Over the years, in little bit and pieces I have figured out a little family history. The stories passed down through the family were sanitized, and maybe fictionalized.
My 4th or 5th great grandfather spent time in New Orleans in the early 1800's. He was a bit of a rogue, and reportedly traded goods, with Jean Lafitte. Possible contraband, or pirates plunder. He was active the Navy in the War of 1812 (on the side of the US, he was born in Massachusetts but in part was raised by family in England and Ireland.)
When I was in New Orleans last month, I went in search of places he likely walked, ate, drank, and did business. Looking for connection, or roots, or closure, I am not sure what.
After the war of 1812, he was shipwrecked in Mexico (not his only shipwreck.) Reportedly went back into the "trading business." Claimed to have made a fortune and lost it to bandits when returning to the United States. I had heard that story from family legends, and have always wondered it is true, or a plausible explanation for returning home broke.
He made his way up the Mississippi River the St Louis area, and reportedly repented. Established a legitimate business dealing in freight on the river. Paid to build a couple of churches, and established a finishing school for young ladies (he was married twice, had a dozen kids mostly daughters.)
There are clouds over the story. The business dealings in the first part of his life are questionable, embarrassing. He was quoted late in his life as saying, "nothing he could do would make up for the indiscretions of his youth."
Sometimes understanding, is tied to a place. Walking those streets, seeking out places he would have been, helped me to piece together understanding.
I felt that when standing on The Strand in London for five minutes while R was in a Boots, where I felt that my ancestors had once walked.ReplyDelete
I have the street address where my grandmother was born, I want to go thereDelete
I have none of this family lore. It makes history so much more real. The closest I can get is knowing my grandfather was a fishmonger in Portsmouth before heading to New York City. I would love to return to Portsmouth to walk those same streets.ReplyDelete
Portsmouth is a great town to take a ferry to or from. I took a ferry from France to there one trip.Delete
Sounds like a colorful forebear indeed!ReplyDelete
My grandfather had a couple of colorful brothers, one had two wives. They both came to his funeral.Delete
I love a good old family story, true or not. It adds a little panache!ReplyDelete
My grandmother told me one involving a bar and a bucket of horse droppings. She was a naughty kid when she lived in Brooklyn,Delete
One of the reasons I love watching "Finding Your Roots". They turn up all kinds of stories about ancestors. I'd love to dig into my families history.ReplyDelete
My sister did DNA, and then spent time (and money) building a family tree.Delete
My dad was in the Army stationed in a little town in Germany close to Alsace, France. After my mom died, I found a letter addressed to my parents at their German home. 3+ years ago, I visited there. The town isn't much but I was a pretty emotional when I stood in front of the house where I lived the first year of my life.ReplyDelete
I'm a family history buff.ReplyDelete
Coffee is on and stay safe.
I am glad to know my genealogy; it gives meaning to one's life. Often I call on The Ancestors to give me courage.ReplyDelete
There are bits of it that are embarrassing, a couple of colorful characters. Next Saturday has a couple of family stories.Delete