Friday, November 4, 2016

The Whaler's Bribe: Patriot Nathan Coffin

  This is a new Revolutionary War ancestor I came across this summer.  So inspiring!

I won't bore you with the exciting (to me) research processes that led me to this grandfather, (you can ask me later if we're ever stuck on a long car ride together with no radio) just trust me that he's on our tree and enjoy his story.  Here is how I am related.

Me; Mom; Grandpa Heagy; C.A.S. Heagy; Martha J. Cooper; Thomas B. Cooper; Emily Coffin; George Coffin; Nathan Coffin.

Our story begins in Nantucket.
"Nantucket Sleigh Ride" refers to the whale pulling the boat after it has been harpooned.

Nantucket is famous for its whaling, sea going families.  It was recently portrayed in the move "In the Heart of the Sea".  The movie is based on a nonfiction book, so the names used were authentic--and there was a Mr. Coffin on the ship!  (Even if he was a villain.)

Nantucket was in a unique geographical position--very close to the migrating whales.  An incredible industry began, bringing a new source of light to America.
For almost a hundred and fifty years — from the early 1700s to the 1840s — Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world. As Melville wrote in Moby-Dick: "Thus have these . . . Nantucketers overrun and conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders."--from Nantucket Historical Association
Our Coffin family was a proud, prominent part of this tight-knit community.  I say tight-knit for multiple reasons.  (Yes, intermarrying was a big reason.)  The population was small, like a small town but much closer because of the terrible dangers faced by its whalers.  I imagine the women were also incredibly close as they were left alone for years on end.  It was probably almost like a military situation--bands of brothers with their wives weeping at home together.  Anyway, anyone ever heard of a widow's walk?
It's that rooftop balcony that the wives would watch for the return of their sailors.  That was their life.  The women probably hated it but the menfolk LOVED it.  Such an exciting lifestyle.  Stay with me, this is an important part of the story.

I knew that the Coffins were Nantucket whalers--that part of the story was passed down--but I was surprised to find records of our grandmother Emily Coffin born in Easton Co. New York.  Very much inland.  So what happened?  I didn't think I would ever know the reason for the family's migration, but I found it, and it is a much more dramatic story than I would have ever guessed.

Emily's cousin Charles Marshall happened to be a rich merchant mariner and an important statesman heavily involved with the early GOP.  When he died, his obit was printed in the New York Times, he was memorialized during Congress, and also a small biography was written about him and his forebears.  Huzzah! Apparently the authors of the memorial interviewed his surviving whaler brothers, and they tell what happened to our Nantucket Coffin family.

"The Revolutionary War...greatly interfered with the prosecution of the Nantucket whale-fisheries.  The English men-of-war, cruising off the American coast, would often intercept the vessels seeking to make their way into port laden with the fruits of long years of labor and exposure in distant seas, while to send a ship refitted and equipped on an outward voyage was to risk its speedy capture.  The hardy islanders, thus blockaded
British Man-of-War
on the side of the ocean by an enemy whom they had no means of resisting, turned their eyes to the main-land.  New England, from which their ancestors had been driven by persecution a century before, [I'm guessing because they were Quakers?] was not thought of as an asylum, but the border counties of new York offered a good climate, and cheap land, capable of being easily cleared of the forest and reduced to cultivation.  In 1779, a number of families broke up at Nantucket.... They took up [in] what is now the richest part of Washington County [NY]." 

That was the generic story of the community.  Now on to our grandfather Nathan Coffin's particular adventure.

"Nathan Coffin had been a contemporary, perhaps a shipmate, of [Charles' other grandfather] Benjamin Marshall.  After a life of adventure on the ocean, he had set out, in an ox-team, with his wife, his son, and his daughters, for a new home in a northern wilderness.  He had experienced something more than mere apprehension of peril from British cruisers.  Before the Revolution, he had succeeded in saving from the earnings of some prosperous voyages a moderate sum of money, which he put into a common stock with some of his Nantucket neighbors, and, going to London, engaged with them in the venture of chartering a small vessel, which they freighted with a cargo of assorted merchandise for a home port.  The war was already imminent, and, fearing trouble, the copartners procured a permit from the English admiralty authorizing them to enter any port on the American coast.

They sailed with their cargo and crossed the ocean safely, but as they neared Nantucket were boarded by an English man-of-war; their pass was disregarded; [the OUTRAGE!] their vessel and cargo was seized as lawful prize, and the whole company, stripped of everything, were taken to Martinique, and from there to New York, where they were thrown into the prison-ship "Jersey," of infamous memory". 

About this prison-ship Jersey.  I knew the British liked to use old rotten, unseaworthy hulks as prisons because their prisons on land were always overflowing.   The HMS Jersey is pretty well known and there is a lot of information about her.  She was built in 1736, fought in Colombia against the Spaniards in 1739, badly damaged in battle in 1745, repaired and took part in the Battle of Lagos in 1759.  By 1771 it was hulked and converted to a hospital ship in Wallabout Bay, New York.  Then when the war began the British used her as a prison ship for captured Continental Army soldiers, "making her infamous due to the harsh conditions in which the prisoners were kept.  Thousands of men were crammed below decks where there was no natural light or fresh air and few provisions for the sick and hungry...with brutal mistreatment by the British guards becoming fairly common.  As many as eight corpses a day were buried from the Jersey alone before the British surrendered ...in 1781.  When the British evacuated New York at the end of 1783, Jersey was abandoned and burnt in the harbour, having had approximately 8,000 prisoners on board.  ...Some 11,000 prisoners died aboard the prison ships over the course of the war, many from disease or malnutrition.  Many of these were inmates of the notorious HMS Jersey, which earned the nickname "Hell" for its inhumane conditions and the obscenely high death rate of its prisoners.

There are some surviving accounts, this one from Robert Sheffield of Connecticut, who was on a British prison ship during the Revolution, thought not necessarily the Jersey.
"The heat was so intense that (the hot sun shining all day on deck) they were all naked, which also served the well to get rid of vermin, but the sick were eaten up alive.  Their sickly countenances, and ghastly looks were truly horrible; some swearing and blaspheming; others crying, praying, and wringing their hands; and stalking about like ghosts; others delirious, raving and storming, --all panting for breath; some dead, and corrupting  the air was so foul that at times a lamp could not be kept burning, by reason of which the bodies were not missed until they had been dead ten days."
Back to Nathan Coffin, prison ship survivor.

"In this wretched hulk Nathan Coffin lay for eleven months, sharing the privations and insults which made so many martyrs to the cruelties which disgraced the British occupation of our harbor.  The vessel was anchored in the East River, and from time to time was visited by a lieutenant of the British navy, who approached many of the prisoners with offers of commissions in His Majesty's service, provided they would renounce the cause of the rebels, and give in the adhesion to the crown.

To Nathan Coffin, who was an able and experienced shipmaster, he made liberal promises, tendering him a command and large pay.  The reply of the stout-hearted sailor contained the whole spirit of the struggle for independence:  'You may hang me to the yard-arm of your frigate, but do not ask me to turn traitor to my country!'  Isaac Coffin, an own cousin of Nathan, also an able seaman, but lacking the patriotic ardor of his kinsman, yielded to the tempting offers of a commission, rose to the highest naval rank in the British service, and figures on its rolls as Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin.  [Isaac was not a prisoner when offered the commission, he was simply a loyalist already working for the navy.  He was also not a first cousin, just a kinsman, from Boston, not Nantucket.  I fact checked.] His loyal cousin, plain Nathan Coffin, never forgave what he deemed desertion from the flag and treason against the government of his native country.  He persisted in his own choice of steadfast adhesion to the doubtful cause of the colonists, and, after suffering the privations of the prison-ship for eleven months, was at last released.  He at once made his way to Nantucket, and shortly afterward, as we have seen, joined the party of emigrants to the colony in northern New York."
Nathan gave up his beloved whaling and "spent the rest of his life as a farmer," although some of his sons and grandsons eventually continued the seafaring profession. Nathan lived until 1813, the midst of the War of 1812, and some of his last words showed "the fervent hope that there 'might be an honorable peace, or none.'"

There is actually a bit of an appendix to this story, concerning that "traitor" Sir Isaac Coffin and how he made good.

During the War of 1812, Nathan's son Charles (our g-uncle), was chief mate on the Melpomene.  When they were on route to Amsterdam the ship received some damage and actually had to put into Portsmouth England for repairs.  That would be tricky during war!  Especially in 1812 when the Brits were "practising the impressment of American seamen".  Anyway, a British ship docked next to them and there was a bit of an altercation that ended with Charles throwing a young British lieutenant off the ship.  Charles was imprisoned and then arraigned before the admiral and his officers.
Admiral Isaac Coffin

The admiral asked the young man his name.  He answered, "Charles Coffin."  "Whose son are you?" asked the admiral.  "Nathan Coffin's."  the admiral hesitated a moment, and then remanded the prisoner, saying that he could not be tried until the next day.  The same afternoon the admiral came on board the guard-ship and sent for the prisoner.  He said to him privately: "I am Admiral Coffin, your father's own cousin.  You have thrown overboard one of His Majesty's officers, and there is nothing to prevent your swinging from the yard-arm, but I will try to clear you."  He then instructed his belligerent kinsman to express regret for his hasty conduct, and to make what reparation he could by apologizing for his rashness and violence, and to leave the rest to him.  The mate readily acquiesced, and, after appearing the second time before his judge, was sent back to his ship unharmed.  Afterward the admiral paid him a visit, and invited him to dinner.  Doubtless he hoped that the part he had taken to protect his gallant young kinsman would prompt kindly thoughts toward him in the heart of old Nathan Coffin."
(Isaac later contributed funds to establish the Coffin School back on Nantucket Island, with a mission to "promote decency and morality".)


Sources
 

Butler, William Allen. (1867). Memorial of Charles H. Marshall. D. Appleton. pp. 13–.


Oldham, Elizabeth.  "Brief History of Nantucket".  Nantucket Historical Association website, 2016.

"HMS Jersey".  Wikipedia.org. October 2016.

 www.nantucketpreservation.org. November 2016.

"Sir Isaac Coffin, 1st Baronet".  Wikipedia.org. November 2016.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two Silver Pistols and a Blacksnake Whip: Daniel Newell Drake, part two

At the end of a very long train ride from Simms, Montana to Ogden, Utah, a devastated little boy (he had lost his Cracker Jacks pea-shooter on the train) went to meet his grandfather for the very first time in his memory.  His grandfather was Daniel Newell Drake the third, and he was dead in a coffin.

The dead man had white hair, a large mustache, and something especially wonderful: two six-shooters hanging prominently on the wall next to the coffin.  There were Colt 45s, pearl handled and nickel or silver plated.
For example, these are General Patton's, one is original, one was made for a movie.

Later, at the funeral, if young Jack had been listening instead of dreaming of shoot-outs and glory, he might have noticed a few things: 

The crowd at the Wilson Ward Chapel would have been large because Grandpa Drake had an enormous family and many friends. (Jack did note in his memoirs that the funeral was huge.) Jack's older cousin Irene was crying because she was missing the best, kindest Grandpa who ever lived.  Also, whoever gave the eulogy on Daniel Newell Drake would have had a lot of material because that man in the coffin had left behind a legacy of courage, statesmanship and service, and had witnessed and participated in tremendous growth and change, especially in the state of Utah. 

Irene with her Grandpa Drake
After the funeral (which I am sure ran rather long for nearly five-year-old Jack Drake Haynes, his equally naughty brother Seth, and consequently, their mother, Pearl), the beautiful pistols were gone.  Stolen!  The mystery remains unsolved.  No pea-shooter for Jack, no six-shooters either.

I don't know much more about the mystery of the stolen pistols, or if it is all just a misunderstanding that got turned into some great family lore, but in any case, we do know what they would have been used for. Daniel Drake was a sheriff.

There has been some confusion over this because Jack was under the impression that his Grandpa Drake was the Weber County Sheriff and also that he served as County Commissioner at one time.  Daniel's daughter Pearl also said in an interview that her dad was Weber County Sheriff when she was little.  I went to the Weber County Sheriff's department website and was pleased to see that they have a history and roster of their past sheriffs, but dismayed to realize that Grandpa Drake was not on the list.  There were some tantalizing gaps in the record, also a request on the site for further information.

DND before his sheriff days.
So, I corresponded with an officer there who has been working on the department history.  (And you can bet I made mention to some of my friends in passing that I was "collaborating" with the Weber County Sheriff's Department in an ongoing investigation, haha.) He was intrigued and kind enough look into this matter, and also shared some old photos of the department in front of the station at the time Grandpa Drake would have been there.  (He told me I was not at liberty to disseminate those, which I take to mean, I could share them, but then he'd have to kill me.) 

As far as I could tell, Daniel was not pictured, although it was tricky to rule him out since they pretty much all had large mustaches.  He would have been friends with those men, but it seemed that they were mostly full-time policemen in uniform, and I knew Grandpa Drake was not.

A digital search of the newspapers around the turn of the century did not yield up Grandpa Drake's name as winning the county sheriff's election or the commissioner's, but his name did pop up for several other things--more on this later.

About this time I received a copy of Daniel's personal history, written in his own hand, from great-grandson Kerry Parker.  Surely Daniel would have noted such a position as County Sheriff in his history?

Ogden Rail yards ca. 1950
Straight from the horse's mouth, he states, at the end of a long resume' of jobs and positions: "peace officer and Deputy Sheriff in Wilson for 16 years."  To double check that he hadn't written this history before he served, I also finally tracked down his obituary from the Ogden-Standard Examiner.  It simply mentions that he was a peace officer for 16 years.  So, as far as I can tell, Daniel was not the Weber County Sheriff but had a long run as Deputy Sheriff of Wilson Lane.

I don't know that Daniel's pistols ever earned any notches, (although he was involved in at least one all-night shootout down at the Ogden rail yards--the men finally surrendered).  He did stay busy.  Jack tells that as a little girl Pearl Drake had to take trays of food out to a garage/shed on their property that her Dad used as a temporary lockup when he had to detain someone overnight, or before he had a chance to haul them in to the jail which was 5-6 miles away.   I also know that Daniel's guns would have been on fine display during his most notable job:  guarding a President of the United States.

Historic Washington and 25th Street, Ogden, Utah.
It was May, 1903.  Theodore Roosevelt was in the midst of a whirlwind 25 state speaking tour, which included some extensive camping in the newly created Yellowstone National Park.  By virtue of the railroad, Ogden was lucky enough to secure a stop.  They honored the President with a parade down Ogden's majestic 25th street, and also by providing an ample guard.  Sheriff Drake was part of that escort.

Pearl puts this on record.  "President Roosevelt came to make a speech there in Ogden.  My father and several deputies guarded him while he went up to make his speech.  Mother, I, Ira, and my younger brother Emery came along in the buggy."

Wyoming's historical society has a large amount of information about TR's 1903 tour, including links to transcripts of several speeches (they were pretty much the same).  After the speech he got back on the train and was in Evanston by that evening.

"President Theodore Roosevelt is shown in this photo during a visit to Ogden, Utah, on May 29, 1903. From left to right are shown Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy, President Roosevelt and Utah's Sen. Reed Smoot. Roosevelt defended Smoot to the Senate and the Nation when his seating as a Senator was questioned."--Deseret News, 2013.
TR was "the first President to receive full-time Secret Service protection (although this was not at his request)".  It especially made sense because he had become the youngest president ever by virtue of serving as Vice-President under McKinley, who died by an assassin's bullet.  Nine years later, Roosevelt would also be shot in the chest in Milwaukee, but after announcing the commotion to the crowd, unbuttoning his vest and seeing where the bullet had gone through his notes and his eyeglass case before it "pinked" him, he went on speaking for 90 minutes!  He claimed that "It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose!".  The would-be assassin, a schizophrenic unemployed man, was wrestled and stopped by TR's male stenographer.  (That would have been a bit embarrassing to the guards, I imagine.)  So anyway, the job of guarding the President was very real and I am sure Daniel took it very seriously.  Here's a great article about the attempt written at the 100th anniversary of the shooting, with pictures of artifacts, etc.

Guarding the President was really only one small way of many that Daniel participated in the history of Utah.  Read on.
  • Born at Binghams Fort in Feb. 1853, (before the actual fort was built), one of the forts created for protection from the Indians at Brigham Young's pronouncement to "fort up!" in July 1853.  Erastus Bingham had been a close associate of Daniel's father D. Newell for years and eventually became Newell's step-father.  (For more about Newel's and Erastus's pioneer story, read my post, Ponca Winter Saint.)  The original Erastus Bingham cabin, which would have been very similar to Daniel's and in fact, neighbored it, has been relocated and is on display at Lagoon Park. (Binghams Fort has an awesome historical website.)  The settlers lived in close contact with the Shoshoni Indians, also called the Weber Utes, and after some conflict and resolution, the white men of the fort (like Newell, Daniel was a baby at this time) were taught the Shoshoni dialect at the schoolhouse.  This may have afforded Daniel some skills later in life.  Stay tuned!
    You can see the original fort properties here belonging to Daniel's father, also named Daniel Newel Drake.
The fort walls were made of mud and wattle.  Painting by Farrell R. Collett.
  • In 1858, when Daniel was five, Brigham Young told the inhabitants of Northern Utah to abandon their forts and settlements rather than fight Johnston's army. A few men were left behind to torch the place if necessary, and the faithful departed.  Daniel writes that Newell took his family south to Payson, but they only had to stay about a year before they returned.  The family also lived in Provo from 1863 to 1867.
  • Ore Cars, Bingham Canyon 1892.  Descended by gravity, hauled back by horsepower.
    Bingham Mine 2003 --wikipedia
  • Daniel was a busy teenager and during those years participated in some major, historically significant projects.  He was not your average farm boy.  "I worked on the C. P. railroad down in Grouse Creek in the fall of 1868.  I worked for the Utah Central Railroad in 1869 and was employed by that company until the end of December when the railroad was completed as far as Farmington, Utah.  I went to East Canyon, Tooele Valley in 1871 to work in the mines there and left the same year to go to Bingham [probably the town around the mine, not the fort]"  I don't know if his family connection to the Bingham's had anything to do with this.  The jump from railroads to mining seems a little strange, but the two are actually connected.  Many of the smaller, "local" tracks were built to facilitate the mines.
Utah's rail project was unique because it was a private enterprise, sponsored by the church.  It was really something wonderful.

 A biography on Daniel is included in Utah Since Statehood, and it adds more detail to these years, and to how Daniel was an "upbuilder" of Utah, although the tone seems a bit flowery.   Here is an excerpt.
Daniel N. Drake of this review was reared to manhood upon the homestead farm and early became familiar with the best methods of tilling the soil and caring for the crops, working in the fields when not busy with the duties of the schoolroom. For three years he was employed in the Bingham mines and then returned to the farm. When fifteen years of age he drove a team and helped on the railroad when the line was being built through Ogden. He had a ride on the first passenger train that entered Salt Lake City. He also in the early days took part in several Indian skirmishes, yet the Drake family were friends of the Indians, always ready to share with them and give them shelter, and therefore they won the friendship of the red men. With all of the experiences of frontier life Mr. Drake is familiar and he has lived to witness a remarkable transformation in Utah as the work of development has been carried steadily forward. Not only has he been identified with farming and other interests but has also engaged in contracting for several years. He is now the owner of excellent ranch property, which is highly developed and improved, and he has for the past four years been field superintendent of the canning factory of the Utah Canning Association. He was also the field superintendent of the Van Allen Canning Company in Box Elder county.
Did you catch the part about the "Indian skirmishes"?  I am curious about what that might have been, or how serious (or if they really meant Daniel's father), but the statement that the "Drake family were friends of the Indians" rings true, particularly if father Newell might even have known a little of the Shoshoni language.  Listen to this story about Daniel as told by his granddaughter Irene Drake Parker.
During my grandpa's earlier years, the area was very rural. Indians lived down by the river (Green Hollows), and that was a bit frightening at times.  We loved to hear my grandfather's Indian stories!  The Indian path was west of the old Drake home, and they would walk through our land.  One night the residents were having a meeting at the church and school building on the sand hill (on the south side of the canal), and the Indians entered the building and would not leave.  Someone in charge of the meeting said, "Go get Dan Drake.  He knows how to talk to the Indians."  Someone went and got Grandpa, and after he talked to the Indians, they left. 

Once Daniel became a family man in 1874, he stayed on his farm in Wilson Lane but still participated in several community projects, besides serving as sheriff. I'll let him tell this part because I think it shows the things that he was most proud of.
In 1875 I helped to build the foundation for the first school house in Wilson.  I worked hauling lumber down from the mountains to the lumber yards.  In 1880 I took charge of the Wilson Canal and worked at that for five years.  I was a director of the Wilson Company for two years.  Went into the dairy business and was in that business seven years.  Then I helped build roads for the county and state for 12 years.
He was also:
  •  Founding member of the Republican Club in Wilson Lane
  • Election judge several times in his later years.
  • Field superintendant for the Utah Canning Association and Van Allen Canning Company, and would judge crops.
  • Ditchrider
Along with several other day-to-day, hardworking, community-minded, breadwinner for a large family type activities.  No wonder his funeral was so well attended!



(If you missed part one of Two Silver Pistols and a Blacksnake Whip, the link is listed on the left sidebar.)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Justice Served, Quaker Style: Aaron Cooper and the Plugged Thug

We know very little about our ancestor Aaron Peter Cooper.  He died in 1836 when his first son, Thomas Benton Cooper, was only a baby, so Thomas didn't really know the man to pass down his stories.  We don't know the names of Aaron's parents or family members.  We don't know how he died, at what age, or when he was born.  We don't know his occupation (although I have a guess).  We have a rumor that either he or his father served in the War of 1812. He may have been a widower, but we aren't sure.  We do know that he was probably born in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, which was a small Quaker town.  We know he died in or near Liverpool, New York (although we don't know where he is buried.)  Part of the problem is the lack of documentation, also that Aaron Cooper is a fairly common name in the area.  (Me>Mom>Grandpa Heagy>C.A.S. Heagy>Martha Justine Cooper>Thomas Benton Cooper>Aaron Peter Cooper).

One important thing we absolutely know is that Aaron was a Quaker.

I love that one of my favorite movies is about a Quaker and stars Gary COOPER.

I've been trying to find out a little more about this man, and was delighted to receive an actual story about him from the town historian in Liverpool, New York.  And it's a funny story!  Especially since Aaron was a Quaker and believed in nonviolence.  That must have been hard in the old days--you had to get creative...

This story was printed in the Liverpool Telegraph, June 1894, as a series of "Recollections and Reminiscences of Several Old Inhabitants of the Town of Salina" for the town centennial. (Salina was the neighboring settlement to Liverpool.)  The story is told by a Mr. L. Godard.

A little background to understand the story:  Salina and Liverpool are on the shore of Onondaga Lake in Central New York.  "Natural brine springs along the lake" were an attraction to the area that suddenly became very accessible with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the Oswego Canal in 1828.
"During their stay the French noted the plentiful game and fish, and salt water bubbling from the ground in the brine springs.  Salt was one of the very few means to preserve meat and fish and widely used to tan hides.
After the American Revolution, the prospects of salt fortunes drew people from New England and settlements down from the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.  John Danforth, one of the first settlers in Liverpool, began to boil salt in 1794. ...
Salt blocks, buildings containing rows of salt boiling kettles, filled the Onondaga Lake shoreline from Bloody Brook to Balsam Street.  By 1811, 36 Liverpool salt manufacturers produced 20,000 to 30,000 bushels annually.  Salt was shipped by bateaux to Oswego Falls, then overland to Oswego and the Great Lakes, or by oxcart to other communities along rural "salt roads."
Liverpool became a port village of Yankee settlers, Irish canal workers, and a later wave of German immigrants.  Hotel and tavern keepers, grocers, blacksmiths, coopers, boat-builders, brick makers and builders flourished here with the salt workers."  (from Liverpool Village Museum pamphlet).
The salt industry provides the setting and situation.  Enjoy.

"Old Squire Case['s]....jurisdiction included of course the whole town but he would positively have nothing to do at first hand with anything that happened in the somewhat turbulent region of the salt blocks and along the canal [sounds like an "other side of the tracks" situation].  He drew the line at Brow street.  Employers and employees were all in the same category.  Disputes, difficulties, fights and brawls below the hill were adjudicated generally by two referees whom the squire himself appointed if necessary....

One day...a stranger knocked down a man by the name of John Van Osten and battered him up some.  With one eye done up in a sling and blood in the other he sought the seat of justice.

"Where did this happen?" demanded the court.

"Down in the salt blocks."

"Then take it down there and settle it.  I will have nothing to do with anything that happens down there.  They must settle their own disputes."

He however sent an order to Allen D. Kinnie and Aaron P. Cooper to look into the affair and mete out justice.  Kinnie and Cooper with due deliberation assembled themselves together, and the parties to the trouble were brought before them.  On all the evidence the sentence of the court was that the stranger be fined one gallon of rum; in default of which his head was to be held up to a hole in the reservoir and the plug pulled out. [AWESOME!  I bet they were hoping he couldn't pay the rum.]  He refused to pay the fine and was thereupon placed in position at the reservoir.  Stakes were "druv" so as to hold him in position and the deputies, after all was ready and the briny depths had been stirred to the bottom, knocked out the plug and let the pent up brine do its work.  The culprit, in a voice choked in agitation of the water yelled the best he could for mercy.  Not though until it was thought the ends of justice were properly served was the tompkin [also "tampien"--the wooden stopper like over the muzzle of a gun, ie.,the plug] driven in again and the victim brought back to life.

Solar salt workers in nearby Syracuse, New York, about 1900, image from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Massas" in Missouri: Aaron Fray and Wesley Green

There are so many unknowns about our ancestors' lives.  We can imagine. We can do our best to learn about the times and places they lived in, or the famous events they participated in, or the people they might have known.  Sometimes we can learn from letters or diaries what other people at the time  were doing and thinking, but usually, the best we can come up with is a couple of names and dates, especially the farther back you go.  Once in awhile, though, you get surprised with something great--a STORY!

That's why I was so excited to find not one, but TWO great stories concerning these 5x great grandfathers of mine from my Ely side, contemporaries and in-laws, Aaron Fray (1776-1854) and Wesley Green (1795-1871).

I don't have many Southerners in my family tree.  A few Virginians who later moved north.  A few Kentuckians who later moved north.  The Frays were in Virginia, and Greens in Maryland, then both families moved to Kentucky, then ended up in Missouri.  That's moving north, right?  Well, in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s Missouri was a pretty rough place to live, with a pretty raw and violent mix of peoples and ideologies.  In 1821 it was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise.  (Maine was admitted as a free state to keep things fair, and I had some family up there too at the time, the Philbrooks and Hardys, but we'll talk about them another day.)

The Frays and the Greens lived in the Howard/Randolph county area of Missouri, which borders the Missouri River and lands smack in the middle of the state.  (For those of you interested in the Mormon War in Missouri in the late 1830s, never fear, as far as I can tell these families were not near or involved in the area around Independence.)  The area was settled mostly by Southerners from Kentucky and Virginia, and those Southerners brought their slaves and plantation ways.  By the 1860 census, slaves accounted for 25% of the population in Howard County.  (wikipedia.)

It turns out that both Aaron and Wesley were slaveholders.  Do we have any indication of what kind of masters they were?  (I know you are all crossing your fingers and hoping they were nice.)  Well, I think I have some answers for you.

First Wesley Green.  He was the younger of the two men and lived through the Civil War.  A Methodist Episcopalian (whose church was burned at the beginning of the war.)  He moved to Missouri with some of his brothers (also slaveholders) in the 1820s. He outlived his daughter Miranda who married Aaron's son Henry Fray.  With a generic last name like Green, I wasn't hoping to find much information about the family, but it turns out that Wesley's name shows up in a very interesting list in The History of Chariton and Howard Counties published in (full text on Google Books, pg. 279).

The list is a list of "Colored Recruits from Howard County", SLAVES who enlisted to fight in the Civil War--for the UNION!  The list is 3 pages long!

It includes:
Ollie, owned by Wesley Green
Harrison, owned by Wesley Green
Polk, owned by Wesley Green.

The author of the history includes this explanation:
 "One of the most remarkable facts connected with the history of those times--a fact showing the astonishing credulity of the people--was the belief that the institution of slavery would either remain intact, or that the owners of slaves would be compensated for their loss."
So, although I don't know the fate of any of these slave recruits, (there's a research project for someone...) I do know that by the end of the war, they would no longer have been listed as "owned by Wesley Green"!  I also know that they probably worked in manual labor instead of out and out fighting, so perhaps their lives did not seem that different.

Hopefully Wesley was the type of master who allowed them to fight because it was their wish, not forced them to enlist in his stead, against their wish, as a show of patriotism.

On to Aaron Fray. I don't know how well Wesley and Aaron knew each other (if at all) before their children were married in 1839.  Aaron was a Virginian, and we know something very notable about his time there--he worked at one time as a contractor for one of the most famous Virginians of all--Thomas Jefferson!  This was in 1820, and apparently was some ditch work for the construction of the University of Virginia (founded 1819).  Of course, as a 45 year old slaveholder, it is likely that he used his "subs". Another researcher, Ms. Mertens, on Ancestry.com has written a short biography of Aaron Fray and includes the contract written by Jefferson.  (The original is housed at the University of Virginia.)

Around 1824, Aaron and his wife Lucy moved to Missouri.  Aaron was Lutheran and raised sheep. 

Now for a real treat--and I am so amazed to have come across this.  In 1933 a 97 year old woman named Mrs. Jennie Hill was interviewed for the local paper and was printed in the Wichita Eagle.  She was a former slave, and her master was none other than Aaron Fray!

 (As shared by Kate Machill on Ancestry.com.  The article was also later published in Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, by John Blassingame, 1977.)


 Jennie Hill, interviewed 1933 in Kansas by Florence Patton. Age: ninety-six, b. 1837, Missouri. Enslaved: Missouri.
Slavery days replete with stories of cruelty and inhuman treatment heaped on the faithful slaves by a crucifying master, stories intensified by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” are fast becoming mere legends to the younger generation, studied once and then forgotten in the humdrum of daily life.
But to Mrs. Jennie Hill, 633 North Water, mother of the late Robert Hill, for many years head waiter at the Wichita Club and well known to every business man, slavery days are real. For Mrs. Hill was born in slavery nearly 96 years ago.
Today Mrs. Hill lives in a modest home, she read of modern improvements and takes and interest in leading political situations, but her heart and thoughts are wont to turn back to the days of her girlhood, back to the slave days when her owner was “Massa” and his wife was the “Missus.”
Seated in the living room of her home at 633 North Water with her gray hair combed becomingly back from her slender face and dressed in black in mourning for her son, Mrs. Hill went back through her store of memories and brought out bits of her life before Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, opening to them a new world of they had never dreamed.
Mrs. Hill was 27 years old at the close of the Civil war, was married and had three children, who also were born to slavery.
Looking back to her slavery days Mrs. Hill has much for which to be thankful. Her father and mother were owned by Aaron Fray, a small land owner in Howard county, near Boonville, Missouri. His slaves consisted of this couple who had served the Frays before him [Aaron's parents, John and Rebecca Fray], the 11 children of which Mrs. Hill was the oldest, and an uncle of Mrs. Hill's who was also an old servant in the family. But here let us have Mrs. Hill tell her own story of her experiences in slavery.
"I can remember back to the time when I was a child maybe about five years old. We didn't have the cotton fields in Missouri that are somehow associated with all slaves.
"Massa Fray raised sheep instead of cotton and as soon as I was old enough to work my mother taught me to weave cloth. Then I learned to sew. I helped with the housework, worked on the farm, chopped wood and did everything that other slaves did as soon as my strength permitted.
"But all the work was not without pay. The pay was not in money, of course, but it was in kindness for Massa Fray was the best man that ever owned a nigger. His missus was kind and his children were good to me. They even taught me to read and when I could master a few words I was the proudest little pickaninny in all Missouri.
"Few slaves ever learned to read or write. Schools for slaves of course were not thought of. We were just like so many animals and in many of the plantations the animals were treated far better than the 'niggers.' My mother was also taught to read and maybe write a little. Anyway I know just how old I am for the date of my birth was written down in the Bible. That is something a very few of the remnant of slaves know. They guess at their ages for their ignorant mothers had no way of recording their birth.
"In the 27 years I served my master as a slave I got but two whippings. That in itself speaks for the kindness of the master. Both of these whippings were for little things. In my missus' bedroom was a box where my Sunday best dress and bonnet were kept. Sunday I went to church with her and always after church I had to take them off and lay them out carefully in the box. Guess I must have got in a hurry this one Sunday for I hadn’t been out in the yard long until I heard her call ‘Jen, come in here! Haven’t I always told you to lay your dress and bonnet out straight. Look in there.’
“I looked. The bonnet and the dress were a wrinkled mess. The missus had a switch under her apron and she brought it out and laid it over my legs without ceremony.
“My second and last whipped was sometime later and was given to me by massa’s daughter. She had told me not to go to a party some of the folks were having that night. After awhile massa asked me why I didn’t go and when I told him I had been told to stay at home he said, ‘Lawsy, Jen, who owns you anyway? Go on and go to the party.’
“But the next day the daughter caught me on the woodpile. She said she was going to whip me and told me to put down my ax. I threw the ax down and the handle flipped up and hit her on the let. Then I did get licked.
“Plantation life in Missouri was not like it was farther south. The northern slaves were proud that they were north of the Mason Dixon line and the worst thing that could ever happen to a nigger was to be sent ‘down the river.’
“Much of the old plantation atmosphere that you read so much about in the southern homes was absent from the home of the Frays, but in its stead there was a peace and devotion of us slaves to the white folks which was unknown in most of the southern families. We lived in a log hut less than a block from the big house where the family lived but we were comfortable and always had enough to eat and plenty to wear such as it was. But it was hard work all day, day in and day out and never have anything we could call our own.
“When I was 21 years old I married. My husband worked on a farm a mile or so from the Fray place. In the south the slaves from two or three plantations live in a compound and when a couple marries they just start living together without any ceremony. A ceremony wasn’t much good for a slave wasn’t allowed to take any vows. But I was really married. My husband and I went to another slave on his place who could read and write and knew something of the Bible. He said the same marriage ceremony for us that we had to say over again when we were freed. All the slaves who were living together and had families when they were freed had to be legally united in marriage before they could go out to make their way in the world.
“I was proud of my marriage, performed by the ‘educated nigger’ and I sure got mad when anybody said anything about us, not being married.
“Then came my little babies and just before the war broke out I had three. How well I remember how I would sit in my room with the little ones on my lap and the tears would roll down my cheeks as I would ponder the right or wrong of bringing them into the world. What was I bringing them into the world for? To be slaves and go from morning to night. They couldn’t be educated and maybe they couldn’t even live with their families. They would just be slaves. All that time I wasn’t even living with my husband. He belonged to another man. He had to stay on his farm and I on mine. That wasn’t living—that was slavery.

“Then came the war. All around us we heard of the great Abraham Lincoln but I never saw him. But the missus’ daughters read to us of how great he was and told us how he was poor; how he split rails and wrote with charred wood and walked for miles to borrow books to read. I ate up all that information, for there was nothing in this world I wanted more at that time than an education. But Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States. He was a white boy and I was just a slave.
“There were stories of the bushwhackers killing many of the slaves but we only had a few encounters with the soldiers. On one of these occasions the bushwhackers came into Massa’s house and demanded something to eat. We fixed it for them in double quick time for we were scared to death. Some of the soldiers started ransacking the house but their officer stopped them. We heaved a sigh of relief when they finally left for there had been stories where they carried the young slave girls away with them.
"When Massa died he showed his love for his slaves by making a provision for us in his will.  That provision was that none of our family were ever to be sold to anyone but a Fray. After his death our family was scattered. Some went to one child of the Massa’s and some to another but we were all close and could see each other often. After we were freed my husband left his master and for a year worked for my people. Then we worked for his master for awhile and later came to Kansas where we were determined to give our children the education which we were denied.
“But all slaves did not have the happiness and the peace that was our lot. Cruel masters from the south would come into Missouri and here and there buy up a father, a mother, a couple of young daughters or the sons. They would tear them away from their families and keep them in a little shack until they had bought what they wanted. Then they were driven to the boat landing just like cattle and loaded on the river steamer for the trip ‘down south.’
“Those masters were cruel. They carried rawhide whips and if the women dragged a little in their long march they were lashed with the whips until the blood streamed from their poor cut backs.
“Some people think that the slaves had no feeling—that they bore their children as animals bear their young and that there was no heartbreak when the children were torn from their parents or the mother taken from her brood to toil for a master in another state. But that isn’t so. The slaves loved their families even as the Negroes love their own today and the happiest time of their lives was when they could sit at their cabin doors when the day’s work was done and sing the old slave songs, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot,’ ‘Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground,’ and ‘Nobody Knows What Trouble I’ve Seen.’ Children learned these songs and sang them only as a Negro child could. That was the slaves’ only happiness, a happiness that for many of them did not last.
“When Lincoln freed the slaves I knew of dozens of children who started out to search through the southland for their parents who had been sold ‘down the river.’ Parents left in the north country searched frantically for their children. But I only know of one case where the family was ever united. Some perhaps were killed in the battles but in the majority of the cases the children of slaves lost their identity when they were taken from the place of their birth into a new country.”
That is the story of Mrs. Hill and her trials and tribulations as a slave. And is it any wonder that today as she nears her ninety-sixth birthday that she sits by the fire and dreams and at night when she lies awake and goes over in her mind happenings of more than a century ago when, as she expresses it, she ought to be asleep.
And when she sleeps it is in a room almost as old as the dreams of the gentle old lady. The bed she sleeps in is of black walnut and is more than a half century old. Her dresser matches it and a chair which was her husband’s has a woven bottom of birch bark. The legs are coming loose and the back is a little wobbly but it is precious to her and will hold a place in her life as long as she lives. And in the corner is a table more than a hundred years old which was a piece of the furnishing of her home when she was a girl in slavery."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bound Away: Abel Sant in Australia

This story surprised me so much I just had to share it at face value.

A couple of months ago I was reading The Fatal Shore:  The Story of Australia's Founding by Robert Hughes.  It was good but I didn't get all the way through--it was getting a little too in depth and I had something else I wanted to read.  I thought it was interesting and didn't know much about the topic; I particularly liked the section about what it was like was to live in London after the American Revolution--my Haynes ancestors are from London--but as far as I know no one in my family got deported to Australia, what's this got to do with me?  So I put it down.  And soon ate my words.
Coast of Australia, formerly known as New South Wales

While looking at some pioneer histories last night I came across this story about our ancestor Abel Sant on FamilySearch.  I will include excerpts of it here as I found it.  It's pretty amazing and the author has done some great research. (You can even view some of the original documents on FamilySearch.) After that is an account of how one of Abel's great-great grandsons tracked down the lost branch of the family in Australia while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around 1906.  I have a few thoughts on the matter that I will include afterwards.

(Me>Mom>Beverly Ely>LaRue McCann>Thomas Ravenhill McCann>Betsy Sant>John Sant>Abel Sant)

Contributed to FamilyTree by Laura H. Perry.   Source "The Children of Isaac and Martha Sant".

Abel's father Isaac was a sawyer and, as was tradition in those days, Abel and his brothers followed their father's profession. He was soon a gang leader (of Sawyers) and was well respected for his hard work.

Abel seems to have committed his first crime when, at the age of 19, he married Margaret Bayley. The problem was that Abel was a staunch protestant and Margaret came from a devout catholic family. He brothers just couldn't accept their sister marrying a heretic and producing 8 children who also followed the heresy. They moved heaven and earth to break this man and his family.

Abel had been working in a saw mill with his son Tom when the Australian Government asked the crown for more sawyers to be sent over as there was a great shortage of skilled men who could work on building houses and workshops for the growing community. The English government sent a number of sawyers over on the same ship, with the same 7 year sentence. While these men had been at work, wheat and tools had been placed in some of their lunch pails - the authorities were waiting. It happened that young Tom's pail was one of these and as soon as Abel realised it, he claimed it as his own, telling his son that is was him they wanted to get rid of so he would be the one to go.
So - is this fact, or just a story passed on to ease what was once seen as the shame of convict ancestry?...
  
Abel appeared at the Quarter Sessions at the Chester assizes on 9 January 1821, in front of a bench lead by one of the De Trafford family - the charge being that he had stolen a quantity of wheat. At the trial it was brought up that his brother Moses had been transported a year earlier for a number of thefts - therefore it was clearly a case of a "bad family". Abel was sentenced to 7 years transportation. The Quarter Sessions records state the following:

"Case Number 7 January 1821
Abel Sant aged 39

Charge: Stealing a quantity of wheat
 Sentence: Transported 7 years
 How behaved in jail: Good
 How behaved since trial: Good
 Connextion and former course in life: Bad
 Temper and disposition: Good
 Character as far as known: Very bad
 State of health: Good
 Comments: A very bad character and connextions very bad, his brother MOSES was transported in May last year and put on board the "INSTITUTION"

It was customary for convicts to be sent to the hulks before they were allocated a ship
A Hulk: unseaworthy ship used for a prison.
and sent to Australia, they were usually held there for months, sometimes years and many died there. This did not happen with the sawyers. Transportation papers, signed by Henry Addington, Viscount Sidmouth, the Home Secretary - which authorised Abel (and others) to be sent to the hulk Justitia to await deportation, were sent to the High Sheriff of Chester on 16th January 1821.

One of 15 men from the Chester assizes, who were tried at the same time, Abel arrived at the hulks at Woolwich 16th January 1821 to be examined and listed as healthy enough to travel. He was placed aboard the Hulk Justitia and the receipt for his reception is still in existence, signed by Robert Smyth, the overseer of the Justitia, I have a copy of all the transportation papers and receipts.

 ****************************************************
Aboard the Justitia Abel would have worn the standard prison uniform nicknamed "Magpie Suits".
 The only known surviving example is in the National Museum of Australia and is pictured below.
He was certified as "Free from putrid and infectious disorders" and fit to be transported on 22nd January 1821.
Magpie suit for Australian Convicts.

Abel was taken from the Justitia and put on the "Adamant" (built in 1811), the Adamant set sail on 29 March 1821 and arrived in New South Wales on 8th September 1821 - 144 men set out, 142 arrived in Sidney, two men having died on the journey. I have a copy of the ships register listing every man on board, where they were tried, and the length of their sentences.

On arriving in Sydney, New South Wales on 8th September 1821 his links with the judicial system did not end. However it was as a witness that this relationship with the law continued:

The Story of the Adamant
"Occasionally the prisoners might be starved, as happened in the Adamant in 1821. This ship reached Port Jackson from England on September 8th, but the convicts, so far as extant records reveal, had no complaints, although the surgeon-superintendent, James Hamilton, refused to sign the masters accounts until the latter agreed to credit the government with the value of medical comforts that were deficient. On October 24th 1821 when the ship had almost cleared Sidney harbour on her return voyage, police officers boarded her and seized 386 lb. of sugar, 752lbs of beef, 35lbs of soap, and varying quantities of wine, vinegar, pepper, ginger, chocolate, suet, oatmeal, bread, preserved meat and portable soup alleged to have been stolen from provisions and medical comforts supplied for the prisoners on the outward passage.

The seizure followed a quarrel between the Adamant's Master, William Ebsworthy, and the ship's steward, George Farris. The latter had sold some wine to a woman innkeeper and had collected payment, but Ebsworthy had insisted that the money should be paid to him and threatened to seize the wine. When a constable arrived Farris swore that he sold the wine on the masters instructions and it had been embezzled, along with other goods secreted in the ship, from the convicts provisions. "Just before we crossed the line" asserted Farris in sworn statement "The captain had a scuttle cut in the after hold for the purpose of adulterating the king's stores, and by his order I drew off twelve or fourteen gallons from each puncheon and made up the deficiency with water".

The evidence is contradictory as to whether Ebsworthy or Farris was the instigator, but there is no doubt that the prisoners received water and wine and that portions of rations were embezzled. Ebsworthy, when the matter came before the magistrates, refused to submit a written defence, and the evidence was forwarded to the Commissioners of the Navy without comment."

 From: The Convict Ships by Charles Bateson.

Abel was called to give evidence in this case, having been transported on the ship. He was also found in court records in Picton Court House in 1830 as a witness - 1832 as a witness - 1942 suing for non payment of wages - 1855 as surety for an Oliver Whiting - 10th August 1855 for a Slaughtering Licence - 1856 Leake v Sant for non payment of wages.
Release & Freedom:

 Abel was granted a "Ticket of Leave" (number 27/41) on 21st March 1827 at Camden Bench. This meant Abel could actively seek work but he could not leave the area.
 The system was an early form of early release on probation. This was followed by a "Certificate of Freedom" (number 28/329) on 22nd April 1828. The information on the certificate is as follows:
"Date: 22nd April 1828 - Name: Abel Sant - Ship: Adamant - Master: Ebsworthy - Year: 1821 - Native Place: Cheshire - Trade or Calling: Sawyer - Place of Trial: Chester Quarter Sessions - Date of Trial: 9th January 1821 - Sentence: Seven years - Year of Birth: 1780 - Height 5 feet 10 +1/2 inches - Complexion: Fair - Hair: Sandy - Eyes: Grey - General remarks: Had a ticket of leave 27/41 dated 21 March 1827, now turned in & cancelled."

 A New life:
Abel knew he would never return home, and his application to remarry was granted and he married Ellen Smith on 20th January 1841 at St John's Cambeltown, Cumberland, New South Wales. He he was working there for a family called Antill.
 Abel & Ellen had one son, Isaac in 1845.

The skill of Abel is reinforced by an article which appeared in the Camden News of October 1896 under the heading "Early days in Picton":

 "Two noted fencers of their day were Rozette and Abel Sant, father of the present Isaac Sant. His reputation in this respect has been maintained by his son. Part of a fence erected by them is still to be seen at Jarvisfield. It is 70 years old. Abel lived in a cottage opposite the present rifle range."

His relationship with the Antill family seems to have remained throughout Abel's life. When he died on 4th December 1858, from skinning a cow infected with the Cumberland Disease (Anthrax), it was an Antill who notified the death.

Abel was buried in the cemetery of St Marks, Picton, New South Wales.

Isaac, Abel's son went on to become a much respected citizen and managed a silver mine called the Golden Gates, from which he made a very good living. There are still descendants in Australia today.
And now the Rest of the Story, also contributed to FamilyTree by Laura H. Perry.  Source:  Sant History by Alfred C. Sant.

 We are fortunate to have the story of the life of Grandfather Abel Sant sometime after the year of 1817, as related by Alfred C. Sant in connection with some of this missionary experiences.

In the year of 1906 my brother Alma came home from the Southern States Mission and upon his return Bishop Hyman said to my father, “Now it’s Fred’s turn to go.”

My father replied: “I’ll be glad for him to go and I will pay his way, but if he is called to the Islands or among the natives, I will rebel.” I was working on the survey line when I received the letter and my call for a mission to New Zealand. I returned home with the news and in due time father (George) asked, “Where are you going.” I replied, “To New Zealand.” Father did not approve and said, “It is impossible for you to go. I won’t let you go among the natives.” Therefore my desire of going where I wanted to stood in the balance. I wanted to go where I was called and my father didn’t want me to go to the Isles of the sea.
Alfred Sant

As time passed we learned there were two missions in New Zealand– an European and a Moari. At this father consented for me to go and gave me $20.00 and told me if I was sent among the Moaries I was to send a telegram immediately and he would send me a ticket so I could return home. He told me to keep this in mind. I was in quite a ponder. I wanted to go where I was called to serve and I didn’t want to disobey my father. It seemed hard for me to disobey one and obey the other. But anyway I was sent to the New Zealand mission to serve where I was most needed and to do my best.

I left home on the 7th of July, 1908, and went to Salt Lake City where I was set apart on the 8th to go to New Zealand. I was alone and perhaps a bit lonely as my brother, Orson, was born the day I left and mother and father were unable to be with me. They were not able to go with me to the mission home or the temple. However, my father, sister, and sweetheart met me at the Oxford depot and father gave me another $20.00, saying, “Be sure to send me a telegram if you get put among the natives and I’ll have you come home.”

In due time I was assigned to the South Island Mission, in the city of Christchurch, a beautiful city and a lot like Salt Lake. The streets were built straight and I was very happy there.

As time passed, I gave a great deal of thought to some of the Sant people. When I left home I visited Uncle Johnny and Aunt Benta and he gave me $10.00 and said, “There are Sant people in that country, I want you to keep your eyes open and ears open and find them.

My Uncle Tom gave me $5.00 and said, “Fred, I hope you find some Sant people there because I know there are some.” My grandfather also gave me $5.00 with the same wish to try and locate some of the Sants in Australia.

I kept my eyes and ears open and was ever alert for something about the Sants. It was not until the 1910 census was taken on the Island of New Zealand that my desires were fulfilled. All the names of the peoples of the Island were published in a large directory. One day when I went into the Post Office I found lying on the desk a copy of this directory. I immediately turned to the ‘S’ section and, to my surprise, I found Alfred C. Sant, Mormon Missionary, and Walter Sant, Patoni, Wellington, New Zealand.

I anxiously took his name and address and upon arriving home (my mission headquarters) wrote a letter to him. I told him that I was searching for Sant people that I knew were there and he was the first one I had found. He was happy to get the letter and sent it on to Australia to his father. His father in return wrote back to him saying he was glad to know there were some Sants there besides his family and he would be very happy to meet me.

Walter was very glad to hear from me and was a fine correspondent. We wrote to each other many times before I broke down and told him the man I was looking for had been transported and he began to burn my letter when his wife interceded and said, “Walter, don’t burn the letter, send it on to your father and when you get a reply from him perhaps your feelings will be changed.”

Walter did send my letter on to his father, Isaac Sant, in Australia. When the answer came back the reply was: “Yes, Walter, tell the man the ancestor he is looking for was a transport.” This of course was sad news to them because it had been a secret that had been kept all the days of his life.

I was invited to come to Patoni, New Zealand, to visit with Walter and family. I did and was treated very royally, and we discussed a great deal about the family which he had never heard about. His father, Isaac Sant, was very secretive and was only 13 years old when his father Abel Sant died. In his last words he told his son not to join any church because it was church and religion that had influenced his being transported to Australia. He (Able) knew that his brother-in-laws were Catholic and he was a Protestant and he wouldn’t join the Catholic Church, therefore, they had used their influence in getting him transported to remove the stain of a Protestant being mingled with the family.

Then an invitation was extended to me to visit in Australia with Isaac, the father of Walter and son of Abel, who was getting along in years. This I accomplished after I finished my mission in New Zealand in February 1911. I went over to Australia to spend some time getting to their place way up in the mountains. They seemed to be much like my own folks; wonderful pioneers, they like the pioneering of places. They moved up into Combind Australia, cleared the ground and planted their seed and also had some cattle. They helped in building communities and the family lived there and were some of it’s finest citizens....

I had notified them that I would visit them sometime that month, but they didn’t know which day.

Isaac Sant was doing some black-smithing and was standing out by the anvil upon my arrival and I took his picture with my camera. When I arrived at my grandmother in Smithfield, Utah, I showed her the picture of Isaac Sant in Australia; this was on her 53rd wedding anniversary. She looked at it and then looked at my Grandfather George and said, “When did you ever have this garb on?” Isaac Sant looked so much like my Grandfather George that no one could have doubted their mind or their eyes that he was a Sant. Isaac was taller than George and had short pants on and also short sleeves in his shirt because it was 105° in the shade at the time the picture was taken.

I was treated very nice and met all the folks and children that were there. I got the record of where they were born, from Isaac, son of Abel who was transported to Australia from England to his home at Combind, Australia.

I left them photographs of my grandmother, father, mother, and a few more I had with me. They seemed very pleased to have some of the pictures of their relatives. I left all my church books which they seemed to appreciate. I didn’t know whether they ever received any missionaries or whether any ever found them, because it was a long way to their place.

I was impressed with their wonderful statures, their bodies were built tall and straight. They were brilliant and very well thought of by everyone I talked to.

While I was at Isaac’s home I received a first hand account of his father, Abel Sant. Isaac was just a boy of 13 years when his father died. His father, Abel, had told him all about the transporting of himself from England to Australia. He was a top sawyer in a saw pit, and the Australian government wrote to England asking for some good sawyers to be sent over to work in the mills because you couldn’t get people to go there at that time. It was not a nice thing to be called a transport.

This is the Story as Isaac Sant told it to me:

“My father was working in a saw mill when his son Tom and they wanted these sawyers to come over to Australia. The English government sent 67 top sawyers over on the same boat, with the same charge and gave them the same punishment, 7 years in Van Demon’s land. While these men had been at work, files had been placed in each lunch bucket. It so happened that Tom’s bucket had the files in it but his father claimed the bucket and said, “It’s me they want to get rid of, you stay and I’ll go.” So the father took the rap for the boy and was transported to Australia along with 66 other sawyers all on the same ship. It is plain to see it was nothing but a trumped up charge that caused him to be sent to Australia. He left his wife and family of 12 children in England fearing he would probably never see them again.

“After his arrival in Australia he lived under convict rule for 3 months then he was sent to the saw mills at Melbourne and was never under any surveillance after that time. After 3 years he was released entirely. The only thing that was object was he could not go back to England until seven years had passed. He never got any word from any of his folks although he continued to send letters to his family in England.

“The oldest son, Tom (For whom he came to Australia) came to Melbourne in a sailing vessel and tried to find his father, but before the word got to the father at the mill and back again the vessel had set sail to Sydney, then Brisbane. He was never able to catch up with Tom, because the boat always left a couple of days before he got there, so he never got to see any of his kin after he left England. He was years alone, then married Ellen Smith from Australia and they had one son, Isaac.” (End)

I did not try to do missionary work there.

When I was ready to come home I planned to go overland, because I was afraid to ride that boat again for fear it would sink. When I checked my purse, I found I didn’t have money enough to go overland, so I had to take the boat. When I left Combind, everyone I met and told I was a Sant asked if I was a relative of the Sants there and of course I was happy to say I have never met nicer people anywhere than the Sant people in Australia.

I have received many very nice letters from Walter Sant over the years, corresponding with him over a period of 30 years. I sure missed him when he passed away. He never had any children of his own, however, his wife Annie had two daughters. They married but I was not well acquainted with them, but Walter and I were close and corresponded and exchanged photographs. At present I do not have any contact with New Zealand.
Isn't that an amazing story?  Abel is lucky to have even survived.  If he had been among the first few waves of settlers starting in 1788, his odds would have been slim, and life would have been HORRIFIC for quite some time.  England basically didn't even know anything about Australia--they had a single report about this mysterious continent from Captain Cook from years earlier--and they just started dumping people there, and the guards tended to be sadistic and violent.  Hopefully it was somewhat better there after the 1820s (and even then, Abel's ship was starved by the food being withheld for profit).  Of course, when you are basically a white slave, torn from your family, it's not going to be good by any means.

After reading about the convict transport system, I am pretty inclined to believe Abel's innocence.
1. The whole system was pretty corrupt, a lot of the leaders of the colony were stealing money and supplies and taking cuts off the top like crazy.  This sounds exactly like a real plot to fix quotas.
2. The system was mostly used to clean up the "bad element", mostly petty thieves, those who would be fined for misdemeanors today, usually caused by homelessness and poverty.  (The really bad element, the felons, were just hung and therefore, were not a problematic population.)  It sounds like Abel had a good job and would not have been one of these homeless dregs of society, etc.  Too bad his inlaws had it in for him.  Did you notice how the courts made such a big deal of his brother Moses having been already transported?  Criminality was considered a genetic trait at the time, (which is why Abel's Australian descendants would have kept it so secret--it was a very shameful thing) and there was no such thing as "reform". 
 
The Penal Colony transport system started, of all things, because England lost the war with America and needed a new place to send their riffraff.  It is very ironic that the circumstances that brought so much freedom--especially religious freedom and the blessings of membership in the LDS church to Abel's descendants, were the same ones that tore this family apart and caused so much suffering elsewhere. 

PS.  If you find a stapler and an extra sandwich in your lunchbox, head for the hills!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ebert and The Great Bambino

During a recent visit with my Grandpa Heagy, I asked him to retell the story of when he met Babe Ruth as a kid in Great Falls, Montana.

Here is the recording of his answer.  I also LOVE that he totally fills in the technical details about the
View of City of Great Falls from Gore Hill.
airplane, so typical since he is a retired airplane mechanic for the Air National Guard, and spent most of his adult life working very near where this story takes place.

I also just love listening to his grovely voice.  Too bad he's not also humming on the recording.

Ebert's Babe Ruth story recording

 Isn't this a great postcard of the Great Falls airport?  (Below)  It would have looked much the same when Grandpa rode there on his bike.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tragedy by Train: George Haynes

In trying to gather more primary documents about our Haynes family in America and England, I was hoping to find some obituaries but came across this dreadful story instead.  Grandpa Happy Jack had told me about what happened to his Uncle George but to read the newspaper account was just heart-wrenching. 

The print may be a little hard to read, (and actually more graphic than I think would be allowed today), so I'll give you a basic summary.

Henry (Harry) Haynes, George's father.
The Hayneses were train men.  They lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Henry, the father, (who went by Harry) worked on the train and actually had an injury that left him somewhat crippled (although I'm not sure when), so he received a pension and turned to farming.  George and Charles, the elder sons, also "were railroaders".  Harry (who went by Roy!), the younger son, my great-grandfather, amazingly also "went to railroading, switching.  Railroading was kind of natural for me because both my brothers were railroaders.  I was a brakeman and I got me a job braking."  He didn't stay long because of the pay, but even after moving to Utah he was drawn to the work, being "a trolley engineer for the city of Ogden."

I say it was amazing that he wanted to work in the railroad, because when Grandpa Harry (Roy) was about 13, he and his father kept a silent vigil all night while workers tried to free the mangled body of his brother George from a horrible train wreck.  I would guess that was probably one of the worst experiences of Harry's life. (The newspaper said it was George's father and brother, not sure which brother stayed to watch, it might have been Charles.)

George's young children were subsequently raised by their Haynes grandparents, and Roy became like a big brother to them.

Here is one article.  The second article is quite a bit more descriptive but I can't get the print very big, so I'm also adding a link to where you can read that one as part of the paper, with a magnifying glass tool.  I couldn't find a picture online of the wreck (I suppose I could contact the historical society), but there were several other wrecks that year, including one that killed 14 members of the Purdue football team.

Here is a link if you would like to read this second one easier.  You will probably need to sign up to read it, but it's totally free and no big deal.  Cedar Rapids newspaper archives
Sources:

Cedar Rapids newspaper archives, online

"Uncle Roy Haynes", interview transcript of Harry Raymond Haynes, ca. 1980.

"Jack Drake Haynes", manuscript by Jack Haynes, 2006.

Notes from interview with Jack Drake Haynes, 2013.

Henry Haynes photo from FamilySearch.org, Henry Haynes profile.