1 Nephi 1: 1, 3
...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

^^That pretty much explains this blog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pioneer Day

[There are photos if you scroll down. Click on the pictures to enlarge.]

Today is Pioneer Day in Utah.
We celebrate all those who walked, mostly with handcarts, across the plains, rivers and Rocky Mountains, to reach the "[This is the right] Place," the Great Salt Lake Valley, as seen in vision by Brigham Young.

Though I am a Mormon, and you are, too, my children, we don't come from this pioneer stock. I want you to know, though, we come from a long line of pioneers. I'll try to let you know who they are, according to my understanding.

Many years ago, about 1635, on a ship bound for Rhode Island, our ancestor, Richard Borden (your 9th gr-grandfather) emigrated from Headcorn, County Kent, England (about 40 miles SE of London),
with his wife, Joane Fowle, and their five children (at the time). They were part of the original settlers of Rhode Island, settling in Portsmouth thereafter. They had joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) in England, which led to their emigration. Their son, Matthew, was the first child born in Rhode Island. We descend from his eleventh child, Benjamin Borden.

Richard Borden was a surveyor and owned large tracts of land in both R.I. and Monmouth County, NJ. Others to descend from this couple were Gail Borden, inventor of condensed milk and founder of Borden Milk Company (remember Elsie the cow?). Gail, Texas was named after him. Lizzie Borden, who was charged, but acquitted, in killing her parents in 1892 was also a descendant. Two Borden sisters, Mary and Ann Borden, both married signers of the Declaration of Independence. Mary married Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania, though she died before he signed the document. They had six children together. Ann married Francis Hopkinson, delegate from New Jersey, and Benjamin Franklin's protege. She was left a widow with five children.

Benjamin Franklin mentored Francis H. and he was mentioned in Ben's will:
"The philosophical instruments I have in Philadelphia I give to my ingenious friend, Francis Hopkinson.  . . . I request my friends, Henry Hill, Esquire, John Jay, Esquire, Francis Hopkinson, Esquire, and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Benfield, in Philadelphia County, to be the executors of this my last will and testament; and I hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose." (BTW, I discovered this information about Mary and Ann Borden on July 2, 2004, the real day of independence, according to John Adams. I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a typo, but I Googled it. It's true. Two sisters married two signers.)

Richard Borden's grandson, also named Benjamin, and our progenitor, owned tracts of land in Freehold, N.J. and 1,200 acres of land in Philadelphia, Pa. He was granted 3,143 acres in Orange County, Va., called "Borden's Manor." He was then issued a patent of land for 92,100 acres in Rockbridge County, called "Borden's Great Tract." He also owned tracts in Shenandoah and Botetourt counties in Virginia.

Lydia Borden (your 6th gr-grandmother), daughter of this Benjamin, born about 1728 in Monmouth County, New Jersey, married Hans Jakob Peck (or Beck), a Revoltuionary War hero--along with sons John and Adam). He emigrated from Ebingen, Wuerttemberg, Germany and reached the colony of Virginia about May, 1740. He renounced his German allegiance and became a Virginian in 1747. They settled in Fincastle, Va. 

There is a funny story about Lydia Borden and Jakob Peck told by their descendants.
The following story was handed down by Joseph A. Peck (1812-1886), great-grandson of Jacob I, and was recorded by his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Peck Hanby, of Rockwall, Texas: "While we lived in Washington County, Va., near Bristol, my father visited some of Adam Peck's descendents, who lived at Mossy Creek, Tennessee. ...They told some good stories of the Bordens and Pecks. One was that Jacob was very much in love with Lydia and very much afraid of Benjamin. It seems that the old gentleman hadn't noticed very closely and never suspected the attachment. So Jacob told Benjamin that he was in love with a girl and uncertain as to the consent of the girl's father, and it was against the law for a man to run away with a girl. The old gentleman said, 'There is no law against a girl running away with a man. Get your girl to run off with you.' A few nights later, Lydia, mounted on a powerful horse, called for her Jacob, took him up behind her, and away they went."
Their graves are in the Fincastle Presbyterian Church cemetery, along with other of our ancestors.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.

There is a Peck cabin still maintained as a residence in that town.

Peck House, Fincastle, Virginia
We have many ancestors from Fincastle who fought in the Revolutionary war. Click on this picture to see the names vividly.
A monument stands in the Fincastle Presbyterian Church Cemetery to honor those who fought in the Revolutionary War. 
Of those on the monument, Lewis Hickle, Jacob Peck and his son, John Peck, are our direct ancestors. The rest married in.

Archibald Washington Kessler
One ancestor you may have heard me talk about was Mary Catherine Peck, great-grandaughter of Jacob and Lydia Borden Peck. She married Archibald Washington Kessler and, with their families, became pioneers of "The Wilderness" of western Virginia. They were abolitionists and were driven from their homes in Fincastle.

The story goes, they ". . . feared for their safety. A barn had been burned and shots fired at the house. . . . In Rupert [now West Virginia], one wagon broke down. Leaving the women and children with a kindly family, the men traveled on to [Independence] Missouri. They found the towns rough with terrible living conditions. They were quickly convinced that this was not what they wanted. On the return trip, they went to visit Archie's sister in Summersville. The men were well pleased with conditions and the people in Nicholas Couty. While there, John [Peck] purchased a farm. He spent the rest of his life there."

Mary Catherine Peck Kessler is your 3rd great-grandmother. Your great-grandmother, Mary Lou Kessler, talked about her grandmother all the time and was very proud of her.

Mary Catherine Peck Kessler, seated, and her sister, Anna Eliza Peck Hamilton 
Martin Christopher Kessler, Archibald and Mary Catherine's son, married Lucy Richmond Boggs, and that is how we are related to the Boggs clans. 
Lucy Richmond Boggs Kessler

Martin Christopher Kessler, MD
Boggs, Smith, Cochran, James, Clendenin--they are all ancestral names from Virginia and West Virginia. These peoples' were very caught up in the Indian Wars. Francis Charles Boggs (sometimes Charles Francis Boggs) was an Indian Scout and Indian fighter. He was actually born in Chester County, PA--just like me! He married Mary Clendenin, granddaughter of Charles Clendenin, after whom Charleston, West Virginia is named (the capital).

F.C. Boggs and his brothers fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant in October 1774.
Artist's rendition of the Battle of Point Pleasant
In 1776, Francis Charles Boggs volunteered as a scout and Indian spy for a 12-month tour of duty under Captain Matthew Arbuckle. Scouts were experienced woodsmen, whose aim with a rifle meant certain death for its target. They could throw a knife with deadly skill. Francis Charles was stationed in Point Pleasant. In 1777, he volunteer for another 12-month tour.

Please read about the Battle of Point Pleasant, the Muddy River Massacre and the Clendenin Massacre in my genealogy program--or in the biography I wrote in 2003 about your great-grandmother Mary Lou Kessler. Or Google it to find out more interesting facts.

When I visited Point Pleasant in 2005, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, I was able to see the state park (memorial) and learn that Teddy Roosevelt actually proclaimed the Battle of Point Pleasant to be the very first battle of the Revolutionary War. The savant there told me, if descended from anyone in that battle, you could file to be in the DAR.

The docent at the Point Pleasant Memorial Park told me I was lucky to see a paddle boat on the Kanawha River, right at the confluence of the Ohio River. She said they usually only come by once a month or less.

Click on the photo to read

During that same visit to West Virginia, I hooked up with one of our elderly cousins, James Lewis Ball, and he took me around to family homesteads and graveyards. One graveyard was completely in the woods on top of a hill. The stones were almost all covered by earth. Some newer ones were erected next to the old stones, which looked only like stones sticking out of the earth. I was speechless. I'd never seen anything like it. I don't think I'd ever be able to find it again.

New gravestone in honor of Francis Charles or Charles Francis Boggs. Lewis Ball told me whoever paid for it got to decide which name came first. Just in front of it is the old gravestone which just looks like a rock in the woods. The whole woods was filled with these "rocks."
This is a long post and I hope I haven't put you to sleep. Family history research was, at one time, my passion. I am still passionate about our family history, but I haven't done any research in quite awhile.

To end . . . I would like to consider myself a pioneer. I was the first in our family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I even crossed the plains (in my minivan) and settled in the Salt Lake Valley, just as the Saints of old did.

Children, please visit all my notes in my Legacy program and you will find all of the ancestors I have gathered--many thousands--tens of thousands.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

High School Activities

Today's question from my book:  In school, what extra-curricular activities did you participate in and why did you choose these activities?

During high school, my life was music, except for that one year when I was a JV cheerleader in 10th grade. That was a mistake, I think, looking back on it. I actually left District Chorus competition because I was an alternate cheerleader and they called in all the alternates.

The famous Diana Robinson, who was a TV broadcaster in Philadelphia at the time (now in Chicago), volunteered to mentor our squad. She had been a cheerleader when she went to Scott. When she saw there was only one black girl on the squad she had a fit. The captain of the squad told her there were four girls on the alternate list--three black girls and one white girl--me! So, I got in by default. She couldn't very well turn me down.  :-}

I remember Mona Trace rushed into the music room one day after school, where I was rehearsing with Miss Wamsher, the music director at Scott Intermediate High School (9th and 10th grades). Mona said, "Susan, all the alternates are now cheerleaders! Come on! Practice is now!"

I looked at Mona, then looked at Miss Wamsher, dropped my music on the nearest desk and RAN to the gym with Mona. I was a cheerleader? I was a cheerleader!

Well, in hindsight, this was a great and hilarious calamity. I have, and had, no physicality for cheerleading. Unbeknownst to me at the time, but known quite well in the present, I was/am a klutz. I have rhythm, so I could dance well enough to do the back and forth stuff, sideline hand-clapping (Let's go, Raiders! Raiders, let's go! clap-clap), rooting (Go! Fight! Win!), etc., but beyond that, no. The joke was on the cheerleading squad when they recruited me. Or maybe I thought I pulled it off. I don't know.

Cheerleading in the early 1970s didn't involve gymnastics like today. Cartwheels and the occasional fake split was expected, nothing too hard for a normal, nimble person, which I was not. I remember one time I did a required cartwheel and landed on top of Nancy Jackson. Poor Nancy. She rubbed her head and looked at me. I'll never forget that look. She was a sweetheart and didn't hold it against me . . . I don't think.

Being a cheerleader that year made me attractive to a certain boy and a romance spawned that lasted off and on my entire sophomore year, with not a little angst, but it was my first real crush. He thought it was funny that I was a cheerleader, but knew nothing about the game of football. I still, to this day, do not know how it works.

For instance, one Saturday, he and I attended the varsity football game. We were walking along the sidelines, holding hands, when he told me we should go sit with his uncle at the 50-yard line. Well, he went one way, I went the other and we tugged in opposite directions. I looked at him, baffled, and asked, "Well, which end is it?"

Needless to say, he rolled on the ground laughing so hard. I was clueless as I stood there watching him. We never did go sit with his uncle. Oh, yeah, there was an assembly put on by the football team and one of them dressed like a cheerleader yelling, "Which end is the 50-yard line?" Uproarious laughter from the audience, most of whom didn't know it really happened--and I never told.

I didn't forsake music altogether in 10th grade. I still sang in the Bel Canto Choir, the Scott Singers and my guitar trio. Oh, how I loved singing--still do.

Yes, I got caught up in being a cheerleader, but went happily back to music exclusively in my junior year. I didn't even tryout for the varsity cheerleading squad. Music was my comfort zone. Cheerleading . . . not so much.

I'm not sure, but I don't think I have one picture of me in cheerleading. In 10th grade we weren't in the C.A.S.H. yearbook and I don't think we had a yearbook at Scott.

Oh, well. It would have been nice just to prove I was actually on the squad. Nobody who knows me now would believe it, otherwise.


But I digress . . .
You can read of my musical pursuits in my May 1, 2011 blog post. I think I said it all there.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day 2013!

By Susan Knight

Today is one of my favorite holidays--the Fourth of July. Right now, outside my window, I am bombarded with the sounds of fireworks, both private and public. Hearing all the joyful noise, I went outside, maneuvered myself from back yard to front yard to see the colors bursting in all directions. I think my favorite ones looked like giant Queen Anne's Lace flowers that fizzled with a sizzling sound.
I stood on my back patio and saw four shows, in the west, the south, then the southwest, then the northeast. I walked to my front sidewalk by the street and looked east and saw another show. To the west was the biggest show. Utah is one patriotic state, I must say.
Although it scares me that the common man can buy fireworks (and not civic officials, as in Penna.), I'm sure some of what I was watching was launched from the streets in surrounding neighborhoods. My neighbors a few doors up and across the street all gathered with lawn chairs to set off their own fire stuff. The whole outside smells like when cap guns were shot when I was a kid. Remember that smell?
My kids have all gone to a minor league baseball game that promised fireworks, so I'm sure they are in the midst of them as I am at this late hour of 10:30 p.m. They're coming back to my place for dessert that Nick has prepared. It's an Hawaiian slushy-type dessert called a Doley. As you can suspect, it's made with pineapple. Can't wait to try it. Zannah and Nick just returned on Sunday from a family reunion in Hawaii.
I'm so happy my kids come here to congregate. I hope it will always be so. I am enjoying my time with them because I don't know how long it will last. Most of them have a five-year plan. So, for five years, I will enjoy them and remember our times together.
I had the occasion, during and after our dinner of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs--totally American here!--to tell them about their ancestors.
One year, I think it was 2004, I was doing genealogy research during the July 4th holiday week. I think it was July 2nd. I was researching our Borden ancestors (Lizzie was fully exonerated, by the way), and found out our ancestor's nieces, Mary and Ann Borden, both married signers of the Declaration of Independence.
I couldn't believe it! I actually Googled them to make sure it just wasn't a family tale.
One of the Borden sisters married Thomas McKean, who was the last to sign the declaration, and who went on to be the governor of Pennsylvania; the other married Francis Hopkinson, Benjamin Franklin's protege' and who inherited all of Franklin's "philosophical instruments." One can only wonder what that means.
Our ancestor, Benjamin Lemaster, fought in the Revolutionary War alongside George Washington in all his campaigns. He was at Valley Forge. He crossed the Delaware River with him on Christmas Eve to invade sleeping Princeton. He fought in the Battle of Brandywine. He was with Washington in New York, too.

Another tale I told them was of their frontiersmen ancestors in the wilderness of West Virginia, while it was still part of Virginia. The Clendennins, the James', the Smiths and the Boggs' were all Indian fighters.
It seems the Indians, under a fierce chief named Cornstalk, massacred almost all of my Clendennin clan at a family reunion gathering. It was called the Muddy Creek Massacre. Luckily one of them survived it and lived to tell about it--and be our ancestor, making us who we are today. Read of the whole bloody event here.
Our direct ancestor, Charles Clendennin, is the namesake for Charleston, West Virginia, the capital city. I've been there and saw a huge boulder with a plaque on it proclaiming the site where the original fort sat, on the Kanawba River (pronounced Kan-AW).
I'm so glad I did my genealogy when I had the opportunity as a stay-at-home mom. I've also had the privilege of being part of family sealings in the temple for my ancestors. The last session had all four of my children present. That is a time that I cherish more than anything. I hope we can all go back to the temple together real soon.