Thursday, December 22, 2016

Genealogy and History

Genealogy is a great way to start an interest in history - in following my family tree, I've noted several incidents that ancestors were involved in, which made me want to learn more...  I grew up considering myself to be a Southerner in the United States.  Mom was from Virginia, Dad was born in Oklahoma and spent the majority of his youth in Kansas.  I was born in Virginia, and grew up in Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida.
   I was extremely surprised to learn that Chincoteague Island, Mom's Virginia hometown, declared for the Union (not the Confederacy), and while people fought for both sides, Chincoteague was a Northern ally.  So I read a great deal about the agricultural and seafood economies of Accomack County, and came away with a much better understanding of why the citizens decided to support the Union, rather than the South.  I had no idea that the Eastern Shore was not a part of the Confederacy - I was never taught that, nor did I ever see it mentioned in my history texts at school and college.
   Digging nuggets of information along family branches, I found that a great-grandfather (many generations ago) was hung for his part in Bacon's Rebellion at Jamestown in Virginia...  So I read up on that bit of history.
   I've found that one of my great-great-grandfathers was a part of the jury that found abolitionist John Brown and his sons guilty in absentia for the Pottawatomie Massacre.  That relative went on to be burned out during the Civil War, and became a Justice of the Peace and a Judge in Missouri.  At the same time, the great-great-grand Uncle of my sister's husband was one of the seven men supplying John Brown and his abolitionist followers with money and firearms that led to Harper's Ferry.  Jim's great Uncle somehow avoided trial and conviction, while many others did not.
   An ancestor supported Lord Calvert of Maryland in the only English Civil War battle that occurred in the American colonies, was caught and sentenced to prison.  He escaped, left the main land, and settled in Accomack County, Virginia, where he prospered.  Another ancestor, a Cleveland, was imprisoned during the British Commonwealth period, for writing "scurrilous verses" about Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.  The ancestor was incarcerated in the Clink Prison for six months.
   Ancestors and relatives of my parents fought in the Civil War, the War of 1812, multiple Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, and I've traced a few who fought in the Wars of the Roses in England, the Crusades, and even a couple of battles that contained warlords and troops of Roman Legions...  Right now, I'm reading about the Roman Empire, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the beginning of Charlemagne's  Frankish Empire that became the Holy Roman Empire.  It's fascinating stuff - especially when you realize that someone you're related to lived though it.

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