. These tours will focus on the culture of the yeoman farm family in 16th century England (prior to the 17th century great migration) and on life in the buffer zone of the Virginia Colony in the 18th century (during the French and Indian War when the young adults, Peter Burr and wife, were beginning their family). These tours will provide much foundational understanding of who our ancestors were. Even those among us who are not Burr descendants, the info is foundational to who we are as American citizens.Again, the general public will be invited to join us. By including the public, our plans are multifaceted, and hopefully you will understand the rationale after you experience the benefits of the planning.

Mid Point of the Week
Wednesday evening will be the mid point in the homecoming and the activities will better define our reasons for including the public in our activities on Sunday through Wednesday. The second Wednesday of each month is the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of Reliving History, Inc. The meeting for October will be altered for the benefit of the homecoming participants. We will meet together collectively as a family-supported and community-supported organization with visions for how all of us can participate in advancing the Peter Burr Property to the status of an icon reflective of the colonial time period. You will be shown a much larger vision of what can be, and will begin to see ways you can better participate in Reliving History, Inc. Hopefully, each of you will envision how we can collectively keep the Peter Burr House functional for the general public and for our descendants and also how we can facilitate productive growth in programming in order to secure funding from many sources to assure the preservation and restoration of the house in perpetuity. Perpetuity . . . that means time without end, eternity, infinity, or for a long, long, time.

Last Half of the Week
On Thursday-Friday, we will have a menu small group options that will include organized workshops, tours, and other activities, as well as free time for those who want to site see on their own or organize their own schedule with new-found friends and family.

On Saturday,
we will continue to recommend small group tours and site seeing, but we will also provide info for those interested in traveling over to McLean, VA to participate in the Fall Festival at the Claude Moore Farm, a 1771 working farm representative of the tenant farms that existed in George Washington's neighborhood and that were frequently owned by the wealthy plantation owners and operated by worker families for the benefit of the plantation owners. The Claude Moore Farm is in the Tidewater area near Mt Vernon and the location of the plantation owners. These plantations were important in why the Virginia frontier was opened up to settlers who would risk their lives to serve as a buffer between the French and Indian activity and the tobacco-growing plantation owners who needed more land for expansion purposes.

While Thursday-Saturday schedule will be less structured and full of options for small group activities, we will plan for some casual gatherings in the evenings as a method for keeping the group connected and informed.

Church on Sundays
Peter Burr helped to found two Presbyterian Churches that continue to exist in the area. All who are interested in attending services at either or both of these churches will be able to do so. Plans will be made for the two Sundays that open and close the homecoming. More on those plans later.

Travel Reservations
For those who plan to fly, begin now to check prices and schedules. The news indicates that air fares may be very good right now. Also, look ahead toward deals on auto rentals for the week. There is no mass transportation in Jefferson County, WV and the train (MARC) only stops in the area (albeit in walking distance to the Peter Burr House) twice a day (morning and evening) and possibly only on weekdays. Auto rental or driving personal vehicles is strongly recommended. Otherwise, contact me if some of you prefer that I try to link you up with someone else who plans to drive.

I look forward to meeting new family and friends as well as seeing everyone again from the 2008 homecoming. Many plans are coming together and more are in process. Email me if you have any ideas or suggestions. This is your event. Let's make it the best it can be.

Joyce Cole

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Peter Burr Society - Who Are We?

Over the last two years, we have evolved, and in the process some may be unclear as to who we are now. Let us address that question.

We currently have two organizations, wherein the first and perhaps smallest organization is covered by a larger official organization. In 2008, I began organizing what I called the Peter Burr Society. At that time, my vision included locating descendants of Peter Burr and building a network for us to evolve as a finally once again united (after 200 years) around the Peter Burr House. Because of a set of circumstances that exist relating to the Peter Burr House, rationale surfaced for us to consider becoming much more formal in our organizational structure for a number of reasons.

Without enumerating all those reasons now, we have come a long way in less than two years. During 2009, much effort went into organizing Reliving History, Inc., which is now a legal corporation in the state of West Virginia and officially with 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit status. As an official organization, we support the Peter Burr House through educational and charitable service to the public. Reliving History, Inc. is the corporate structure that will be able to apply for grant funding and raise other funds via recognized methods utilized by other non-profit organizations.

The Peter Burr Society will continue to exist as a more loosely organized structure that will function under Reliving History, Inc. and in support of the Peter Burr House, via genealogy and research into how family history connects with local and national history.

Much has been published recently about Reliving History, Inc. and it seems that now is time to clarify more about the Peter Burr Society. Reliving History, Inc. exists because the Peter Burr House still exists. The house exists, however, because Peter Burr existed and built the house. The two are important as they come together as one event in time. A real person built a house that for some reason continues to exist.

Peter Burr was the composite result of generations that lived before him. To understand who he was and what motivated him and his life style, we must also embrace his family history. The same is true for all of us. In addition to all that came before him, he also was shaped by what was going on around him. That too is true for all of us. To better understand him and the significance of his house, we need to know more about his ancestry and their culture, his neighbors and their culture, and the historic events that set the stage for important decisions that were being made by him and by others. And so it is for us; we are the products of all that has gone before us and all that is going on around us.

To bring history to life and make it more accessible as a tool for our own benefits, we need to understand history rather than simply know dates and places. We need to feel feelings that ancestors felt and realize that in similar situations, we may have made the same choices. As we are able to understand cycles that tend to repeat themselves as the result of human nature, we can become wise by grasping the larger picture like a map of how we got to where we are now and how to make better choices for the future.

The Peter Burr Society is intended to utilize genealogy to trace family linage and to help us find and understand better who we are.

A new wave seems to be occurring that many genealogists have long wished for. Younger people seem to be getting interested in their roots.

The internet has opened doors for accessing records that only a few years ago were accessible only in dusty archives. There was been a recent increase in people requesting membership into the Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group. New television shows such as the very recent "Faces of America" on PBS and NBC's new "Who Do You Think You Are?" Regular people see celebrities get emotional as they make initial connections to ancestors they knew nothing about; they relate personally and begin to want to discover their own roots.

As I read reviews and comments about these shows, several themes are repeated over and over. People are saying:

  • I got tears in my eyes as I watched.
  • These people who discover their roots seem to feel a personal connection to history.
  • This helps me to better understand a reason for knowing history.
  • How wonderful to feel like a part of something much bigger than what is going on today.

And people are asking:

  • How do I find my roots? What is the process?
  • Rather than being alone, we are all very alike aren't we?

As our society becomes less and less connected by family togetherness, people often feel less and less rooted or connected to something of value. Perhaps this phenomenon helps to drive the new wave, as people begin to discover the excitement of making a personal connection to some historic event.

Specific lines that came from the initial episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" stated:

  • To know who you are, you have to know where you came from.
  • We all have a story waiting to be discovered.
  • The past can never be repeated, but it can be uncovered.

The Peter Burr Society is about family history. It is about Burr family history and it is about other family histories, because we are all the composite of (and affected by) all who lived before us and of those who live around us. The Peter Burr Society is important because: it will help us not only to discover who we are as a family and as individuals but also who we are as a network of people made up of many families.

It is difficult for family members in other parts of the country to help with local events at the Peter Burr House or for Reliving History, Inc. But family members from all over the country and even else where in the world can easily contribute to the compiling of the family history.

It is now time for us to begin growing the Peter Burr Society and organizing ways for us to function better in ways that will be beneficial to members.

If you are a member of the Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group, please go to that site and post your replies to this topic. If you are not a member, go to the site and request membership. (Allow about 24 for acceptance to be processed.) The link is:

Open for discussion is the question: How can we make this site more useful to members?

One of the options might be to consider a group membership to Ancestry.com that would allow us to begin building an online family tree. That subject, however, needs to be discussed and several issues need to be decided. Let your thoughts be known on this subject.

If you cannot figure out how to join the group, or if you prefer to not join the group, you may email me at bjoycecole@RelivingHistoryInc.org
Or go to our website and use "Contact Us" at:

Also comment about whether or not you would be interested in a genealogy workshop to be offered during the 2010 homecoming in October.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Joyce Cole, Founder
Reliving History, Inc. and
The Peter Burr Society
Website: http://www.relivinghistoryinc.org/
Email: bjoycecole@RelivingHistoryInc.org

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Forecasting: A Growing Interest in History

The purpose of this blog is to set up a mechanism so I can say: "I told you so" in the future. I believe an important mile marker is before us that will be of benefit to history-related focuses in the future.

A new show airs on NBC Mar 5, 2010 that I believe will be important. The one thing the show does is to personalize history in a way that is key to drawing in the interest of many people. The potential for drawing in younger people is especially important.

  • New Series: Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Airs: Friday, Mar 5 on NBC at 8 pm (7 central time)
In the first episode, Sarah Jessica Parker discovers an ancestor accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trails. The show takes a personal look into the family stories of seven celebrities, while helping people everywhere understand what they could discover about their own family history.

Significance of the Series:
I believe that interest in history is growing and is actually beginning to capture the interest of younger people. More easily available resources are finally beginning to make the past relevant to who we are on a personal level.

For example, the moment I learned that one of my direct Burr ancestors was a Puritan who came to America on a boat in John Winthrop's historic fleet that landed near Boston on June 12, 1630, I suddenly found myself interested in my own history and the history that surrounded that event. After all the dull history classes that were totally impersonal with dates and places that meant nothing to me, I suddenly found myself totally (perhaps obsessively) interested when I became aware that DNA coursing through my veins was present at some of those places and in some of those dates. When I first stood in the ca. 1751 oldest wood frame house in the state of West Virginia and realized that the person who laid the floors, built the fireplace, and provided detailed finishing touches to that old house did in fact have my DNA in the veins of his hands, then hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I connected to history in a way I never before dreamed possible. And I am not different from others. I have already heard too many other people use the same description of hairs on the back of their necks standing on end in similar situations. Those upright hairs are an indicator that engagement with history has occurred.

As much as I am able to find fault with Ancestry.com, Bill Gates and Windows, the fact remains: in the larger scheme of things, Ancestry.com is going to be to history as Bill Gates and Windows was to computer compatibility and networking. Genealogy (personal family history) is going to do for history what Windows did for computing: bring it down to a personal level easily accessible to average people.

I believe that the wise among us will recognize this occurrence as an opportunity for opening new doors in history focuses and turning around old embedded obstacles.

While I do not have a membership with Ancestry.com and have no stock in that organization or NBC television, I believe that the new series will be a useful tool.

  • Do I care whether or not you watch the show? No.
  • Do I care whether or not the show airs? Yes
I believe the marketing plans behind this show are brilliant. While the show will certainly send people to Ancestry.com in search of their own family history, it will also (in the long-range) benefit every organization with a focus on history. I am certain it will capture a younger generation of data-seeking individuals that eventually could become a part of a new wave of interest in history in many different ways.

I believe that history-focused organizations would be foolish to fail to embrace and plan upon this predictable phenomenon. To those who can read handwriting on the wall, my advise is to be ready.

What does all this mean to us at Reliving History, Inc?
The Peter Burr House has stood for 258 years, primarily in an open field where it in these later days has been of little notice. As a lone structure in a field surrounded by industrial development it is currently of less value to some than the land it sits on. This historic site, like many others, must become more valued if they are to continue standing. That value will be in the eyes of the general public who must come to a place of personally caring about these properties.

The word "personal" has significant meaning in the prospects of raising interest in history. The way to raise interest in historic sites and historic focuses is to engage the "personal" connection to history. Genealogy an important path to personal connection to history.

Another word and phrase also have significant meaning: "networking" for "setting a historic backdrop" is important. As we network with other organizations to "set a historic backdrop" then the Peter Burr House becomes less of a lone structure in a remote field and more of a key part of the extremely valuable larger picture.

Without going into any further detail on these subjects, I've defined personal connection to history (via genealogy) and networking (working together) to set historic backdrops as key elements for helping to utilize and further grow the on-coming interest in history.

Years from now, after we have followed a planned path, I want to be able to look back to this particular post and playfully (but for the record also) say: I told you so.

Joyce Cole
Reliving History, Inc.
Visit our website:

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Homecoming - Registration Fees

As I prepare to send out another mass email updating everyone on the Homecoming plans AND
as I update the website relative to these emerging plans,
I am aware that some people want more information than others.
. . . AND we all know I'm not good at being brief. So, I think it wise to post basic info on the website and to then expand on that info on this blog for the benefit of those inquiring minds who want to know more.

The following update is currently being posted related to Registration Fees for the Homecoming:

Registration Fees:
  • $75 per person if paid by end of the day May 31, 2010
  • $100 per person if paid between June 1 - August 31, 2010
  • $125 per person if paid on or after September 1, 2010
  • Registration fees are refundable if canceled by September 30, 2010
  • Registration fees are negotiable if canceled on or after October 1, 2010 with final decision contingent on whether or not the cancellation creates a significant cost factor that cannot be reimbursed.
What Registration Fees Cover and Do Not Cover:
  • The fee WILL cover the cost for the luxury chartered buses (for at least two day tours), admission fees, program costs related to the tours, plus all other program-related honorariums and costs for the remaining events, including costs for room and site rentals, shelter and seating costs as needed for use at the Peter Burr House, and for many other related expenses and costs.
  • All registration fees are to cover actual expenses and are calculated such that early registrants receive a considerable discount in return for registering early.
  • The registration fee this year will NOT cover all meals as it did in 2008 but will include some meals as we are better able to determine what the remaining budget will allow.
  • None of the registration fee is for general fund raising or residual income for the Peter Burr House or for Reliving History, Inc.

Register Early to Take Advantage of Discounts!

Your assistance by registering early helps us to cover the cost of deposits that are required in order to make logistical arrangements for program elements far enough in advance that we can schedule based on our agenda rather than based on what less-favorable openings remain.

Tour buses alone will cost about $1250 per bus per day and will require deposits up front to reserve them. Likewise, scheduling room or site rentals and various other program elements require front deposits. In addition to early cash flow, we also need a somewhat accurate clue as to how many people are coming.

The $75 registration fee per person for those who pay before June 1 includes a considerable discount. The tour bus costs $1250 per day and contains 50 available seats. A full bus at that rate costs $25 per seat (even for children). Admissions into the planned day tour sites $8 per adult each day. So, one person attending a day tour will cost $33 per person. That same person attending both tours costs $66 of the $75 registration fee before any other costs for the entire week are taken into consideration. Because sudden changes at the last minute can be costly, then it is worth it to us to offer a significant discount in return for early registration. We will then be able to plan other ways for making up other needed funds in other ways. Help to make planning as effective as possible by communicating your intentions to participate as soon as possible.

To make up the difference
between real costs and registration fees, we will probably:
  • invite the general public to some of the planned events in return for participation fees, 
  • seek in-kind contributions, and 
  • raise funds by offering some items for sell as snacks and souvenirs.
To Register for the Homecoming:
Follow the instructions on our website at the bottom of the 2010 Homecoming page:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Making Better Use of Our Communication Resources

Recently, we have had a rash of requests for membership into the Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group. While I approve these requests, I am concerned that these new members are about to discover that the group has become relatively inactive. It is not functioning as I would hope. We need to look at our objectives for this group and then explore whether there is a better way of meeting those objectives.

Currently, we have in place a total of three communication resources. It is time we better understand where the Peter Burr Society fits into the larger process and how all the resources can work together. Following are the web addresses for these resources: 

  • Reliving History, Inc. website: http://RelivingHistoryInc.org
  • This blog spot: http://relivinghistoryinc.blogspot.com
  • The Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/peterburrsociety/
Purposes and Limitations:
  • The Reliving History, Inc. website continues to grow and much will be added to the site for update and expansion purposes. The website, however, does not have a good connection for an online forum for input from people or a way for individuals to upload or share genealogical or historic documents.
  • This blog spot contains whatever is on my mind and pertains to both Reliving History, Inc. and the Peter Burr Society. It is a good way for me to communicate with the public and does have a place for the public's comments below, but to my knowledge there is no process for those comments to be organized into a functional two-way forum or a way for others to initiate subject matter. Likewise, the blog does not provide a way for individuals to upload or share genealogical or historic documents.
  • The Yahoo Groups provides the online forum and a way for individuals to upload and share important documents; however, for reasons both known and unknown the process is not functioning as it should. Or perhaps the problem could be that we have not yet generated enough on-going interest in (or understanding of) the process.
While Reliving History, Inc. focuses primarily on the Peter Burr House and has local support, the Peter Burr Society has its own unique purpose that can play a vital role on behalf of the house as well as the larger general history of the family.

The ca. 1751 Peter Burr House (priority focus of Reliving History, Inc.) is a tangible structure that is a treasure worthy of continued preservation, restoration, and programming. The house was built by Peter Burr (1699-1779) and his son, Peter Burr (1727-1795). The son (about 21 years old at the same time young George Washington, age 16, was in the same area) took up residence in the house and stayed there for the rest of his life as he raised 13 children during the years of our nation's formation. The house exists as an incredible vantage point in time from which our nation's early history can be viewed. Architecturally, archaeologically, and historically the house is a rare treasure of what could be national interest.

The Peter Burr Society (a more loosely structured organization) consists of descendants of Peter Burr and of other related families and friends. Family history plugs into the interpretation and history of the house. Yet, until recently, the family history has been very piece-meal with many pieces of the story still isolated (unshared), fragmented in different locations, or undiscovered. Many remaining pieces may yet be found in dusty archives someday or in boxes of old documents passed down from previous generations and in many cases still packed away in attics, forgotten. Let us hope they are found before age and critters make them too fragile or deteriorated to utilize. Much of our history will be found in obscure references in documents that belong to other families whose ancestors interacted with our ancestors. Until we as an organization become better know, why should anyone with a reference to one of our ancestors (in an old letter perhaps to someone in their family or an old journal) know (or even care) to contact us? Each time a new reference or document is discovered or a new piece of family information is shared, the picture becomes a little clearer. And as the picture becomes clearer, our story becomes more and more amazing.

The Yahoo Group is a great idea and provides us two benefits that are important:
  • The ability to interact about family history in on-going conversations through the forum and 
  • A place to upload and store our family documents. 
But functionally it is not yet doing what it was intended to do. Adjustments are needed and your input on this is important.

If you are not already a member of the The Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group, you can join by going to the web address above. At the home page, you will be able to read about our focus, but you will have to "Join" the group to be able to access the files and documents and other benefits including photo albums. If you are a truly interested person (not some marketing ploy) your request to "Join" will be approved, but you will have to wait a few hours for me to receive and process the request.

The "Joining" process is a protective mechanism. It allows us a method to safeguard our family information. I also allows us a way to block those who might be seeking a place to be opportunistic regardless of their other agendas. 

I would like your comments concerning:
  • What are your general thoughts about the Yahoo Group?
  • Is there a better or easier way than Yahoo Groups to meet our objectives?
  • Do you have suggestions on how to revitalize the group and make it more useful?
  • Do you have questions?
  • Do you have any other comments on the subject?
There are some known reasons the group has become inactive.
We need to review those reasons in an effort to make the site more useful and therefore used by more people. First we need to understand what the group is for and how it relates to other focuses that are in process. Then I would like for us to find a process that does better than Yahoo what we originally intended. I am requesting your help.

Several reasons are known.
  • We no longer have a moderator to facilitate (I would love for someone to surface who would like to oversee this project. It does not require a lot of time but could certainly benefit from someone who cares.)
  • The Yahoo process is not very “user friendly” for our purposes.
  • The “joining” process is difficult for some people especially for those who are not as internet savvy.
  • Some people hesitate to join groups for fear of possible unknowns attached to joining.
  • Some people have to create yahoo email addresses in order to join but then never use those secondary addresses. Some do not know how (or have a reason) to change their profile to link notices of messages to their primary email address.
  • There is a learning curve to understanding what the group is for, especially for those who’ve never used groups.
There are also some reasons we need to revitalize this group or resolve any problems.
All of us are the composites of the many different families that united years ago and that by marriage and parenting produced our ancestors. Of all the different family lines that make up my particular ancestry, none is as fascinating as the Burr line. The more I dig, the more fascinated I become at how intricately woven this family was in the very roots of our whole American history beginning in 1630 with the first Burrs in the New World, a Puritan family, who arrived with John Winthrop’s famous fleet. Still missing from the over 150 documents posted on the Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group are documents about some of the more interesting people in our ancestry who are the current focus of a possible documentary mini-series on the family. While I do not want to say too much about the possible documentary series here, records of several close relatives of Peter Burr are not currently but clearly should be included in the Yahoo Group files. These documents include information about:
  • Peter Burr's great great grandfather Jehue Burr, alluded to above as the Burr Immigrant who came as a Puritan to the New World with his young family. 
  • Peter Burr's grand uncle Chief Justice Peter Burr (for whom our Peter Burr's father was likely named) who graduated early from Harvard and became the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court long before our nation was formed. 
  • Peter Burr's first cousin once removed, Thaddeus Burr, who is now being identified as one of the "missing links" in George Washington's Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution. He was friends with a number of our founding fathers, and his home was the site of the John Hancock's wedding.
  • Peter Burr's uncle, the Rev. Aaron Burr, who helped found and was the second President of what is now Princeton University and who was also the son-in-law of the great Rev. Jonathan Edwards. 
  • Peter Burr's first cousin,  the NY Senator and later US Vice President Aaron Burr. While history books have not done the VP justice, the facts remain that he has many credits to his name and the final story on the truth of the historic events are slowly beginning to be known.
Anyone not excited about our history, most likely is unaware of how intricately our family history is woven around our nation’s history. We had early ancestors who were among the bedrock of our national history.

Not only do we need to connect the Peter Burr House to the known history that was occurring around it, but also we need to connect to the house a better picture of who the amazing family was that lived in that house.

While the general public focuses on revitalizing the house, the Peter Burr Society needs to focus continually on discovering, organizing, and sharing our family history.

I would seriously like to have your input as to how we can better function online in a manner that will allow better or easier two-way communication and help to accumulate more documentation and discovery of existing family-related documents.

To reply to this, you have at least three options:
  • You can post a reply in the comments section below.
  • If you are a member of the Peter Burr Society Yahoo Group, then discussion of this matter would best be done by posting a message in the online forum; however it will only be seen by members. 
  • Or by comments addressed to me at bjoycecole@relivinghistoryinc.org or to my primary email address for those who have it. I will be happy to compile the thoughts (into one document) and share them later as appropriate.

Please take a moment to reply even if only by comment below, if with nothing else, then at least with a word of encouragement or thought on the subject.

Joyce Cole
Founder and Chairman of Reliving History, Inc.
Founder of the Peter Burr Society

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Volunteer Recruitment

John Milton in the last line of his famous poem, "On His Blindness," wrote:
"He also serves, who only stands and waits."

I have long loved this line. It speaks to the value of every unique and individual person. Our value as people is not in what we do or how much we do or even in how much our contributions costs. Our value as people is about what is in our hearts. A sincere and genuine spirit of willingness is the source from which the greatest values come. With a spirit of willingness the right contribution and the right timing can flow in ways that meet the deepest needs often in the simplest ways. 

Those who patiently stand and wait have their own value that may surprise us when we least expect it. That reminds me of sweet, wonderful Roberta Hughes, who wanted to help "some little way" at our 2008 Burr Family Homecoming. On the very first day of the event, she asked if she could take the fruit back to her hotel room and wash it for me. While this was such an ordinary task, it was one among many that was going to add to the many tasks on my list. Her willing spirit caught my attention and caused her to stand out as a person of extreme value. And I continue to think of her as a wonderful example of where the real value is in people. She blessed me greatly just by her presence, and just seeing her every day for the rest of the event caused me to feel a depth of joy that all was well.

To me John Milton's words mean that every single person regardless of how much he or she contributes, is vitally important if he or she simply cares about our shared focus.

We at Reliving History, Inc. and at the Peter Burr House need your contributions. But measuring the value of those contributions will be quite different from the way the world values contributions. In the next months, we are going to focus on volunteer recruitment. But the question has risen among some as to how family members and friends from a long distance away contribute. Money always helps, but other contributions within each person's abilities are also valuable.

The first thing we need from anyone is that sense of willingness to help. And until the right method for contributing in the most useful way presents itself, each willing spirit is useful if only in standing and waiting. Standing and waiting at its very best implies committed readiness before action.

For many years (all the way back to about age 9) I've believed I was "called" to a special purpose. For years I waited until I became actually discouraged by about age 40. I went through a period of assessing whether or not I was in fact "called." I questioned if this so-called "calling" was instead ego-driven by some deeper desire to be important. I had to go through a process of setting aside my own desires for being valuable in some showy way and to learn to accept a role of just standing and waiting, even at the risk of never being considered valuable.

Today, as I approach the age of 63 (next month), I am aware that I have found my special place. It isn't about being important or about being valued by people who see the world through distorted value systems. It is about being deeply committed and ready to do what needs to be done at the simple place where my ability to contribute matches the need. I did not approach my current role as some aware this is what I was "called" to do, but as one aware that Divine Intervention seemed to me to be all over the task that needed to be done. For me, I had to reach my senior years to actually feel like I'm doing what I was put on earth to do. And it didn't come with planning or vision, but with years of being willing, committed, and ready . . . patiently standing and waiting for the right time and place and service. I had no idea where I was going until after I had gone some distance and looked back. Then I realized I was on a path unaware that it was where I was supposed to be.

I was about 30 years old when I began to seriously pray: "I don't have to know the future or have assurances along the way. I don't even have to see where I'm going. Just WALK me Lord, in such a guided way that though I walk through the dark unknown, my every step will somehow go where you wanted me this day."And strangely years later, I stand and look back and realize my prayer has been answered and continues to be answered. I never knew or would have even guessed that my path would lead me to where I am today.

With all that said, let it be known that I am convinced that something Divine is woven into the objectives before us.
  • I have no idea why God or Divine Intervention preserved the ca. 1751 wooden house that like almost all others should have fallen down years ago. 
  • I have no idea what unseen dynamics moved me from my home in TN to the local area where the Peter Burr House continues to exist. 
  • I don't know what intrinsic value this house of the effort to preserve the house will bring to others in the future. 
  • I'm aware that the old house currently has some serious structural problems that must be resolved. I don't know what all is going to be needed nor how it is going to get fixed, but I have no doubt but that it is going to survive. 
As I look back, I am amazed at how so many things fell into place in the planning for the 2008 Homecoming and how so much has fallen into place in our almost miraculous first year of organization. But as I look back, I know without a doubt that this is the task I was "called" to do over 50 years ago.

There are ways everyone who desires to be of value in this process can do so. But it all starts with the desire, the willingness, the commitment and then it is about standing and waiting. When the right time and task arrives, you may not even know you are being of value. You may not even see your contribution as being of value. But be aware, that which comes from the heart is alive and full of life and value.

No one can begin to imagine how valuable it was over a year ago when a sweet, tiny little, elderly lady genuinely wanted to wash the fruit for me. Her small gesture grew into great value as it symbolically suggests the bathing of our efforts (fruit) in love and nurturing.

Slowly, tasks are emerging that can be done by family members and friends from miles away. This blog is to those who feel a desire to "do something" but who believe they can only "stand and wait." God bless you. If willingness and commitment are behind your heart-felt desires, then "standing and waiting" is only a first step to being ready when the time and task reveals itself.

I love you guys, including those I haven't met yet and even many who are yet to be identified. So far as I can tell, Peter Burr was a man of deep faith and personal commitment to his God.

Joyce Cole, Founder
Reliving History, Inc. and
The Peter Burr Society

2010 Burr Family & Friends Homecoming

Many have asked about the next Burr Family Homecoming for Oct 2010.

I selected a date 3 months ago and am still waiting for confirmation from the hotel to make sure the dates are good for them. Before I let that sound like the hotel has fallen down on the job, let me state that the person with whom I was working got sick and was out for a while. When I checked on her condition in mid November, I discovered that she had died. So, the hotel's general manager who has been very good to us is taking care of the matter and promises to have info back to me very soon. As of mid December, he hired a replacement person whom I'm sure has been very busy during this hectic season. I will try again in early January to confirm our dates.

Meanwhile, people still want to know when the next homecoming will be. My fear in announcing a date is the slim possibility that the date by chance might not be good for the hotel. Yet, because many still want to know, I will make the following announcement (with fear and trepidation) that I hope the dates for our next homecoming will be Oct 9-16, 2010. While I'm about 95% sure that date will hold, please do not hold me to it if we do in deed need to make a change.

With that said, you will notice that I'm planning a full week for this event. I'm aware that some people may not be able to attend for a full week, but I plan to post the schedule so you may pick which days you want to attend if you can only do a few of the days. The reasons for scheduling a full week is to allow us to do more but to also have more free time for small group site-seeing based on your own preferences. I will organize information to help making choices for optional tours more successful while allowing you to choose places that most interest you. Hopefully, the planning for these optional tours as well as planning for the larger ones will be the beginning foundation for what I hope becomes an online Tourism Resource.

Our first and last homecoming in 2008 was a success. We had fun and got to know each other. We will have more fun this time and we will get to know each other even better. Much will be different. This time,
  • I will not be preparing all (or even most) of the meals. The registration fee, therefore will be smaller (probably about $75 per person) even though we will enjoy more days together. You will be on your own to select where and what you eat most of the time.
  • We will have full and unlimited access to the Peter Burr House. I'm contemplating renting a large tent in order to make the historic property the center of our administration for the event. We will be able to post the big chart that shows the family tree and leave it up for the entire week. We will be able to use all of the buildings on site. We will be able to hold and participate in actual workshops.
  • We will invite not only descendants of Peter Burr but also descendants of in-laws (the people who married Peter Burr's children) and descendants of Peter Burr's friends and neighbors. Many families do not have a 260-year-old homestead to return to and to actually TOUCH and to feel the immediate feeling of linking to the past. I've learned that those whose ancestors had other connections to the Peter Burr House also have the same goose-bumpy feelings as the hair on the backs of their necks stand on end when they too are able to touch a structure that their ancestors visited. These are some of the people who may well become avid supporters for the preservation of the house. And some of these people may have family documents that add to the documentation that our family has found thus far. It is very useful to expand the scope of those whom we want to draw in.
  • We will also invite all of the volunteers who donate their time, effort, money, and love to the Peter Burr House. The will be invited to attend all of our events. Family needs to know these people and these volunteers need to know who we are as family. 
  • We will also invite the local people of the Jefferson County and surrounding areas to share in a limited number of the events. Our purpose is to blend the descendants of Peter Burr with those friends and neighbors who may someday be the ones helping to support the historic property. The assembling of the family will be the big event that I believe will cause local people to want to come and blend in and become a part of the Peter Burr House experience.
  • We will have some special invited guests who will share specific expertise and knowledge and possibly conduct some workshops. Much of this is still in planning stages, but as the one who knows what is being planned, I can tell you these will be fun-packed and informative experiences.
  • I will gather tourism information to help you to make the best of small group tours according to your own choices. While some may have special interest in the numerous Civil War sites in the local area (including: Manasas, VA: Harpers Ferry, WV; Sharpsburg (Antetium), MD, and Gettysburg, PA), others may have more interest in the historic railroad system (including the historic B&O that passes through Peter Burr's property) or the historic C&O Canal, or the important historic roads and gathering points in the area (the National Road, the Philadelphia Wagon Road, Warm Springs Road, or Pack Horse Ford river crossing, and the other old Indian paths) that today are major roads in the area.

The plans already include two full days of touring on a chartered bus to sites focused:
  • one day on the French and Indian War and 
  • the other day on the Revolutionary War period.
These are both very interesting periods and several sites exist that can provide excellent historic experiences that paint the picture very vividly. Both time periods and the focus on cultural differences are important to the larger picture of motivations and processes behind historic events. The same information will help to identify even better who Peter Burr was and what his life was like. Hopefully, you will leave the event with a much better idea of possible reasons why he came to the area and most certainly with some pride at being his descendant or person with related interest.

At least one other day (and possibly a second day) is planned to be a hands-on 18th century experience. Last year, attendees got to visit the Peter Burr House and see artisans demonstrating 18th century crafts. This time we will be doing the 18th century crafts including preparing our own 18th century supper and participating in other activities and games. You will have the option to dress in authentic reproduction clothing or otherwise in less costly faux-18th century clothing if you wish. We will have news reporters and television cameras present to publicize what is going on at the historic Peter Burr House. We will make this a significant media event. Also, there MAY be one or more professional television people filming or assessing the setting for a possible mini documentary series (about Peter Burr and family) that is currently under consideration. If this documentary series occurs, it will be filmed with Peter Burr telling his story and the stories of other family members from the Peter Burr House. The House will serve as the base setting for all the related stories. While I make no promises, I can envision some shots from the homecoming with people in period clothing being included in the series. And with various personalities emerging, it is possible that some people at the homecoming could be useful later as extras in the filming of the documentaries. Who knows what interestingly little experiences will result?

Well, this is enough on this subject for today, but this blog site will likely be the place where I will post updates related to the upcoming homecoming. It might be useful to bookmark this site and to visit from time to time.

Much more on the 2010 Burr Family and Friends Homecoming will be forthcoming.

Joyce Cole, Founder
Reliving History, Inc. and
The Peter Burr Society