Friday, July 24, 2009

Pursels or Pearsols?

Peter Pearsol, my ever-standing brick wall has opened several doors of late. Unfortunately, behind those doors are more questions. Questions proving to be rather difficult.

I was once told a family story that someone in our Pearsol tree had received a land grant from William Penn. I learned last night that these land grants were not from Penn himself but from his descendants. I encountered this page in the University of Pittsburgh archives explaining the disemination of land once owned by the Penns to settlers of Pennsylvania and veterans of the Revolutionary war. The land that was to become Allegheny County was divided up and granted to many. I scanned the list of men who received and and there he was, Peter Pursel. Not Peter Pearsol but Peter Pursel. He acquired land in 1816 in what is now Oakmont.

The man I know as Peter Pearsol, father of Civil War sergent Francis Blair Pearsol appears in the 1830 Federal Census as Peter Pursel. In Jefferson Township/West Elizabeth, along the banks of Peters Creek. Many Pearsols lived along this creek around the turn of the 19th century. It is unlikely that they are unrelated, but I cannot claim it to be true without proof.

My next task is to visit the cemeteries and churches in this region. Lobb's Run Cemetery,
Jefferson Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, Lebanon Presbyterian Cemetery, Clairton Cemetery and Round Hill Cemetery. There are probably others but these are the ones I know of. I have to start somewhere.

Were we Pearsols or were we Pursels? What's the difference? I can think of one. Pearsol is an English name. Pursel is an Irish name. Perhaps we aren't who we thought we were...