Feeling the performance – Riverdance!

If the theory of DNA Memory is true, that we genetically carry the footprints of our ancestors, shadows of their cultures, then there are sub-conscious rumblings in my soul and echoes of flutes and drums in my veins that connect me to Ireland .  I close my eyes and see green hills and Maureen O’Hara.

No?  I don’t believe the DNA thing either.  It just sounded good.  According to my European heritage is all of Europe.  Lines weave backward through myriad shire and kingdom finding root through Troy to Goshen back to Abraham himself.

Yet, I feel so much more Irish than say, Prussian or Italian.  That could have something to do with growing up with the surname of Murphy and listening to Dad talking about his Murphy line, who was the immigrant, etc.  Mom also spoke of her Dutch line of sailors.  I just wasn’t that fascinated.  Sorry, Mom.  But, aye now, the Irish, the twinkling eyes, the roguish smiles, the castles, the green shutters and stone fences, the dancing and drums …  much more fun than say, wooden shoes.

We’re watching the Best of Riverdance.  When I emerged from the Celtic store in Gatlinburg last week proudly waving my purchase, my son-in-law chuckled and said “as opposed to the Worst Of?”  After viewing of the Best Of and remembering my experience of the live performance in Minneapolis, I’ve concluded that the Worst Of would look the same.  There is no Worst.

It can only be described as an experience.  You watch, you feel, you meld with it and believe all you have to do is put on the tap shoes and you are one of them.  That night my friend Lisa and I persisted 65 dark miles through winter wind and snow, and froze our fingers and cheekbones walking to the old Minneapolis Theatre.  The stage was wooden, the floors were wooden, the seats creaky and packed close together, barely room to peel off the parkas.

Lisa educated me all the way there on theater behavior.  She studied theater, there is protocol.  There is prescribed pattern.  By first curtain, if theater is a verb, I knew how to.  Then the thunder of steeled toes and heels vibrated through the stage, the floors, the seats and penetrated the bodies.  At the first opportunity to do so, the whole of the audience flew to their feet, shouting, whistling, applauding hard enough to wear on the tendon and joint.  Lisa must have been in theatrical shock but she too rose to her feet eventually, commenting later that she thought she was at a hockey game after a double overtime.

You too can buy the DVD in Dolby, set up the surround sound, crank up the subwoofer, and swim in the magic of Riverdance.  But …. until they’re in front of you on a wooden stage, passionately stomping out their heritage, until you’re watching “by the seat of your pants,” you haven’t felt Riverdance.  If you have that opportunity, you just may hear some Irish in your blood.


DNA dead end

Honey>Herb>Wesley>George>Orlando>George>Jesse. Virtually every source for 50 years has declared George’s father was Jesse who married Rebecca Howard whose line went back into English nobility and through the London Tower 3 generations in a row, 2 of which lost contact with their heads. Great story! Nothing to do with us after the DNA project showed that George and Jesse could not possibly be related. Continue reading

Adding flesh to the stats


Some of the early settlers began to meet for worship services and formed the Cherokee Creek Meeting House. Although the exact date of organization is not known, some historians believe this Baptist church was started circa 1780 or earlier. The first recorded meeting took place April 2, 1783, when the Reverend William Murphy was installed as pastor. By September 4, 1783, the members of Cherokee Creek Meeting House had pledged that “we do not look upon ourselves (as) infallible (but) we still look to be further taught by the word and spirit of God. . .”

One of the many details I’m getting from my new network is that Rev.4-Great-Gramps was once just over my shoulder less that two hours from my back deck.  About 30 miles from my front deck toward Knoxville, he lived there with John, also a Reverend, and Rachel, my 3-Great-grandparents.  That’s a big town.  As I shade my eyes, I wonder what part of Knoxville, what neighborhood, what street.

Next spring, if I can wait that long, Nancy and I, with the Honeys, will pilgrimage to Jonesborough, TN, which was North Carolina before the borders were adjusted, to see the scenery the 4GG saw.  In the meantime, I really want to locate the spot in Knoxville.  Logically, the house wouldn’t be there unless …… ?  According to the recent material shared with me by my cousins on RootsWeb, he along with John and Rachel are buried in Barren Co., Ky, specifically somewhere around Bowling Green.

Having originated in Virginia before the Revolutionary War, having fought in said war, these people went on to pioneer Tennessee and Kentucky. I could be taking a few Saturday afternoon trips.  There goes the housework.  Again.

Not from around here

No body is — anywhere.  That was the one lesson that genealogy has taught me. Even our native Americans crossed on a land bridge from Asia.  And if civilization began at the Euphrates, so did the African continent originate other than.

Everyone is at some point interested in their ethnic background if only as an answer to a question in a casual conversation.  My maiden surname is Murphy therefore I am Irish.  Well, yes, some my ancestors lived in Ireland for a few centuries.  Before that, there are many possibilities.  In fact, my mother’s people came from Holland before it was The Netherlands.  So, I am a larger percentage Dutch, not Pennsylvania Dutch, but REALLY Dutch.   So, then I’m half Irish and half Dutch.  Not quite, says Dad.  Mom says her grandmother was an indentured servant from England who settled in Canada.  Is Canadian ethnic?  Dad’s paternal grandmother’s name was Nelson.  His mother’s heritage goes deep into England back to 1250 including 2 knights. So, I’m 1/4 English.  Not so fast. Scotland and Wales had a part.  In my clickings, I have uncovered (not literally) about 600 to 700 years worth of ancestors in England in more than one line.  And they bred like rabbits.  A click or two later, I’m looking at addresses in France, Spain, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Prussia, wherever Ivan the Great sat, Germany, and if the information is trustworthy, Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, and Israel.

So, I’m a mutt.  Exactly!!  We’re all mutts.  Viewing our ancestral lines from a very high ladder, they were nomads, albeit very slow nomads, and every time a descendant moves, we remain nomads.

Talk about diversity!  Apparently there aren’t too many customs I can’t celebrate or a costume I can’t wear.  That’s why I don’t get all mushy over the DAR, of which I could be a member at least twice over, or the Mayflower Society, all puffed up over the boat that was originally headed for Virginia where some of my people had already been for several years.  My lines include knights and kings, consorts, and at least one high sheriff around Robin Hood’s day. My list of famous cousins is not only impressive, it’s embarrassing.

It’s back to the internet to untangle the multiple lords and ladies in France circa 1000 AD.  (Rabbits, I tell you, rabbits — people most in need of cable).

The Mayflower

I have researched a line in the family that others have declared to be a line to Francis Cooke, a passenger on the Mayflower’s first voyage, a pilgrim who signed the compact, a man of stature who, with his son and others, braved the Atlantic to a new world in order to escape religious persecution.  I have pages of typewritten script detailing lineage and Revolutionary War records, and family stories of Valley Forge and settling the American wilderness.  I take the stories at face value but alas,

…..we are not descended from Francis Cooke, a Mayflower passenger.  And I don’t care.  In fact, in my rebellious Baby-Boomer American pride, I am proud to say I do not aspire to the snobbery of the Mayflower club.  And I’m just as American as they think they are.   One of our lines landed in Virginia before the Mayflower which headed for Virginia, got lost and landed in Mass…. Masses….. Plymouth.

Francis Cooke had a brother named Phillip.  He’s our ancestor.  Apparently, he and his line stuck around England during said persecution before emigrating around 1700 for whatever specific reason.  As for the rest of the Mayflower passengers, I have that list and can look up their lines to see if we are indeed descended from the Plymouth landing … but if we don’t,  pfffft.

During the investigation of that line, I did find out that we are cousins to Lord Bacon, Thomas Cromwell, and his great grand-nephew, Oliver Cromwell.  Neither is this a thing to be shouted pridefully from the housetops except to say we, in our decency as common and good, rose above their reputations.

As for Francis and Hester Cooke, bravo for their courage and bravery.  If one stops to think of it, eveyone else who boarded a rickety wooden ship to cross the Atlantic under those conditions, are also brave and courageous, not the first, not the last, not less than either.  However, the Mayflower should be singled out as one of the few that was headed for the soft climate of Virginia and got lost instead.