A 400-year long post, for BenJammin'

A little over 412 years ago, The Spanish Armada, the greatest naval fleet of its age, met their defeat in the English Channel. The first European colonies were being established in the new world.

It was during this time that William Harland was born in England. Was his father a farmer? a Blacksmith? a Peasant? or a Wealthy Merchant? I wish I knew. A girl named Deborah caught his eye when he was but a young man. They married and a son was born in 1625. They named him James. It was an extremely popular name because the Scottish King James I had reigned over Britain from 1603 to 1625.

Little is known about our James. He may have married while yet young; the deaths of children and spouses were common. I do know for sure that he became a father at the age of 58 when his 23-year-old bride, Elizabeth Duck of Ireland, bore a son, Moses.

In October 1702, William Penn granted a charter to the city of Philadelphia and five years later Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston. Our Moses must have sailed to the New World during this time because in 1712 he married Margaret in Newark Meeting, Delaware. Soon after that they moved north. Their daughter Rebecca was born three years later in Kennett township, Pennsylvania.

In 1739, England declared war on Spain with ensuing hostilities between Florida Spaniards and South Carolina Colonists. The following year, another war pitted France and Spain against England. That is about the time Rebecca married John Blackburn. They soon had their own little girl, Margaret.

In 1745, the first theatrical performance was given in Philadelphia in a storefront. In '61 plans were being made to pave the streets of Philadelphia and in '62 the first medical school in Pennsylvania was organized. That was the year Margaret married Solomon Shepherd.

On July 4, 1776, The Declaration of Independence was adopted. I'm sure some of the Shepherd clan were called to serve in the Revolutionary War.

Sara was born in 1779 and The Definitive Treaty of Peace was ratified by Congress five years later.

Around the year 1795 Sara met and wed William Colvin. I wonder if they were aware that in 1804 Meriwether Louis and William Clark set out on an amazing expedition. The Colvins made their own small expedition and moved to Ohio. One of their 13 children, Thomas, was born there in 1807.

The war of 1812 began and in June of 1813, Mary Pickersgill was commissioned to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore. One of her designs became "The Star Spangled Banner."

In 1831, Thomas married 17-year old Elizabeth Pembleton and my great grandfather George was the 2nd born of their nine children. William Henry Harrison was elected President in 1840 and died within one month of taking office. "His Accidency," John Tyler, succeeded him.

Burnetta Vandever, a comely black-haired girl, married George in 1857. My grandfather William was born in 1858 followed soon by a brother Benjamin. The May 5, 1860 census places George and his family in Prairie Township, White County, Indiana. He is described as being 5 feet five and 1/2 inches with dark hair and blue eyes.

Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President and the South seceded from the Union. In March of '62 the Colvins welcomed twin daughter and by August George marched to war. He served in the (U) Company D 12th Indiana Infantry. He died on March 3, 1863 from Typhoid Fever in Grand Junction, Hardeman County, Tennessee. (In 1987 his remains were moved to a national cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi.)

Burnetta remarried. With her new husband, John Lees, she bore ten more children. Her Benjamin and several of his half siblings died before they reached adolescence. Stories handed down through the family hint that the marriage to Lees was a miserable one for her. There may have also been misconduct by him as a step father to the twins.

John Lees granddaughter wrote in a letter:

"The folks moved there (Union Park, Colorado) in November and Grandma died the sixth of the coming January. Grandpa was not with his family when she died although he knew she was desperately ill. Being a dedicated Mason and Odd Fellow, he had traveled to Tin Cup to attend a meeting. Grandma passed away while he was gone. I can remember my mother telling me how Uncle Charles and herself traveled on snowshoes for several miles to their nearest neighbor for help."

Burnetta was 42.

My grandfather William married Elizabeth Wright and had four children, three of whom died in childhood. The family story is that Lizzie tried to poison him and they divorced. No one knows what became of her and the child.

In June of 1895 at the age of 37, he married my grandmother Grace, barely 16. They had 10 children. One died at birth.

William had the wanderlust - perhaps it was in his genes. He was always on the move because the grass was always greener over the next hill. He often left 'Gracie' and the kids to seek his fortune or a more prosperous valley to house his family. When my brother and I went through grandma Grace's things we found this postcard. Did William save it out of guilt or did Grace keep it because it was a beautiful piece of art.

As the kids grew older, Grace packed them up and followed William on his quests. They moved through Idaho, Oregon, and Washington with the harvest. My mother Evelyn was born in Naches, Washington in November of 1914. The following month The Christmas Truce in the trenches of World War I became history. British and German troops shared cigarettes and chocolate cake in a brief moment of peace.

My mom worked hard and knew hard times. As a child she would search the ditches in the springtime for greens and wild asparagus to supplement their diet. At a school she was able to attend there was a "rich" girl who would let mom have the orange peel to eat. It was a treat. But, she said there were others in more dire circumstances. There was the widows boy who had no shoes and his lunch was always a boiled potato wrapped in a pancake.

The Charleston was a popular dance, Prohibition encouraged mobsters to bootleg, and you could order a lethal weapon from the Sears Catalogue.

My mom met Alvin while working in a hop field in central Oregon.

John Dillinger and two others shot their way out of an FBI ambush in Wisconsin and Hitler became the Furher of Germany.

Mom was almost 20 and dad was 34. He had been a wanderer just like her dad. However, when he and mom married they put down roots.

They lived through the depression, remembered Pearl Harbor, and tuned in to hear Edward Murrow report during World War II.

I was their 8th and final child. (I think I broke the mold.) The country was embroiled in the Korean conflict. General Eisenhower worked out a truce and became the 34th President.

By the days standards our family was poor. Dad worked construction and mom worked hard on our small farm. But, we had fresh milk, eggs, garden vegetables, fruit trees and a lot of pride.

I remember in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated and in 1974 when Nixon resigned. In between there were flower children, super teased hair, and the first man on the moon.

My parents were heart broken when I dropped out of college to marry, have a child, and seek a job. The marriage was short-lived but produced your beautiful mother, Karmyn. I was forgiven because Karmyn brought such joy to their lives.

The world continued to be scary. There was the Palestinian revolt in Jordan when the PLO was expelled from the country. An earthquake in Peru killed more than 50,000 people.

Karmyn graduated from Washington State University in 1994. Her grandpa, 1900-1976, and her grandma, 1914-1991, may have had front row seats in heaven.

That was the year the beautiful city of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia was destroyed by civil war and thousands were massacred in Rwanda.

Karmyn found employment in Portland Oregon and began making new friends. One of those was Dave. They married in 1999. The population on earth exceeded six billion, the Denver Bronco's won their second consecutive Super Bowl, and President Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial.

In 2001, George W. Bush took the oath of office, the Russian Space Station Mir fell out of orbit into the Indian Ocean and Benjammin' was born in April. The worst attack perpetrated on American soil took place on September 11.

It has been a rough world through out the ages. Our family has endured.

And, Jammin', you give me hope.


Pass the Torch said…
That is SO cool. Your family will be happy you went through the effort to write this. Really neat.h
Swampwitch said…
Just checking in for a second. Will be back to read this very interesting post when I'm home. Thanks for always knocking at my doorstep.
C said…
That is really something to be able to trace the roots back that far and even have keepsakes!
rose said…
Pam this is so neat that you took the time to do this. I don't think it's a lot of owrk to get all this stuff together. The stuff I have written is just from memory. Keep up the good work Rose
Karmyn R said…
I'm crying....and printing out a copy.
Melissa said…
Wow, this is great. What a wonderful gift!

And blogger, well, I don't know why it hates me, but sometimes I have to resort to uploading one picture at a time.

By the time I'm done I usually don't want to publish the thing. :)
Julie said…
What a wonderful post! Blogger can be such a pain, I am so glad you stuck with it!
willowtree said…
It took a few days to get the time to read it, but I eventually got there.

I hope you have this saved somewhere other than blogger, it's too good to lose.

I've given up trying to load multiple pictures, now I only do one at a time. And then I get two copies!!
sister dodo said…
I need to know, Pam, how do I take a copy of this brief family history you have here. You need to do a book and fill in a little more around these people. Love to ya all.
Kerri said…
I'm so glad I followed your link from Susie's Space. What a wonderful walk through history for your beloved grandson. This is a story he'll always treasure...as will your daughter.
You've written it so beautifully.
Thanks for sharing.
History is fascinating, isn't it? Especially family history.
Intense Guy said…
This is absolutely an amazing post! I'm in awe of how you weaved the family's history with more global events.


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