Preface: Priming the Genealogical Pump
Pour a bucket of water in before pumping
A cast-iron water well pump
I remember my grandparents Philip and Marguerite Lennon's humble home on Lincoln Lane in East Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey, about 1950. Lincoln Lane, now Lincoln Street, was a dirt road, two parallel ruts made, over time, by the passage of automobiles. About two-tenths of a mile east from the pavement at River Road, in a clearing in the pine barren, surrounded by blackberry and raspberry bushes, near the power transmission line, stood the small white house, a short walk from the Passaic River. My family lived there while preparing for the move "out West" to California.
Out behind the house, on the path to the print shop, was the well. A bucket full of water was kept there at all times, because the hand pump would not work unless water was first poured in to prime the well.
Genealogical research is much the same process. In order to get information from the sources, some information must first be poured into the search. And the better the quality of the information poured in, the more likely useful results.
My genealogical path began with a four page letter to Mary Adeline Roll (Mrs. John Nowelsky) from Roll family genealogist Richard John Franz III, which I found when going through files in my father's estate in 1997. That letter whetted my appetite. This little genealogy, based on the work of Richard Timbrook Wilson, The Genealogy of the Roll Family (1920), was the priming that allowed me to begin pumping the well. Franz's information proved to be very accurate, and the results amazing. Other genealogists have made significant contributions over the years.
The water well analogy led me to name this site the Roll Family Windmill, because the Dutch windmill was also a water pumper, uncovering rich fields for cultivation.
The crowned rulers of nations*
The well path has led to the cabins of seafarers, tents of wandering tribes and armies of conquest, humble homes of farmers and tradesmen, dungeons, dwellings of pirate kings, and elaborate palaces of crowned rulers of nations, empires, and churches on six of the seven continents.
* A cutout from the portrait of King Richard II of England (1367-1400) famously shown in Westminster Abbey, London, where he is buried. It is the work of an unknown master, and the date is usually given as about 1390. This painting is the earliest known portrait of an English monarch.