Paradise author’s new book help keeps ancestors alive
“When we were growing up, we always knew we were to take care of Jonathan and Sarah’s gravestones,” says Paradise author Barbara Bishop. “I made that promise to my mother, too, before she died.”
Bishop is referring to the gravestone of her ancestors, Jonathan and Sarah Leonard, that are in the front yard of her home.
Bishop grew up in Paradise on the land her ancestors settled in the 1700s, and where her greatgreat-great-grandparents are buried. As a child, as her grandfather would tell stories of them whenever he came for dinner, ensuring her ancestors were always with her.
Bishop realized there would soon be no one else who would remember these ancestors and retell their stories.
“They worked too hard to settle the land here, and they are too important to forget,” says Bishop, who often wanders her property, assuring her ancestors she will remember them.
These family stories culminated inside Bishop until she set about to put them to paper. Bishop spent 10 years researching her family history, using any documents she could find, including old family letters and minutes of council meetings from when the Acadians first arrived. The result is a beautiful, heart-warming story that covers several generations of families who eventually moved to Paradise to settle the land in the 18th century.
Through her self-published book, Promises to Keep, readers are transported to the time of the French Acadian settlers to the battle of Louisbourg in the 1750s, and over to England where a mother’s children are taken from her and sent on the Mayflower to the new world. The next few generations establish farms, saw mills, and run a tavern, all in Paradise, making a lasting impression on the area.
Promises to Keep is a story that shows how quickly a generation goes by, how quickly we forget, and yet, how much impact our ancestors have on our lives today, says Lana Churchill, who toured Bishop’s land with her to discover the landmarks mentioned in the book.
“Bishop’s novel is a wonderful read that will inspire you to look more into your own family history,” says Churchill, who participated in a book club meeting with Bishop in her home. “The book is full of vivid language, and the characters come to life.”
Promises to Keep is available at Coles in New Minas, Inside Story in Greenwood, Endless Shores in Bridgetown, Baintan’s in Annapolis, James House (Bridgetown), Macdonald Museum (Middleton), and from Bishop herself.
Paradise author, Barbara Bishop, stands with the gravestone of her greatgreat-great grandparents, Jonathan and Sarah Leonard, who she has written about in her new book, Promises to Keep, available locally.