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Not for sissies

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 Ancestry.com 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.

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I’m supposed to be doing the taxes

The so called work surface on which the papers are kept is indeed loaded with papers, bills, records, and only my worn out angels know what else.  I’m supposed to be firing up the Turbo Tax and ………… ugh, ugh, ugh.  Every year I say I’m marching into H & R Block’s doorway and dumping said papers on someone else’s work surface, but I’m a little on the cheap side.  So I suffer the stomach knots and procrastinate.  This year, we know we’re paying in making the knots bigger.

The room harboring what I need has been blocked off from the heat all winter with the exception of when our Indiana friend dropped in on his way to and from North Carolina.  The door is open and the light is turned on.  It’s amazing what I can call progress.

A “funner” part of my day has been watching the Gaither DVD filmed in Israel a few years ago.  It’s on its second run after which I plan on sliding in the one done in Toronto followed by maybe Mark Lowry in Hollywood.  If there’s time, Lord of the Rings hasn’t been warmed up for a few months and may be due.

Always a multi-tasker, I’ve had the laptop where else but on my lap, looking up ancestors, where they lived, what was going on when they lived which brings me to yet another discovery.

My 7th great-grandparents, Bartholomew Stovall and Ann Burton, were married August 8, 1693 in St. John Church, Henrico County, Virginia.  That was 315 years and 7 months ago.  Ann bore 7 children according to my limited research, was widowed at 51 and lived on to witness the birth of the United States of America and finally giving up her spirit at the gentle age of 111 in 1786.  Maybe I’ll find her marker in the kirk yard when I go to Virginia with my sister this summer or fall.

It was in that church where she had been a bride at the age of 17 that almost 82 years later on March 23rd, Patrick Henry cried “Give me liberty, or give me death.”

Well, I’m impressed!

I would like to know, however, having raised 7 children while carving out a legacy in a land still new and unexplored, having outlived 3 of her 7 children by then and living her entire life of 99 years and 7 months as a subject of the British crown—just a little ripe of time to get all excited about politics and war, did she see this revolution as more ruinous than worthy?  It’s an historical fact that the majority of the population was not in favor of breaking away from England.

Was she acquainted with any of these young upstart rebels?  Did she wag a knarled finger in their direction saying to leave well enough alone? Or had she herself been wishing and waiting for independence right along side those willing to die for freedom?

Who’s side was she on?

DNA checkmate

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

In the routine again

I will tell you about the weekend, the message, the crowd and the music.  Also this last weekend my mother would have turned 100.  I hesitate to say “celebrated” as I think she would be upset at the 3 digits. 

I’m having trouble with the genealogy program.  It dies when I want to merge a new name which could be a moot point at this point in time.  I’ve cancelled the Ancestry membership, forcing me to progress to printing, research, and scanning.  I know.  I said that a couple of weeks ago but this time I hit the cancel button.  Maybe 9,707 names are enough.  Some are accidental tangent lines of no relation, others are repeats, people we descend from in multiple lines.  Many we share.  Yes, Honey and I are cousins albeit the common ancestors are back over a thousand years. 

Right now it’s late.  I’ve been diddling with the computer, reinstalling, uninstalling, restoring to two different previous dates and undoing one.  I thought I’d lost my 9707 people file and just about lost my cookies before I figured out they were still there.  However, 6 minutes to Ancestry membership cutoff at midnight doesn’t allow me much time to figure out how to merge new ones from all the leaves that formed.  Oh, well.

I need to set aside some time this week to dig out Mom’s graduation picture, the one of her in her ’20s bobbed hair, the picture she tried to hide.  I’m sure if she were here, she’d still hate it but she’s wrong.  I’m anxious to post it.

The clock strikes 12 and this cinderella is heading for bed.  Good night.

First Families

The triumphs and tragedies of past generations become real and heartfelt when you learn about an ancestor’s life as an indentured servant, or feel the sorrow of a mother as her sons depart for America, or the loyalty that drove a soldier to wander a dark battlefield, lantern in hand, stepping over the dead and dying, to find his missing brother.

East Tennessee Historical Society’s First Families project lists the earliest settlers to Tennessee.  I bought the book today.  The first thing I did was open it to the name list, ran my finger down the smooth glossy pages to find William Murphy, the first preacher installed at the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church in Jonesborough, TN, 1783.

Once I prove the descendancy, the only benefit I care about is knowing with proof.  The pride goes no further.  The trendy word is closure.  I say knowing.  The point is a printed legacy, a certificate, a documented heritage.  To say to the former employer who said there were no points for my previous generations having come through Tennessee, I can say to him First Family.  I won’t.  I can’t even remember his name.  And there are probably no points credited to my validity in Tennessee even from other First Family descendents.   After all, my line left for Illinois in the mid 19th century making me “not from around here.”  Somehow, that matters a great deal to locals.  I won’t win hearts with my proven ancestry.  My point is passing it on, not waving it in faces.

I will find the proof.  When the next edition is printed with my name as one of the submitted and certified descendents of a Tennessee pioneer, I will buy a copy for each of my children and include it in all the rest of the genealogy material.  They don’t care that much for ancestry so far.  But someday one or more of their kids or grandkids will want to know and the answers will be at their fingertips on paper, in print, and they will say in the language of their day, “cool.”