Friday, July 18, 2014

Serendipity in a Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast

Photo of a log cabin porch
Image credit: kai4107 /
It is as though our ancestors want to be found. Uncanny coincidences. Olympian luck. Phenomenal fate. Tremendous intuition. Remarkable miracles. We call It, “Serendipity in Genealogy.”

In July 1993 Carol Willoughby visited Picton, Ontario to research her great-great-grandfather, Wilson Bentley. She stayed at the Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast. She went all over town, doing the usual genealogy stuff: visiting the library, the local archive, and every cemetery she could find. The trip proved successful. After some searching, she found Wilson’s grave in the Cherry Valley Cemetery. And at the local archive, workers found the records of three previously unknown children of Wilson Bentley and his wife, Miriam Jackson.

Flash forward more than a year. Richard Bentley visited Picton, Ontario to research his great-great-grandfather, Wilson Bentley. Don’t get ahead of me. Can you guess where he stayed? The Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast. There the owner remembered that some lady had come to town more than a year before, also looking for Bentleys. I confess I’ve passed up many an invitation to sign those bed and breakfast guest books. Never again. The owner looked through the book and recognized Carol’s name. She had signed her address and phone number.

Richard called Carol. They learned that he was a descendent of Wilson’s son, Samuel, and Carol was a descendent of Wilson’s son, Henry. Because of this chance coincidence, the two were able to exchange information and share a photograph dating to 1854!

That is serendipity in genealogy.


     Carol Bentley Willoughby, “Family history moments: 'Not a coincidence,' ” Church News: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( : accessed 13 July 2014).

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