CONNECTING FAMILIES (Alex Steel, left and Bill Steele, right).

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During my pre-teen years in Wisconsin, I spent many weekends with my grandparents, William and Olga Steele. My grandma loved to talk about our family history, and on many occasions she would pull out handwritten charts and old news clippings to tie things together.

Many times she would say,

“You know, Billy, the name Steele wasn’t always spelled as it is, originally it was spelled Steil.”

At that time it had very little meaning. Of more interest were the stories of the family coming from Scotland and hearing that my great, great grandmother Somerville was tied to royalty (still not proven). Many times grandma was asked if we still had relatives in Scotland and the answer was always, “I don’t think anyone knows.” Grandma’s family tree and all that I have seen from other relatives starts with Thomas Steele and Christina Shearer. From that point on our family history, at least on the Steele side, has been fairly well documented.

During the early 1990’s a co-worker whose family also came from Scotland spurred my interest in genealogy. Initially, it meant dealing with hand written charts, spending hours in front of microfilm machines, and writing letter after letter to various historical societies and waiting for responses. As computer technology advanced and the internet became available, communicating with people all over the world became routine. For me, this opened the door to communicating with people in Scotland and many other countries. At one point, I tied an Alex Steel to the farm where our great, great grandfather’s (William Steele (1809)/Agnes Somerville (1801)) first child, Mary was born (1837). The farm was named Summerside and as it turned out, Alex’s family had lived there for generations and were referred to as the “Steel’s of Summerside.

Steel’s of Summerside

For many years Alex and I have considered ourselves good friends and have continued the quest of trying to connect our families. Many of you know, “hitting brick walls” is a common occurrence in this quest of searching for the dead. In an attempt to resolve some of these issues, I have hired researchers at various times in Scotland on both the Steele and Somerville families. On one of these times, the link between the two families was found . As it turns out, great, great grandfather William Steele’s mother Christina Shearer, took Thomas Steel, son of John Steel of Summerside to the church elders and accused him of fathering her child. Thomas acknowledged the claim, and there was the tie to our families. There have been many John Steels at Summerside (some at the same time) and it was just recently that Alex and I have identified where we were connected. Using a genealogy calculation, he is my 5th cousin of my 4th great grandparent (we do have different grandmothers). Our family (Steil, Steel, Steele) goes back to the very early 1600s. There are various spellings of Steele (just like grandma (Olga) always said.

Following are the families of: Steil – Steel – Steele. Enjoy!

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