Monday, May 31, 2010

Ancestors in the War of the Rebellion

I never had that much interest in learning about the Civil War. Whatever I did know about it came from watching Gone With the Wind a gazillion times. I was obsessed however, with the histories of WWII. That interest came about from watching The Guns of Navarone in Junior High. And, I had a grandfather that served in WWII so I felt more of a connection to that historical event than I did to the Civil war. I even made a journey with my mother to the beaches of Normandy and to the WWII museum in Caen, France. But, now I'm finding myself engrossed in stories about the Civil War. Now that I have found ancestors that participated I feel I owe it to them to find out just what happened and what they went through.

I have two Great Great Grandfathers that served in the Civil War, or the War of the Rebellion as it was called back then. Both served for the Union. Asbury S. Gaskill, on my paternal grandmother's side and Webster T. Roth, on my paternal grandfather's side. Both served for Iowa, Asbury with the 4th Iowa Calvary and Webster with the 26th Iowa Infantry. Both had very different experiences. Asbury, who lived in Mount Pleasant where the 4th Iowa Calvary was based, enlisted in October of 1861and only served until April 1862 when he was discharged by the camp surgeon and sent home in what was listed as "a dying condition". Measles had swept through the barracks and Asbury had contracted it which led to him having "disease of the chest" or more commonly known as pneumonia. When he entered the service, he was a strong lad of eighteen years, able-bodied and working on the family farm. When he left the service just a few months later, he was "broken-down" and near death with a "depression of the chest of a few inches" which would cause him great pain all throughout the rest of his life. I have no pictures of Asbury, save this single image of his grave marker, located at Maple Grove Cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas:
I also found this image of a fellow soldier who would have served with my great great grandfather Asbury as he also was in the Iowa 4th Calvary. His name was Hugh Ferguson and he too was from Mount Pleasant. I'm sure they knew each other and I feel like any connection I can find is another success in the Great Ancestral Hunt. :)

For my great great grandfather Webster Tyler Roth, the experience was quite different.  He enlisted in August, 1862 at the age of 19 in Clinton, Iowa.
Webster served the entire three years with the Iowa 26th Infantry, escaping death and disease many times over, participating in some of the biggest battles including Vicksburg, Arkansas Post and Chickasaw Bayou to name a few.  He was a drummer and would have carried a drum just like this:
Webster didn't get away from suffering injuries or getting sick.  He was nearly blinded when, making campfire atop a mountain near Chattanooga, the fire heated up the rock and small pieces began popping off, causing one to fly into Webster's eye causing permanent damage.  In his own handwriting, he tells about it on this History of Disability form:

"was on march to Chattanooga, halted to cook dinner. We built our fire upon rock and by the side of rock, necessarily so far we were in the mountains. The rock became intensely heated and small pieces burnt off one of which struck in my right eye."

I discovered a memoir written by Webster's fellow soldier who served with him in the 26th Infantry. Both of their companies fought side by side during most of the war. William Royal Oake's account of his time with the Iowa 26th gives me a unique insight to the day by day life of my great great grandfather during the Civil war. An insight to what he went through during his march through the South, what he endured and witnessed during the battles.

 It is quite exciting to be able recreate a life lived over 140 years ago. To shed new light and above all else, to remember.
My great great Grandfather, Webster Tyler Roth (middle row, second from the right) in a reunion photo with other band members of the 26th Iowa Infantry, probably taken 20-25 years after the end of the Civil War.

So today, I pay tribute to these two brave men and all those that have served and protected our country in the years following from the Great War to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We will never forget your service.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Czeching Out Our Bohemian Ancestors

My Dolechek Line

Josephine Margaret Dolechek (great grandmother)
b. 1901, Barton County, Kansas
Ferdinand William Vetus Dolechek (2nd great grandfather)
b. 1873, Mt. Ayr, Iowa
Leopold Dolechek (3rd great grandfather)
b. 1837, Klášterec nad Ohří, Czechslovakia

My Dolechek family came over from Klášterec nad Ohří, Czechslovakia ( Klösterle), Bohemia in 1866 and settled in Ringgold County, Iowa. This group included my third great grandfather, Leopold, his wife and two children (they would have 6 more after moving to Ringgold and then three more after moving to Kansas), his two brothers Vetus and Peter, their families and their widowed mother, Frantiska, my fourth great grandmother who died in Ringgold in 1875. Her husband, my fourth great grandfather must have died then prior to their arrival into Iowa in 1866. I have not yet discovered his name. A trip to Klösterle will be required in order to find additional records so that I can continue down the line. Many immigrants from Bohemia settled in Ringgold, including some of the Pacha family, the Bohemian ancestors of my husband, Charlie. Other Bohemian families that settled in Ringgold include Toman, Krechky and Sedlicek just to mention a few.

The Krechky home in Ringgold was the largest log house in the neighborhood and served as a place for most of those early social gatherings. The first Bohemian church was also a log cabin and it remained for many years until the settlers built a new church on the edge of the cemetery on part of my third great uncle Peter Dolecheck's farm. Peter performed the lay minister services for the church for 25 years.
His obituary reads:
"In the year of 1866 Peter DOLECHECK Sr. and his brothers, Vet and Leopold and families and several related families of theirs, started on a long journey to America where they arrived the same year. At that time it took six weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They all settled in Washington Township about nine miles northwest of Mt. Ayr. Peter DOLECHECK's Sr. made their permanent home in Washington Township and after their arrival in America. Peter DOLECHECK Sr. conducted the services in the Bohemian Church for about twnety-five years. The services in the beginning and for many years after, were held in a log cabin but later on when the settlers were better situated financially, they build a new church on the cemetery grounds. It was located on a part of the Peter DOLECHECK farm."

The Bohemian Cemetery in Ringgold Iowa where many of the Dolecheck and Pacha ancestors are buried:

Many immigrants who came to the new world changed their surnames. Some added or subtracted letters from their surnames while others shortened or lengthened the names.In Czech, Dolecek has hácek mark over the letter c that is pronounced like "CH" in the word church which is how it got its americanized spelling of Dolechek, with the extra "h" added.
Sometime after 1880 my third great grandfather, Leopold and his brother Vetus moved their families from Ringgold, Iowa to Barton County, Kansas where they both built farms and worked in agriculture.  
My second great grandfather, Ferdinand who was Leopold's third son married and moved to Kinsley, Kansas where he built a farm and raised his family including my great grandmother Josephine. Here is a photograph of Ferdinand and his wife Margaret and her sister Sophie:

and a photo of my great grandmother Josephine Dolechek on her wedding day to my great grandfather Adam Spahn:

I'm very keen on finding out more about the life of my Bohemian ancestors in Iowa and Kansas as well as what life was like in Klosterle.  I'm curious to see if any of my Bohemian ancestors were descended from either the Habsburg Monarchy or any of the other Bohemian Dynasties.  Although most of the Bohemian settlers that came to America were hard working farmers, you never know what you will find when you take a climb further up the family tree!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Musical Family

I always loved going down to my Grandpa Carl Clare's house.  "Pops" as we affectionately called him had some odd and interesting things in his home (a jeweled tree! metal detectors! old wooden teeth!) all which were very enticing to a school kid.  Pops house was only a block from my own.  I would stay there after school sometimes or just wander down on the weekend to say hi.  I loved to swing on his porch swing, pet his cats and above all else, listen to him and my step-grandmother Thelma play their music.

Pops would play a song on the guitar or pluck his banjo and Thelma would play the organ. She always let me tinker on the organ. They played several functions together every year, entertaining the good people of Kansas and they kept on playing until Thelma left this world.  Pops continued on with his music however, which I'm sure was very healing to him after Thelma's passing. One of my last memories of Pops was when Charlie and I took my Grandma (Duesing) for a ride on the DCF&B train and Pops provided the music.  What a surprise that was to take one grandparent for a ride, only to discover another on the same train!
 Pops (on guitar) and Bob Love (fiddle) entertained passengers during their ride on the DCF&B railroad.

I have a story from Pops about being the entertainment on the railroad that I will post in a followup blog.  For this blog entry I want to focus on what I discovered about my grandfather's musical heritage.  In researching my grandfather's maternal line, I discovered that music was a big part of the Roth family life.  Not only music, but stories and poetry too. 

My great grandmother, Pops' mother, Glen Coe Roth, was a violin player.  She must have been good as she played different venues and functions. Here is a photo of her holding her violin:

And here is a flyer announcing one of her performances:
It reads in part "Good violin music and songs will be interspersed throughout the entire program by Glen Roth Clare."  Notice the name of the Entertainment Co. "Evans-Roth".  I haven't figured out yet if that was Glen Coe herself or another musical Roth that was partners with "Evans".

Glen Coe must have passed her love for music down to her children, thus my grandfather probably had music in his life from an early age. And the same was probably true for Glen Coe as well since her father, my great great grandfather Webster Tyler Roth was a drummer.  He drummed in the Civil War for Company H, Iowa 26th Infantry Regiment from August 14th, 1862 until June 6th, 1865, from the age of 20 to 23.  Here is a Civil War Reunion picture of him and other members of his regiment.  I have no idea when it was taken, but most likely, at least 20 years after the war. My great great grandfather is seated in the middle row, third from the left:
Webster and his wife Annie had 10 children who lived and I'm curious now to find out how many of Glen Coe's siblings also enjoyed music and maybe if Annie herself was musically inclined and if it also came from her side of the family (Wright).  At least some of it rubbed off on me as I played piano, guitar and flute as I was growing up and still, today plunk on the piano every now and again
Will I find more musicians in my family tree? Stay tuned! (No pun intended!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tragedy on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

Sometimes, while researching one ancestor you fall upon another who has a story to tell.  And sometimes, you solve a family mystery, only to uncover another one. Both happened this week searching for Kansas newspaper articles on my grandfather, Carl Clare. My grandfather was named after his uncle, Carl Clare, his father Harry's younger brother who was born in 1890. Carl, who would be my great great uncle was missing one of his arms, the result of an accident on a train. None of the current living family members knew what that accident was, just that it involved a train.

While searching those Kansas newspapers, I found the story of what happened to Carl on that train.  The story was printed in the Kansas City Star on November 27th, 1905 and reads:
Carl Clare, a 15-Year-Old Newkirk, Ok., Boy, in a Critical Condition.
WICHITA, KAS., Nov. 27.---Carl Clare of Newkirk, Ok., was brought to a Wichita hospital this morning. He was shot by the night watchman in Harper, Kas. He is in critical condition. Clare, who is only 15 years old, had been riding the blind baggage of an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe train on his way home from a visit.  When ordered to halt the boy started to run and the watchman shot him.  A bullet from a 44-caliber revolver passed through his right side.

This newspaper article was a goldmine of information.  It solved the mystery of how Carl lost his arm on the train. It also tells his age and his current place of residence. But, it leaves other mysteries to be solved...where was he coming from? who was he visiting? was he alone? what hospital was he brought to? was there no way to save the arm? who cared for him? did his parents take the train to Kansas to be with him?

Image of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe train in 1890

St. Francis Hospital, Wichita, Kansas circa 1905

One of the most interesting bits of information revealed in the article is that Carl was riding in the "blind baggage" of an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe train. By 1905, the year Carl took this fateful ride, the trains of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad traveled from Chicago to San Francisco.

We know Carl was probably travelling somewhere from the east back towards the west and was shot in Harper, Kansas, just south of Wichita.  His father had moved the family from Ellison, Illinois to Powhatten, Kansas before moving to Oklahoma during the great Land Runs.  Perhaps Carl was visiting family left behind in Ellison or Powhatten.

Carl was riding in the blind baggage of the train.  This tells us that he was most likely not traveling with his parents. The blind baggage of the train was a baggage car that was carried behind the coal tender of the locomotive and was known as a "blind baggage car" because it had no connecting door but a loose blind over  the exit.  Because there is no connecting door, hobos (migratory workers) who hopped the trains without paying could not be discovered from within the train.  This became known as "riding the blinds". It was a very dangerous way to travel as was "riding the rods", hanging on under the train. Researching this I found several stories of those "riding the blinds" losing fingers or hands or being ran over and killed while trying to hop a moving train.

"The Ballad of Casey Jones" has a lyric that refers to the blinds:
Casey said before he died
fix the blinds so the bums can't ride
If they ride, let them ride the rods
and put their hands in the trust of God

Was my great great uncle Carl a migratory worker, a hobo? Or was he just returning from spending time with family? Carl was shot...discovered by a night watchman. Carl, who must have been just a frightened teenager took off running which was probably his most natural instinct. Instead of letting him go, the night watchman shot him with a 44-caliber gun. Thanksgiving was three days later so it's assumed he spent that time in a Wichita hospital. Who was the night watchman who shot him? What was his story? There is more mystery now than before!  I'll have to put my Sherlock sensibilities to work and try to solve it.

An interesting endnote to this blog entry: I've taken one shot of railroad tracks. One shot of part of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad. That one shot was taken in 2008 in....Harper, Kansas. 
Coincidence? Or perhaps I was drawn there by ancestral energy.  I prefer to believe the latter.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Roth Family Line and a Terrible Tragedy

Roth Name Meaning and History

  1. German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): nickname for a person with red hair, from Middle High German rot, German rot ‘red’. As a Jewish surname it is also at least partly ornamental: its frequency as a Jewish surname is disproportionate to the number of Jews who, one may reasonably assume, were red-headed during the period of surname adoption.
  2. German and English: topographic name for someone who lived on land that had been cleared, Old High German rod, Old English rodroð.
  3. German: from a short form of any of the various Germanic personal names with the first elementhrod ‘renown’. 

The Roth Line

Glen Coe Roth (great grandmother)

b. 1896 in Hodgeman County, Kansas
Webster Tyler Roth (2nd g. grandfather)
b. 1842 in Bureau County, Illinois
Solomon Roth (3rd g. grandfather)
b. 1808 in Franklin Township, Delaware County, New York
Edward Roth (4th g. grandfather)
b. 1762 in Dudley, Massachusetts 
Benjamin Roth, Jr. (5th g. grandfather)
b. 1742 in This, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Benjamin Roth, Sr. (6th g. grandfather)

The Roth line has been fascinating to follow and I've learned some interesting things about my ancestors.  One such interesting fact is that my great grandmother, Glen Coe, learned to shoot a gun at a very early age and always carried it with her while out in the pasture, herding the cows. Her nickname was "Sarge". How I love that! She was an accomplished violinist. She loved to dress in costume, and was most fond of Native American dress:

With a name like Glen Coe and a brother named Fairiby, I thought perhaps a Scottish descent would be found.  Although her mother's maiden name is Wright, which is Scottish, I discovered that it's more probable that Glen Coe was named for a small town in Butler County, Kansas.  I've not found a birth record for Glen, but her father was living in Hodgeman County the year before she was born which is most likely her place of birth.  As for her brother, Fairiby, their father, Webster Tyler Roth served in the Civil War and his Regiment Colonel was Thomas G. Ferreby. This is probably where the name Fairiby came from.  

Webster Tyler Roth, my second great grandfather was born in Illinois but moved to Iowa with his family sometime between the ages of eight and fourteen.  In 1862, at the age of 20, he enlisted in the War of Rebellion (as the Civil War was called) and served with Company H, the 26th Iowa Infantry Regiment.  He served three years until 1865.

He married Anna Juliette Dillon Wright sometime before 1868 and they had 11 children, but lost the youngest one, Yvette, to a tragic accident involving fire around Christmas of 1897.  The story from the Dodge City Daily Globe, 12/31/1897:

**Last Saturday evening between 5 and 6 o clock a little girl of W.T. Roth who resides at the State Soldiers Home while playing in the back yard with some other children backed into a small fire which had been started by the children.  Her Dress caught fire behind, and before she discovered  it her clothing was all on fire.  she started and ran towards the rear door of Mr. J.W. Keiths house.  Mrs. Keith had just came to her rear door and saw the childs clothing in flames.  She ran to the child and pulled the clothing off as fast as she could, but before she could get them off the child was burned so bad and had inhaled so much of the fire that her little life could not be saved.  Her hair was all burned from her head.  Her body and flesh was burned black.  Mrs. Keiths hands were also badly burned in attempting to save the little one.  The Dr. did all that could be done for the child which only lived till 4 o clock Sunday morning.  The parents have the sympathy of the citizens in their sad affliction.**
It was such a sad story to discover.  I can't imagine how horrible that must have been for the other children and for Webster and Anna.  Anna died just two years later, perhaps with a broken heart. Webster was already living at Fort Dodge Soldiers Home when it happened and I've not discovered where the underage children went to live once Anna had died.
Back row: Edna (b. 1873), Ida (b. 1869), Chesterfield (b. 1878), Alwilda (b. 1871), Eva (b. 1868), Ann (b. 1880)
Front row: Devern (b. 1890), Fairiby (b. 1888), Glen Coe (b. 1886), Anna Juliette (b. 1850) holding Yvette (b. 1892, d. 1897), Webster Tyler (b. 1842), Pearle (b. 1884)
I've not done much research past Webster because he and his family has had a lot of historical records to comb over but I did find his father's headstone:
And a photograph of Solomon's brother, David, who's portrait hung in the Roth Family home in Hinsdale, Illinois and can also be found in a biography of the early pioneers of Hinsdale:
Solomon's father was Edward Roth who was born in Dudley, Massachusetts in 1762.  Finding his birth record was great because it told me that his father, Benjamin, was a "junior" so I know now that my 6th great grandfather would also be a Benjamin.  
Edwards father, Benjamin Jr. was supposedly born in the little village of This in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France.  I've not been able to confirm this however.  This has brought me to a standstill on my direct Roth line until I can travel to the village of This, France or find some other record in Massachusetts that will confirm the French connection.  In the meantime, I've decided to order the complete Civil War Military file for my great great grandfather Webster Tyler Roth and have been busy researching stories of his children.  More to come on this fascinating branch of my family tree!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

With a Little Help From My Friends

I had blogged earlier about the mystery surrounding how and when my Great Great grandfather John Spahn came to America. The family legend was that he went AWOL with the Russian Army and snuck into the States. I've not had any luck in finding him on any passenger list but with a little help from my friends, I just may get one step closer to solving the riddle.

Three of my girlfriends, Trena, Gina and Leilani all live in Kansas, about half an hour from Topeka. The three of them frequently get together for "girly afternoons" (always wish I was there with them!) so I sent all of them the information on the Naturalization record for John Spahn which is located at the Topeka Genealogical Society and asked for help in finding the record. I can always count on these girls for great support and they jumped on the favor without question.
Here are the pictures Trena posted on Facebook of her visit to the Topeka Genealogical Society:
Rows upon rows of records!

These nice ladies helped Trena locate the correct book that
 holds the record for John Spahn.

There it is!
The white book: Naturalization Record C District Court Shawnee County.

Now, I wait patiently to get the record...and with a little help from my friends, a mystery may be solved!
Update to follow...
Until then, Thanks girls for all your help!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: a Buffalo Hunter named McGill

Boot Hill, Dodge City, Kansas

McGill's first name is unknown. He was a buffalo hunter and desperado who amused himself by shooting into every house he passed by. Members of the Vigilante Committee including James Hanrahan of the Occident Saloon and John (Scotty) Scott of the Peacock's Billard Saloon ran him out of town.
McGill opened fire on them and they responded.

The report from the Marion County, Kansas Record read:
On Tuesday night, an unmitigated scoundrel and desperado named McGill was shot and killed at Dodge City.  This is the same scoundrel who shot and killed a sixteen year-old boy on New's Years Day last, without the slightest provocation.
-March 29th, 1873

I used to play in this graveyard.  My family had summer passes so Boot hill became a place they could drop us off for the day and we would let our imaginations lead us into great stories of Cowboys and Indians.
As a teenager, I worked up on Boot Hill...and it freaked me out to be there at night, closing up the museum which had the bones of a Native American Indian inside under glass and a Buffalo Head on the wall whose eyes seemed to follow you where ever you walked. The place is definitely haunted, maybe even by the Buffalo Hunter named McGill!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fort Dodge, Home of Heroes

My great grandfather, Adam Spahn spent his final years here, at the Fort Dodge Soldier's Home in Fort Dodge, Kansas. I had visited him there shortly before he died. The memory of the visit, with him in his wheelchair, lined up alongside many other wheelchair bound soldiers has never left me.It was difficult to see him in his final stages of life.The only other time I remember being out at Fort Dodge (besides Christmas 2008, when I took the above photograph) was as a small child, during a school field trip. I never really thought much about the fort. But, now I realize what a huge roll it has played in not only my great grandfather's life, but that of my great great grandfather, Asbury Gaskill who also spent the twilight of his life as a resident here.
I was completely unaware of a second relative at the fort until I began tracing my Gaskill ancestors  Asbury served in the Civil War but was discharged shortly after for "disease of the chest". He spent some time in 1900 at the Leavenworth Soldiers Home but at some point ended up here, at Fort Dodge. I have ordered Asbury's complete military file from the National Archives in Washington, DC and even though it can take up to 4 months for the packet to arrive I'm hoping it will tell me when he began living at Fort Dodge. Having ordered that file, I am now interested in ordering military records for my great grandfather, Adam Spahn who was in WW1, my grandfather, Eugene Duesing and his brother, Anthony Duesing who were in WWII. Unfortunately, a fire in 1973 destroyed most of the Army records (both Adam and Eugene were in the Army) so it may be a more difficult task than it was ordering the Civil War file of Asbury but I shall try and see what I can get!
For is a little bit of history on Fort Dodge:
Fort Dodge, was one of the most important forts on the western frontier. It is located to the southeast of Dodge City. The fort was established on April 10, 1865 by Captain Henry Pierce, by order of Major General Grenville M. Dodge. The fort’s primary purpose was to protect the wagon trains on their way to New Mexico.

The need for a fort at this location was great; an unusually large camp site for the fort was situated where the dry route and the wet route of the Santa Fe Trail intersected. The dry route came across the divide from Larned on the Pawnee River, while the wet route followed the river.  The dry route, often called the Hornado de Muerti, the journey of death, was often without water the whole distance and trains would lay up to recruit after making the passage. When the Indians discovered this popular stopping off point, they began to attack the many unwary emigrants and freighters traveling through the area.
Buffalo hunter Ralph Morrison killed and scalped by Cheyennes in December 1868, near Fort Dodge, Kansas. Photographer: William S. Soule (1836-1908)

Initial fortifications were crude earth dugouts excavated along the north bank of the Arkansas River. Many men first stationed there were Confederates who preferred a fight with the Indians to languishing, perhaps dying, in northern prisons. The soldiers had no lumber or hardware, so they had to use the available materials, grass and earth, to create the 70 sod dugouts. These were 10 X 12 feet in circumference and seven feet deep. A door to the south faced the river and a hole in the roof admitted air and light. Banks of earth were bunks for the soddies that slept from two to four men. Sanitation was poor and spring rains flooded the dugouts. Pneumonia, dysentery, diarrhea and malaria were common that first year in the isolated fort.

In 1867 Fort Dodge was relocated and rebuilt in stone buildings. In 1868 Comanches and Kiowas attacked Fort Dodge, killing four soldiers and wounding seventeen. As a result, General Philip H. Sheridan came to Fort Dodge in the summer of 1868. He pitched his camp on the hill north of the fort and started outfitting his command against the Indians.

In the fall of 1868, General Alfred Sully took command at the fort in preparation for winter campaign against the plains Indians. When the preparations for the expedition were well under way and his army practically ready to march, General Sully was sent home and General George A. Custer carried on the campaign.

The abandonment of Fort Dodge in June, 1882, created surprise among the Dodge City people who were terrified of the Indian raids.
After its abandonment, part of the buildings were demolished, some removed.  The military reservation was transferred to the Interior Department on January 12, 1885 and was converted to the Kansas Soldiers Home in 1889. When rebuilding and repairing began on the Soldiers Home, the character of the famous old post was sustained.

The Kansas Soldiers Home now includes a library/museum, a modern intensive nursing home, a recreation center, five residence halls, and 60 cottages. Veterans of the Mexican, Civil, Indian, Spanish-American, Philippines, Boxer Rebellion, World War I, and II, Korean and Vietnam Wars have all been occupants.

The peaceful park, quiet shaded tree lined walks, dignified buildings, both old and new, and other markers seem a far cry from the dugouts and forsaken soldiers barely existing on the Arkansas River bank in 1865.

Fort Dodge Hauntings –  There have been many reports of strange occurrences at the old fort over the years. At a barn upon the site, it is said that at 3:30 every morning all the lights go on and off and the doors mysteriously open by themselves.

info courtesy of Legends of America

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- Southwick Memorial

Continuing with my research of my Quaker heritage and my 9th great grandparents Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, I present for Tombstone Tuesday, a Memorial on Shelter Island.  Unveiled on July 17th, 1884 on the Sylvester Manor house burial ground.  The inscription reads: 
"Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, Despoiled, imprisoned, starved, whipped, banished, Who fled here to die".

 (Photo dated 1991, and posted by Stuart Jensen)

Monday, April 5, 2010

At Odds: My Puritan and Quaker Heritage

I've been moved my many stories of my ancestors but none more so than that of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick and two of their children, son Daniel and daughter Provided who lived in Salem, Massachusetts.

Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of  England were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in a very puritanical Salem. They were persecuted, fined, whipped, thrown in prison and eventually banished for not following the Puritan ways. They were my 9th Great Grandparents (and 8th great grandparents of Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon, my second cousins, 8 generations removed) and their daughter, Provided, my 8th Great Grandmother. To find out the horrors your family members went through is gut-wrenching. What I find utterly unbelievable is that the Puritans, who left England because of religious persecution became persecutors themselves and many Quakers suffered terribly as a result. Even more shocking to me was to find out that the person who passed judgement on them was my own 9th Great Grandfather, Puritan and first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endicott:

"According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "Under his authority the colony of Massachusetts Bay made rapid progress, and except in the matter of religious intolerance in which he showed great bigotry and harshness, particularly towards the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)" (including religious executions), "his rule was just and praiseworthy. Of him Edward Eggleston says: A strange mixture of rashness, pious zeal, genial manners, hot temper, and harsh bigotry, his extravagances supply the condiment of humour to a very serious history; it is perhaps the principal debt posterity owes him."
Quaker Trial, 17th Century

Because of the unfair treatment of their parents, having bear witness to the repeated lashings and imprisonments, Daniel and Provided decided not to participate in a church that was so persecuting and for this they were fined ten pounds each even though it was known they would not be able to pay. The Governor then issued an order in the General Court of Boston that Daniel and Provided would be sold as slaves to any English nation at Virgina or Barbados.  
This image shows my 9th great grandfather, Governor John Endicott attempting to sell my 8th great grandmother, Provided Southwick into slavery.  The writing below the image reads:
"The attempted sale into slavery of Daniel and Provided Southwick, son of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick by Gov. Endicott and his minions, for being Quakers."

I wanted to know more and after several days of research I came upon the book:
"Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem Mass.
The Original Emigrants, and the Ancestors of the Families Who Have Since Borne His Name (1881)

I've discovered that books on family Genealogy such as this one don't come cheap! In fact, some can be selling for hundreds of dollars!  But, this book was totally worth the purchase as I uncovered so much more than what I had found previously.  It included Historical Extracts such as this one:
"Lawrence, Cassandra and their son Josiah were imprisoned at Boston for being Quakers and were kept there twenty weeks on a charge of violating a law enacted while they were in prison."

Quaker Meeting House, 17th Century

Eventually all Quakers were banned from setting foot in Massachusetts under "pain of death" although several risked imprisonment and even death by hanging in order to continue their ministry.  Lawrence and Cassandra were banished and fled to Shelter Island, Long Island Sound, New York where Nathaniel Sylvester, the island's first white settler gave shelter to them and many other Quakers.  Another except from the Southwick Genealogy book reads:
"Lawrence and wife Cassandra went to Shelter Island, Long Island Sound, being banished under pain of death in 1659, and died there in the spring of 1660 from privation and exposure; his wife died three days after him."

It was really sad to discover that they died of starvation and exposure.  Even though they weren't family members that I knew in the physical sense, they were still my grandparents, whose blood flows through my veins. I still had an ache in my heart for the way they died which seems completely unfair and unnecessary.

Yesterday, as I was sitting on my patio in the morning sun, sipping my favorite brand of coffee and enjoying the views over the lake, I thought about Lawrence, Cassandra and Provided and how this day, this moment of enjoyment is a result of all my ancestors, on both sides of my tree. Those who suffered humiliation and persecution, those that fought and died in war, those who endured hardships in the new lands and on the open prairies.Those that gave me life, protected me and loved me. I honor all of them by continuing my research, telling their stories and keeping memories alive.