Saturday, June 30, 2018

For the Revolutionary War Our Family Turned it Up Above Eleven and Now We Need More



By Bob Ferris

I have butted heads with the so-called "patriot" groups over the years on various matters relating to the US Constitution, conservation practices, and public lands.  One group in particular drives me crazy: The 3 Percenters.  This para-military group claims to be the voice of those 3% of Americans who served in militias during the American Revolution.  This number is a little specious both in terms of a measure of patriotism (i.e., militia members being more patriotic than those in the Continental Army) and gross numbers as overall participation in this conflict was something like 15 percent.  It made me wonder where our family came out in this number and what that means now and in the future.

The Revolutionary War started in earnest 243 years ago.  As male generations are on average 35 years long, or 15 years longer than female generations, that means we should be talking about males in the seven or eight generation or between 64-128 potential soldiers in the Revolution.   As we have at least 17 Revolutionary War combatants in our tree or 13-26 percent of our expected pool that means that we might have collectively served a little less or a lot more than the average population at 15 percent.

But it is more complicated than that.   For one thing, males had to be a certain age (16-55) during a certain window of time (1775-1783) so we might have had some who were alive during war, but too old or too young.  This said we also had instances where both father and son served such as Declaration Signer Lewis Morris and Lt. William Walton Morris (not to be confused with his son Gen. William Walton Morris who served in the Civil War).   And we had a few who were not in the country at this time such as Patrick Ramsay (Scotland), William Poyntell (England), and Joseph Gales Sr. (England), the latter my family's most recent immigrant (1790s). 

David Deschler

Joseph Tatnall
Benjamin Chew

Also mainly through my great-grandmother Caroline Johnston Canby Ramsay on my father's side, there is a strong Quaker connection.  Three of note were David Deschler, Joseph Tatnall, and Benjamin Chew.  Interestingly, all three hosted George Washington in their homes at times, but they dealt with their pacifism and the war in different manners.  David was perhaps the most involved providing supplies, money, and eventually serving as the Commissary of the Army in 1780.    David was also a man of principle supporting the Revolution, but also once defending a British officer who was traveling with his family from an angry crowd of militia members in Philadelphia.  Joseph Tatnall, a mill owner, also worked hard to keep the Continental Army in flour and had constant contact with Washington.  Benjamin Chew stuck to his material neutrality offering only legal advice to those serving in the Continental Congress and advocating for protest leading to a peaceful resolution rather than declaring independence.  While David and Joseph retained the full goodwill of their neighbors and new countrymen, Benjamin's road, because of his why-can't-we-all-be-friends approach, was rougher.

Those who served were old and young.  Though my mother has told me often of a little drummer lad in the family who went to war I have yet to discover that intrepid boy.  The youngest I have been able to find is Ensign John DePeyster Douw who joined at 19.  The oldest was Colonel Samuel Coit who led his Connecticut regiment for a year before being replaced at age 73.  They also came from nearly every colony so there was diversity in this regard if not in other areas.
"Mrs. Johnston died in that city, but we have no record of the date of her death or where interred."  In Some Pennsylvania Women during the War of the Revolution (1898 see here).
But what about the women?  The above quote says a lot about that issue.  The Mrs. Johnston in question was Alice Erwin Johnston wife of Colonel Francis Johnston and she broke with her Quaker community and worked hard to get food and supplies to soldiers during the war.  This was particularly true about Valley Forge where her husband served with Washington and another Francis (Chaffin) who died there of small pox even with the efforts of Alice and her allies.  Luckily, we actually do know where Alice was buried and then reburied, but even in a book dedicated to acknowledging the role of women in the Revolution details about women were omitted or overlooked.  Odd that.

This walk through history is interesting but how do we judge it and our collective role?  What does it mean for the future?  In essence, what is the point?  My sense is that revolution is much like soil tilling in that it gives a clean slate on which to grow dreams like those expressed by Gouverneur Morris in the Preamble.  Perhaps we should not be measured by the quality or quantity of our disturbance as I have documented above, but by the crops ultimately produced.   And even there my desire would be that we evaluate ourselves more by the flowers nourished and enabled rather than just in terms beets and broccoli.

Alexander Johnston Cassatt by Mary Cassatt.  Alexander helped his sister promote her art in the US.  They are both great-great grandchildren of Alexander Johnston who immigrated from Ireland and was father to Francis.  
Our families have a lot of these exceptional "flowers" growing from various branches.  I bumped into two, in addition to Alice Johnston, while writing this piece.  The first was the impressionist painter Mary Cassatt who called Colonel Francis Johnston great-great uncle.  I knew of her connection to the Johnston line but not of her brother's efforts on her behalf.  The other was Lillie Hitchcock Coit of San Francisco's Coit Tower fame who was married for a time to Benjamin Howard Coit great-great-great grandson of Colonel Samuel Coit.  In this in-laws count just as transplants do in a garden.


Illustration from one of Mary Lanman Douw's books.  The Rapelye (Rapalje) cradle was where Sarah Joris Rapalje was rocked after being born in the New Netherlands in 1625.  She was the first female child born in the new colony at Fort Orange (Albany).

In addition to a painter and fire-chasing, trouser-wearing philanthropist in our extended family we also have writers.  One such was Mary Lanman Douw who wrote much about history, genealogy, and the early Dutch experience in the New World.   Nina Chandler Murray is another author who penned a book about an epic family cruise to the Galapagos Islands.  I would also include Winifred Marshall Gales, the first female novelist in North Carolina, within this group too even though she was in England during the Revolution, because her public sympathy to this revolt and breaking away led to her and her husband Joseph Gales Sr. being chased out of England one step in front to the law.   The fact that the Gales entertained folks like Thomas Paine of Common Sense fame in their home and printed some of his material probably helped along this process of moving from liking the American stance to being American.

Award-winning teacher Lauren Bergland Rosenberg at work.

My grandmother Edna Dora Robb also was one of these flowers.  She wrote about her experiences in post-World War I Alaska in Field and Stream Magazine, but she is better known as a school teacher who as a single woman went to the relative wilds of Seward to teach before marrying my grandfather at the start of the Roaring Twenties.  And there are other teachers too like second cousins once removed Lauren Bergland Rosenberg (above) and Patty Lavarias who are both probably going to look at my grammar. 




In closing, I will say that we are living in dark times, but the strength, creativity, and sensibility of the women in our families and lines gives me hope.  I gain this feeling, because these women might be the ones who inspire or lead this next revolutionary adjustment or needed democratic booster shot.  Maybe they can do so in a better and more enlightened manner than our more recent forbearers did in the mid-1800s.  It might also be good time for those of us not women to model Alexander Cassatt by recognizing this talent, however different, and supporting it.

The above is something that we should think about this July 4th as we celebrate the work of our Founding Fathers and simultaneously mourn how far we have drifted away from our founding principles and the vision expressed in the US Constitution.  We need to return to protecting all within our country from the corrupting forces of a too-empowered elite, over-entitled corporate interests, and the dangerous re-emergence of the functional equivalent of a state church or religion.  We should recognize this trio for what they are: the catalysts for the original Revolution.  So enjoy the fireworks, but get your shoes ready to march on as the fife and drum are calling!
 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorially Thinking about Cheating Death


My father and his "modified" P-40.  The sheep fleece lined boots in this picture remained in father's closet until his passing in 2015. 

By Bob Ferris

My greater family has often been described as being a military family.  My sense is that is mainly true as my ancestors have served in nearly all the wars, large and small, waged on this continent since stepping on Plymouth Rock nearly 400 years ago.  Some have been notable officers such as Colonel Benjamin Church (1,2) or William Walton Morris and George Douglas Ramsay, the pair of West Point classmates and Civil War generals whose children married four months after Appomattox (see below).  Others have been more humble like Privates John "KW" Waller and Samuel Canby who served in our fight for independence.

Ann Morris Ramsay and Lt. Colonel Joseph Gales Ramsay who married in August 1865 with their son Major William Gouverneur Ramsay who served during the Spanish American War.  The Major is my great-grandfather.

In point of fact my ancestors showed up.  An example of this is that I descend from at least eleven who served in the Revolutionary War.  What is remarkable about this collection of soldiers is that I can only find one who died during all these conflicts.  That was Corporal Francis Chaffin who died at Valley Forge of small pox.  The rest seemed to cheat death which brings me to my father who was a P-40 pilot in World War Two.

P-40s in training flight over Texas circa 1943. 

My father served in New Guinea during World War Two.  He did not talk much about his experiences until he was nearly a half-century removed from the experience.  But one story he told was about flying between palm trees and modifying his plane in the process (see photo at top).  His story in his words is below.


I have three thoughts after reading the above transcribed account.  The first is my father's pugnaciousness which he certain passed on to me in some manner.  It reminds me that he and I used to wrestle when I was in my early teens.  Fighter pilots are relatively small and he would still come at me even though I was three inches taller and nearly a sack-of-feed heavier.

Bill Ferris in wrestling garb in 1939.  Taken at Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts. 

My second thought is the complexity of flying these fighters.  I was reminded of this while watching the sequences portraying British Spitfires in the movie Dunkirk which I thought did a good job of giving a glimpse of much that was involved (see clip below).  Having experienced the intensity of concentration required to fly these winged beasts my father was too often bored and therefore drowsy when driving.  When he was older and still driving one of us always seemed tasked with verbally nudging him on long trips when his concentration flagged and his head started to droop.



My last thought is likely the most important and relevant.  My father and all these other ancestors did not die during a war or in battle so Memorial Day is not truly their day.  I get that, but I would also argue that a part of anyone who endured these types of situations and cheats death dies.  My father was forever changed and often spoke about his post-war existence as time borrowed or something similar.  On this Memorial Weekend I will remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice like Francis Chaffin but also those who were forever changed by galloping alongside death.  

Friday, March 2, 2018

Uncle Pat


By Bob Ferris

I was cleaning out my book case this morning and was stalled by the above.  It is a self-published book written by my uncle Morris Patterson Ferris who recently passed.  My cousin Patty and I had made a side trip to see him, but he died before the wheels of my plane touched the tarmac in Atlanta. I got the news as I was settling into my hotel room.

My uncle was a writer.  He wrote nearly every day.  He wrote about his garden and his sweet potatoes.  He wrote about his dogs like Beaver.  He wrote about what he shot hunting, netted shrimping, or gigged floundering.  He wrote a lot and most of it was not sterling prose or exciting, but it was all pure Pat.  (For a recording of Uncle Pat telling stories and oral history visit here.)

"Ground Swell" by Edward Hopper (1939)

Uncle Pat and my father sailed in a 25-foot catboat from Long Island to South Carolina in 1938 right before a hurricane hit the southern coast and the world exploded in war.  He wrote about this trip (which always reminds me of the Edward Hooper painting Ground Swell above painted about the same time) and was frustrated because he could not get it published.  He sent it to me with an entreaty to help him edit the piece.  I read it and gave him what feedback I could given my other projects.  My sense was that it needed more context and commentary.  It needed some life blown in it.  The most interesting things about that trip could not have been my father constantly fixing the make-n-break, one-lunger that drove them in ports or how much they spent on their various purchases.  These were the things of day diaries, but not gripping sea stories.  Now I wished that I had spent more time with the Ferris brothers reconciling the two stories and adding the fabric of the tale where needed.

Bill and Pat riding a sleigh in New York.

And the Ferris boys, Bill and Pat, had adventures and tales that should have been told.  They both "ran away" to sea on a four-masted, timber schooner the Annie C. Ross and they both served in World War Two in the Pacific...one in the Army Air Corps and the other in the Coast Guard.  Though they were born in the north, they were formed, in part, as they roamed their grandmother's Cat Island Plantation near Georgetown, South Carolina where so many of us since spent time with the mosquitoes and gators while pursuing ducks and deer along with sipping Aunt Mary Morris' "home-made" corn whiskey.  Now they are both gone.

Screen shot of photo of someone walking the deck of the Annie C. Ross while under sail.

Both my father and uncle passed in their nineties with Pat making it closer to the hundred mark than my father who died just short of ninety-five.  They had full lives with big stories and small.  I cannot say that I ever had a meaningful discussion with my uncle about politics, science or religion let alone feelings or philosophy, but that is not to say we shared nothing.  We had experiences and memories.  We had those aplenty and my cousin Scott reminded me of that recently when he mentioned a time when the two of us found ourselves bootless and asked to join a deer drive on Cat Island.  Each of us stood at the side of the muddy roadway in loafers while Uncle Pat played dog.  All was quiet for a time and then the swampy forest was filled with crashing and Uncle Pat shouting "Owooo, Owooo, don't shoot boys it's your Uncle Pat.  Owooo."  Those of you who knew him will probably chuckle at this and understand that while my cousin and I tried to remain appropriately vigilant and maintain our hunter visages both of us were likely incapacitated by laughter.
 
My Brother-in-law Rob and I book-ended by my father and uncle after a hunt on Cat Island.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

We Should Remember the First War on Christmas and the Knickerbockers who Fought It




By Bob Ferris

It is interesting to see the current rhetoric about the "War on Christmas" which is being promoted by the most self-righteous and intolerant among us.  These are those who shake, rattle and roll with religion and cannot seem to have any conversation that does not ultimately swing around to some mention of God, Jesus or being saved.   They also seem to be the ones who festoon themselves with all manner of symbols proclaiming their Christianity from cross-shaped earrings and necklaces to devotional t-shirts much as the Puritans wore black and the simple as overt signs of their devotion.


We live in a country with freedom of religion, so fine...great for you.  The operative word being "you." But problems arise when the "you" seeks to include and control "me" and others not "you."  It is instructive to remember that the first War on Christmas on this continent was waged by the Puritans who banned the celebration in 1659.  These folks, unbridled and in full control of government, followed up that enlightened action a generation and half later by hanging witches including one of my long-ago grandmothers, Mary Towne Estey, on my mother's side.

Now I will admit to having double-dipped Puritan roots in that both my mother and father descend from families on the Mayflower so I cannot escape genetic responsibility but I am likely more proud of those who resisted this prohibition and understood the social value of a time-honored and frequently-pagan celebration at this time of year to chase away the frozen cobwebs of our souls.   Perhaps the laughter and frivolity of it all was a type of early Vitamin D surrogate.


Enter ancestors Annetjie Loockermans Van Cortlandt and her daughter Maria.  The former is rumored to have celebrated Christmas openly in the New Netherlands colony and the latter certainly did as we have the above receipt from Walter the Baker (Wouter Albertsz) from 1675 which includes types of cookies that were essentially Saint Nicholas treats.  It is important to note here also that the wife of Clement Moore, Catherine Elizabeth Taylor, who wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (now know as "Twas the Night Before Christmas") also descended from Annetjie and her husband Olaff Van Cortlandt.  Way to go knickerbockers!

For me there are number of lessons in all of this.  First, is that there is an almost universal need throughout cultures and belief systems to celebrate something when the skies are darkest and the days most short.  We should do so regardless of our beliefs.   It matters less what you celebrate and more that you do celebrate.  So kick up your heels and do something.


Moreover, these celebrations work best on a landscape of honesty and tolerance not one that waits anxiously to pounce on the newest Starbuck's cup design or a friendly, more inclusive seasonal greeting.   Sure you can emulate the Puritans and push for a "pure" Christmas but you should also remember that you probably do so while talking about some variant of Saint Nicholas which in its purest form includes mention of the walking-lump-of-stocking-coal known as the Krampus marching in the above video.


Your celebration also likely involves a decorated tree with complicated and convoluted roots both in Paganism and Christianity.  Sure Martin Luther is credited in some circles with this "tree" idea but golly the Vikings, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese used it also in pre-Christian times.  (And don't even get me started on the Druids.)  Even the two Judeo-Christian holy days are named either for the sun or for the god Saturn.  My point being that no matter how pure we think ourselves, we are products of many cultures and beliefs (take a DNA test).  So why not celebrate the season with curiosity and wonder rather than hatred and spite?

Theodore Roosevelt, also a descendant of Annetje Loockermans (as are the acting Fondas and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton), was one of at least three presidents who was not holding a Bible while sworn into office.
And, finally, patriotism in this nation, which seems to be incorrectly connected with religion far too often, should start with knowing your county's history not rewriting it to conform to your beliefs.  The Founding Fathers and early settlers were from families that generally had suffered when a church or churches had too much power over them.  They were often Huguenots persecuted by Catholics.  They were also Catholics or Quakers chased out of Virginia and other colonies by Anglicans and Presbyterians.  Or even Jews and so-called Musselmen (Muslims) that took hits from all sides. Therefore, the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to provide for religious freedom regardless of religion.  We should honor that and fight efforts to pull that principle asunder.
"Oh blessed Season! Lov'd by Saints and Sinners/ for long Devotions, or for longer Dinners." Benjamin Franklin 1739
I am with old Ben: Celebrate the season for whatever reason, whoever you are, and in your own manner.  For me my inner knickerbocker seeks some ancient memory more than a century before the sleigh lithograph (at top) when Captain Petrus Douw and his wife Anna Van Rensselaer (granddaughter of Maria Van Cortland) lived at Wolven Hoeck (Wolf Corner) and drove sleighs on the frozen river where their son Volkert Petrus Douw later raced his famous horse "Sturgeon" to victory across the softened ice.  I wonder what it was like to spend Christmas in this manor house (see below) where Indian treaties were signed, a barrel of spiced wine sat, and the stone above the entry door was incised with the initials PD and AVR.  Happy Holidays all!



 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Confusing Cousins of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
By Bob Ferris

My wife was playing Hamilton songs this morning and dancing around the kitchen.  She asked me about Philip Schuyler and his daughters as one of them married Alexander Hamilton (see above).  My response was something about the historic figure and the claim that we were somehow related.   And her response was: How?


Whew.  I guess the easy answer would be to say that we are distant cousins of a sort.  But that is inadequate, because it implies a single set of common ancestors, which is not what we have.  My family’s links come from both what I would call the Ferris (F) and Ramsay (R) side and there a many.  Those highlighted in the links below are direct ancestors we share with Elizabeth through five generation of Colonial America.  




Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757-1854)

Parents 

Philip Schuyler (1733-1804)
Catherine Van Rensselaer (1734-1803)

Grandparents 

Col. Johannes Van Rensselaer (1708–1783) 
Engeltie "Angelica" Livingston (1698–1747)
Johannes ("John") Schuyler Jr. (1697–1741) 
Cornelia Van Cortlandt (1698–1762)

Great Grandparents 

Robert Livingston "The Younger" (1663-1725)
Margarita Schuyler (1682-Unk.)
Johannes Schuyler (1668–1747) 
Elizabeth (née Staats) Wendell (1647–1737)
Stephanus van Cortlandt (1643-1700)
Geertruyd (Gertruj) Schuyler (1654-1719) 

Great-Great Grandparents 

Maria van Cortlandt (1645-1689)
Trijntgen Roeloffs (1629-1684) 
James Livingston (1646–1673)
UNK
Pieter Schuyler (1657-1724)
Engeltie Van Schaick (1659-1689)
Abraham Staats (1620-1694)
Annetje Loockermans (1618-1684)


I guess the winners in the gene pool contest—if there was one—would be Philip and Margarita Schuyler who are the parents of Pieter, Johannes and Geertuyd Schuyler.  This makes them both great-great grandparents and great-great-great grandparents of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.  But what does this sharing of descent from seventy-five percent of Elizabeth's great-great grandparents make the relationship? Distant cousins?  Sure, but also part of the genetic confusion that was Early America, particularly in the former Dutch colony.

(Note: First cousins would normally expect to share 8 out of 16 great-great grandparents.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mistaken in Maryland

The Mark of Richard Johns on a piece of pottery from Angelica Knoll in Maryland (Note: He was a Quaker rather than a Catholic)
By Bob Ferris

I might have, once or twice, when I first moved to Maryland called Johns Hopkins University incorrectly John Hopkins thinking it titled after a person named John rather than someone named Johns Hopkins honoring the melding of two early Quaker families in Maryland.  I was corrected and learned.  Fancy that.  Then I filed away this information until I started looking at the collection of ancestors that I had in Maryland--many of them from the Society of Friends or Quakers.

This took me to Richard Johns, Elizabeth Kensey (Kinsey) and a place called Angelica Knoll.  The Johns were very active Quakers, but at the same time not strict in all their beliefs and practices.  Richard Johns (1) was devout enough to help establish a Friends Meeting House (1,2,3) near their home called the Clifts or Cliffs close to Calvert Cliffs which was visited by Quaker Founder George Fox.  Yet Richard consumed hard cider and brandy as well as having an extensive library.  Richard also did not dress drably as others of the sect did.

Initials on a "bodkin" found at Angelica Knoll that likely belonged to Margaret Johns (Is could be Js.) 

Elizabeth and Richard also had children which made the Clifts and Angelica Knoll something of a familial epicenter of sorts.  Why a family epicenter?  Well, Richard and Elizabeth (1) had two daughters, Pricilla and Margaret.  Pricilla married Robert Roberts (the elder) who went north from Maryland and is an ancestor of my father William Ramsay Ferris.  Pricilla married into a line that eventually connected with the Canbys (1,2) and my great-grandmother Caroline Johnston Canby who many of us knew as Nana.  Nana remained a Quaker and in this light it is interesting that she married into so military a family as the Ramsays.


And Margaret Johns married Gerard Hopkins who are ancestors on my mother's side.  The Hopkins' line moved west appropriately marrying into the West family and eventually connecting to the Settles family in Pike County, Missouri.   My mother was born Mary Robb Settles.

The Descendants of Pricilla and Margaret Johns reunited in a single family after more than three centuries (Front Row (L-R): William Ramsay Ferris and Mary Robb Ferris [Settles]. Rear Row (L-R) William Ramsay Ferris Jr, Mary [Gales] Ferris Siebert, Caroline Robb Hall [Ferris], Robert Morris Ferris.) 
As both my parents had ancestors on the Mayflower their families had nearly 400 years to mix and create common ancestors. It is interesting given this time and opportunity that Richard and Elizabeth Johns seem to be my parents' only common ancestors on this continent.  (There may be more, but I have not found them.)
Johns Hopkins
Of note in the beginning context are Margaret and Gerard (Gerrard) Hopkins.  This couple celebrated both their families by naming one of their sons Johns Hopkins.   That first Johns Hopkins also had a grandson of the same name born in Crofton, Maryland in 1795 who attended the Anne Arundel Free School in nearby Davidsonville, Maryland for a time (1807-1809).   Johns Hopkins was an astute businessman and investor who became very, very rich and was able to retire at the age of 52.

That later Johns Hopkins ended life childless having fallen deeply in love with his first cousin Elizabeth who he was forbidden by their religion and custom to marry.   In fact, neither of them ever wed and John Hopkins took his money--some seven million dollars--and put these funds and others towards Johns Hopkins University and the hospital that also bears his name as well as an orphanage specifically for children of color.   This latter action is of significance as Johns Hopkins' family owned slaves which they released in 1807 and Johns Hopkins was a prominent Abolitionist.
“...slavery was perfectly acceptable provided that slave owners attended to the spiritual and material needs of those they enslaved.” On Quaker attitudes towards slavery in Slavery in Colonial America, 1619-1776 by Betty Wood
My sense is that we cannot heap praise on Johns Hopkins for his actions and attitudes without at the same time acknowledging that many of our ancestors, including those of a Quaker or "friendly" persuasion like the Johns, Chews and Galloways in Maryland, owned slaves.  They were not alone as something like 70% of Quakers owned slaves near the turn of the 18th century.   And, yes, the Quakers were among the first in the Colonies to push back on the practice reducing ownerships to 10% by the mid-1700s and very early on joining the Abolitionist cause.  But they were owners regardless of how benignly they treated those removed from their homes in Africa and elsewhere.  And perhaps while we argue for all to model Johns Hopkins' philanthropy and tolerance we should also offer up a certain openness to discuss this other difficult topic as well.  Seems like all these actions are need now more than ever.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

There is Nothing Civil about War



By Bob Ferris

All this talk about a potential civil war in this country really makes me a little anxious. I have always taken a certain pride in the fact that nearly all my ancestors on both sides of my family fought to preserve the Union. In our family we did not have brothers fighting brothers or fathers fighting sons. We collectively seemed to know what we were about.  But we were not always that way, particularly if we jump back another two centuries to the English Civil War or more properly characterized as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.  I suppose since this series of conflicts was started with a prayerbook that we could also call it the War of Three Religions (Episcopal, Presbyterian and Catholic). 



I will admit here that this series of conflicts has always confused me because of its multidimensional nature.  Some argue that it was simply about the rich and the poor.  Others say it was over governance.   And we also see it reduced to Cavaliers and Roundheads like it was some near-decade-long Super Bowl.  But this ignores the roles of kings, popes, bishops and parliaments.  My sense is that it was more a soupy conflict of all these elements and more, regardless of what Hobbes, Marx and others say.  

Sir Oliver Cromwell 
I dropped into this topic while still researching some of the links exposed from my investigations of my family’s Graham roots in the borderlands between England and Scotland.  One of the threads in question dealt with the Chanoler family of Guisborough in Northern Yorkshire and their connections to the Ingoldsby family.  Anne Ingoldsby’s mother was a woman named Elizabeth Cromwell.  Certainly a familiar surname and then I saw it.  Her father was Sir Oliver Cromwell.  Crap.

The Slaughter after the Siege of Drogheda in 1649
My reaction was prompted by the Fortescues.   An ancestor by the name of Faithful Fortescue lost two sons including our direct ancestor Chichester at the First Siege of Drogheda in 1641-42.  The Fortescues decamped from Drogheda soon thereafter but when Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell attacked and defeated the place in 1649 he put many of the residents to the sword in a notorious massacre. The good news is that “our” Sir Oliver (pictured above) was the Lord Protector's uncle and not him. 

Sir Faithful Fortescue
Sir Faithful is an interesting fellow in this as he was a Royalist and then fought with Cromwell briefly only to head to Scotland to the royalist side once again. He exemplifies the labile nature of allegiances in this series of wars.  Perhaps this is why he went by the nickname of "Faskie" in Scotland.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that this potential “civil war” that folks such as Alex Jones and Roger Stone are banging drums for is more multidimensional like the series of English conflicts than what we saw during the 1860s in this land.  The Three Kingdoms conflict became so complicated because everyone was upset but they were upset for different reasons and in the end they had separate visions.  Folks in Ireland and Scotland both fought Cromwell and his New Model Army but for different reasons and with disparate end goals in mind.  My sense is that this type of amalgam slips easily into conflict but does not drift so easily towards resolution of any lasting consequence. 
  
Sir James Graham
In thinking about this I return to the Grahams—in particular James Graham of Montrose—more relative than ancestor.  James believed in the monarchy balancing Parliament, but felt that the Presbyterian clergy should play mainly in the realm of spirit rather than politics.  In his fight he was able to enlist the largely Catholic Highland Scots as well as the Royalists in Ireland.    In the current context I cannot help but compare this to Trump’s cabinet and those in his executive circle—together in conflict but not resolution.  This same comment could be made about this weird alliance of the very rich, very religious and very hateful stirred and heated from afar by the very envious.  


It should be remembered as we look backwards for clues about the future that tearing something down or destroying the beneficial accomplishments of others is much, much different than building a positive and jointly held vision that helps us all.  Now many may scoff at genealogy as vanity but it is also history and perhaps through it we can learn of our ancestors' triumphs as well as their failures and follies.  Perhaps through this exercise we can strive for the former and avoid the latter.