settlers of the northwest territory


Picking a point in time by which to define "a family" is an impossible task. When I began this project the Deen family was for me - my father, mother, brother and sister, my father's sister and brother, and my four cousins. It was a manageable affair. As I soon learned though, a family is not a static entity. My brother, sister and my cousins all married and had children. Suddenly my little list began to grow longer and become more complicated. Especially since my nieces and nephews (and new cousins) had fathers or mothers with parents and siblings who had be included in the list. After all we are related all to each other!

At any given moment in time a family represents the connecting points of hundreds if not thousands of individuals.  Two people marry and between them connect four parents, eight grandparents and sixteen great grandparents - and that's before we factor in their brothers, sisters and cousins - who all get married and all have spouses, and usually more children.  Where does it stop?  You can imagine the boxes and boxes of records and lists and charts.

Families as nothing more than a collection of names that connect to one another can create a very wide and a very deep matrix. For anyone of us to know and remember all the people in even a single generation of our entire family is quite a task. For us to accurately pass that information onto our children is almost impossible, especially when the source of the family history may be a distant aunt or uncle, or a family bible sitting on someone's bookshelf.  And yet for any one who wonders what their grandmother means when she tell you you look just like her uncle; or who has children and wants to impart this family history onto them, this information, this knowledge, is essential.

The computer offers us the perfect tool for creating and maintaining our family memory; for recording and aggregating this history, albeit in a rather cold and factoid-like manner. Humanizing the information in order to convey the very intriguing and interesting experiences of our fore-parents is the challenge of each family genealogist. It's important to help the rest of the family identify and understand those events in time which connect us, and which unbeknownst to us, have played a part in defining who we are and making us the people we are today.

What is recorded in this website, and in the database, is a family history which we can nominally say began in 1762 with a man named Benjamin Deen - although it really began much earlier and with many more people - and of a group of families who pioneered and settled what was known initially as the Ohio Territory. Our story follows them and their children as this “family” helped settle Illinois and Iowa as well as other nearby territories. This story includes their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren following them to the turn of the 20th Century. It includes the joining of several families. Is it complete? - by no means - let's call it a snap shot - one with faded colors and torn edges. Or perhaps a single frame in an endless roll of film which is still being spliced together and added to.

Today our Deen/ Dean family database has over 3,200 individuals listed in it - and with your help we add new names from the present and the past every day. For those of you who are Deens or Deans or who are related, I hope you enjoy this little site, attempting to help us all remember how we connect.

-Anthony Jesse Deen

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all contents copyright 2008


the never-ending story