Valerie Cole & Barbara Vernasco

It's all Relative

It all started for Valerie Cole when she was pregnant with her
first child and she began to fill the pages of the baby book with
gems of information. When she got to the family tree page,
she decided to delve deeper and what she found was a 45-year
hobby that eventually even took over her golf game.

Now, instead of playing golf, you can find Valerie at the Heritage
Library on Hilton Head Island several days a week along with many
other genealogy researchers who definitely understand both the thrill
of the journey and the destination.

The Heritage Library is one of the most comprehensive in the region,
with microfilm readers, computers, high-speed Internet service and
collections of books, microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROM, manuscripts,
periodicals, video tapes, audio tapes, and maps. South Carolina
materials account for about ten percent of their holdings, while the
balance covers other states and many countries. The Library houses
the records of The Hilton Head Island Historical Society containing
a wealth of historical information, old photographs and maps of
Hilton Head Island and the Low country. As an Accredited Branch
Library of the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, patrons
visiting The Heritage Library may access more than 2.4 million rolls
of genealogical and historical microfilm records for a small handling
fee per roll of film requested. Also, patrons of the Library have access
to major online databases at,, and through the Library's Holcombe Computing
Center's network.

There are many days that the library happens to find itself in the
middle of great discovery.

"Savoy! Is that one of the families you're working on," Barbara
Vernasco, a Heritage Library member who was a valued volunteer
for six years before recently moving back to Fort Wayne, Indiana,
asked Valerie.

Valerie, a member of the library, has, shall we say, "dual spring and
fall citizenship between her and her husband's homes in Moss Creek
and Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. "We library volunteers looked
forward to Valerie's visits. She is always willing to take a neophyte
under her wing and lead him or her on the path of discovery,"
added Barbara.

On that particular day, however, as Barbara rounded the corner of
the study table, she glanced at Valerie's work and the name "Savoy"
jumped off the page. Coincidentally, Barbara had just ordered a copy
of the book, Savoy Heritage, 1621 to the Present. The book proved to
be her link to the descendants of the Duke of Savoy. Amazingly, when
the two women compared notes, they found that Valerie's twelfth greatgrandfather and Barbara's twelfth great-grandmother were brother and
sister. Their father was both ladies joint thirteenth great-grandfather.
that makes them thirteenth cousins and descendants of royalty!

The ladies learned that their mutual (13th) great-grandfather, Francis
(Prince) Savole, married Catherine Jeanne di Briard LeJune in Acadia,
the original maritime provinces of Canada. Catherine's mother was a
Micmac Indian, Jeanne Marie Kagigoniac, born in 1610 in Micmac
Village, Nova Scotia, Canada. Catherine's father was Martin Pierre di
Briard, a fur trader.

"Every time I would ask my father about our roots, he would always
say we descended from a bunch of horse thieves. If he were alive today,
he would be shocked to know we actually come from royalty, as I have
traced us back to King Phillip," said Valerie.

Barbara, author of the book Passing the Blessings Along and a
beautiful painter, told Valerie, "Now we can design our "coat of arms",
the Feather and the Crown." Her vision of these two objects unites the
royalty of Europe with the nature of the Micmac Indians to represent
a past that has been discovered once more.


Facts About The Heritage Library


. As the successor to the Hilton Head Historical Society,
owns and maintains two historic sites: Fort Mitchel and the
Zion Chapel of Ease cemetery and mausoleum park.
. Promotes cultural assets of the Island with classes, lectures,
and through the Internet
. Provides research assistance, tour reference information,
ethnic studies, and archival-driven library services
. Provides indexed material not available elsewhere
of historic archives such as the Hilton Head Island 1868
Agricultural Census
. Is mining the wealth of information about life on the Island
provided by the records of the United States Colored Troops
following the Civil War

Visit the Library, located at 852 Wm. Hilton Pkwy, Suite 2A on Mon.,
Thurs., Fri. or Sat., 10:00 am-3:00 p.m. For more information call
843-686-6560 or log onto