Friday, January 30, 2015

The Morgan Raid - a Civil War poem

The poem below is taken from a book of Civil War poems written by J. H. Callin. On the title page he says, “written in the Army.” This amazing man, who lived on long after his Civil War days, must have been indeed remarkable to have written 171 poems, in ink, in a bound journal, all in perfect rhyme, in his tent after a long day of fighting. My aunt 
Vicki received this journal of poetry from her grandfather, John Q. Callin, John H. Callin’s second son.

This poem was most likely written after he and his men of the 21st Independent Battery of the Ohio Light Artillery were dispatched to head off General Morgan’s army. The 21st was deployed to Camp Dennison, Ohio, at the end of May 1863, and they put up a solid resistance in July when the Confederates attempted to capture the area. Morgan and his troops entered Ohio on 13 July, and battled their way north. 
Eventually, Morgan was flanked and cut off by Union forces on July 26, 1863 at the Battle of Salineville, near Lisbon, Ohio. At 2:00 p.m., they surrendered to Union Maj. George W. Rue of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry near West Point, Ohio approximately 8 miles northeast of Salineville.

The Morgan Raid

When Morgan plunged across our lines,
There to enact his dark designs,
He roused the northern patriot minds,
To a state of desperation.

He knew his blade—that wily chief,
And plunged the peaceful heart of grief,
Then hastened off, his stay was brief,
To his sword of depredation.

He saw the vistige of his clan,
And heard of deeds of that bold van,
Which fired the heart of Northern man,
To restrain this bold invader.

Who strewed the ground with burning red,
And numbered many with the dead,
Then on into Ohio sped
The vile and intrepid raider.

Ah, here he met the Union brave,
Numerous as Pacific waves,
Awaiting only to make graves,
For the Morgan devastators.

The Union breasts were filled with ire,
And Federal hearts were now on fire,
And wilder than Secession’s pyre,
Burned the hate of raid creation.

Then in pursuit our braves were sent,
Who proudly on their mission went
To capture were their soul’s intent,
And feed them on our rounders.

We pressed them hard o’er field and stream
While oft the unsheathed sabre gleams,
As over hills our weary teams,
Dragged the heavy Bryfs Twelve Pounders.

And on Ohio’s looming banks,
Surrounded by the Federal ranks,
Ended were all the raiders pranks,
By Union braves and musketry.

When our malignant cannons roar’d,
Morgan resigned his rebel sword,
And many traitors there were lowered
By our fatal artillery.

And now within States Prison shades,
Thou there can think of all thy raids,
From private to guerilla grades,
Thou chief of blood and misery.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Photo Feature: Fostoria, Ohio 1923

This is always a fun game to play at family gatherings - find a group photo and try to figure out who all of the people in it are!

Callin visit to Fostoria, c. 1924

Let's start with what I know - which isn't a lot.

The little boy seated middle-front (not the one in the sailor suit) is almost certainly my Grandpa Bob. He was born in 1920, so this would be him at around 4 years of age.

The boy seated to the right of Bobby looks like his brother, Norman.  John Norman Callin was born in 1912, so he would be about 12 here.

From here on out, I'm wildly guessing.

I think the lady seated behind Norman might be the boys' grandmother, Alice Cramer (1865-1942), and the gentleman in the bow tie next to her could be her husband, George Cramer (1861-1937). I don't really have other pictures of them that I can compare.

But, if that's the side of the family they are visiting, that opens up some possibilities.

The older boy squatting next to the dog, behind the boy in the sailor suit, might be Bob and Norman's cousin, Harry Donald Hale (b. 1904). I think it's unlikely, as he doesn't look like he's 20 in this picture, but it's hard to say for sure when he's not standing.

From there, I'm stabbing in the dark.

What about you? Any Hales or Callin cousins out there with some suggestions?  As always, if you have any clues, dive into the comments below or drop me a private note.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Immigrants, Part I: The Germans

The more things change...

Growing up in Arizona, issues surrounding immigration have always been bubbling in the background - occasionally erupting onto the national stage. The arguments that get thrown around during those eruptions tend to follow familiar patterns. Any objective analysis of those arguments can see that the root cause of the controversy is always about the same thing: Fear of the Other. Whether the specific conversation is about trade, possibility of war, or even policies based in outright racism, the arguments revolve around the definition of the divide between  "Us" and "Them".

Growing up in the 1980s & 1990s, there was also an ever-present, underlying tension between two cultures living side by side and vying for the right to define who "Us" and "Them" might be. The first was the inclusive, celebratory culture of the post-1960s; these were the people who came of age during the Civil Rights era and who embraced the notion of the "melting pot". Their attitudes were evident in the school curricula I remember from early public school days and in the PBS children's programming (especially from the Children's Television Workshop) - and in my church, in the form of songs like "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and lessons about mission work in Asia and Africa.

The second culture was less noticeable in my childhood. It really came to my notice when I got to college, and saw the rise of 24-hour news cycle and growth of the talk radio media market giving a platform to people who had long existed on the fringes. These figures questioned ideas of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" that I personally had always taken for granted as a common part of American culture. They forced me to question my assumptions, and I quickly determined that they were conflating the notions of equality and fair treatment with something called "political correctness" in order to demonize those ideas. They championed the notion that rather than being a sign of common decency, celebrating different cultures was some kind of progressive plot to erode the primacy of "real" Americans.

It probably goes without saying, but this was not a new idea. It is even older than the concept of a "real American". These ideas and arguments are just a restatement of the "us vs. them" attitude that has plagued Americans since colonial times.

Words and Identity

Though the first permanent settlement in the New World was English, all of the major players in Europe began setting up colonies along the Atlantic coast. The Dutch, French, Spanish, and Germans all sent people over in the first century or two after Columbus's journey.  Whether they were sent as explorers, settlers, prisoners, refugees, governors, traders, or even as military forces, it is critical that modern readers understand that those people would not have necessarily identified themselves with a nation the way we label them today.

Not only were the boundaries between German territory and French territory (just for one major example) very fluid, but the very definition of what these territories were was evolving as the feudal system decayed. The concept of a "nation" was still new, and not broadly well understood even by those who championed it. The New World colonists who spoke German didn't identify with a concept of "Germany" - not as a national identity - and once they settled throughout the New World, tending their new homes and raising their families was their main concern. They tended to keep to themselves as much as possible as political control over their communities shifted from the French to the British and back.

There are a number of parallels between the way English colonists viewed these German people and the way modern Americans view Hispanic and Latino neighbors. The most visible divide, then as now, seemed to be along language boundaries.

Benjamin Franklin wrote of the German-speaking settlers in the Pennsylvania, after he began serving in the Pennsylvania legislative assembly:

"Few of their children in the country learn English; they import many books from Germany... The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German. They begin of late to make all their bonds and other legal writings in their own language, which (though I think it ought not to be) are allowed good in our courts, where the German business so increases that there is continual need of interpreters; and I suppose in a few years they will also be necessary in the Assembly, to tell one half of our legislators what the other half say."
In other places, he wrote of the impossibility of the two cultures mixing, and contrasted the German standards of beauty for their wives against that of the English in terms which, if he were saying them about Latinos today, would have likely scuttled his political career. And yet, two things stand out to me about this:

  1. The same Ben Franklin who held and expressed these opinions, and predicted what seemed like increasing enmity within his own colony, went on to champion the fundamental idea of unity between the colonies that allowed the Continental Army and Congress to force the break with Britain and found the United States.
  2. He was wrong about the future. When Franklin writes of the "continual need of interpreters" he seems to forecast an untenable, unbridgeable split between English and German speakers - which clearly did not come to pass.
The lesson I take from this is that arguments warning of seemingly permanent, trending, and eternally intolerable differences between groups of people should not be treated with the weight that people give them. They are specious arguments that assume people aren't capable of growing, changing, or of setting aside their differences to come together for their common good when necessary.

Or, to put it another way - the words we use to identify ourselves are always just words. When it comes to how we live and how we treat each other as neighbors, words aren't what matters.

Melting Pot

As for the mixing of cultures, I think it's evident that our past (Franklin's future) demonstrates how just a few short generations can change the entire social landscape. The Germans that Franklin was writing about almost certainly included my own German ancestors. The Witters (probably originally a variation of "Weider") who came to Arizona via Kansas after the Civil War migrated from Fulton county, Pennsylvania, where they were married to Pipers (Pfeiffers), Volkman, Shrivers (Schreibers), Zollingers, Howers, and Kerschners.

As I said in "Faiths of Our Fathers", most of them were probably Lutheran. Like other communities formed around religious ideas, they struggled with finding the right balance between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. And the dismay that Franklin expressed over the character of new immigrants wasn't expressed only by Englishmen. Henry Muhlenberg, Lutheran pastor, and immigrant from Germany (arrived 1742, writing in the 1750s):

"It is almost impossible to describe how few good and how many exceptionally godless, wicked people have come into this country every year. The whole country is being flooded with ordinary, extraordinary and unprecedented wickedness and crimes... Our old residents are mere stupid children in sin when compared with the new arrivals! Oh, what a fearful thing it is to have so many thousands of unruly and brazen sinners come into this free air and unfenced country!"
But for every example of conflict and discomfort with the Other, there are also stories of acceptance and tolerance in abundance.

Take the story of my ancestor, Leopold Zindle, a Hessian soldier during the Revolutionary War who spent his four years as a prisoner of war winning friends and earning a place in his New Jersey community. The rhetoric people today throw around about being "invaded" from our neighbor to the south looks rather silly in comparison to actual soldiers sent here to subdue the rebellion - and yet Leopold was accept and honored as a citizen here.

Sadly, the story doesn't end there. American immigration problems continued as different groups "threatened" to swarm in and "overrun" the place. Happily (for me, anyway) we've never successfully fenced ourselves off from Them, or many of Us wouldn't exist!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photo Feature: Places in the Heartland

A change of scenery this week as we take a look at places instead of people. "Where the Heck Are They?" still gets a #WTHAT hashtag, right?

First up, we have two of three photo postcards.

Huff residence, c. 1908 (from lt.: Merle, Rosa, Albert)

Huff residence, c. 1908 (from lt.: Rosa, Merle, Albert)

Both appear to be different views of the same house - the trees are similar in both, you can see the windmill over the roof in both (though the second one is severely over-exposed), and the three people in each picture seem to be the same three people. They're wearing the same clothes, at least.

All three of the postcards are in a sleeve that looks like the one to the right. They have no studio name, no date, no postmarks or stamps (they appear not to have been mailed) and no other identifying marks or dates - with a couple of exceptions.

1. The one which shows the two women seated on the porch has my grandmother's handwriting on the back, identifying the man as my great-great grandfather Albert Huff and the women as Rosa Huff and Merle Huff - my great-great grandmother and their daughter, my great-grandmother, respectively. (See "My Sixteen" for more on them.)

2. The third photo, below, has some lettering in the bottom left corner - "D-81-8" - which could have some meaning.

Mystery house - possibly in Savonburg, KS, c. 1908

I'm guessing at the year on all three; it's likely that the Huffs were having portraits taken of their old homestead before moving to Arizona. They could have also intended to give these to the Huff kids who were moving away from home so they could take "home" with them.

As always, if you have any clues, dive into the comments below or drop me a private note.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Perils of Polly (or Margaret)

Long ago, when I started trying to trace my roots back beyond the familiar realm of my grandparents, my grandfather gave me a copy of a Callin Family History that was compiled by George W. Callin in 1911. Since then, I have put a lot of effort into finding sources that could confirm or correct great-uncle George's version of events - but despite his lack of source citations or other evidence in his genealogy, much of his work has been substantiated by census records, local historical books, and other records I've been able to track down.

That said, I've only been able to verify his version of events back to the brothers, James and John, who settled in Richland county, Ohio, around the early- to mid-1810s. I have not been able to find anything to verify the origin or location of the man that George names as their father, "James 1st". It doesn't help that in George's version of the history, James 1st immigrated with his brother, John, and allegedly served under General Lafayette at the Battle of Brandywine. The common names, and the lack of evidence to support that claim have made it hard to connect the James and John that I do have documents for with a likely family in western Pennsylvania.

But there is a story that George relates in his history that has a tantalizing similarity to another family history.  Here's George's version:

Record of Polly, Daughter of James 1st.
Born about 1782. Grew to womanhood in her Pennsylvania home. Was
captured by the Indians, and started for the Indian country. Her father James 1st
gathered some neighbors and militia and followed the trail, they were guided by
bits of clothing Polly had from time to time stuck on bushes. After several days
pursuit, the Indians with their captive were overtaken. In the skirmish that
followed Polly attempted to escape by running. An Indian fired at her just as she
fell over a log and he supposing her killed did not further molest her, there her
father found her after the fight, and the men made a litter and carried her home.
She was shot through the knee, and for the want of proper surgical attendance,
became a cripple for life. She never married, lived to be middleaged, and noted
for the exemplary life she lived. The date of her death is unknown but
somewhere about 1825.
- from page 2 of The Callin Family History, compiled by George W. Callin, c.1911

Somewhere along the line, I was contacted by someone who shared a copy of The Callen Chronicles, hoping to help me connect the dots. That book contains what might be another version of the same story. My theory, initially, was that the Patrick Callen mentioned here might be related to George's "James 1st":

It may be about this same time [the spring and summer of 1778, when Patrick Callen was enlisted with Capt. John McCleland's company escorting provisions to Fort Hand in Westmoreland county] that the story has been told about Patrick's and Sarah's identical twin daughters, their names uncertain. (35D) "During the Revolutionary War when there was much Indian activity in Westmoreland Co., the two little girls were kidnapped in an Indian raid when Patrick was away from home. The little girls were about five or six at the time, and both were taken. About 10 or 12 years later (after the Revolutionary War was over) a fur trader went into a remote Indian village, in far western Pennsylvania or Ohio, to trade with the Indians. While he was in the village he saw two young white women, about 18 years old, living with the tribe. One was the wife of a young indian brave and had a tiny baby; the other was unattached, but under the "protection" of a family in the tribe. During his visit he had no opportunity to talk with either of the women; however, after he had traded with the indians and left the village, he found one of the young women under the supplies in his canoe. She told him that she wanted to return to her white family; she said that she had talked with her sister before leaving and that her sister had wanted to remain behind with her indian family."  She was returned to Patrick and Sarah Callen - apparently just a short time before they moved to Armstrong Co. The story continued, "the returned daughter had not been injured or mistreated, the family that had taken her in in the tribe had treated her as a daughter. Though she never regretted returning to her natural family, she was often restless.  She was a private person, enjoying her time alone and in the woods, and she was described by her nephew, Watson, as 'special and different'.  She had a way with wild animals that no one, not even her family understood.  She was slender, tall, and very blonde but she spent every day in the sun and the wind and she was as brown as an indian.  Watson said that his grandparents just let her be herself, and did not attempt to change her, but cherished her for who she was."
- pages 17 & 19 of The Callen Chronicles, coordinated and typed by Edna M Callen McNellis, 1990.

There is a lot more that is known about Patrick Callen and his family than is known about "James 1st", but still nothing that conclusively ties them together - not even this story!

The nephew, Watson, mentioned at the end was the son of Hugh Callen, who founded Callensburg, PA, in 1825. It's hard to know which of the known sisters of Hugh might have been carried off, but he did have a sister named Mary who was known as "Polly" (a common nickname for Mary). This Polly married a James Galbraith in 1815 and died in Kentucky in 1839, though, so she is not a serious contender for lead in this story.

But despite the glaring differences between the two versions, I can't help thinking that this story should be included in the short list of clues to where James and John came from before they showed up in Ohio. George W.'s history pins their origins in Westmoreland county, which is a couple of counties south from Armstrong and Clarion counties - and once in Ohio, Callin families seemed to favor the name "Hugh" (though not as much as they liked "James," "John," and "George").

Whatever the truth might be - and whether it will ever be provable - it's definitely worth continuing the hunt. If you've got any clues, or would like to join the posse on the trail of these ancestors, there is plenty of work to be done!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Photo Feature: Class of 1927

This week's mystery comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona, 1927.  We know this because the portraits are all from the Russell studio in Phoenix, and two of them (Loren Weddle's from last week's post, and Margaret Sobey's below) include the date. 

Albert Long Miller
This one stands out for me, because "Miller" is the only surname that I actually have in my files. My great-aunt Irene was a Miller - but I don't recall hearing about a sister or cousin named "Albert". (Irene was born in 1922, so a cousin would definitely be more likely.)

Margaret Sobey - 27
Gladys Jacobs Sendlewski

This is the kind of puzzle I find both fascinating and frustrating - because it seems like I'm missing just one crucial piece of information needed to figure it all out. Someone cared enough about these pictures to save them, and pass them on to my grandparents.

But, that's why I'm putting all of these "Who the Heck Are They" pictures online, where Google's Image search or a service like Tin Eye Reverse Image search can find them.  Who knows who might be looking for these people for their own family history?

As always, if you have any clues, dive into the comments below or drop me a private note.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Nixon Connection

The first thing most people wonder when they start thinking about genealogy is, "Am I related to somebody famous?"

And for anyone who sticks with their research for any length of time, the answer is probably, "Yes!"

There are a lot of ways to be "related" to someone else - marriage, blood, adoption, or even business partnerships are all legitimate relationships that you can prove with documentary evidence, if you're just trying to show a connection. One of the most direct relationships - and the thing most people think they mean when they say they are related to someone - is to share a common ancestor. Sharing a common ancestor with someone is what makes you "cousins".

A few years back, I found a book called Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts, which showed that I share a common ancestry with the late former President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon. He is my 5th cousin, twice removed. (Which, if it helps, means he and my grandmother were 5th cousins.) Whatever you may think of him as a president, or as a person, he certainly qualifies as "famous" - and since he was in office the year I was born, his story has some immediacy for me.

But for a lot of people, the whole "Nth cousin, X removed" concept is very hard to understand - I still struggle with it. So let's take a look at exactly how our ancestral paths diverged, starting with our common ancestors, Thomas Clemson and his wife, Elizabeth Strode. This couple would have been the President's 4th Great-Grandparents, and they are my 6th Great-Grandparents.

1. Thomas Clemson (1710-1785) and Elizabeth Strode (1725-1827)

Tettenhall and Dudley
(made with Google maps, 2014)

Thomas's parents were James Clemson and Katharine Wright of Staffordshire, England. Their families lived in Tettenhall and Dudley, respectively, which were villages about 8 miles apart near what is now Wolverhampton. They left England and came to join the Quaker community in Philadelphia around 1690.

Elizabeth's parents were both born in the Penn colony, in Chester county. Her maternal grandfather was one Morgan James from Wales, and her paternal grandfather, George Strode, arrived in the New World from Southampton in 1678, landing in Barbados before making his way north to settle in Pennsylvania.

Thomas and Elizabeth married in Salisbury township, Lancaster county, PA, in 1747. They had 10 children over the following 20 years - 3 sons, and 7 daughters. Two of those daughters were:

2. Sisters: Elizabeth Clemson (1759-1833) and Mary Clemson (1763-1817)

Elizabeth married an Irish immigrant named James Livingston in December 1782, and they had four sons and four daughters between 1782 and 1801. They relocated through the central part of Pennsylvania until sometime after 1810, when the family moved 550 miles west to Springboro, Ohio.

Mary married Joseph Moore in January 1782. He was the son of another Quaker family in Salisbury township, though his father had immigrated from Ballymoney, Ireland. Records indicate that Joseph moved to Morgan, Ohio, after Mary's death. The only child of their marriage that I know of is their son, Joseph Dickinson Moore.

Morgan is more than 150 miles from Springboro, so it is unlikely that any Moore children knew their first cousins, the Livingstons.

3. 1st Cousins: Mary Magdalene Livingston (1782-1847) and Joseph Dickinson Moore (1794-1860)

Mary was the eldest child of James and Elizabeth Livingston, born in Pennsylvania in January 1782. (If you're doing the math on that, you might sense a family scandal in the background.) Mary married a Scottish immigrant named Thomas Henderson Murray in May 1803 in Pennsylvania. They had 11 children over the next 20 years - 6 sons, 5 daughters. Those born before 1816 were born in Pennsylvania, and those born in 1818 or later were born in Ohio, where the family settled in Preble county.

Joseph was born in Center county, PA, in October 1794. At 24 years of age, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Since this was 1819, and there was no war on at the time, he might have enlisted to protect frontier families like his own as they expanded across the territory gained under the Treaty of 1818. He married Jane Brown in 1825 in Perry county, Ohio. Jane was the daughter of an Irish Presbyterian who immigrated from County Cork, served in the War of 1812, and settled in Perry county. The couple produced 6 sons and 5 daughters between 1826 and 1848, then relocated to Warren county, Iowa some time before Joseph's death in 1860.

4. 2nd Cousins: Aaron Murray (1822-1887) and Mary Louise Moore (1832-1918)

The youngest son of Thomas and Mary, Aaron Murray was born in Warren county, Ohio. He married Maria P. Harris in 1843, and they moved to Wabash county, Indiana, where Maria died in 1854. Widowed with two small boys, Aaron soon remarried in 1855 to Hannah Lyman Bender, whose first husband, Michael Eby, had died in 1850, leaving her pregnant and with two small boys. Aaron and Hannah had 5 children of their own over the following decade, during which Aaron served the Union during the Civil War with the 113th Regiment, Illinois Infantry. After the war they moved down to the newly founded town of Stark, Kansas.

Mary Louise Moore married Thomas Wiley Wadsworth (1826-1879), who was born in Harford county, Maryland. The Wadsworths likely descended from a Thomas Wadsworth who was born in 1713 in Middlesex, England, and was conveyed to the plantations of the Virginia colony in 1733 after being convicted of theft or larceny. After moving to Ohio and marrying Miss Mary Moore in 1850, this Thomas went on to raise four daughters and a son before his death in 1879. Mary remarried to George Amerine in 1886.

5. 3rd Cousins: Rosa Edith Murray (1861-1943) and Sarah Ann Wadsworth (1852-1886)

Rosa grew up in what would become the town of Grant, Kansas, and married Albert C Huff in 1883. Together they raised three sons and three daughters in Savonburg, Kansas, and then followed their children as they moved down to the newly settled desert town of Glendale in Arizona.

Sarah grew up in Hocking county, Ohio, and married Samuel Brady Nixon in April of 1873. The Nixon family had originated in Ireland, arriving in Delaware in the 1720s. Samuel's father, George, was a Union soldier from Ohio and was fatally wounded in the Battle at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863 - the same day that Samuel's grandfather, also named George died in his home in Richland, Ohio. Sarah and Samuel had a daughter and two sons when Sarah died at the early age of 33.

6. 4th Cousins: Hannah Merle Huff (1889-1984) and Francis Anthony Nixon (1878-1956)

Hannah Merle, whom everyone called Merle or "Merly", grew up in Savonburg, Kansas, and followed her brothers and sisters down to Glendale, Arizona, where she married Howard Ray Witter - who went by the nickname "Dick" - in March 1917. He got his draft card in June. After the war, Dick and Merle set up a dairy farm and raised two children, a son and a daughter.

Frank Nixon moved to California around 1900 after suffering from frostbite while working in an open streetcar in Columbus, Ohio. He worked as a farmhand, oil roustabout, and lemon farmer before he converted to Quakerism and married Hannah Milhous 25 June 1908. They lived in the Quaker community of Whittier, California, where the family business was a grocery store that also sold gasoline. They had five sons, two of whom died from tuberculosis - Arthur at 7 years old in 1925, and Harold in 1933 at 24 years.

7. 5th Cousins: Nancy G. Witter (1925-2004) and Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

Nancy grew up on that Glendale dairy farm and married her Army sweetheart, an airplane mechanic with aspirations of becoming a pilot, in the early days of the Second World War. They raised two kids in Glendale, Arizona, and taught in the Glendale schools for their whole careers; he taught math, and she taught art. They were my grandparents, which makes me "twice removed" from grandma and cousin Dick, who are "5th cousins".

Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States. He graduated from Duke University, became a lawyer in Whittier, where he grew up, in 1937 - about four years after his brother had died of tuberculosis. He married Thelma "Pat" Ryan on 21 June 1940, and after the War they had two daughters, Tricia (born 1946) and Julie (born 1948).

More Generations and Relationships

Now that you've come this far, hopefully you will have an easier time understanding the way genealogists refer to cousins. Simply being some kind of "cousin" means that two people share a common ancestor; the ordinal number (ie, "5th") tells you how many generations back that common ancestor is; and the "X removed" tells you the number of generations between the two cousins.

If we keep following the ancestral paths above, for example, I can claim even more "famous" relationships. Julie Nixon (6th cousin to my dad, and my 6th cousin, 1x removed) married David Eisenhower, son of General and 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That means that I would be a 7th cousin to President Eisenhower's grandchildren! But, because we're only related by marriage, the whole "cousin" thing doesn't apply to me and POTUS 34; he is merely "father-in-law of my 6th cousin, 1x removed" and not my "5th cousin, twice removed" the way Mr. Nixon is.

But my children and Julie's grandchildren will all be 8th cousins, and so on.

And what does all of this gain for us?  Are there treasures and perks associated with being distant cousins to the American version of royalty?  Not really. Though for me, it reinforces the notion that the "great men" of history aren't the interesting part of the story. There are more than two dozen people between me and President Nixon who lived adventurous lives and have interesting stories.

From the possibly scandalous origin of Mary Magdalene Livingston to the tragedies leading to the marriage of Aaron and Hannah Murray; and between the wars, disasters, diseases, and accidents that threatened all of them there are so many things that had to happen just right so that the famous person and I could both be here.  For me, it is just as exciting to discover those average, normal people who lived their average, normal lives as it is to learn about those who had their hand in larger events.

And I love that when you look at history from this point of view, even Presidents are just people - they're just acorns, perhaps a little Mightier than the rest for a brief time.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Photo Feature: Loren Weddle - Classmate or Cousin?

This, the evidence would indicate, is Loren Weddle in Phoenix, Arizona, 1927.

Loren Weddle, 1927
The question is, who is Loren Weddle? The studio inscription says "Russell, Phoenix" which tells me this me this could be someone that the Huff or Witter folks knew.

I have a few portraits in the box from the same studio, which could mean that these are classmates of some relative who would have been in school in 1927. We'll take a look at all of them next week, but I wanted to single Loren out because he looks suspiciously like the younger man in this portrait:

For some reason, I have two copies of this portrait which are identical to each other - right down to the lack of any identification other than the "Oates" studio inscription in the lower right corner. If it is the same young man, he might be more than just a classmate - but either way, he's a mystery!

As always, if you have any clues, dive into the comments below or drop me a private note.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Foundation Found, Providence Provided

Map and inset made from Google maps and Wikipedia
On February 9, 1597, Mary, the wife of Sir Richard Greene, the Lord of Bowridge Hill, gave birth to a son they named John.  Bowridge Hill had been the birthplace of three generations of Greenes, starting with Sir Richard's grandfather, Robert. It was - and is - located about eight miles from the village of Gillingham in the English county of Dorset.

Mary's father was John Hooker, who had been a prominent historian and Member of Parliament. Coming from a family with rank and education, young John Greene grew up in a privileged environment, with titles such as "Mr." and "Gent" applied to his name on many of the records that refer to him. He trained as a surgeon, and moved to Salisbury, in Wiltshire, where he practiced his profession and lived for 16 years.

Around the time he moved to Salisbury, in 1619, on the fourth of November, John married Joanne Tattershall. It isn't clear how her family came by that surname (and the spellings do vary quite a bit), but it indicates some relationship to the town and castle of Tattershall located in Lincolnshire.

Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire
Just through sheer coincidence, 379 years later, the 11th great-grandson of John and Joanne - yours truly! - was stationed at a Royal Air Force camp in Lincolnshire as a member of the United States Air Force. It is unlikely that Joanne or any of her immediate ancestry lived in the castle, since it had been sold to the Earl of Lincoln by her time, but it is exciting to find a connection to the place. We visited it several times while we lived in Lincolnshire, notably for a U.S.-UK 4th of July celebration in 1998.

On the 6th of April, 1635 at 45 years of age, John Greene registered for embarkation with his wife and six children on the James of London - William Cooper, Master. After a voyage of fifty-eight days, they arrived in Boston on 3 June. Their prospects seemed good - a surgeon in the colonies was a rare and valuable thing, and John joined the church at Salem, led by Roger Williams.

Sadly, things began to turn difficult almost as soon as the family settled in. In August of 1635, a hurricane swept through the young colony, drowning farms and wrecking houses. In October, Roger Williams was convicted of sedition and heresy, and he famously fled Boston in a blizzard in January 1636. Somewhere among these events, Joanne died. Most of the children were 10 or under, so John remarried to a widow named Alice Daniels in 1637, and the family acquired a home lot in Roger Williams's new settlement of Providence.

List of original 12 members, from
Henry Melville King's
Historical catalogue of the members of the 
First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island
The following year saw the establishment of the First Baptist Church of Providence, the first Baptist church in the Americas.  After meeting in Williams's home for the first year, the group of believers were baptized by Williams in the Seekonk river in 1638 - a group that included John Greene, surgeon.

In 1642 Samuel Gorton and Narragansett Indian Chief Sachem Miantonomi agreed to exchange 144 fathoms of Wampumpeague for what was known as "The Shawhomett Purchase" (also spelled "Shawomet"). However, the purchase was disputed by two other sachems of the area, Sacononoco and Pumham; they complained to the Massachusetts colony that Miantonomi had sold the land without asking for their approval. They took their case to Boston, where they placed their lands under Massachusetts rule, and in October 1643 Massachusetts sent a militia force of "forty mounted and armed men” from Boston to arrest Gorton and his neighbors. The militia fired over the houses, and the women and children fled to the woods.

Samuel Gorton wrote of this attack of the Massachusetts troops:
"Afflicting our wifes and children, forcing them to betake themselves, some into the woods among the Indians, suffering such hardships as occasioned the death of divers of them, as the wife of John Greene, as, also, the wife of Robert Potter."
After a tense standoff, all but three of Gorton's settlers surrendered to the Massachusetts force. This event prompted the other three towns on Narragansett Bay (Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport) to unite and get a royal charter allowing the towns on Narragansett Bay to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In 1648, Gorton was granted a Charter by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, Lord Admiral and head of the Parliamentary Commission on Plantation Affairs. After this, the name of the settlement was changed from Shawomet to Warwick. While Massachusetts continued to lay claim to the area, it made no further effort to enforce it.

It isn't clear whether John Greene was part of the effort to obtain the royal charter, but he did sail back to England in 1644. There, he received a number of Latin books that had been willed to him by his brother, and he married his third wife, Phillipa, with whom he returned to Warwick in 1646. Upon his return, he became a leader of the community of Warwick, first being elected to the Town Council in August 1647, and later serving as town Commissioner from 1655-1657.

John Greene, surgeon, died in Warwick in January of 1659, a respectable 69 years of age.

His son, James, had married Deliverance Potter the previous year; her mother, Isabel, was the "wife of Robert Potter" who had died along with James's step-mother, Alice1, in the 1643 attack on Shawomet. They had two sons and two daughters (all under age 5) when Deliverance died in 1664. James remarried the following year to Elizabeth Anthony.

James and Elizabeth had 8 more children - including my ancestor, the John Greene known for building the estate, "Potowomut" - and the line continued until 8 generations later, when we arrive at my grandmother's grandmother, Florence Mabel Hart - one of "My Sixteen." That makes John Greene, the surgeon, and Joanne Tattershall my 11th great-grandparents.

1. Footnote: Some accounts say that it was Joanne, not Alice, who died in the 1643 event. I went with this version of the story for the sake of telling the story without a confusing debate in the middle, but I don't want anyone to think I claim to speak authoritatively as to which wife it was. If there is a real historian reading this who would like to set me straight, I'm happy to edit!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Photo Feature: Baby New Year!

Ring in New Year 2015 with these old baby photos!

While I don't have any clues to help identify the first four, I do know who the happy little guy below is - Edward Lee Fitzsimmons, at age 6 months.

Edward Lee Fitzsimmons, 6 months
Someone thoughtfully penciled that information on the back of his portrait, taken at "C.D. Bancroft Studio Grand; 402 B-Way, Co. Bluffs, IA" - and I have several census records putting his birthday in February 1912, so that would make this photo (quick calculation) more than a century old!

Edward's grandmother was the older sister of my great-great grandmother, Rosa Murray. That makes him my 2nd cousin, twice removed.

Emma Jane Murray was born in Indiana in 1854, and moved to Neosho county, Kansas with her parents, Aaron and Hannah (Bender) Murray, after the Civil War. She married Alonzo Parker in 1872, and their 2nd daughter, Jennie May, was born in 1875. She married Edward E. Fitzsimmons in 1899, and they moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa around 1901, and then 100 miles north to Grant City by 1910.  Their third child, born there 2 years later, was baby Edward Lee!