The boys somewhat recently studied a dark time in our nation’s history-The Civil War.
We read about it, watched a documentary, and listened to music of the era. To tell the truth, I didn’t like studying about it very much. The death toll was astronomical. The suffering that was felt by so many people at the time will forever darken our nation’s history.
One night while we were in the car, we starting talking about the war and the conversation drifted into wondering if any of our ancestors were in the war. Mark accused my family of being part of the Free State of Winston. Granted, that might explain why 2/3 of my children have always said they would be on the Union side if they lived at that time, but no. I knew (or at least really strongly believed) that MY family could not be Yankee traitors. I knew my family had lived in Alabama well before the war, but truthfully I had no idea if they were any Confederate veterans in my lineage or not.
Mark and I started talking about how we really don’t know that much about our ancestors. I have been told that my ancestors were Dutch and Cherokee. I have always assumed that Mark’s family hailed from Ireland, given that their last name looks Irish. So, we decided to try a free trial on Ancestry.com. Wow! That website is a goldmine of information. We have been able to find all kinds of people that we are related to. Neither of us can brag that we have found royal blood (although, at a family reunion someone had done years of research to find out Mark is descended from Charlemagne), but we have found preachers, soldiers, farmers (everything from rich plantation owners to barely able to feed their own households), veterans, New England Puritans, mayors, colonists, bootleggers, rich, poor, middle of the road and everything in between. I learned that some people in my family participated in a DNA project and found out we are descended from Vikings. (arrrgh!)
I was able to prove Mark wrong about my ancestors defecting to the Yankees. The following story was attached to one of my relatives:
The Childress Brothers Go To War
Six brothers and possibly several brothers-in-law served in two companies of the 29th Alabama Regiment. David James, Joel B. and Robert Brown were in Company H.. David James and Joel B. were wounded. David James was shot in the leg and Joel B. was shot in the jaw. David James was captured and sent to prison in Illinois for awhile. Robert Brown was captured in Nashville and sent to Louisville. Thomas, Reuben and Weldon E. were assigned to Company D., also known as The Bibb Rifles. Joel served in this company as well as in Company H.. Reuben survived, but Weldon died at home while he was on sick furlough.Thomas was listed as a deserter on the roster. One Civil War historian explained that it was common for soldiers to leave the war-front, go home to plant crops or check on family members and then return to battle. I have found a website that says that Thomas died of disease in a hospital in Montgomery. I have not checked this out yet.
Seeing as how the deserter was my direct ancestor, I tried to look further. I found out that he was 6’1″, had black hair and eyes, and a dark complexion. That fits most of the Childress men.
He died in a hospital of unknown disease in February of 1862. His youngest child (of four) was born in August of that same year. The oldest of the children was 6. I wish that I could find the story of how his wife and children survived after his death. I know where his widow is buried, but I do not know if he is there, too.
Knowing our heritage has been interesting for our whole family. We found out that Mark had an ancestor that actually died in the Civil War. The 150th anniversary of the battle where he died will be next Fall. We have enjoyed seeing how many generations of Biblical names we have found. TONS of Benjamins. Here’s one:
Lots of Samuels. Only a few Nathaniels.
Knowing where we came from can be interesting,but it can also have it drawbacks. Reading wills of people who died in the 1700′s can often include instructions of what to do with their slaves. If that isn’t bad enough, hearing stories about alcoholics, bootleggers, and gamblers can make you want to hang your head in shame. There is something that is comforting, though. When God chose a family to bring His Son into the world, He did not choose a family who was righteous and full of good character.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father ofDavid the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ
The people who God chose as the family line of His Son were not all what one would call the nicest of people. Cheaters, liars, adulterers, and idolaters are a few of the vices on the list. Yet, it is not the sins of our ancestors that counts. It is our own sins that we are accountable for. Just because my Viking ancestors killed and marauded, that does not mean that I will be guilty for their crimes.
I think it is amazing that God can take people who have less than perfect, blue-blood families and make them His own children.