Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Battle With the Olympians.

Hello Clan,
I’ve got an unusual request. Don’t think I’ve lost my timid grasp on reality and don’t think I’ve converted to the dark arts when I ask this one thing....... how do I break the spell of three black cat crossings?

A black cat darted in front of me two weeks ago on my walk to work. It ran into the road, stopped, and watched me pass before going on its way. I thought nothing of it, except to remember a passing black cat meant bad luck. Not being of the suspicious kind, and not having a pinch of salt to toss over my shoulder to break the feline curse, I lodged the uneasiness into my brain’s X File and changed musical selections on my ipod.

Later that afternoon the same black cat appeared in the road on my walk home. It darted right in front of me. The whole thing was repeated the next day making a total of four black cat encounters. I felt and smelt a change in the air. The morning’s cool was scented with the smell of stale bread.

The Fates on Olympus High were bored and the Space Center was their remedy. Don't you hate being the Fates cure for boredom? I know we aren't the only ones they like to pester.

“OK Fortuna, let's see if we can work this out,” I said in sincerity. “Our small string of good luck shouldn’t have caught your eye. Look at everyone else that's had a long trail of success lately. The stock market has gone up. Play with them. Look at the Olympics! Many of those athletes are blessed with good luck. Wouldn’t they be better amusement for your scheming than a collection of unremarkable mortals in Pleasant Grove Utah with a few space ship simulators? Hardly worthy of your time, is it?”

The smell took a more acidic smell. I knew we’d had our chips. The Fates, like the fictional Death Eaters, were swarming. The trumpets from Olympus High were sounding the alert to gather the Gods. Fortuna was entertaining and this was a show not to be missed.

The next Tuesday I woke with a high fever and strep throat. The first card was played. I went to work, called my Doctor and pushed through the day rationing my swallowing.

The field trip arrived. We were one flight director short. An alarm clock failed to ring, or so we were told. I had a Galileo crew and no one to take the mission. A second card was played. Bracken Funk, a mere mortal with super human characteristics, was there to help in the Voyager. He’d had his gall bladder removed three days earlier and was living on a pain killers. I told him he would have to jump in and fly the Galileo. He jumped to his feet and went into action, clutching his side all the while.

I struggled through my crew's training, then started the mission. Part way through Midnight Rescue, just as the crew beamed the repairman off the satellite, the Voyager’s main projector bulb blew out. The large Tactical Screen went black. I heard the third card hit the table. Fortuna was proud of what she’d accomplished in just a few short hours. I ordered the spare projector pulled from storage. It was quickly mounted and the mission progressed. The crew was unaware of any problem. I told them, using the cover of my Tex character, that the intruder blew out the Tactical screen with his phaser. It fit perfectly into the story.

At the end of the mission the principal entered the control room.
“Two things,” she said irately. “One, I found this card out on the carpet.” She tossed the fourth card onto the bench beside me. “Clever,” I thought. The Fates used the principal to do their dirty work.
“Secondly, I’m assuming this is yours,” she said producing one of the Magellan’s Star War’s Blasters. She politely chewed me out for leaving it out so one of the school’s students could find it. She reminded me of the school’s ban on all types of weapons. Normally that isn’t a problem. Our phaser looks like phasers, not any kind of real weapon, but the Magellan's phasers are dark and could be mistaken for something sort of real, and I mean sort of with a stretch of the imagination. I apologised and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

A day later my Lincoln Battlestar’s “Service Engine Soon” light came on and the engine started doing funny things. A mechanic described it as ‘chugging’ the last time it happened. I popped the hood to see what my mechanically useless eyes could find. There, near the something or another, I found a fifth playing card lodged tightly near the battery. Its removal changed nothing. It was just a memento from my band of Olympic admirers that I hadn’t been forgotten. Luckily I walk to school, so I left the car in the garage. Mrs. Houston’s son Matt came to pick it up to work on it.

And now we fast forward to today. For a reason unknown to any of us, Fortuna and the Fates lost interest in us for a couple of days. Things at the Center were fairly normal until this afternoon.

The phone range at 1:00 P.M. It was a dad wanting to confirming his son’s 2:30 P.M. mission in the Voyager. I told him the Voyager already had a 2:30 P.M. mission booked by another group. That’s when it all hit the fan. Of course, according to them, it was our fault the reservation was wrong. I had a mother fit to be tied and a crying boy heard loudly and clearly over the phone. I was sure she’d written the time incorrectly in her planner but arguing the point was pointless. I went to Bracken, my miracle worker, and asked if he would be gracious enough to stay this evening and run a special mission just for their group. He said yes. I looked down and found the Jack of Hearts on my planning book. I took the card, ripped it into dozens of pieces and tossed them into the trash. I know you’re thinking that was bold and foolish thing to do but it was done, the Fates be damned.

At 3:00 P.M. the ships were well into their afternoon missions. In the school's front door appeared another group. The mother apologized for being 30 minutes late. They’d driven down from Bountiful for a birthday party and had gotten lost in American Fork. I told her she didn’t have a reservation. We we already had a group in the Odyssey. I checked the reservation book. She wasn’t there. Her son explained he emailed a reservation on February 3rd. He admitted he hadn't gotten a confirmation. I showed them an email I sent telling him the Odyssey wasn’t available. He said he didn’t get the email. There was nothing I could do for this group. They left very disappointed. Many of the boys were angry, considering their Saturday was ruined with all the travel time from Bountiful to Pleasant Grove and back. It was Fortuna’s sixth card.
“Well played, well played,” I mumbled to myself as the group left.

The seventh card struck half way through the Voyager’s 2:30 P.M. mission. The left Security Computer failed in the middle of the mission. It was a frantic rush to get that computer swapped out with a spare during the few minutes between the Saturday afternoon mission and the special mission Bracken was running for the upset earlier group. We got the computer in place shielded by a sheet of black plastic when it became apparent it wasn’t seeing the network. After several minutes we realized I’d not plugged the ethernet cord into the computer. We took the desk apart, connect the ethernet cord and put it all back together again while the crew trained for their mission.

Fortuna’s final card for the day hit the school instead of the Space Center. At 5:30 P.M. Roger, the school’s custodian, showed me the school’s large walk in refrigerator’s compressor was bad. The temperature in the fridge was 55 degrees! All the food for next week’s school lunches would spoil. We spent an hour on possible solutions, finally settling on moving as much of the food into the school's side by side refrigerators. They are at the school as I type working on other solutions.

I’d had enough of Fortuna’s cards. I drove home. The phone was ringing as I walked into the kitchen. It was Bracken.
“This is Bracken. The Voyager’s sound system just died in mid mission. What do I do now?”
I sat in my chair. “So, this is how we are playing this out,” I mumbled. I told Bracken to swap mics and cables with another ship. He did. The sound system was resurrected.
It is now 8:00 P.M. on Saturday night. We are done for the week. I’m waiting to hear from Bracken on the day’s final report.

I’m hoping the Fates and Fortuna will take next week and realize we are all such small fish in the grand scheme of things and leave us alone. Someone else - perhaps even you - deserve their attention. I wish them on you. In fact, as I close this post, I’m going to leave my laptop open to my email contacts page. Perhaps your name will tickle their fancy. Beware of black cats and be cautious if the smell around you resembles moldy bread. If so, don’t call me! Pass it forward my friend. Pass it forward.


From my Journal. January 3, 1977

The kids started school again today except me. I've got another week of vacation- and its heaven. I got up at 8:00 A.M. and layed around till 9:45 A.M. Went out to start Mabell and just barely got her turned over - then I went to work.

Working at McDonalds has its ups and downs. Right now I make $2.90 per hour and work an on average of 5 hours a day. I'm also a Crew Supervisor and get to 'boss' people around (I guess one good reason why I like it). The people I work with are nice but sort of weird; as I always say, "Normal people come a dime a dozen, but its the weirdos that make the world special."

I was suppose to work till five today but John let me go home early. I came home and started my exercises and watched Brady Bunch and Gulligan's Island. In the news there is a big hassle on Puerto Rico's becoming the 51st state. President Ford said it should. Remember I told you that Mom and Dad were on a health food kick; well guess what she fixed for supper? Fish Soup! It was horrible and I told her that. I hate all fish except for tuna. Tonight we had our first Home Evening in a long time and I learned about the promise of celestial life you can receive while still living on Earth. After family prayer mom dished up some Pecan Pie.

(On a side note. Jilane still remembers eating that piece of Pecan Pie. She's never touch another piece of Pecan Pie since).

More Pictures from 2214 38th Street, Rapid City

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Dear Clan,
Today takes us back to 2214 38th Street, Rapid City South Dakota.

We had an old rickety swing set in the back yard. It was rarely used because none of us could trust the chains holding the swing to the bar. It just sort of sat back there giving the neighbors the appearance we had some semblance of play in our lives. What the swing set really did was hid the area behind. That was where we dumped all the lawn clippings. It was also were we kept the old beat up and rusted trash cans.

In this picture you've got Janice on the left, Jilane standing next to her and Jon holding Lisa trusting the swing. Kevin standing on the ladder - not an easy thing to do considering. I'm guessing this was taken around 1975 with my white Polaroid Swinger Instant Camera.

This picture was taken from our home's front porch looking across 38th Street at our neighbor's home (The Rich Family). You'll see our two Rambler Station Wagons parked. My car (Mabell) is furtherst away. The Brown 'nice' family car is closest. Dad kept that car looking good - as he did all his cars.

This is the family's official Christmas Picture sent to me while I was on my mission in 1977.
Grandma Mattson (mom's mom) is on the left. Mom is next holding Forrest DelGrosso. Grandpa Liessman is next. Kim is sitting next to Grandpa. Grandma Liessman is next. Dad is in front of Grandma holding little Brandon.


Visiting Grandma and Grandpa in North Dakota. 1966

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

I love this picture with its creases and all. This was taken in on July 24, 1966. I was 8 years old. Kim was nine. Kevin was five. We took one of our rare family vacations to visit Grandma and Grandpa Liessman (Dad's Mom and Step Father) in Bismarck North Dakota. You just can't separate us from our sugar. Notice Kevin is clutching a bag of M and M's. I still remember those Sugar Babes in my hand. Kim didn't have any candy. Don't know why. Maybe mom ate them all.

Look how young mom and dad look. Mom was 27 and dad was 30. Jon, Janice and Jilane aren't in the picture. Mom left them behind in Rapid City to fend for themselves. I believe Janice was in charge at home. Quite a responsibility for a 3 year old! Jon must have been a handful with all his energy!

We stayed at the Vantines home. Mother made us all sing for our room and board.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Francis Cooke, Our 10th Great Grandfather, A Mayflower Pilgrim.

The Mayflower

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove.

Dear Clan,
I'm proud to introduce you to your 10th Great Grandfather (my generation) Francis Cooke and his son, our 9th Great Uncle John through Great Grandma Vesta's line (Grandma Mattson's Mother). Both passengers on the Mayflower! Yes, we are the proud descents of one of the 102 passengers of that famous ship. We come from good, down to Earth Pilgrim stock don't we? I'm hoping you appreciate your Pilgrim roots through these many discoveries of our early American ancestors. Through trial and tribulation, each placed a stone or two on the road of freedom and democracy that carries this nation forward today.

So, take a moment and remember your elementary school American history. Remember the Pilgrim hats you made? Perhaps you starred in your class's historical pageant. Are you in the mood now? If so - let me introduce you to your Great Grandfather Francis.

Francis Cooke (1583 - April 7, 1663 Plymouth Massachusetts) was one of 102 passengers on the Mayflower. This early settler is one of the twenty six male Pilgrims known to have descendants.

Francis is described in the Leiden Walloon Church Marriage Records (Holland) dating from 1603 as a “woolcomber out of England”. He could have been a refugee from religious persecution elsewhere in Europe.

In Leiden, sometime after July 20, 1603 he married Hester Le Mahieu as Franchoys Couck. Hester was the daughter of Protestant refugees from the Walloon Flanders area. Hester’s family had once lived in Canterbury England before moving to Lieden in 1590.

While in Leiden, Francis and Hester were members of the Walloon Church (French Reformed Church). In 1606, they left Leiden briefly for Norwich England where they joined another Walloon Church. They returned to Leiden in 1607, possibly for religious reasons. Between 1611 and 1618, the Cookes were members of the Pilgrim Separatist congregation in Leiden.

In 1620, Francis, his son John, and nephew Philippe de Lannoy boarded the Speedwell at Delftshave. Cooke left wife Hester and their younger children behind to follow when the colony was established. The Leiden Separatists bought the ship in Holland. They sailed it to Southampton England to meet the Mayflower, which had been chartered by the merchant investors.

The two ships, Speedwell and Mayflower began the voyager on August 5, 1620, but the Speedwell leaked badly and had to return to Dartmouth to be refitted. On the second attempt, the two ships sailed about 100 leagues but the Speedwell was again found to be leaking. Both ships returned to England where the Speedwell was sold. It was later learned that there was no leak at all. The crew sabotaged the Speedwell in order to escape the year long commitment of their contract.

Eleven people from the Speedwell (including our Great Grandfather Francis and John Cooke) boarded the Mayflower. For a third time, the Mayflower headed for the New World. She left Plymouth England on September 6, 1620 and arrived at Cape Cod Harbor on November 11, 1620.

Arriving at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts, forty-one of the passengers, among them Francis Cooke, signed the Mayflower Compact as the boat lay at anchor.
The Mayflower Compact. Click to enlarge to see our Grandfather's Signature. This was the first document forming a government in the New World.

The Signing of the Mayflower Compact.

Hester and the other children travelled to Plymouth on the ship “Anne”

Francis was active in Plymouth civil affairs in the 1630’s and 40’s - committees to layout land grants and highways and serving on various juries. He appears on the 1643 Plymouth list of those able to bear arms.

In 1651, fellow Pilgrim William Bradford wrote of him: “Francis Cooke is still living, a very old man, and hath seen his children’s children have children. After his wife came over with other of his children; he hath three still living by her, all married and have five children, so their increase is eight. And his son John which came over with him is married and hath four children living.”

Francis Cooke died in 1663 in Plymouth.

Other descents of Francis Cooke include Orson Welles, Richard Gere and Beach Boys Brian Carl and Dennis Wilson.

Here is a story written first hand by Jordan D. Fiore talking about Francis Cooke.
Francis Cooke & the early years of Plymouth Colony "Friday, the 16th [February 16, 1621], was a fair day; but the northly wind continued, which continued the frost. This day, after noon, one of our people being a fowling, and having taken a stand by a creek side in the reeds, about a mile and a half from our plantation, there by him twelve Indians, marching towards our plantation, and in the woods he heard the noise of many more. He lay close till they passed, and then with what speed he could he went home and gave the alarm. So the people abroad in the woods returned and armed themselves, but saw none of them; only, toward the evening, they made a great fire about the place where they were first discovered. Captain Miles Standish and Francis Cooke being at work in the woods, coming home left their tools behind them; but before they returned, their tools were taken away by the savages. This coming of the savages gave us occasion to keep more strict watch, and to make our pieces and furniture ready, which by moisture and rain were out of temper."
Mourt's Relation, ed. Jordan D. Fiore (Plymouth, Mass. :
Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), p. 44.

This Memorial is to our 9th Great Uncle John Cooke who sailed with his father Francis on the Mayflower.

As descents from one of the Mayflower's passengers, we are now eligible to become members of The Mayflower Society. Information on the Society can be found below.

The Society operates the Mayflower Society House and Museum in Plymouth Mass.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sir Sampson De Strelley. Our 17th Great Grandfather.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Dear Clan,
We pause in our journey into the past to reflect on our 17th Great Grandfather and Grand Mother, Sampson and Elizabeth De Strelley.

Both lived in the early 1300's. They founded the village of Strelley just outside Nottingham England.

This is All Saint's Church how it looks today. It was built by Sampson in 1356. Of the building Sampson wrote that he
"had licence that he and the rest of the parishioners of that village, might hear sermons for the space of a year in the Chappel scituate within the Manner of the said village, because the Parish church was not then fully built".
The lower stage of the tower is all that remains of the earlier church.

This is the orginal lay out of the village of Strelley with the church and the homes.

Sampson de Strelley died in 1390

Sampson de Strelley's wife, Elizabeth, died in 1405

Sampson and Elizabeth are buried in the church. You can see their tombs above. In the top picture you see Sampson's effigy in white alabaster. He lies holding the hand of his wife whose tomb is beside his in the church. Visitors to the church could not fail to be impressed by its beauty. It is one of only two alabasters in the country where the couple are holding hands.

Sampson was evidently a somewhat highhanded individual, as the note in the Cartulary refers to his having seized lands in Cossall to which he had no right, and having calmly moved a road some distance from its original position, and claimed that it belonged to Strelley instead of to Cossall.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The History of the Vercellino's by Grandma Liessman.

Hello Family,
Wow. This entry took a long time. Dad came up the stairs this morning with a very poor photocopy of Grandma Liessman's history of the Vercellinos. It took some deciphering to figure out the words in many places, and to be honest, Grandma's writing isn't that good. To make this easier to read I changed just a few words and added a couple that she almost always omitted but other than that, what you are about to read is just what she typed in her own words (bad grammar and all).

Dad had never seen this before. He found it tucked away in some folder. I'm sad Grandma never finished the history. She stopped the story just when her parents decided to move to South Africa.

So, a few things to set the story. Grandma starts by telling the story of her mother's childhood. Her mother's name was Maria. Half way through the document she switches to her Father's history. At the end she brings them back together.

And now, for the first time, you'll hear the story of your Great and Great Great Grandparents.
My favorite is Great Grandfather John. He was really something - someone I would have loved knowing. Your thoughts?


Grandma Liessman (Elda Vercellino). Dad's Mother

The Vercellio’s by Elda K Liessman

My Mother was reared in a small coal community called Coal City Illinois, where most of the citizens knew nothing but extreme poverty. As a small child, my mother Maria (which in English would be spelt Marie), along with her older sisters would have to stand in bread lines at the town hall. Her step father, a very kind man, operated a small saloon. The girls acted as the bar maids because a male bartender couldn’t be afforded. Maria, being of a shy nature, disliked this type of work very much. I think this effected her adult life some. Grandmother, made of more stern stuff, had some tenancies that leaned toward cruelty. Which could be caused from lack of education. It was a trait found in so many foreigners. Maria being also stubborn and shy could not be pushed around in his manner, therefore friction always existed between them through the years. Mother never forgave my Grandmother.

Mother remembered so vividly all through the years, her great embarrassment of having to attend school with her hair worn as our crew cuts of today, also barefooted where she would stop at the town pump to wash her feet before entering the class room. Where she was met with stares and laughter. All of this made my mother a very bitter person with other experiences in her growing life that carried into her adulthood.

When Maria was 14 years old, John Vercellino - a handsome man of thirty some years, came to Coal City. One day he stopped at my Grandfather’s saloon. My Grandmother attending bar that day was impressed by his charm and his wonderful gift of gaiety and laughter.. That is not he only thing that impressed my grandmother. She also though it possible he could give a girl more security than most of the other young men in Coal City. This would be a good catch for Maria, the older sisters, being married. John, from that day on came to my grandparents home often.

All this time my grandmother made plans how on how Maria would marry him. Mother often stated how my Father (John Vercellino) enjoyed my grandmother’s company more than he enjoyed hers. One day, Grandmother announced to my mother that arrangements had been made for her marriage to John Vercellino. Naturally my mother rebelled. She was only a child of fourteen and my father was 36. Why, he could of been her father. When she refused to marry she was punished severely by my grandmother. My nice Grandfather had no voice in the matter.

John and Maria's Wedding Picture

I don’t know the exact date of this tragic marriage. It was some time in the summer months. My father and mother went to Chicago where they were married. Maria was so shy and backward one can just imagine how frustrated she must have been. I remember of her telling how she had never been in a restaurant in her life. After the wedding, John took her to one. She was afraid to open her mouth for the food for fear all would be looking at her. John finally told her all the people in there were too busy eating - leave alone paying attention to her. A tightness comes to my throat when I think of this pathetic little girl. But still in my life I had a great love for my Father that I quite never had for my mother. But the years have taught me that she was a very sad person, as I have stated before, she carried her frustrations all through her life as if she were two persons. Like an angel sometimes and a serpent on others. Her tongue could lash and cut to the quick. My father was the opposite and was always kind, gay and never cruel with his tongue. But I think had my mother married of her choice her life would of been entirely different that I am sure.

So to Bisbee Arizona. John took his child bride where he worked as a miner in a copper mine. Often mother would tell of father coming home from work, she would be outdoors jumping rope with some youngsters across the street and not prepared. One day she put the cat in the oven - no the oven was not heated. When John came home for supper she told him the prepared meal was in the oven. When he opened the oven the cat jumped out. I presume he took all this in a good natured way. Maria never said one way or the other.

At that time it seemed as the desert would often have severe cloud bursts. That is what happened one day after my parents had been in Bisbee about a year. Maria was preparing supper when the rains came in sheets. When John got home water reached to the window sills. He grabbed my mother and raced up an incline just in the nik of time a house floated down the flood waters. A short time after the flood my father decided he needed a vacation. He thought of taking my mother to Italy to visit his home - a good idea.

They arrived in the spring of the year at Susa (?), my father’s birthplace, which is nestled in the foothills of the Alps near the French border. By his telling the small community gathered would be the size of Whitewood (South Dakota). In John’s time homes were built of stones and most homes have been in families for several generations. Sometimes parents and married children lived in the same house. Cooking was done by fireplace as there were no stoves at that time. I remember mother telling of John buying her a stove to take away the morning chill. Folks from the community would come to see the stove, which was a novelty to most, especially the olders that had never far from their homes. In those days most peasants went to a neighbors barn for warmth in the evenings. Benches were built around the outside of the barn with cattle in the center. The cattle would keep them warm. Each neighbor had turns in giving out heat. Women would bring knitting while men would whittle or play cards. Girls entertained their boy friends. Nice evenings were spent during the cold months of winter. I really should say cool, never cold in beautiful sunny Italy. So one can see what excitement a stove would cause.

During spring and summer months most of the peasants would take cattle to the Alps for grazing. Some of the trails were so steep one missed step and your body would hurdle a thousand feet to the floor below.

Thursday’s were marketing day. All would be up and up at the crack of dawn to travel by foot with vegetables, eggs, and poultry to sell. and receive cash so clothing etc could be purchased. They went to Pont and some time Curgone, distance probably twenty some miles traveling all day by foot also returning to their homes the say day. I’m told that all the peasants were so gay they would sing all the way to market and if they had luck in selling their goods they’d sing all the way home.

When my father first came to America he was surprised that all seem to take life so seriously. No one was singing to and from their jobs as he and his friends did in Italy. Most of their real singing took place after Mass on Sunday. That was their day to raise cain. After Mass, dances were held on the streets which was the city square. If a girl refused a gentleman a dance, she left herself open for a hard slap across the cheek.

When my father reached the age of fourteen, he decided on crossing the Alps into Belgium to see if any work could be had. He family was in such a state of poverty. His mother was a widow with small children to raise. She had to even sell her mattress in order to clothe the children. That is the reason John set out into the world. Exactly how many days it did take him to cross the Alps I do no recall. I remember of him stating how he spent one night with Monks, how they sent Saint Bernard's to the rescue of travelers over taken by blizzards.

At Belgium he worked in coal mines. He stated that most women accompanied their husbands to the mines and worked all day along with their men. I can see myself working in a mine. After two years of this type of work John thought the would try his luck by coming to America. So at the ripe old age of sixteen and one half he set sail for America which took exactly thirty five days to cross. He arrived at Ellis Island. That is where most foreigners where ridiculed mostly in manner of dress.

Naturally most of them did not speak speak the language and their manner of dress as I already said brought on much ridiculing. My father wore a long red wool stockings which his mother had knitted for him. But he said it never bothered him that people stared and laughed at him. He had another shy and very timid Italian boy with him that it did bother . John told him to do as he was doing and laugh right back at them, soon they will stop. One day while they were walking the streets of New York they passed a pastry shop. John had never seen a pie before. Seeing them on display he thought they were omelets which he liked so well. I should of mentioned that he thought a pie was an egg omelet. John and his friends proceeded to buy the pie and some mustard for an omelet is no good without mustard. He was surprised at the first bite to find fruit! He was surprised the Americans did not understand the art of making omelets.

From New York he traveled to Utah where he had heard of the lead mines. He didn’t understand the language but some meanings he did. Work the same all over so to Utah he came. What part of Utah I do not recall. He did stay for several years. One evening he became quite ill. The lady at the boarding house where John stayed called the doctor. He was told by the doctor that he had what was known a lead stomach. Some of the miners contracted it some did not. He was one that had. So to a Catholic Hospital he was taken where he received treatment for one month. On a morning after the nurse had served him breakfast he decided to leave the hospital. Why wait for dismissal? So that is what he told the nun at the desk. She advised him against, but John told her he was out of money. Not stubborn huh?

Fidel, a younger brother had also come to America to seek his fortune, but he had headed straight for the “Black Hills” of South Dakota at Lead where gold had been discovered. Se he thought it a good idea for him to start a saloon where the tired miners could come and spend their money. He called the saloon “The Columbus”. John thought maybe it was a good idea to also try his luck at Lead. He arrived the spring of the year where if one had to cross from one side of the street to the other you had the privilege of walking in mud up to your knees! So John again went to mining - this time for gold. Their lives were in serious danger. At that time nearly 80 years ago [I don’t know when grandma wrote this] there were there were no Safety First programs like today. Many miners lost their lives or were seriously injured which happened daily. John said that when miners wives would hear an ambulance siren most of them would become hysterical.

After a few years John was injured quite seriously. When her recovered, Fidel offered him a praetorship in the saloon, which my Father refused. He did not care for liquor in any form. He didn’t approve of smoking either always saying that our body and minds were not given to us to abuse. He decided to leave Lead but he did return years later.

He thought being that he would soon be called to serve in the Italian army he would bo back to Italy and see his older brother Tonie, who was a photographer at Turino. His mother had passed away. John often said he only wished he could of given his mother a better life. I remember of his telling how in Italy the peasants were given coffee to drink on their death bed. Therefore one thing he did send the poor soul was money so she could have a few luxuries as coffee, which I guess she had enough to drink to her hearts content. After a short visit with Tonie, he went to Berlin where he stayed until he was called into service. What type of work he did I do not recall. I remember him saying how well he liked the German people, how neat and clean their homes where. Also the streets were so well kept. Above all he thought the Germans so very intelligent in fact more than any other European country. During the war (World War I) he often stated it made him sad the Germans, of all people, had to be taken in by the Kaiser.

After serving three years in the Italian army as a ski trooper, which he enjoyed much for he loved skiing in the the Alps, all his time in the army was served in the Alps. He returned to America and Coal City where he met and married my Maria, my mother. After their stay in Italy he thought it would be interesting for my mother to see miniature Switzerland. I remember mother saying how all things seemed to be on such a small scale, the farms and trains seemed like toys. But the Swiss people were very ambitious and efficient in all they accomplished. She loved Switzerland and hated to leave the other place that had taken her heart so completely “The Black Hills”. She said of the Hills “Here is where I will always want to stay and die.” Her wish was fulfilled and is now sleeping here.

During this time England had her eyes on the diamond mines of South Africa, which belonged to the Dutch. So England declared war on the Dutch which was known as the Boer War. Yes England won the Diamond mines. One day, while still in Switzerland, my father heard that England was looking for experienced miners for the diamond mines. John thought he had the experience from his time in Lead, coal, cooper and gold mining, so why not try diamond mining. He loved the thrills. So they set off for Liverpool England where they would be able to get all the information needed on their adventure to dark Africa. It has slipped my mind to mention before this that in their many travels had time to have Remigo, now two years of age. No, he never answered to the name Remigo, instead he adopted the name Ray. Of course Remigo does mean Raymond in American. My parents really wanted him to be called Remigo But Italians were so ridiculed that Ray thought he had better just be called Ray...

End. She never finished the story.

The Finished Family missing John. Great Grandma Maria, Grandma Elda,
Little Great Uncle Ed and Great Uncle Ray.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Returning to the Land of the Living.........

Hello Clan,
Let me start by apologizing for not updating the blog for a few days. I know you all wait by your computers with baited breath for the next installment of self confidence and ancestral pride. My excuse is worthy of your empathy. Let me explain.

Today I fought and clawed my way back into the world of the living thanks to modern science. I reference my post from this morning when I broke the news of being struck down in the prime of life with the heartbreak of strep throat.

It was Monday evening. I was laying in bed enjoying my nightly dose of British Comedies, laughing at something Rene said in Allo’ Allo’ when a swallow brought pain. The next morning my throat and the Olympic flame in Vancouver had one thing in common - FLAME! I knew that pain. It was the pain all teachers know - Strep Throat! Most likely passed to me from some small human visitor to the Space Center who sneezed in my face or covered his stations with droplets of mucus swimming with the bacteria.

I called my doctor who was kind enough to squeeze me in for a check up. My temperature was 102.5 degrees.
“There’s a nice pus pocket,” he said in reference to one of my tonsils. I nodded. I didn’t need him to tell me my throat was seething in strep.
“Hows your gag reflex?” he asked.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, mine is 15,” I replied. Meaning I start gagging as the cotton swab passes my front teeth. “I’ll be quick about it then,” he replied.

Out came this elongated swab on a wooden stick nearly long enough to be used as a fireplace match. I closed my eyes thinking that if I didn’t see it entering my mouth I wouldn’t start gagging. It was a good strategy. I was find until the cotton came in contact with the pus pocket.
“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry but I need to be sure to get enough,” he explained in believable sympathy.

He put the swab into the autotester, put in a drop or two of some magical liquid and, as if by magic, a red + appeared in the window. I left with a prescription of some form of penicillin I couldn’t pronounce but was gratefully for nevertheless. I didn’t spare the gasoline as I raced to Smith RX in Pleasant Grove to fill the prescription. I couldn’t get that first pill into my mouth fast enough.

Now, a confession of my stupidity. I had this strange delusion that once that adsuthflwohgjriuieoeillin (or whatever it was) entered my blood stream those little strep bacteria would sound a full scale retreat. I sat in my car waiting for relief. I drove back to the school, worked on a few things, drove home and still nothing. I wondered if Smith’s Drug had pawned a bad batch of the stuff on to me. Either that or my medicine was years past its sell by date.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling just as bad. Then the worry set in. I just knew, using my imagination as proof, that my doctor had misdiagnosed my infection. Instead of strep, I convinced myself I had that flesh eating staff infection that kills in a day or two. It had taken root in my tonsils and was in conference, planning a break into the main artery that supplied my brain with blood. I could almost hear the oooAhhhh’s from the little marine bacteria as they gathered along the artery wall, waiting for the breech and invasion. Yes, all of this was passing through my mind as I sat at the Kitchen bar struggling to swallow spoonfuls of cottage cheese.

I continued to take my dkgjrufkdlmvnfjejecillin and went to work. All day I waited to hear the faint sound of a bugle as millions those little staffs got the order to “ATTACK”. Strangely enough, around 6:00 P.M. I started feeling a bit better. I was able to eat a semi normal supper of soup and ice cream. At bed time I felt good enough to laugh at Rene in Allo’ Allo’, my 10:30 P.M. nightly stop on Channel 7.

This morning found me feeling somewhat better. The fever is gone but my throat still hurts like the dickens. The good news is that I’m getting a bit better as each day passes.

I want to thank the staff of the Space Center for being kind enough to help me work through this illness. I’ve not taken a sick day in all my 27 years of teaching school. The reason is simple. During my actual teaching years taking a sick day was more painful than coming in not feeling well. You should try planning for a sub. You wouldn’t like it either. And, to be honest, I was always lucky enough not get ill enough to required absolute bed rest.

So, why don’t I take a sick day today? I’m not teaching school any longer. Well, If I take a sick day, then we have to cancel a field trip. Can you imagine calling a teacher and telling her that her field trip was canceled - on the morning of the trip!?
She’s standing there with her kids bouncing off the ceiling in excitement, lunches are delivered from the cafeteria and everything is set to go and suddenly its called off. Where will I put her? Every day on the calendar is booked with field trips. Those two classes would be out for the year! That is something I can’t do.

The solution is to train our younger flight directors to run the daytime field trip missions so I have someone that can fill in for me. Believe me, I’m working on that. That is a story for another post.

Anyway, I’m feeling somewhat better. If our paths should cross within the next day or two please do not step away in horror. I may look like warmed over death but doesn’t that sum up my appearance most days?


Monday, February 15, 2010

We Sail Tonight with our Famous Cousin, Admiral Robert Blake

Admiral Robert Blake
Our 1st Cousin, 11 Times Removed

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Hello Clan,
Ready for a sea adventure tonight? Prepare yourselves for we board one of His Majesty’s Ships and sail under the banner of our 1st Cousin, 11 times removed, the famous Admiral Robert Blake (1599 to August 17, 1657).
Genealogy Tie:
Admiral Blake's Uncle was Giles Blake, our 11th Great Grandfather. His Grandfather, John Blake, is our 12th Great Grandfather.
Cousin Robert was one of the most famous English Admirals of the 17th Century. He was one of 13 children born to our 11th Great Uncle Humphrey Blake. He attended the Bridgwater Grammar School for Boys as a youngster. In 1638 he decided to run for the British Parliament. In 1640 he was elected to Parliament fro Bridgwater.

The English Civil War broke out. Robert failed to win reelection and entered the military career on the side of the Parliamentarians - standing against the Monarchy. He fought on land during the Siege of Bristol in 1643, the Siege of Lyme in 1644, and the Siege of Taunton (1645). At Taunton he famously declared that he would eat three of his own four pairs of boots before he would surrender.

Robert Blake was appointed General at Sea (Admiral) in 1649, and is often referred to as the “Father of the Royal Navy”. As well as being largely responsible for building the largest navy the country had then ever known. In 1652 he produced the Royal Navy’s first ever set of rules and regulations, listing 39 offences and their punishments - mostly death. He was also the first to repeatedly successfully attack despite fire from shore forts.

Blake led his navy to important sea victories during the English Civil War, working hard to protect Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England and preventing the Monarchy from reestablishing itself in Great Britain. For this service he was honored by Parliament and made a member of the Council of State.

Blake’s next adventures were during the first Anglo-Dutch War. During this war Blake demanded that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty enact major reforms. They complied by enacting Articles of War to reinforce the authority of an Admiral over his captains. Eventually Blake helped in bring peace with the Dutch.

In 1655 Blake was sent to the Mediterranean to obtain compensation from the pirate states that had been attacking English shipping. The Bey of Tunis refused to offer compensation, and with 15 ships, Blake destroyed the 2 shore batteries and 9 Algerian ships in Porto Farina, the first time shore batteries had been taken out without landing men ashore.

In 1656 war broke out with Spain. In 1657 Blake won against the Spanish West Indian Fleet over the seizure of Jamaica in the West Indies. Cromwell have Blake an expensive diamond ring for his command of the battle at Tenerife. Blake destroyed 16 Spanish ships despite being under fire from shore batteries and attacking and withdrawing on the tide. Lord Nielson ranked Blake as one of the greatest naval Generals ever known, even when compaired with his own reputation.

Admiral Robert Blake 1599 - 1657
Bridgwater Town Centre

Blake died from old wounds while sailing home. He laid in state in the Queen’s House, Greenwich and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the Monarchy was restored his body was exhumed and dumped in a common grave on the orders of the new king, Charles II.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Witches in Our Family?! The Shockingly Sad Story of our 9th Great Grandparents.

The Salem Witch Trials, Now An Important Part of our Family History

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Pleasant Grove Valley
Valentine’s Day 2010

Dear Family,
  • Today I report on a family tragedy.
  • Today I report unjust accusations, false imprisonment, torture and murder.
  • Today I report Indian attacks and kidnapping.
  • Today I report on the hanging of a Great Aunt, accused by her own nephew!
  • Today we uncover confessed Witches in our family line! Halloween will Never be the Same Again.
I've uncovered confessed witches in the family line. This leads me to believe there could be others in our family today, still practicing the 'old ways'; aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces or nephews. Who are they? Any information as to their identity will be kept strictly confidential although proof would be nice, such as a broom stick, wand or large black iron cauldron.
Where did this all begin you ask? Read on....

In 1692, 19 innocent men and women were hanged for witchcraft. An old man was pressed to death under heavy rocks for refusing to stand trial. Four others, Including our 9th Great Grandfather Dr. Roger Toothaker, died in prison as they awaited trial.

Our 9th Great Grandfather, Roger Toothaker was born in 1634 in England. He came to America with his family on the ship “Hopewell” and settled in Billerica, Mass near Salem. At 31 years old he married Mary Allin at Billerica on June 9, 1665. Roger was a doctor, although possibly more of a herbalist by today’s standards. There is no record of proper medical training. His wife, Grandmother Mary was a midwife.

It seems Roger was away from home and neglected the care of his wife and growing family. Town records show that on March 12, 1682/3 and on December 15, 1684 the town Selectman (Council) wrote and demanded that Roger return and care for his family. It seemed the order was ignored because town records show the family received charity from the town.

In 1692 a wave of witchcraft hysteria swept through Salem. Nine year old Betty Parris and her 11 year old cousin started having seizures or “fits”. Of course, in the days before modern medicine such fits might be thought of as devil induced because doctors couldn't find cures or remedies.

Grandfather Roger and his family lived in Salem, Mass. at the time. During questioning, Roger claimed to many that his daughter (Martha) killed a witch. On May 18, 1692 Salem filed a complaint against Dr. Roger Toothaker for witchcraft. He was taken to Boston Prison because all local jails were full of witches waiting for trial. Roger was accused by Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott. I should note that Elizabeth Hubbard’s father was a rival doctor in the community. I’m sure with our grandfather behind bars his practice increased. It seems Dr. Hubbard was a witchcraft conspirator, using his 17 year old servant Elizabeth to accuse many of witchcraft.

The story now continues down its sad path. On May 28th Roger’s wife Mary (our 9th Great Grandmother), their 9 year old daughter Margaret and Mary's sister Martha Carrier were arrested for witchcraft. One month later, Grandfather Roger died in Boston Prison. Many believe he was tortured.

Grandmother Mary was examined by John Hawthorne on July 30, 1692. She told the court that she was afraid of Indian attack and made a secret pact with the devil to protect her. Of course the confession was either fabricated or coerced. Her fear of Indians was justified however; the area had been attacked by Indians many times in the preceding few years. Mother and daughter stayed in prison. Two days later, Indians attack Billerica, Mass. burning down the Toothaker house. At the end of January 1693 they were freed and returned to the burned out house. Mary went on working as a midwife. Martha Carrier, our Grandmother’s sister was hanged as a witch on the testimony of her nephew, our 9th Great Uncle Allin.

A Witch being escorted to her Hanging

On August 5, 1695 Indians attacked their small town of Billerica. Grandmother Mary was killed. Great Aunt Margaret was captured by the Indians and was never seen again.

The Children of Roger and Mary Toothaker
  1. Nathaniel b. 27 April 1666 d. 18 May 1683 Billerica
  2. Martha b. 23 July 1668 d. 14 January 1725/6 Haverhill, Mass. m. Joseph Emerson 16 July 1690 Haverhill, Mass.
  3. Allin b. 17 September 1670
  4. Roger b. 27 November 1672
  5. Sarah b. Circa 1674
  6. Mary b. 7 June 1675 d. 14 October 1675 Billerica
  7. Mary b. 28 September 1676 d. 5 December 1683 Billerica
  8. Andrew b. 4 October 1679 THIS IS OUR 8TH GREAT GRANDFATHER.
  9. Margaret b. 31 January 1682/3 Captured by Indians 5 August 1695 at Billerica
DECEMBER ye ?????
Our Grandfather's Tombstone.

The case against Dr. Roger Toothaker is described in Russell's article as follows:
"Thomas Gage, aged thirty-six, testified on 2[0] May 1692 that sometime the previous spring Dr. Toothaker was at Gage's house in Beverly, where they discussed a child of John Maston of Salem and a child of Philip White of Beverly, who were strangely sick or having fits. Toothaker stated that he had seen both children and concluded they 'were under an Evill hand' and that his own daughter [Margaret] had killed a witch. [El]ias Pickworth, aged thirty-four, testified to the same story."
This is the actual Court Testimony of our 9th Great Grandmother taken during her trial as a witch:
30 July 1692 The Examination and confession of widow Toothaker Taken before Major Gidney Mr Hauthorn Mr Corwin & Cap'n Higginson.
After many questiones and negative answers returned and her Stricking Down of severall of the afflicted persons with her looks, she was Desyred to tell the truth in this matter She then said that this May last she was under great Discontentednes & troubled w'h feare about the Indians, & used often to dream of fighting with them. Being asked what was the Devils temptation under her discontent
t she said she would confess if she could But that there was something at her breast that hindered her. she said she had often prayed but thought she was the worse for praying and knows not but that the Devil has tempted her not to pray, for her breath has been often Stopt as it was just now; Being asked if the Devil did not Desier her to renounce her baptisme, she answered that she had thoughts she was rather the worse for her baptisme and has wished she had not been baptised because she had not improved it as she ought to have done she saith she used to get into a corner alone and Desryed to prey but her mouth would be Stopt but sometymes she had been helped to say Lord be merce full to me a sinner. Being again asked how far she had yeilded to Satan she said the Devil promised her she should not be discovered and if she was discovered & brought down that she should goe home Innocent & cleare but now find he has deluded her. Being again asked how long it is since saten furst wrought with her in this manner she said she could not well tell how long but thinks it is not two years. And confesses that she went In her Spirit [to Timo' Swans] and did often think of him & her hands would be clinched, and that she would grip the dishclout or anything else and so think of the person; And by this & afflicting of others since She came down she is convinced she is a witch -- she saith now, the Devil appeared to her in the shape of a Tawny man and promised to keep her from the Indians and she should have happy dayes with her sone -- she was asked if she did not signe the Devills book; answered he brought something which she [took] to bee a piece of burch bark and she made a mark with her finger by rubbing off the whit Scurff. And he promised if she would serve him she should be safe from the Indians (she was then a litle stopt again & believed it was the Devil that did it)// Being asked if the Devil did not say she was to serve him Answered Yes, and signed the mark upon that condition and was to praise him w'h her whole heart, and twas to that appearance she prayed at all tymes for he said he was able to delyver her from the Indians And it was the feare of the Indians that put her upon it. she confesses she hurt Timothy Swan and thinks she was twice at salem Village witch meeting and that Goody Bridges was one of her company -- she said as she came along in order to examination she promised herself twenty tymes by the way (but [seald] it was to the Devil) That if she should Dye upon the Gallowse yet she would not say any thing but that she was Innocent. & rejoyced In the thought of it that She Should goe home Inocent -- she saith that Goody Green and Goody Broomage were also her companions and that Broomage afflicted Swan by squeezing his arms, And is afrayd that she the s'd Toothaker squeezed his throat -- she said further that when Goody Bridges (who had confessed before) urged her also to confess she had then no remembrance of this but with the justices Discourse and the help of god it came into her mind. she saith she thought that that appearance was God her creator & being asked if she did not know otherwise answered The Devil is so subtel that when she would confess he stops her and deludes also by scripture and being asked what scripture he made inser of to her she mentioned that in the Psalmes where it is said Let my enemies be confounded, And so she had wished them all Destroyed that raised such reports of her she confesses that her sister was with her at all the meetings & particularly at Salem Village & there went with her Goody Bridges Goody foster Goody Green & Goody Broomage Several afflicted persons said they saw the black man before her in the tyme of her examination And she now, her self confesses she saw him upon the table before her. She sayes further there was a minister a litle man whose name is Burroughs that preached at the Village meeting of witches, and she heard that they used read & write at these meetings And, that they did talk of 305 witches in the country. she saith their discourse was about the pulling down the Kingdom of Christ and setting up the Kingdom of satan, and also Knew Goody How emong the rest. Being asked if there was not a woman that stirred them up to afflict Swan Answered yes there was a pretty [Elderly] woman that was most busie about him and encouraged the rest to afflict him. she thinks she set her hand to that book at Salem Village meeting. And thinks the [End] of all their setting their hand to that book was to come in, and afflict & set up the Devils Kingdome. she being asked if her husband did not speak to his daughter to Kill one Button a reputed witch answered yes, and that they used to read many historyes, especially one book that treated of the 12 signes, from which book they could tell a great Deale. -- she saith she never knew her daughter to be in this condition before this summer, But that she was at Salem Village meeting once with her, she cannot tell that her daughter did then signe the book but a great many did. Being asked how many were of her Society she said Goody Broomage, foster, green, the two Mary Laceyes older and younger, Richard Carrier, her sister Carryer and another aged woman -- she saith she heard the Beating of a drum at the village meeting And think also heard the sound of a trumpet.
I underwritten being appointed to take the above & within examination in wryting Doe testify upon oath taken in Court That this is a true coppy, of the substance of it, to the best of my knowledge
6't Jan'ry in 1692/3

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States. Our Cousin.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Dear Clan,
Our Saturday evening journey though the Way Back Machine begs us to pause and consider a famous, distant cousin of ours. You may recognize the name, Richard M. Nixon.

President Nixon was our 10th cousin once removed. Amazing isn’t it? The Rev. Stephan Bachiler (see an earlier post in this blog) our 10th Great Grandfather was President Richard Nixon's 9th Great Grandfather through our 9th Great Aunt Theodate Bachiler. The following information on our cousin is given through the White House's Web Site.

Richard M. Nixon

Reconciliation was the first goal set by President Richard M. Nixon. The Nation was painfully divided, with turbulence in the cities and war overseas. During his Presidency, Nixon succeeded in ending American fighting in Viet Nam and improving relations with the U.S.S.R. and China. But the Watergate scandal brought fresh divisions to the country and ultimately led to his resignation.

His election in 1968 had climaxed a career unusual on two counts: his early success and his comeback after being defeated for President in 1960 and for Governor of California in 1962.

Born in California in 1913, Nixon had a brilliant record at Whittier College and Duke University Law School before beginning the practice of law. In 1940, he married Patricia Ryan; they had two daughters, Patricia (Tricia) and Julie. During World War II, Nixon served as a Navy lieutenant commander in the Pacific.

On leaving the service, he was elected to Congress from his California district. In 1950, he won a Senate seat. Two years later, General Eisenhower selected Nixon, age 39, to be his running mate.

As Vice President, Nixon took on major duties in the Eisenhower Administration. Nominated for President by acclamation in 1960, he lost by a narrow margin to John F. Kennedy. In 1968, he again won his party's nomination, and went on to defeat Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and third-party candidate George C. Wallace.

Nixon talking to the just returned Apollo 11 Astronauts, First Men on the Moon.

His accomplishments while in office included revenue sharing, the end of the draft, new anticrime laws, and a broad environmental program. As he had promised, he appointed Justices of conservative philosophy to the Supreme Court. One of the most dramatic events of his first term occurred in 1969, when American astronauts made the first moon landing.

Top, Nixon Opens China by Visiting Chairman Mao. Bottom, Nixon and Soviet Leader Brezhnev meet.

Some of his most acclaimed achievements came in his quest for world stability. During visits in 1972 to Beijing and Moscow, he reduced tensions with China and the U.S.S.R. His summit meetings with Russian leader Leonid I. Brezhnev produced a treaty to limit strategic nuclear weapons. In January 1973, he announced an accord with North Viet Nam to end American involvement in Indochina. In 1974, his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, negotiated disengagement agreements between Israel and its opponents, Egypt and Syria.

In his 1972 bid for office, Nixon defeated Democratic candidate George McGovern by one of the widest margins on record.

Within a few months, his administration was embattled over the so-called "Watergate" scandal, stemming from a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee during the 1972 campaign. The break-in was traced to officials of the Committee to Re-elect the President. A number of administration officials resigned; some were later convicted of offenses connected with efforts to cover up the affair. Nixon denied any personal involvement, but the courts forced him to yield tape recordings which indicated that he had, in fact, tried to divert the investigation.

As a result of unrelated scandals in Maryland, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in 1973. Nixon nominated, and Congress approved, House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford as Vice President.

Faced with what seemed almost certain impeachment, Nixon announced on August 8, 1974, that he would resign the next day to begin "that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Nixon Leaving the White House after Resigning as President of the United States

In his last years, Nixon gained praise as an elder statesman. By the time of his death on April 22, 1994, he had written numerous books on his experiences in public life and on foreign policy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daniel Webster, Congressman. Senator. Secretary of State. Our 8th Cousin Twice Removed.

Daniel Webster. Our 3rd Cousin 5 times Removed.
Daniel Webster's Great Grandfather (Benjamin Batchelder) was our 7th Great Uncle.
His Great Great Aunt was our 7th Grandmother Mercy Batchelder.

From the Fortress of Solitude

Overlooking the Pleasant Grove Valley

Dear Clan,

Tonight we learn of a famous cousin from American History, Daniel Webster. The following biography was taken from the US Senate's web site.

One of the nation's greatest orators, Daniel Webster was both a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. representative from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Webster was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire, and gained national prominence as an attorney while serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He successfully argued several notable cases before the Supreme Court of the United States that helped define the constitutional power of the federal government. In Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, the Court declared in favor of Webster's alma mater, finding private corporation charters to be contracts and therefore protected from interference by state legislative action. In McCulloch v. Maryland, the Court upheld the implied power of Congress to charter a federal bank and rejected the right of states to tax federal agencies. Webster also argued the controversial Gibbons v. Ogden case, in which the Court decided that federal commerce regulations take precedence over the interstate commerce laws of individual states.

A Statue of Daniel Webster in Washington DC

After his election to the U.S. Senate in 1827, Webster established his oratorical reputation in the famous 1830 debate with Robert Young Hayne of South Carolina over the issue of states' rights and nullification. Defending the concept of a strong national government, Webster delivered on January 26 and 27 his famous reply to Hayne. “We do not impose geographical limits to our patriotic feeling,” he insisted, arguing that every state had an interest in the development of the nation and that senators must rise above local and regional narrow-mindedness. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, he warned, and any doctrine that allowed states to override the Constitution would surely lead to civil war and a land drenched with “fraternal blood.” The motto should not be “Liberty first, and Union afterwards,” Webster concluded, but “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!” Within weeks of the debate, Webster had become a national hero. His Senate oration was in greater demand than any other congressional speech in American history. Webster then served a distinguished term as secretary of state from 1841 to 1843, negotiating the Webster-Ashburton Treaty that settled a dispute over the boundary between the U.S. and Canada. He later returned to the Senate, where he championed American industry and opposed free trade.

Daniel Webster Speaking in the US Senate

If Webster's impassioned oratory was legendary, it was intensified by his unforgettable physical presence. Dark in complexion, with penetrating eyes–often likened to glowing coals–he had an electrifying effect on anyone who saw him. Nineteenth-century journalist Oliver Dyer wrote: “The God-like Daniel . . . had broad shoulders, a deep chest, and a large frame. . . . The head, the face, the whole presence of Webster, was kingly, majestic, godlike.” [1]

Daniel Webster as Secretary of State

Increasingly concerned with the sectional controversy threatening the Union, Webster supported Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850. On March 7, 1850, he delivered one of his most important and controversial Senate addresses. Crowds flocked to the Senate Chamber to hear Webster plead the Union's cause, asking for conciliation and understanding: “I wish to speak today not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American. . . . I speak today for the preservation of the Union. Hear me for my cause.” Webster's endorsement of the compromise–including its fugitive slave provisions–helped win its eventual enactment, but doomed the senator's cherished presidential aspirations. Webster became secretary of state again in 1850, and he died two years later at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Daniel Webster ran for president three times, never winning. This is from one of his campaigns

The following are quotes taken from our cousin, one of America's greatest speakers

  • A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.
  • A disordered currency is one of the greatest political evils.
  • A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.
  • An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy.
  • Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man's life.
  • Failure is more frequently from want of energy than want of capital.
  • Falsehoods not only disagree with truths, but usually quarrel among themselves.
  • God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.
  • He who tampers with the currency robs labor of its bread.
  • How little do they see what really is, who frame their hasty judgment upon that which seems.
  • I mistrust the judgment of every man in a case in which his own wishes are concerned.
  • I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American.
  • Inconsistencies of opinion, arising from changes of circumstances, are often justifiable.
  • It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, independence now and independence forever.
  • Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together.
  • Keep cool; anger is not an argument.
  • Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny.
  • Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.
  • Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.
  • Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.
  • Man is a special being, and if left to himself, in an isolated condition, would be one of the weakest creatures; but associated with his kind, he works wonders.
  • Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human ends are ultimately answered.
  • No man not inspired can make a good speech without preparation.
  • On the diffusion of education among the people rest the preservation and perpetuation of our free institutions.
  • One country, one constitution, one destiny.
  • The contest for ages has been to rescue liberty from the grasp of executive power.
  • The law: it has honored us; may we honor it.
  • The materials of wealth are in the earth, in the seas, and in their natural and unaided productions.
  • The most important thought that ever occupied my mind is that of my individual responsibility to God.
  • The people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.
  • The right of an inventor to his invention is no monopoly - in any other sense than a man's house is a monopoly.
  • The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.
  • There is always room at the top.
  • There is no refuge from confession but suicide; and suicide is confession.
  • There is nothing so powerful as truth, and often nothing so strange.
  • We are all agents of the same supreme power, the people.
  • We have been taught to regard a representative of the people as a sentinel on the watch-tower of liberty.
  • What a man does for others, not what they do for him, gives him immortality.
  • Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may.
  • Many books have been written about our famous cousin.

And many of us have heard of this family short story, play and movie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rev. Stephan Bachiler; Our Rebel 10th Great Grandfather. Excommunicated Twice!

Our 10th Great Grandfather's Signature and Seal.

A Dispatch from the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Pleasant Grove Valley

Dear Clan,
I'm hoping this parchment finds all in good spirits and well in health. In tonight's readings I found information about our 10th Great Grandfather, through Violet Mattson's Mother's line.
The historical question is, Was he a Saint or a Sinner? Isn't that the question about many whose blood flows through our veins?
"Among many remarkable lives lived by early New Englanders, Bachiler's is the most remarkable."
--The Great Migration Begins
Stephen Bachiler was born in 1561, and according to World Family Tree, his birth took place at Wherwell, Hampshire, England.
Stephan Bachiler entered St. John’s College Oxford on November 17, 1581 when he was 21 years old. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1585. In 1587 he was appointed Vicar (Priest/Pastor) of The Church of HolyCross and St. Peter by William West, Lord De La Ware. He remained there until 1605. Apparently he was very opinionated and was fired as Vicar.

The next time his name pops up is 1593. It is reported in court documents that Stephan Bachiler “uttered in a sermon at Newberry, very lewd speeches tending sedulously to the derogation of Her Majesty’s Government” This of course refers to the government of Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth passed a law against the Puritans in 1593 which gave the authorities the right to imprison the Puritans for failure to attend the Church of England.

Stephan was excommunicated from the Church of England. It is thought he travelled from place to place preaching to different congregations when he could avoid the persecution of the church people.

Some time before 1632 we locate Grandpa Stephan again. A certain Sir Robert Paine, Sheriff of Hampton and Church Warden of Barton Stacy reports that several of his parishioners were misled by Stephen Bachiler, a “notorious nonconformist”. It seems he “had demolished a consecrated chapel at Newton Stacy, neglected the repair of the parish church, maliciously opposed repairing the church at his own expense and executed many things in contempt of the canons and the Bishop.”

King James VI worked to rid Great Britain of Puritans. In 1605 he was fired as a pastor at Wherwell. Stephen was the among the first of hundreds who lost their pastorates because of the King’s order. Grandpa Stephen embraced the Puritan doctrine. He was considered a liberal Puritan, zealous of human rights.

Between 1607 and 1620 is seems Grandpa Stephen hid from the English authorities in Holland.

On March 9, 1632, Stephan Bachiler and his family boarded the ship “William and Francis” from London. The crossing was difficult. They were at sea for 88 days. Stephan was 71 years old. With him on the journey was his third wife, Helena; his widowed daughter, Deborah Wing, and her three sons, Daniel, John and Stephen.
The ship’s register recorded the following cargo brought by Rev. Bachiler:

Four hogsheads of peas,
Twelve yards of cloth,
Two hundred yards of list,
Oaken furniture,
and a collection box.

Upon arrival in New England, Mr Bachiler and his family moved to Lynn Massachusetts. On his first Sunday in Lynn he baptized four children. After preaching for 4 months in Lynn he came under “suspicion” of having independent ideas, which he was not willing to yield to the dictates of others. The General Court passed the following order against him on October 3, 1632,
“Mr. Bachiler is required to forebear exercising his gifts as a pastor and teacher....... for his contempt for authority and until some scandals be removed.” After 5 months the prohibition was removed and he was free to form a church in Massachusetts.

The Rev. Bachiler's Chair, now on display at the Hampton Museum.

The History of Hampton , N.H. records the following about the Rev. Bachiler:
Mr. Bachiler was a tall and sinewy man, with prominent features. Especially his nose, a very dark complexion, coarse black hair in his younger days, white in age, mouth large and firm, eyes as black as sloes, features long rather than broad, a strong clear voice, rather slow of motion and speech, simple in dress, obstinate and tenacious of his opinions to a marked degree, a powerful preacher drawing largely from scripture, impress the hearers with the uncommon power and sanctity of his sermons, strong in his friendships and in his hates

The Rev. Bachiler's Church in Hampton.

The Rev. Bachiler founded the city of Hampton, New Hampshire. The church he organized at Hampton is now the oldest Congregational Society n New Hampshire and the second oldest continuous church in the United States.

The plaque on the stone in Hampton's
Founder's Park commemorating the
founding of the town in 1638.

Between 1638 and 1644 he and his parishioners fell out. He was once again prohibited from preaching and Excommunicated again!

Shortly afterwords her moved to Stawbery Bank. He was a widower and hired a housekeeper, a young widow whom he called “an honest neighbor”. His neighbors thought it “unseemly” so he married her. He was 86. She was 60 years younger than him. Her name was Mary Bailey. Strangely, he performed the marriage himself and failed to publish it.

Mary had an affair with their young next door neighbor George Rogers. When it was discovered she was sentenced to be flogged and branded with the letter “A”. The court ordered Stephan and Mary to live together after her punishment “or else”. Instead he fled to Hampton and lived with is grandson. Many believe that Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter" was inspired by Mary's punishment.

He wanted to escape Mary and going back to England seemed the best thing to do. The King had been beheaded and Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of the land. It seems our Grandfather and Oliver Cromwell were friends. In 1654 he sailed back to England.

Stephen Bachilder was buried in the church yard of Allhallows Staining on 31 October 1656, having lived nearly 100 years.

In summary.

"Rev. Bachiler 'had a real genius for opposing the majority,' and in consequence his character has been much maligned. The truth is he was a reformer, with the strength and weakness of his kind. He was among the first to refuse conformity to the English church and 'suffered much at the hands of the Bishops.' He came to America in his old age, hoping to find here that liberty which was denied at home; he rebelled at the union of church and state, which the strong Puritan covenant enforced, and in consequence found himself opposed to the party in power, the Massachusetts authorities." Pierce, Batchelder Genealogy, p. 95.