Sunday, August 31, 2008

Family Stories-Fact or Fiction

I think nearly every family has stories about their ancestors passed down from generation to generation. Some of these are very much factual but most of them are totally fiction. I have several cases of such stories in my family tree.

Story #1--My g.g.g.grandfather, James Parker was born in 1779 in Maryland and moved to Maysville, Kentucky sometime before 1802 when he married my g.g.g.grandmother, Susannah Donovan. From there he moved to Richland County, Illinois about 1819 and founded the town of Parkersburg. Now what else would he name it? Anyway, the Richland County History says--and I quote--"James Parker, a comrade of Daniel Boone and an old Indian fighter" Cool! So I look up Daniel Boone and find that he was born in 1734, a good 45 years before James was born. And by the time James would have been old enough to be a comrade and Indian fighter, Daniel had moved to Missouri. Now, granted, Boone lived in Maysville for a while living there from 1784 to 1788. My James would have been between 5 and 9 years old then. A tad young to be a comrade of Daniel's. But I do have another link to Daniel Boone and this one is fact. Daniel's sister Hannah Boone married Richard Pennington who was an uncle of my g.g.g.grandmother Sarah Pennington--who by the way never met James Parker as far as I know.

Story #2--My hubby is adopted and I have been lucky enough to trace both his adoptive and natural lines. Several years ago we found that he had a half sister. She gave us a lot of information on the family along with this little tidbit. Their g.g.grandmother was the sister of Mary Todd Lincoln! Wow. Double cool! So, of course, I did some research. Now, Mary Todd had lots of brothers and sisters but it seems that all of them were born in Kentucky. Now, I can't find the last name of hubby's g.g.grandmother but she married a James Walker probably in Indiana. She was born about 1814 in Pennsylvania. Hmmm, doesn't quite line up somehow, especially when her name was also Mary! But, hey, did you know that Mary Todd's mother's maiden name was Parker??? Maybe there is a link there--but I sincerely doubt it.

Story #3--- My g.g.g.g.grandfather, William "Indian Billy" Ice, was born 1730 in Hampshire County, Virginia. When he was a child (no one seems to know how old), his father and older brother John went in to "town" for supplies. This was a trip that took several days. The mother, Margaret, stayed at home with the younger children. During this time, the Shawnee Indians attacked the home and apparently killed Margaret and possibly one of William's sisters. He and the other two sisters were kidnapped and taken back to Ohio where they were raised by the Indians. A number of stories have been told about how Billy escaped from the Indians. One states that he was out with a group of Indians when he and an Indian boy were left alone. He became afraid of the boy, escaped and went to Pittsburgh where he was hidden. There are several stories about how he then went to France, then back to America to work on the Mason Dixon line where he was discovered by his stepmother and reunited with his father. Since his father had moved after his capture, he didn't know where he was. Other stories state that Billy was made a Chief by the Indians. Still other stories state that he served as an interpreter after he returned to civilization. So, how many of these are fact and how many are fiction, I doubt anyone even knows.

Story #4-Mary, the sister of Indian Billy was kidnapped at the same time he was. Family tradition states that Mary Ice was the wife of the Shawnee Chief Pucksinwah and the mother of his children including Tecumseh the great Indian chief.Most histories state that Pucksinwah's wife was a Creek Indian. Some say that Tecumseh had blue or hazel eyes . Pictures show that he wore a medallion around his neck which some people felt was a profile of a white woman, his mother. Apparently, though, this was a medallion with the likeness of King George III on it. Family history states that Mary returned to visit her family when she was very old but despite pleas from her family returned to live with the Indians. I have talked to a couple of college professors who teach Ohio history and they say that this family story is totally fiction and that Tecumseh's mother was an Indian not a white woman.
Descendants of Mary Bayles (wife of Andrew Ice who was half brother of Mary and Indian Billy Ice) and family historian, Norman F. Kendall state that Mary Bayles was the mother of Tecumseh but also state that his father was Young Eagle which is known to be untrue. This tradition states that Mary Bayles returned to her family with Tecumseh and he lived among the whites until age 15 but threats against his life prompted William "Indian Billy" Ice to return him to the Shawnees. I have read many books and stories about Tecumseh and nowhere have I read that he lived with the whites for several years. Soooo-it would look like this is another fictional family story. I'm not sure why these families wanted so badly to be so closely identified with Tecumseh.

Story #5-This one is apparently fact and is documented in several histories of New Amsterdam. My 7th great grandfather, Laurens Duyts, was born in Denmark in 1610. He came to New Amsterdam in 1639. His passage was paid by a man named Jonas Bronk in exchange for work clearing some land in New Amsterdam. This land later became known as the Bronx. Laurens also got into some trouble with Gov. Peter Stuyvesant for committing adultery and for selling his wife into adultery! "For selling his wife, Ytie Jansen, and forcing her to live in adultery with another man and for living himself also in adultery, he was to have a rope tied around his neck, and then to be severely flogged, to have his right ear cut off, and be banished for fifty years. He went to Bergen, New Jersey and died there." Ouch!! Oh yeah, and after his banishment, he married Ytie's sister.

I would love to be able to time travel and go back and meet and talk to these ancestors and get the real facts. Some of these stories remind me of the old game where a bunch of people would sit in a circle. The first person would whisper something to the person next to him and so on. Then the last person in the circle would say aloud what they were told. It usually was totally different from the beginning sentence. I'm sure that many of these stories started off so much different from the way we heard them.

I guess what I'm saying is--don't always take what you hear about your ancestors as the absolute truth!


Hannah M. said...

if you want the real story read "panther in the sky" by james alexander thom this story will tell truth and no fiction

Hannah M. said...

my great great great grandmother was a disindant from tecumseh

Judy Tweedy said...

My husbands great grandmother was Sarah Ellen Pennington. She was a close relitive to Hannah Boone. Could you tell me more about this family? Sarah Ellen m
Creed Taylor Norris whose mother was Mary Ann Taylor. Both Pennington and Taylor lines supposed to be Native American.