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24 August 2011 @ 05:52 pm
My family history  
I wrote in Facebook a while back about not necessarily being proud of my family, so it may seem odd that I'm going to write a whole entry about the research my father did into our genealogy. Nonetheless, there's some neat stuff in here.

The one I usually remember is a Revolutionary War veteran. In his own words:

"I Abiathar Evans of Pawlet in the County of Rutland & State of Vermont in the seventy sixth year of my age depose declare & say that I served in the cause of Independence from Lexington Battle till the Month of March AD 1777 at which time I enlisted into the Company commanded by Captain David Parsons in Col. Charles Webb's Regiment during the continuation[?] of the War to fight against the common Enemy & soon after obtained a sergent's Warrant Connecticut line & served faithfully as sergent till peace was proclaimed & did not receive my discharge till the Month of June AD 1784 having served one year more than my term of enlistment. My discharge has been lost for many years. I furthermore depose & say that I am reduced to a state of extreme indigence & Stand in passing need of assistance from my Country for support. Dated at Puttney in the County & State as above this 17th day of April AD 1818. Abiathar Evans"

They ended up giving him $96 a year (about $1200 a year in modern money). The reference to Lexington probably doesn't mean he was actually there, just that he joined up as soon as he heard the news or was a militia member who was called into service after the news arrived. He spent the winter at Valley Forge and is on the official roll of those who did so (though as "Abiathar Evens"). He was apparently paid in pounds until 1779, after which he was paid in American dollars--$17 30/90 a month (whatever that means).

Evans is kind of the ur-family name. It's not the oldest from the descendants we know of, but when we have family reunions, most of the people there were descended from the three Evans sisters, so it's the Evans family reunion.

As for Pitt, that comes from Alfred Pitt, originally of Gloucestershire, who immigrated to America on the White Star Line in 1877, moved to Wisconsin and found work on a farm there, and married the farmer's daughter. Basically your classic American success story. He also apparently had red hair, which is probably where my and my sister's red hair comes from. He's my great-great-great-grandfather. His descendants kept moving west until they ended up in California. My father came back east (to work at Fermilab, originally), and my uncle lives in Seattle.

Before that, my family's been in America since the beginning of English settlement. My first ancestor to set foot here was John Alden, who came over on the Mayflower, of "Why don't you speak for yourself, John Alden?" fame.[1] I'm descended from him through my paternal grandmother, making him my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. The connection is somewhat tenuous, since we aren't sure about John Alden's grandchildren's connection to my great-great-great-great-grandmother, but it is officially accepted by the Alden Kindred of America (scroll down to Elizabeth Chaulker).

The Butlers (who I'm related to, but not descended from) have a lot of interesting incidents as well, a lot of which are because they were early converts to Mormonism. There's John Lowe Butler, who I've written about before (he wrote an autobiography which I managed to track down a copy of for my father, fortunately for less than it costs at that link). He had eight wives, was a member of Joseph Smith's "lifeguard," was expelled with the other Mormons and made the trip to Utah, fought off a couple mobs, etc. Quite eventful. I really need to read that autobiography some time...

William Butler was a Regulator. He actually gets quoted in wikipedia about the rebellion, complaining about being taxed to build the governor's new mansion when taxes were already high: "We are determined not to pay the Tax for the next three years, for the Edifice or Governor's House, nor will we pay for it." He ended up rising in armed rebellion against the King, and only escaped hanging by fleeing for his life. After the war was over, he had the dubious honor of being specifically mentioned in gubernatorial proclamation: "Whereas Hermon Husbands, James Hunter, and Rednap Howell and William Butler are Outlawed and liable to be shot by any Person whatsoever, I do therefore [sic] that they may be punished for the Traiterous and Rebellious Crimes they have committed Issue this my Proclamation hereby offering a Reward of One Hundred Pounds and one Thousand Acres of Land to any Person or Persons who will take Dead or Alive and bring into me or General Waddell's Camp either and each of the above named outlaws." From what I can find, that's about 10,000 modern pounds, or around $16.4K. Not bad. Also note that bit that because he was an outlaw, it wasn't murder to kill him.

William Lowe was another Revolutionary War veteran, though he didn't serve as long as Abiathar Evans. After he mustered out (for the fourth time--he joined up multiple times, didn't receive a formal discharge and so went back to join up again under a different officer), he apprenticed himself to a wheelwright, later married Margaret Fair, borrowed a Bible, and the two devoted themselves to reading and preaching. He joined the Baptists and became a Baptist minister...for a few months, after which they excommunicated him for heresy. He then joined the Church of the Brethren (aka Dunkers), but was a member only a few months before he left that, voluntarily this time, and continued preaching as an unaffiliated minister. He manufactured the first axe, the first plow, the first spinning wheel and the first hominy mill in Simpson County in Kentucky after moving there. In later life, he apparently became so fat that he couldn't stand long enough to preach a sermon. Undaunted, he preached his sermons sitting until his death in 1835. His last words were, "If this is death, it is not so bad as I expected."

I'm also related to this guy through Alfred Pitt (Sherman was his wife's maiden name). Presumably I don't need to explain what he did. :p

[1]: Longfellow wrote a poem about it, actually. The story goes that Captain Myles Standish wanted to marry Priscilla Mullins, but was too shy to ask, and so asked John Alden to do it on his behalf. Priscilla's retort was, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John Alden?" John and Priscilla Alden had ten children, and one of their daughters married one of Standish's sons. :p

Pretty neat. (^_^)v

Edit: Huh, wiki says, "John Alden (1599 – September 12, 1687) is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620." Even cooler.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Hadouken! - Mecha Love
q99q99 on August 25th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
-he apprenticed himself to a wheelwright, later married Margaret Fair, borrowed a Bible, and the two devoted themselves to reading and preaching. He joined the Baptists and became a Baptist minister...for a few months, after which they excommunicated him for heresy-

Well, that's impressive turnaround :)