About a month ago, I think it was, Deb told me that her cousin had started researching his ancestry, with the goal of drawing an unbroken family line to the American Revolution. She said she was considering doing the same, which I thought was pretty cool.
My father’s side of the family has been here only since 1865, when my great-great-grandfather emigrated from Scotland. I’d never tried to trace the other side of his family, however, and yesterday’s discovery of the auction flyer prompted me to look and see what I could find.
If you’ve ever done anything like this, you know how slippery the slope can be.
Beginning with my paternal grandmother, and not knowing when my German ancestors had arrived on these shores, I got onto a find-a-grave website and began following the trail backward. To my surprise, it didn’t take me long to learn that this family had been here since September 10th, 1737.
Better yet, I found my Revolutionary War soldier.
He’s my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. Before my grandmother’s family moved west to Ohio they’d settled in eastern Pennsylvania. My ancestor was a member of the Pennsylvania militia about the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, subsequently enlisting in the Artillery of Pennsylvania Continental Line in August of 1776.
His formal military service didn’t last long — while stationed as a private at Mud Island Fort, he was stricken with “camp fever” (typhus, most likely) and became so seriously ill that he was removed from duty. He survived, but ultimately he was discharged to return home and recover.
I can find no record that he ever got back to the fight. There’s a clear indication, however, that he continued to stand with the rebels — back in his home borough the family property included an outpost as well as a school. The plot is now a cemetery.
He died in 1834 at the age of 77.
I’d always wondered — hoped, even — about a family connection to the birth of the country I love. Now I know that I have at least one. It’s reasonable to suspect that there are a few more.
Oh, my search uncovered one more interesting bit of trivia, unrelated to the American Revolution. My soldier-ancestor’s grandfather, the one who brought the family here from Germany, is the great-great-great-great-grandfather of an American icon — U.S. Army General, Supreme Allied Commander on D-Day and 34th President of the United States.
That’d be Dwight David Eisenhower. Boom.
One year ago today: Once the morning rain showers moved out, Deb’s cousin picked us up and took deeper into the incomparable Ozarks landscape. We returned to Gray Spring, this time sampling the sweet water flowing from the well. We saw the Buffalo from an overlook high above the river and wound our way down to the spectacular bluffs at Buffalo Point.
Deb saw her first bald eagle in the wild.
The days just kept getting better.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.