Thursday, December 31, 2020

Master Post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2020

I attempted the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks last year, but I only got 9 of the 52 posts made. One major reason for this was that there were so many themes that I would struggle to find an ancestor to fit, and I would get frustrated and give up. This year, I'm able to be a little bit more prepared because all of the themes for the year were released at the beginning.

Like last year, this post will be my "master post," where I link all of the posts for the year together in one place. So far I have been able to assign ancestors to the first 16 themes, as well as a few that have been scattered throughout the rest of the year. That will give me plenty of time to come up with ancestors for the rest of the themes.

I will do my best to keep up with this year's challenge. I like to be thorough when writing my blog posts, so each one takes several hours of research, writing, and editing. But I do believe that it is an important undertaking, which will go a long way toward helping to preserve the stories of those who came before.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2020 Edition

Week 1 (Jan. 1-7): Fresh Start - Patrick Quinn
Week 2 (Jan. 8-14): Favorite Photo - Madaline Moore and her Best Friends
Week 3 (Jan. 15-21): Long Line - the Leftwich Family
Week 4 (Jan. 22-28): Close to Home - Harold and Edna Kessinger, Phyllis and Charles Holmes, Zack and Madge Hunt
Week 5 (Jan. 29-Feb. 4): So Far Away - George Schofield and Mary Dotson

Week 6 (Feb. 5-11): Same Name - Allie Violet Kessinger
Week 7 (Feb. 12-18): Favorite Discovery - William Hudson and Elizabeth Cheek
Week 8 (Feb. 19-25): Prosperity - John Blackleech and Elizabeth Bacon
Week 9 (Feb. 26-Mar. 3): Disaster - Herndon Shawver

Week 10 (Mar. 4-10): Strong Woman - Rebecca Margarette Kinser
Week 11 (Mar. 11-17): Luck - Samuel McClung
Week 12 (Mar. 18-24): Popular - Clark Kessinger
Week 13 (Mar. 25-31): Nearly Forgotten - John Field

Week 14 (Apr. 1-7): Water - Jaquetta of Luxembourg
Week 15 (Apr. 8-14): Fire - Joseph P. Hudson Jr.
Week 16 (Apr. 15-21): Air
Week 17 (Apr. 22-28): Land

Week 18 (April 29-May 5): Where There’s a Will
Week 19 (May 6-12): Service - Andrew Shawver
Week 20 (May 13-19): Travel - Harold Kessinger's time in the Philippines.
Week 21 (May 20-26): Tombstone
Week 22 (May 27-June 2): Uncertain - John Dudley, Roger Dudley

Week 23 (June 3-9): Wedding
Week 24 (June 10-16): Handed Down
Week 25 (June 17-23): Unexpected
Week 26 (June 24-30): Middle

Week 27 (July 1-7): Solo - Musicians in my tree
Week 28 (July 8-14): Multiple
Week 29 (July 15-21): Newsworthy - Clifton Kessinger
Week 30 (July 22-28): The Old Country

Week 31 (July 29-Aug. 4): Large
Week 32 (Aug. 5-11): Small
Week 33 (Aug. 12-18): Black Sheep
Week 34 (Aug. 19-25): Chosen Family - Friends that I also share ancestors with
Week 35 (Aug. 26-Sept. 1): Unforgettable

Week 36 (Sept. 2-8): Labor
Week 37 (Sept. 9-15): Back to School - John Harmon Moore
Week 38 (Sept. 16-22): On the Map
Week 39 (Sept. 23-29): Should Be a Movie - Harold Kessinger and family

Week 40 (Sept. 30-Oct. 6): Oldest
Week 41 (Oct. 7-13): Newest
Week 42 (Oct. 14-20): Proud
Week 43 (Oct. 21-27): Quite the Character
Week 44 (Oct. 28-Nov. 3): Scary Stuff - Cora Hunt

Week 45 (Nov. 4-10): Bearded - Wilson Kessinger and Canallis Kessinger
Week 46 (Nov. 11-17): Different Language
Week 47 (Nov. 18-24): Good Deeds
Week 48 (Nov. 25-Dec. 1): Gratitude

Week 49 (Dec. 2-8): Oops
Week 50 (Dec. 9-15): Witness to History - Thomas Ballard and Anne Thomas
Week 51 (Dec. 16-22): Winter
Week 52 (Dec. 23-31): Resolution

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Campbell's Hollow Slave Cemetery

For nearly all of my 30 years I have lived in the third house on the right on Campbell's Hollow Road in Charleston, WV (not to be confused with Campbell's Creek - two very different places). My father grew up in the house next door to ours, and my grandparents lived there for many years before he was born. My grandfather lived just up the hill on Oak Ridge Drive as a boy, before moving to Campbell's Hollow. And although my family has lived here for the better part of 80 years at least, they were not the first family to live on this little road.

The Campbell family moved to the place that would later come to be known as Campbell's Hollow in 1915. They claimed to be the first family to set up permanent residence in the hollow, although some evidence that has come to light recently would seem to debunk that claim. It was the oldest surviving member of this family, Mr. Danny Campbell, that casually told my father about something while he was out walking the dog one afternoon that would instantly pique the interest of any genealogist - he said that only about 100 feet off the road, up behind what is now a small paddock for a horse, there was an old slave cemetery. He and his siblings had found it after hearing about it from some older folks when they were children, but he hadn't been there in decades.

Once I heard about this, I of course had to know more. Where was the precise location of this cemetery? Had the people buried there really been slaves, or were they free African-Americans? And if they really had been slaves, whose slaves had they been?

In search of answers, I went down to the records room of the Kanawha County courthouse to see if I could figure out who had owned the property in the mid-1800s. If I could find the answer to that question, I might be able to figure out a little bit more about who might be buried there. I traced the deed records for the closest house to the location of the cemetery, and found that almost all of the land in this area had once been owned by the Quarrier family, who was a founding family of Charleston. The Quarriers were certainly very wealthy, and census records, wills, and slave schedules show that they did own many slaves. The will of the progenitor of this family, Col. Alexander Quarrier, names "Judy, Julia, and her six children," and gives specific instructions for them and their descendants not to be sold out of the family. Although only eight are mentioned here, Alexander died in 1827 and had 16 children, all of whom where also wealthy. They undoubtedly obtained many more slaves between them.

I had now established that the family who owned the land in the mid-1800s had indeed owned slaves, but I still wanted to know more. My father remembered someone telling a friend of his who used to live in the neighborhood that there had once been many African-American people who lived on Campbell's Hollow before it was ever named that; the road was only a set of tracks, the land was not yet filled in so it was damp and swampy, and the people lived in houses that were really just shacks. They also said that before the Campbell family settled here there was an illness that went through this little community, and everyone who lived there died. No one was entirely certain when the African-American people had lived here; only that it was before the Campbell family. Assuming that it was after 1863, these people were probably freed slaves who had previously been owned by the Quarrier family.

Now that we had more confirmation that people who were likely freed slaves had lived here and that the land had been owned by a slave-owning family, I wanted to find the cemetery itself. My father and I set off up the road, and soon came to the horse's paddock. We walked along the border of the paddock and up the side of the hill, following the directions that Danny had given us. And sure enough, about 100 yards from the road on the side of the hill, we found a place that someone had attempted to make more level, and found several large stones that had clearly been set into the ground. Large stones like these do not usually occur naturally on the sides of hills, particularly in an area that tend to be dense in foliage. 

There were maybe 15 stones of various sizes altogether, all of them in the flattened-out area, and all of them set in fairly regular intervals. It was a solemn experience to walk through this little cemetery whose existence was barely remembered, and whose inhabitants were likely not remembered by name by anyone alive. I decided then that I had to write this post about the cemetery, in order to preserve its location and as much information as I was able to gather about it for posterity.

My great-great-aunt's ethnicity estimate showed that about 3% of her DNA contained markers that originated in Africa, likely meaning that within about 6-8 generations of her birth, we had an ancestor of African descent who was likely enslaved. I hate to think about how my own ancestors' names have been long forgotten, their places of burial long forgotten, and even how exactly I am descended from them long forgotten. I am closing in on finding my African ancestor through DNA testing and research, and I hope that one day I might be able to find at least an approximate location of their burial, so that I can go and pay my respects. It is my fervent hope that someone who is descended from the people buried in this little cemetery will one day be able to find their connection to their ancestors, and be able to visit their final resting place.




Saturday, October 31, 2020

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 44: "Scary Stuff" - Cora Mae Hunt and Lutecia Gillespie Hunt

I have been excited to write this post ever since I first saw the topic for week 44! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love all things spooky and mysterious. The two stories I will write about here have fascinated me ever since I was a child, but they always left me with more questions rather than that satisfying, just-heard-a-great-story feeling. 

My great-great-grandfather, Andrew J. Hunt, was by all accounts a good man, but he was also by all accounts a strange man surrounded by strange people. Grandpa Hunt had a first cousin named Cora Hunt that he was fairly close to. They grew up near each other on Witcher Creek in Belle, and as their fathers were brothers and they were close in age, it was only natural that they would be good friends as well as first cousins. 

Cora was also undoubtedly considered strange by many of her contemporaries. She never married, yet she had several children - something almost unheard of at the time. She also had what many of the older folks called "strange ways," although I could never get them to elaborate on what these "strange ways" entailed. Many whispered that Cora was a witch, but I suspect that no one was ever seriously afraid of her. I also suspect that these whispers had something to do with where her home was, as Witcher Creek had a long-standing tradition of being home to witches. My great-grandfather Zack said that when he was a boy they always knew a day or so in advance when Cora was coming to visit, because the horses would be restless in their stable and the other animals would act very strangely. His father, Grandpa Hunt, would chuckle and say "Cora must be coming to visit tomorrow;" and sure enough, she would show up the next day. My great-grandfather's sister, Margaret, told me recently that all of the children were faintly in awe of her, and always gave her a wide berth whenever she was around. 

Despite the strange behavior of the animals, I suspect that Cora was no witch at all, but merely a woman who was a little eccentric and didn't play by society's rules. Many a woman before her had been called a witch for less. I've often thought that she actually had a lot in common with some of the accused women of Salem. At any rate, the rumors did not keep her from having a Christian burial; her funeral was held at the Witcher Creek Baptist Church, and she was subsequently laid to rest in the Witcher Creek community cemetery.

As strange as Cora was, she was not the only witch association tied to my Grandpa Hunt. Grandpa's first wife, Lutecia, was 30 years his senior and was also said to have these mysterious "strange ways." More than 20 years after Lutecia's death, Grandpa Hunt came to his daughter-in-law, my great-grandma Madge, with a box of old books. He said that the books had belonged to Lutecia, and that they were "full of evil and witchcraft." He told Mamaw to burn them, and she did so without question. 

I remember hearing that tale of the mysterious books "full of evil and witchcraft" as a young child, and asking anyone I thought would know anything about it for more details. Mamaw told me much later that she had never looked to see what was in them, what their titles were, or even whether they were printed books or hand-written ones. She had simply done as Grandpa Hunt had asked, and burned them. If it had been me, I don't think I could have kept my curiosity in check. I am adamantly against burning any kind of book on sheer principle; but even if I would have ultimately done as he asked, I don't think I could have helped but take a peak at them first. 

I would give much to know more about these books and their origins. Were they printed or hand-written? What were the titles and subject matter? Where did Lutecia get them? Why did Grandpa keep them for so long before deciding to get rid of them? Did Lutecia actually believe or practice anything contained with them, or did she merely keep them because she found them strange or interesting? 

Everyone who might have ever had the answers to these questions is now long gone, and all that remains is a family mystery often told around Halloween. Two strange stories, featuring two strange women with "strange ways," and the strange man who connected them.

~ ~ ~

My connection to Cora Mae Hunt is as follows:

Cora Mae Hunt 1889-1946
1st cousin 4x removed

Sylvanus Hunt 1846-
Father of Cora Mae Hunt

Samuel Hunt 1808-1866
Father of Sylvanus Hunt

Andrew Jackson Hunt 1848-1920
Son of Samuel Hunt

Andrew Jackson Hunt 1882-1968
Son of Andrew Jackson Hunt

Earnest Zacharias Hunt 1921-2008
Son of Andrew Jackson Hunt

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt
Daughter of Earnest Zacharias Hunt

Lora Quinn
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Quinn

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 19: "Service" - Andrew C. Shawver

This post requires a bit of a preface. When I committed to doing the #52Ancestors challenge for 2020 at the end of 2019, I looked at the list of themes for the whole year, and then went through and penciled in which ancestors I wanted to write about for each week. So it was still 2019 when I chose to write about this particular ancestor, and about this particular topic - well before the racially-charged events of 2020 even happened. I also want to make a few things perfectly clear from the start: I am an adamant supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, I am completely against racism of any kind, and I am in no way glorifying the ideologies of the Confederacy.


When I saw that Week 19's theme was "service," I decided to not only write about my ancestor who served in an elite military brigade, but to write about how this part of my family's past affects me today. I usually try to keep my personal feelings out of these posts, but I feel like this topic ties into an extremely relevant national discussion that, in my opinion, is long overdue.

Military Gravestone of 
Lieut. Andrew Shawver
Andrew C. Shawver was born on January 9, 1838 in what was then Greenbrier County, Virginia, to Robert Shawver and Jane Callison. 25 years later Greenbrier County became a part of the new State of West Virginia, which has the honor of being not only the only state to be formed during the Civil War, but to be the only state to succeed from the Confederacy and (re)join the Union. Unfortunately, many of the residents of West Virginia's southern counties did not support West Virginia's succession, and many enlisted in the Confederate army.

Andrew Shawver was one such resident. He was from what would today be considered a middle class family: they owned property and were educated, but they were not wealthy. His family did not own slaves. It would be difficult to say what his motivations were for enlisting in the Confederate army instead of the Union army; but whatever his motivations, he enlisted in the 27th Infantry of the Confederate army at the age of 23. This company was one of the 5 companies that were joined together to form the Stonewall Brigade, an elite military unit that was hand-picked and trained by General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. By the end of the war, Andrew had risen to the rank of 1st lieutenant. According to military records he was described as 5'11'' tall, with light colored hair, a sallow complexion, and grey eyes.

Ladies Relief Hospital, Lynchburg, VA
Despite (or perhaps, because of) his high rank, Andrew did not have an easy time of it in the war. He was either sick or wounded in late August of 1862, and spent 8 days in the Ladies Relief Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia (which was not only one of the best hospitals with one of the highest survival rates, but had the most interesting start of any Civil War hospital, and was operated entirely by women). He was captured on May 10, 1864 and became a prisoner of war. I believe that Andrew was captured during the Battle of Chester Station; it was fought on the same day that Andrew was captured, and General A. H. Terry of the Union army reported that there were "some 50 [Confederate] prisoners remaining in the hands of the Federals" after the battle. Andrew was undoubtedly one of these 50. He spent over a year as a prisoner of war, and was released on June 16, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and receiving a pardon from President Andrew Johnson. 

An article about the group of Confederate soldiers who took the oath on June 16th was published the next day in Harper's Weekly, and featured an artist's depiction of the group taking their oath. I hope that the artist captured this scene accurately, and that one of the men shown in the illustration is a faithful likeness of Andrew. Perhaps he was the man in front, just to the right of the center of the image: this man seems to be tall with light hair, and he seems to be wearing an officer's uniform.

"Rebel Soldiers Taking the Oath of Allegiance," Harper's Weekly, June 17, 1865.

After the war Andrew went back to his family, and lived a quiet life until his death on April 27, 1894. He married Amanda Frances McClung (daughter of Allen McClung and Frances Remley) a few months after his release, on October 16, 1865. They had seven children together: Hurndon, Francis, Buren, Annie, Earnest, Hubert, and Mamie.


I have often spoken about Andrew Shawver when I see the phrase "heritage not hate" used as a defense of displaying the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments. It is true that I am proud of my 4th-great-grandfather - I am proud of his history of military excellence, his bravery in the face of being a prisoner of war for a year, the recanting for his actions during the war and swearing an oath to the US, and the strength it must have taken to move on with his life when the war was over. But I do not consider the Confederacy to be a part of my heritage, because a heritage is something that is cherished and passed down from generation to generation. That was not the case in my family; I never knew that I had an ancestor who fought for the Confederacy until I found him through my genealogy research. I was always taught that racism of any kind was wrong, and that Confederate soldiers were fighting to preserve a system that was totally built upon the concept that some human beings were inferior to other human beings because of something that they had no control over. As I got older, I realized that a lot of the "southern values" that so many people praise still have subtile undertones of the ideals of this system, and so I rejected those ideals. 

I don't believe that being proud of my 4th-great-grandfather for his military accomplishments in and of themselves is a bad thing, because as I mentioned above, Andrew himself rejected the ideals of the Confederacy when he took his oath to the Union. I don't know whether Andrew believed in slavery enough to fight for it, or if he was simply a young man who was excited at the prospect of having a leadership role in the military. I hope it was the latter; but more importantly, I hope that spending a year as a prisoner of war taught him that no human being should ever be in bondage, and that every single person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.


My descent from Andrew C. Shawver is as follows:

Andrew Shawver 1838-1894
4th great-grandfather

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver 1865-1912
Son of Andrew Shawver

Nora Maggie Shawver 1904-1971
Daughter of Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Madaline Eva Moore 1923-2017
Daughter of Nora Maggie Shawver

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt
Daughter of Madaline Eva Moore

Lora Quinn
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Quinn

Thursday, July 2, 2020

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15: "Fire" - Joseph P. Hudson Jr.

The Hudson Family,
circa 1921.
Everyone's family trees are full of stories about devastating fires, and many childhood memories feature the iconic scene of telling stories around a campfire. The story that I'm going to share here could have potentially been quite devastating; but fortunately, crisis was averted by the quick actions of my great-grandfather, Joseph P. Hudson Jr. This is definitely one of those "we'll laugh about it with the grandkids" moments, and Joseph's grandkids still chuckle whenever this story is told.

Christmas trees were first made popular in England in the mid 1800s by Prince Albert, the German-born husband of Queen Victoria, and made their way into the typical American Christmas scene soon thereafter. The good thing about these trees was that there were no aggravating strings of electric lights with a single blown bulb that immediately caused the whole string to short out, as electricity had not yet been harnessed for power. However, a Christmas tree is just not a Christmas tree without a light source, so the Victorians decided that the best way to achieve this effect was to put actual burning candles on their nice, dry, flammable Christmas trees inside their nice, dry, flammable homes.

While electricity in homes had been present in some parts of the US for over forty years by the 1920s, many poorer families did not have it in their homes, and relied on candles or gas lighting. The Hudsons were just such a family, living in the Louden Heights area of Charleston, West Virginia. Like many families during that time, they made the selection and decoration of the Christmas tree a big event. Presents were few, but they could have a good time selecting the perfect tree and trimming it with home-made decorations.

A typical Victorian
Christmas tree.
My Mamaw Edna, Joseph's youngest daughter, told a story about one such Christmas that could have gone very, very wrong. Like most families during that time, they included actual burning candles in their Christmas tree trimmings. And like most families of their socio-economic status, their house was made of wood. One night the Christmas tree caught fire from one of the candles, and quickly started to spread. In a matter of moments, the entire home could have been up in flames, and the family would have lost everything. But fortunately, Grandpa Hudson acted quickly. And fortunately, it had snowed that night.

I never thought to ask whether the tree was a large tree that stood on the floor, or a smaller tree that sat on a table. Either way, as the flames started to spread, Grandpa Hudson picked up the entire tree and threw it out the front door, right into the several inches of fresh snow in the front yard. The fire was quickly quenched, and the Hudson homeplace was saved. 

I'm sure it was a very frightening thing to witness at the time, but everyone who heard that story could not help but laugh at the image of someone picking up an entire Christmas tree and throwing it out the front door. And thankfully we have much safer ways of trimming our trees today.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Joseph P. Hudson Jr. is as follows:

Joseph P. Hudson 1881-1954

Edna Josephine Hudson 1921-2011
Daughter of Joseph P. Hudson

Joseph Wayne Kessinger 1958-
Son of Edna Josephine Hudson

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Joseph Wayne Kessinger

Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 14: "Water" - Jacquetta of Luxembourg

Actress Janet McTeer as Jacquetta
of Luxembourg in the Showtime
hit series "The White Queen."
From the moment that I saw week 14's theme of "Water," I knew that I had to write about my 18th-great-grandmother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who was the inspiration for the best-selling novel The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory. As a member of the House of Luxembourg, Jacquetta claimed descent from the mythological water goddess Melusine, who is a prominent figure in European folklore.

The legend of Melusine dates from at least the 12th century, and possibly much earlier. Like all folklore there is much variation in Melusine's story, but the essentials are the same: Raymond of Poitou, who was claimed as an ancestor by the House of Luxembourg, came across Melusine in the forests of southern France. He fell instantly in love, and proposed marriage. Melusine agreed to marry him, but gave one condition: he must never enter her bedchamber on a Saturday, which was the day that she bathed. He agreed, and they were married and had children. But one day, after several years of marriage, Raymond broke his promise and spied on her as she bathed. He found that while she was in the water, she had two tails that resembled those of a water serpent. Melusine forgave him for this betrayal, but their reconciliation did not last long. When he called her a "serpent" in front of his court during a disagreement, Melusine assumed the form of a dragon and flew away, never to return to her husband and family. Although most people do not realize it, Melusine is a very familiar symbol to the millions of people who drink Starbucks coffee every day - their stylized mermaid logo is based on drawings of Melusine, and has evolved over time into the green twin-tailed mermaid that we see on every street corner today.

The female members of the House of Luxembourg were said to have retained some of their mythological ancestor's magic abilities. It was believed that most of them possessed "the sight," and that whenever one of the descendants of Melusine died, they could hear Melusine singing a mournful song over the waters. This belief would later cause some trouble for Jacquetta.

Jacquetta was born in July of 1415 to Peter I of Luxembourg and Margaret of Baux. The House of Luxembourg ruled the Holy Roman Empire between 1308 and 1437, and as such wielded great power in Europe. When Jaquetta was about 15, her family held Joan of Arc at their palace in Beauvoir while a ransom was being negotiated between the French and the English. It has been theorized that Jacquetta made the acquaintance of Joan of Arc during her stay there, and that she was present at her execution on May 30, 1431.

On April 22, 1433, Jaquetta was married to John, 1st Duke of Bedford. John was a royal duke, being the third son of King Henry IV of England and uncle of King Henry VI, whose wife Jacquetta would later befriend. John was Henry VI's regent in France, so a marriage to Jacquetta was mutually beneficial for them both. Jacquetta herself was also distantly descended from English royalty, as she was a descendant of both King Henry III and King John I of England. This marriage lasted for only two years, as the Duke passed away on September 15, 1435.

Sir Richard Woodville's
coat of arms.
Two years later Jaquetta secretly married Sir Richard Woodville, who had been the late Duke's chamberlain. Once their marriage became public knowledge in 1437, they faced heavy criticism at court. But after some time (and a fine of 1000 pounds for marrying without the king's permission), they were both not only welcomed at Court, but became favorites of the King and his Queen, Margaret of Anjou. As the widow of the Duke of Bedford and a relative of both the King and Queen by marriage, Jacquetta was the most powerful woman at court, second only to the Queen. In 1448 Queen Margaret influenced the King to grant the title of Baron Rivers to Sir Richard, making Jacquetta the Countess Rivers as well as the Duchess of Bedford. Sir Richard and Jacquetta had fourteen children together: Elizabeth (who later became Queen of England after her marriage to Edward IV), Lewis, Ann, Anthony, John, Jacquetta, Lionel, Eleanor, Margaret, Martha, Richard, Edward, Mary, and Katherine.

During some of the later events in the War of the Roses (which are far too complicated to even summarize here, so please see this summary from Wikipedia), her supposed descent from the water goddess Melusine certainly did Jacquetta no favors. She was accused of witchcraft by a supporter of the Earl of Warwick, who was known as "the Kingmaker." This supporter had supposedly found objects associated with witchcraft in Jacquetta's home. Edward IV, Jacquetta's son-in-law, had temporarily been unseated in favor of Henry VI, the king who he had previously defeated. These accusations could have been very serious indeed for Jacquetta; but fortunately her old friend, Queen Margaret of Anjou, vouched for her, and the charges fell apart. Any remaining suspicion was gotten rid of when Edward IV unseated Henry VI for the second time, and resumed his rein.

Jacquetta passed away in 1472, at only 56 years of age. The execution of her husband and son three years earlier, arranged by the Earl of Warwick during the brief time when her son-in-law was unseated in favor of Henry VI, weighed heavily on her during the the final three years of her life. It is unknown where Jacquetta was laid to rest, but it is thought that Jacquetta's daughters and granddaughters heard Melusine's song as she mourned for the loss of one of her descendants.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Jacquetta of Luxembourg is as follows:

Jaquetta of Luxembourg 1416-1472: 18th great-grandmother
Elizabeth "Queen Consort of England" Woodville 1447-1492: Daughter of Jaquetta of Luxembourg
Thomas Grey 1455-1501: Son of Elizabeth "Queen Consort of England" Woodville
Cicely Grey 1488-1554: Daughter of Thomas Grey
Henry Dudley 1517-1568: Son of Cicely Grey
Roger Dudley 1545-1586: Son of Henry Dudley
Gov. Thomas Dudley 1576-1653: Son of Roger Dudley
Samuel Dudley Rev 1608-1683: Son of Gov. Thomas Dudley
John Dudley 1635-1690: Son of Samuel Dudley Rev
Mary Dudley 1678-1742: Daughter of John Dudley
David Field 1697-1770: Son of Mary Dudley
Ebenezer Field 1736-1776: Son of David Field
Rachel Field 1761-1840: Daughter of Ebenezer Field
Medad Walter 1790-1865: Son of Rachel Field
Jay Clark Walter 1831-1909: Son of Medad Walter
Amzi Walter 1861-1920: Son of Jay Clark Walter
Mary Ellen Walter 1888-1952: Daughter of Amzi Walter
Clara May Schofield 1906-1989: Daughter of Mary Ellen Walter
Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn 1939-1986: Son of Clara May Schofield
Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-: Daughter of Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn
Allison Quinn Kessinger: You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Friday, June 26, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 13: "Nearly Forgotten" - John Field

Week 13's theme of "nearly forgotten" brought to mind John Field, my 13th-great-grandfather (which is perfect for week 13). In the words of another of John's descendants,
"Among the English pioneers of science, whose claims to the remembrance of posterity have been unjustly overlooked, may be cited the man whose name is at the head of this article.

One would naturally suppose that some account would have been handed down to us of one who made known in England, for the first time, those discoveries of Copernicus which overthrew the Ptolemaic system and revolutionized the prevailing ideas of the notions of the heavenly bodies, and yet John Field, or Feld, as the name was spelt in his day, is not even mentioned in any English work on astronomy; or kindred subjects." 
- Osgood Field in The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 14, published 1898 
John Field was born about 1520 in East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England to Richard Feld and Elizabeth Petley. He married Jane Amyas about 1560, and they went on to have nine children. He studied astronomy and mathematics at Oxford University, and it is believed that he also studied on the Continent with John Dee, the famed astronomer (and sometime astrologer and alchemist) who was frequently at the courts of both Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I. He might also have studied with Copernicus himself, but there is currently no confirmation of this.

While John Field's scientific beliefs may have been more progressive than those of his colleague John Dee, it did not save him from being questioned alongside Dee during the Marian persecutions, which occurred in the later half of the rein of Queen Mary I. It is, therefore, not surprising that there is an entry about John Field in the Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, who had to flee England altogether during the Marian persecutions. The entry reads:
"The 5th day [of June]: M. Secretary Bourne, the M. of the Roles Sir Frances Englefield, Sir Richard Read and Doctor Hughes, authorizing them or two or three of them at the least, to proceed to further examination of Benger, Cary, Dee, and Field, upon such points as they shall gather out of their former confessions, touching their lewd & vain practices of calculing or conjuring, presently sent unto them with the said letters. 
The 7th day [of June]: There was another letter to sir John Tregonwel, willing him to anyone in commission with the said L. North, and others above named, about the examination of the said parties & others, for conjuring & witchcraft. And the 29th of August, Cary and Dee were set at liberty upon bands for their good abearing until Christmas after."
Seeing as how nearly 300 people were burned as heritics during the Marian persecutions, it must have scared John to death to even be "examined" about his so-called "conjuring and witchcraft." Thankfully he did survive, and lived out the remainder of his life in East Ardsley with his family. 

When he passed away on May 3, 1587, he was laid to rest under the porch of St. Michael's Church in East Ardsley. A plaque marks the place where he is buried. 

Copernicus' work would have become known in England with or without John Field, but for John to even attempt to challenge the established scientific thought of his time was a risk, particularly during the rein of Mary I. Copernicus himself was threatened with imprisonment, and Galileo was placed under house arrest for championing Copernicus' work. John could very well have been imprisoned, or even burned at the stake, for daring to question the celestial powers that be. He deserves to be remembered as one of the great English scientists, and not to be relegated to obscurity.

~ ~ ~

My descent from John Field is as follows:

John Field The Astronomer 1525-1587: 13th great-grandfather
John Amyas Field II 1568-1597: Son of John Field The Astronomer
Zachariah Stotwell Field 1596-1666: Son of John Amyas Field II
Zechariah II Stanley Field 1645-1674: Son of Zachariah Stotwell Field
Ebenezer Field 1671-1713: Son of Zechariah II Stanley Field
David Field 1697-1770: Son of Ebenezer Field
Ebenezer Field 1736-1776: Son of David Field
Rachel Field 1761-1840: Daughter of Ebenezer Field
Medad Walter 1790-1865: Son of Rachel Field
Jay Clark Walter 1831-1909: Son of Medad Walter
Amzi Walter 1861-1920: Son of Jay Clark Walter
Mary Ellen Walter 1888-1952: Daughter of Amzi Walter
Clara May Schofield 1906-1989: Daughter of Mary Ellen Walter
Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn 1939-1986: Son of Clara May Schofield
Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-: Daughter of Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn
Allison Quinn Kessinger: You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Genetic Sleuthing: Getting Info from DNA Matches Without Public Family Trees

It's a problem that most of us who study genetic genealogy have run into: you have a close DNA match that is the key to the answers you are looking for, but that match either has a private family tree or no tree at all. Sometimes sending a message to the match yields results, and sometimes it doesn't. There is an appallingly high number of people who never answer messages on Ancestry, and an even higher number that do not build trees to go with their results. In this post, I'm going to use a specific case that I recently solved to demonstrate some techniques for working around matches that do not have public family trees.

Please note: all of the following information is based on Ancestry DNA's interface, but the skills are transferable to other DNA companies, such as 23andMe, MyHeritage DNA, and Family Tree DNA.

When you click on a treeless match on Ancestry, you'll see a message that says:
[This Match] hasn't built a searchable tree. 
[This match] hasn't built a searchable tree yet, but their DNA results show they are related to [You]. Comparing trees is one way to find out how. Invite [This Match] to build a tree and link it to their DNA results.
There will then be a green button that says "Contact [This Match]", where you can send them a message.

First of all, just because they haven't attached a tree to their DNA results does not mean that they don't have a tree on Ancestry. Click on the match's name at the top of the page to view their profile. Sometimes they have a family tree, but have not linked it to their DNA profile. When this occurs, their user profile will look like the image below. Sometimes you can get useful information from these trees and sometimes you can't, but it is always worth a look.

But more often than not, the match will not have any kind of tree on their account at all. When this happens, you have to really do your detective work.

The first thing to look for is, of course, the name of the match. Match names will be displayed either as a username, a full first and last name, a first name with a last initial, or as two initials only. For male DNA matches the full first and last name is of course the most ideal, and will give you the person's full name. If you're lucky and it's a somewhat unusual name, you might be able to find information on the name alone. For female DNA matches, even the full name could be misleading; is it her maiden name or her married name?

In the case that I recently solved, Diane K. was searching for her father's biological father. Her father and his mother had both passed away, and on her deathbed her grandmother made a final confession: the man who had raised Diane's father was not in fact his biological father. Diane's grandmother did not say what his father's name was, but she told her two key pieces of information: he was married with three sons when Diane's father was conceived, and he owned a farm.

Diane had one high match that was showing as a "1st Cousin" on Ancestry, with the display name of Cindy A*******. Cindy did not have any trees on Ancestry. But when I clicked on her profile, I found that she had two names listed as research interests, and fortunately they were two fairly uncommon names.

So I took Cindy's first and last name that was displayed on her profile, along with the two names listed as research interests, and searched them all together in Google like this:
"Cindy A******* S****** K********"
I was very, very fortunate to get a perfect hit as the very first search result. It was a transcription of a wedding announcement from 1964 that had been posted to a county historical society webpage in Wisconsin. The announcement was for the marriage of Cynthia K******** to a Mr. A*******, and listed Cynthia's parents' last names as K******** (father) and S****** (mother). I now had enough to start building a tree. (Note: if I hadn't gotten a good hit with a regular Google search, I would have searched for the names in the same way in next.)

Since Cindy was showing up as a first cousin match to Diane, I only built Cindy's tree back to grandparents. They had to share at least one set. I then entered the amount of cMs shared between Diane and Cindy into the Shared cM Project tool and found that based on the amount of shared DNA, it was just as possible that Cindy was Diane's half aunt as it was that she was her first cousin. Given the ages of both women, the half-aunt idea had a fair amount of merit.

I then searched all of Diane's DNA matches for people with the last name S****** in their trees, which was Cindy's mother's maiden name. Diane only had three matches with this name in their trees, and they were all very distant cousins who did not match Cindy at all - a coincidence. This indicated that Diane was closely related to Cindy's father, but not to Cindy's mother.

Finally, I searched all of Diane's DNA matches for people with the last name M***** in their trees, which was the maiden name of Cindy's father's mother. Diane had several 2nd-3rd cousin matches with this name in their trees, all descending from the same couple. This indicated that Diane's grandfather had to descend from both the K******* and M***** lines - and the only place in her matches where these two lines crossed was the marriage of Cindy's paternal grandparents.

I then turned my attention to the non-identifying information that Diane's grandmother had given on her death bed. She said that her son's father had been a married man with three children when her son was conceived, and that he owned a farm. Diane had also said that her father was born in 1934. After careful confirmation, I found that Cindy's father checked all the boxes: he had married Cindy's mother in 1929, and by 1934 they had three sons. According to the 1930 census, Cindy's father was a farmer.

All of this evidence pointed to only one conclusion: Cindy's father was also Diane's grandfather, making Cindy Diane's half-aunt.

I was so happy to be able to solve this long-standing family mystery, and give Diane the answers that she had been looking for since 1987. There has been so much turmoil and division in the world lately, and it felt really good to be able to do something that brings people together.

I fervently hope that this post will enable others to get as much information as possible from their close DNA matches, and find their own long-sought answers. If you need any help breaking down a DNA wall, please let me know! I will do my best to help.

Friday, June 5, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 12: "Popular" - Clark Kessinger

For Week 12's theme of "Popular," I'm going to do things a little bit differently. My most popular relative (aside from my distant royal ancestors) is probably my great-grandfather's first cousin, Clark Kessinger. Clark was a very important figure in the Old-Time Country music scene, and was considered a master fiddler. I could write a biography of Clark here, but that would be redundant, as you can read all about him on sites like WikipediaWest Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and even the Kennedy Center

Instead, I thought I would share some of Clark's music. You can still purchase physical copies of his albums from Amazon (as well as streaming via Amazon Prime) and from the Smithsonian Folkways Project, and you can also stream his music on Spotify.

The following video is an overview of Clark Kessinger's music and career, as featured in his display at the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame:

And the following videos are only a few of the many fine examples of Clark's music.

Poca River Blues:

Devil's Dream:

Sally Ann Johnson:

~ ~ ~

My relation to Clark Kessinger is as follows:

Clark Wesley Kessinger 1896-1975
1st cousin 3x removed

William Robert Kessinger 1859-1920
Father of Clark Wesley Kessinger

Valentine Kessinger 1818-1880
Father of William Robert Kessinger

Wilson Kessinger 1852-1928
Son of Valentine Kessinger

Clifton Kessinger 1872-1966
Son of Wilson Kessinger

Harold Warren Kessinger 1920-2012
Son of Clifton Kessinger

Joseph Wayne Kessinger 1958-
Son of Harold Warren Kessinger

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Joseph Wayne Kessinger

Friday, May 22, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 11: "Lucky" - Samuel McClung

John McClung and  Rebecca
Stuart: Colonial Pioneers 
Nancy Richmond
Week 11 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge featured the theme of "luck." When a family has as much Irish heritage as mine has, you'd think that we would have a bit more luck on our side. (Honestly, how did that whole bit about the Irish being lucky come about? Historically speaking, the evidence is not in favor of this saying.) However, one of our Irish ancestors turned out to be quite lucky indeed when he found himself in mortal peril, and he is the hero of our story today.

Samuel McClung was born in 1744 in Natural Bridge, Virginia to John McClung II and Rebecca Stuart McClung. John was an Irish immigrant who came to America as an indentured servant, and Rebecca was the sister of Archibald Stuart, a somewhat wayward son of a noble family from Scotland. Samuel married Rebecca Bourland, daughter of James Bourland and Sarah Dean, in 1769. They had ten children together: Jane, Joseph, Andrew, James, Sarah, John, Charles, William, Rebecca, and Samuel. (For more information about the family of John McClung, please check out the book John McClung and Rebecca Stuart: Colonial Pioneers by Nancy Richmond.)

Samuel served in the Revolutionary War; he fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and he also furnished supplies to the Virginia Militia. It is not certain how much combat he saw, or whether he came face-to-face with any of the Native Americans that along with the Virginia Militia were the main participants in the battle. However, long after the battle was over and Samuel was back at his little cabin in Greenbrier County, he had an encounter with some Native Americans from which he was very lucky indeed to escape.

An illustration from the issue of Ripley's
Believe it or Not!
that featured Samuel's story.
The story that was passed down to Ruth Woods Dayton, the author of Greenbrier Pioneers and Their Homes, is a thrilling tale that actually made it into an issue of the Ripley's Believe it or Not! magazine in the 1950s. The McClung family vouches for its truthfulness to this day, and honestly, I have a gut feeling that it really is true. Something like this is too scary and too bizarre to be made up.

Samuel was chopping wood in the forests near his cabin, when he was ambushed by a traveling group of Native American warriors. At this time Native American attacks had all but stopped in Greenbrier county, and in fact Samuel's encounter was afterwards known as the last of such episodes. Perhaps they felt threatened because of the axe that Samuel was using, or perhaps they felt that he was encroaching on their land. Whatever the reason, it quickly became apparent that they were not happy with him, and a chase ensued. Samuel ran for his life through the forests that he knew as well as any Native American, straight toward a small ravine with a wide, deep stream running through it. During the chase they shot at Samuel, and one bullet came so close to his head that it actually shot off his ponytail, which in those days was known as a queue. Smauel leaped across the creek, narrowly making it to the other side. The ravine was so wide and the stream so deep that the Native Americans feared to follow him, and gave up their pursuit.

Whether you want to call it luck or the intervention of divine providence, some miraculous force was certainly on Samuel's side that day. He lived many more years, and later passed away on April 6, 1806, at the then-respectable age of 62. 

~ ~ ~

My descent from Samuel McClung is as follows:

Samuel McClung 1744-1806
7th great-grandfather

Joseph "Joe Bush" McClung 1776-1850
Son of Samuel McClung

Allen McClung 1812-1897
Son of Joseph "Joe Bush" McClung

Amanda F. McClung 1845-1936
Daughter of Allen McClung

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver 1865-1912
Son of Amanda F. McClung

Nora Maggie Shawver 1904-1971
Daughter of Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Madaline Eva Moore 1923-2017
Daughter of Nora Maggie Shawver

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt 1943-
Daughter of Madaline Eva Moore

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 10: "Strong Woman" - Rebecca Marguerite Kinzer Pittman

Last August when my grandparents moved to their retirement community on a permanent basis, my grandmother gave me a huge amount of material that was relevant to my family history pursuits. Among the mountains of newspaper clippings, funeral cards, and little mementos (all of which was scrupulously organized, God bless her), I found a family tree that had been sent to her by a distant cousin more than twenty years ago, when I was just a little kid. Most of the information was already known to me, but there was one thing on the tree that I had never seen before and was overjoyed to have: two small little pictures of my fourth-great-grandparents, Michael and Rebecca Kinzer Pittman.

The photo of Michael and Rebecca that was sent to me, along
with a booklet of stories about their lives.
I was so excited about finding the new pictures that I posted about it on one of the genealogy groups on Facebook. I wanted to share my excitement with people that I knew would understand. This turned out to be a wonderful idea, because a wonderfully generous lady whose husband is also descended from Michael and Rebecca Pittman sent me a message after seeing my post. She said that she had the full sized photograph that the two little cropped photos on my tree had come from as well as a booklet of stories about Michael, Rebecca, and their children, and asked if I would like to have copies of both. Of course I said yes and thanked her profusely, and eagerly read through the entire booklet when I received it.

It was in this booklet that I found a remarkable story that shows just how much Rebecca fits Week 10's theme of "Strong Woman." I give the story here exactly as it was written in the booklet. If you would like to have a full copy of the booklet, you can download it at this link.
This story was told by a great-grandson of Michael and Rebecca Pittman. Grandson of Anna Pittman Crowder. 
Michael and Rebecca lived in Wyoming County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Michael was inducted into the Confederate Army. His allegiance was to the Union, so he ran away, and came to Kanawha County. He never fought with the Rebels. He tried to join the Union Army, but they did not trust him and refused to enlist him. He settled on Campbell's Creek, Cline Hollow, Trig Hollow. He made salt barrels for the Union Army. Lived in a little cabin, or shelter in Trigg Hollow. He had been there a year or more, when someone from Malden came with the news that his family were at Malden. He did not believe the messenger and told the messenger he would kill him if his message was a lie. The messenger was telling the truth. 
Rebecca Kinzer Pittman had loaded her belongings and children (all except Amanda) into a wagon. Tied the milk cow to the wagon to walk behind to supply milk, sewed the little money she had under patches to her clothes and headed from Kanawha County. The trip took about one year. Along the way a baby was born to her. As they traveled Rebecca cooked and prepared meals for groups of soldiers along the way, sometimes Yankees, sometimes Rebels. This must have been the means of obtaining food for the family. Michael and Rebecca were reunited and more children were born to them. Michael eventually obtained a homestead from the government, and 120 acres on Upper Elk Two Mile across the hill from Cline Hollow, where he had been living. This property is still inhabited by his descendants. The cemetery where Michael and Rebecca are buried is also located here. 
When I read the account of how Rebecca had packed up her entire life and set off in search of her husband, tears came to my eyes. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been in the 1860s for a pregnant woman with at least 5 children in tow to pack up all of her belongings in a little wagon and set off on a long journey to a place she had never seen, with little means of protection. I shudder to think of all the dangers that she and the children faced on the road alone, to say nothing of the different army encampments that she cooked for to feed her kids and maybe make a little money. Michael must have thought he was dreaming to suddenly find his wife and children so near his doorstep, and to hold his youngest child for the first time.

Rebecca Marguerite Kinzer Pittman must have had a will of iron to make it through such an ordeal. She is the very embodiment of a strong woman, and a role model to us all.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Michael and Rebecca is as follows:

Rebecca Margarette Kinser 1837-1921
4th great-grandmother

Drucilla Pittman 1860-1941
Daughter of Rebecca Margarette Kinser

Andrew Jackson Hunt 1882-1968
Son of Drucilla Pittman

Earnest Zacharias Hunt 1921-2008
Son of Andrew Jackson Hunt

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt 1943-
Daughter of Earnest Zacharias Hunt

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Sunday, April 5, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 9: "Disaster" - Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver
When I was planning my posts for 2020's edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge, I knew that I had to write about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Hurndon Lindsay Shawver, for week 9’s theme. The "disaster" theme does not have anything to do with how he lived as life. From all accounts, he was a wonderful man and a loving husband and father. The "disaster" part comes into play in how he was tragically taken before his time, leaving a grieving widow and twelve children.

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver was born on 27 May 1865 in Meadow Bluff, Greenbrier County, WV, to Andrew Shawver and Amanda F. McClung Shawver. At some point before his marriage to Virginia Belle Cavender on 3 June 1893 he moved to Pinch, Kanawha County, WV, where he and Virgie set up their homeplace. Many of their descendants still live on Cavender Drive, where their house stood. Hurndon and Virgie had twelve children together: Effie May, William Walter, Dollie Frances, Andrew Newton, Davis E., Avis E., George Hurndon, Nora Maggie (my great-great-grandmother), Lovell Albert, Charles Allen, Virginia Dovie, and Fannie Amanda.

Virginia Belle
Cavender Shawver
The youngest child, Fannie Amanda, was only five months old when disaster struck. On 27 November 1912, Hurndon was working on an oil rig when an accident happened, killing him instantly. No death record or newspaper articles survive and few people in the family ever wanted to talk about such an awful accident, so the nature of the accident isn't remembered. He was laid to rest in the Rummell Community Cemetery in Pinch, WV, where three generations of his wife's family were already buried. His wife would be laid to rest by his side 28 years later.

His wife, Virgie, became a 38-year-old single mother of twelve children in the blink of an eye. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for her to make ends meet, with no measures like Social Security or life insurance in place. Subsequent census records show that she continued to live in the house that they built together, and that she never remarried. She must have had a will of iron to survive all of those years as a widow and single parent of twelve children.

Although Hurndon's passing was certainly a disaster, it is fortunately not his only legacy. His large family went on to have large families of their own, and the total count of his descendants now numbers in the hundreds. And hopefully, they will remember him for the loving husband and father that he was, instead of the terrible way that he died.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Hurndon Shawver is as follows:

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver 1865-1912
3rd great-grandfather

Nora Maggie Shawver 1904-1971
Daughter of Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Madaline Eva Moore 1923-2017
Daughter of Nora Maggie Shawver

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt 1943-
Daughter of Madaline Eva Moore

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 8: "Prosperity" - John Blackleach and Elizabeth Bacon

Week 8's theme of "Prosperity" immediately brought to mind my 12th-great-grandparents, John Blackleach and Elizabeth Bacon Blackleach. John and Elizabeth have been a source of great fascination to me for a few years now; while Elizabeth was the daughter of a wealthy mariner and was raised in considerable comfort, John was very much a self-made man. He took after his father-in-law in becoming a mariner, and became very wealthy in his own right. But John and Elizabeth's prosperity did not always do them any favors, and in fact got them into one situation that could have potentially been quite serious.

St. John's Church, Wapping, London.
John Blackleach and Elizabeth Bacon were married on 30 September 1623, in St. John's Church in the neighborhood of Wapping, in London. They lived in London for about ten years after their marriage, and their first three children - Elizabeth (1), John, and Marie - were born in London. In 1634 the family immigrated to the New World, and settled first at Salem, Massachusetts. They went on to have nine more children: Desire, Exercise, Joseph, Elizabeth (2), Benoni, Elizabeth (3), Solomon (1), Solomon (2), and Mary.

The nature of John's mercantile work meant that the family was frequently moving. From Salem they moved to Boston, and afterword lived in several towns in Connecticut, including New Haven, Hartford, Stratford, and finally Wethersfield, where he passed away on 23 August 1683. John also traveled frequently to London and to the West Indies on business, often accompanied by his son, John Jr. Two of John Sr.'s other sons, Benoni and Solomon, were also fond of travels on the high seas; but according to Julius Gay's Farmington Papers (privately printed, 1929), unlike their father, their "business trips" often earned them such titles as as "privateer," "pirate," and "pretender."

John Winthrop the Elder
In addition to being a good businessman, John was also a very adamant philanthropist and Puritan reformist. He wrote several treatises and pamphlets on the subject of religion, including one that was read by John Winthrop the Elder (which has unfortunately been lost), and a defense of Republican government entitled Endeavors Aiming at the Glory of God, printed by John Macock in January of 1650. John was actually imprisoned in June of 1634 for "unorthodox religious practices," which I'm sure explains his subsequent immigration to the New World. Religion remained an important part of John's life - so much so that he actually became a missionary to the Native Americans, both in New England and in the West Indies. In 1671 he took a missionary voyage to Jamaica, and wrote to John Winthrop the Younger of the challenges that he faced there, saying:
"I could patiently have born, and waited for deliverance, and not have come to this place, but I believed I might please God in this voyage; the whole need not a physician; Christ came to call sinners to repentance."
John's wealth, influence, and well-known philanthropy made him such friends as John Winthrop the Elder (also my 12th-great-grandfather, but in another line), founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; John Winthrop the Younger, Colonial Governor of Connecticut; and the Reverends John Cotton and Increase Mather, incredibly influential religious leaders. These friends in high places allowed John to become an influential colonist in his own right. And it was this influence, bought at a steep price with his prosperity, that might well have saved his life in 1662.

An artist's depiction of the Katherine
Harrison trial.
Everyone knows about the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, but few people realize that the witch hysteria in the Colonies began nearly 50 years earlier in Wethersfield, CT. Between 1648 and 1668, Wethersfield had nine documented accusations of witchcraft, three of which ended in execution. This seems like peanuts compared to the 200 accusations and 20 executions of Salem in 1692, but considering that there were only 43 documented accusations of witchcraft recorded in the 150-year history of Colonial Connecticut, 16 is a significant percentage to come from one small town.

In 1662 there were two "diabolical possessions" of Wethersfield residents that resulted in the first widespread witch panic in New England history (to read more about this witch panic, see this article). John and Elizabeth were both accused of witchcraft during this year, but it is not clear who accused them or why. Fortunately for them, accusations were as far as it ever went. They were never formally charged with witchcraft, and in fact they went on to bring slander suits against several people in the community the following year. It was undoubtedly John's wealth, influence, and reputation for piety that saved them, when so many others did not have the same defenses at their disposal. One of these unfortunate souls, Katherine Harrison, was actually accused of witchcraft by John and Elizabeth (among many others) six years later. Katherine found guilty, very narrowly escaped execution, and was exiled to the Colony of New York. It is difficult for us to understand through a 21st-century lens why they would do such a thing when they themselves knew firsthand how dangerous it was to be accused of witchcraft; but it was a very different time from ours, and a difficult one to live in. People are sometimes pushed to do crazy things in the face of widespread panic.

It is clear that prosperity was a double-edged sword for John and Elizabeth Blackleach: it brought them material comfort and influence within their community, but it also could have ruined their lives on more than one occasion.

~ ~ ~

My descent from John and Elizabeth Blackleach is as follows:

John Blackleach 1600-1683
12th great-grandfather

John Blackleach 1626-1703
Son of John Blackleach

Elizabeth Blackleach 1659-1710
Daughter of John Blackleach

Mary Harris 1689-1746
Daughter of Elizabeth Blackleach

William Walter 1717-1796
Son of Mary Harris

William Walter 1744-1793
Son of William Walter

Clark Walter 1767-1854
Son of William Walter

Medad Walter 1790-1865
Son of Clark Walter

Jay Clark Walter 1831-1909
Son of Medad Walter

Amzi Walter 1861-1920
Son of Jay Clark Walter

Mary Ellen Walter 1888-1952
Daughter of Amzi Walter

Clara May Schofield 1906-1989
Daughter of Mary Ellen Walter

Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn 1939-1986
Son of Clara May Schofield

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn


Welcome to Rooted Heritage Genealogy! This blog is dedicated to both telling my ancestors' stories and to helping others to do the sam...