Wednesday, January 2, 2008

When Family History Came Alive

Craig, writing at GeneaBlogie, recently wrote about his version of "The Greatest Genealogical Find Ever." He may have solved a long standing family mystery.

He finished his article:
What's your version of The Greatest Genealogical Find Ever?

Several others have weighed in on their great finds and I've enjoyed reading them.

For me it's an easy question. When I was a teenager someone in my mother's family sent us a carbon copies of several pages of genealogy. I made up a chart and dutifully entered all the names. And that is how I thought of genealogy for many years - as names on a chart. And that was that until I got my first computer and a basic family tree program. I then became a collector of names. I followed other people's online trees and worked at proving or disproving relationships. I got greedy and I wanted more names! So I made my first trip to the Onondaga County Library's Local History room. There I discovered several books that provided me with more names.

One my second trip to the library I found the "History of Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire Edited by, D. Hamilton Hurd, J W Lewis & Co., Philadelphia 1886." On pages 492 & 493 I found the following written about my 4th great-grandfather:

"At an early hour in the morning of of the last day of the year 1775, a small force of American troops, under Arnold and Montgomery, after a march of incredible hardship, weakened by hunger, exposed to all the severities of a Canadian winter, appeared like specters before the strongest fortified city in America. In a driving storm of hail and snow they made the desperate attempt to take Quebec by assault. It was fated with defeat. It proved worse than that. The American forces were obliged to retreat, a scattering remnant.

The news of its defeat, with all its detail of horrors, thrilled the American cause. January 20, 1776, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to raise one regiment of soldiers forthwith. This regiment consisted of eight companies and was placed under the command of Colonel Timothy Bedell to reinforce the Northern Continental army. The second Company of this regiment was commanded by Captain Daniel Carlisle, of Westmoreland.

Captain Daniel Carlisle remained with the northern army until after General Sullivan had assumed its command. Upon a march to the southward, Captain Carlisle was detailed to look up some boats to transport the troops across Lake Champlain. As the enemy had destroyed them all, Carlisle's search was in vain, and he so reported to General Sullivan. He was ordered to make another search, and necessarily with the same result and report. Sullivan flew into a passion, drew his sword and made a movement as if to strike Carlisle down. Carlisle instantly seized a gun from the hands of a soldier standing by his side, instantly leveled it at Sullivan's head, and, with a firm voice, informed Sullivan to lower his sword or die. Sullivan lowered his sword, but Carlisle was cashiered and sent home in disgrace. Nevertheless, Carlisle was a good soldier and a true patriot."

Suddenly Captain Daniel Carlisle stopped being a name on a chart. He was a real person and I wanted to know more about who he was and how he lived.

That was the turning point for me. I still have a huge collection of names and I do occasionally add more. There are several names that I would love to be able to add. But the thrill for me remains finding out more about who my ancestors were and how they lived.


Anonymous said...

Great post and very true - our ancestors need to be more than just names and dates on paper. You are so fortunate to have found this data.

By the way, I really love the slideshow feature you added to the side of your blog. Gives me great ideas, too. I did actually finish the 150 photos for the digital photo frame I bought for my mother for Christmas. My nephew (age 23) surprised us with a Christmas visit from college at Syracuse University (is this near you?) and he helped me with the card reader, the digital frame and the huge task of scanning 150 photos just before Christmas. It did turn out well if I do say so myself. Thanks for all the info on the frame.

Happy 2008. Cheryl

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I'm glad you got all of the pictures scanned. That was a big project!

I grew up in Syracuse. I live about 40 minutes north now. I see my mother at least once a week but I don't get up to the SU Hill very often. I bet it was bitter up there today and it'll be worse tomorrow so I hope your nephew is still on break!

Lori Thornton said...

I love finding out about my ancestors and their lives. I treasure any "find" that fleshes them out. Glad that you made that find years ago and weren't satisfied just being a name collector. I wish more people would quit being "data collectors" and start fleshing out their ancestors.


I had the same type of experience.
I just want to know more and more.
My files keep growing larger. I
enjoyed your blog today!!!!