Recent reunion sparks yen to write book on family’s history

Jennifer
Jennifer Vardy Little
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NEW GLASGOW – Future generations of the Delaney family of Pictou County won’t have to go searching for their family history – it will all be readily accessible at the New Glasgow Library.

Written by Nancy Jane (Delaney) Nawoichyk of Brooklyn, New York, the project stems from the last family reunion held in the area in 2005, where more than 70 family members came together.

“It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend, all being together as a family,” said Nawoichyk, but it left her wanting more information about her family tree. Initially she planned to make it into a children’s book, but instead opted for a book of family history, stories and photos.

Only one member of her parent’s generation – Margaret (Delaney) Fraser, who now lives in Truro and celebrated her 90th birthday this week – is still living, and it prompted Nawoichyk to start seeking out tales of the family in years gone by.

“For Aunt Margaret’s 90th birthday, we got a printed form of the book – what else do you give someone who is turning 90 but a donation of their family history to the genealogy section of the library?”

It was Fraser who provided much of the recent family history.

“She shared stories, reinforcing what I knew, and many that I didn’t know,” Nawoichyk said, adding that through her research, she was able to find new cousins she didn’t know and connect with Delaneys living across the country, who provided a more complete version of the family history.

The Delaneys, Nawoichyk found, originally came to Pictou County by way of Ireland. Timothy Delaney, who was born in 1775 in Kilkenny, Ireland, came over initially to fish in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, but became conscripted by the British army to fight in the Battle of Trafalgar. As a reward, he was given a land grant in Nova Scotia, which he claimed in the early 1800s.

There are some fascinating branches of the family tree, she added, with one great-aunt the first woman doctor in New York and another uncle who worked as an engineer for Thomas Edison.

Describing herself as the “token American” of the clan, Nawoichyk’s father, Douglas Delaney, was sent to New York to go to school by some aunts who wanted him to become a travelling missionary. But his draw to the water was stronger than his draw to the pulpit and he became a ship’s purser, but he remained in New York throughout his life.

“It’s a very important thing to understand your history,” she added. “These are all wonderful stories that would be lost, especially if we didn’t do it when Aunt Margaret was here to reinforce these memories…this is something for our children, our future generations, will know what a wonderful family they come from, with such strong roots.”

Organizations: British army

Geographic location: New York, Pictou County, NEW GLASGOW Brooklyn Ireland Truro Kilkenny Newfoundland Trafalgar Nova Scotia

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