A couple of years ago I was sharing some of my exciting Genealogy findings with my then 10-year-old Grandson. He was excited to discover that President Zachary Taylor was a distant cousin. He listened intently to the stores of our Ancestors who helped to establish Jamestown. Then I told him that we were cousins with the infamous outlaw, John Wesley Hardin. That is when he got a stern look on his face and said, “What’s so good about that?”
I started thinking about his statement this morning and realized that there really is a good side of the “bad” characters we find in our lineage. Let’s be honest, our family trees would be boring if we didn’t have a few bad seeds in it. They bring colorful tales to our stories and even some lessons.
One such story is about my 9th Grand Aunt Sarah (Hood) Bassett. She was born in 1657 in Lynn Massachusetts. She married William Basset in 1675. In May of 1692, Sarah along with her sister Elizabeth and Sister-in-law Elizabeth were arrested on the charge of practicing witchcraft. All three were transported to Salem which was about 5 miles away. They were carried there by a wagon that had bars on it to prevent escape. All three women were tried and convicted and were sent to prison in Boston. Sarah was accompanied by her 22-month-old son Joseph and she was allowed to keep him with her. She was released in December 1692. Not long after the ordeal was over, Sarah gave birth to a daughter whom she named Deliverance as an ode to her freedom.
Another story is from my 9th Great Grandfather Thomas Garnett. He was born in Kirby Lonsdale, Lancashire, England, December 15, 1595. He was brought to Virginia in 1609 as an Indentured Servant by Captain William Powell. Indentured Servants were basically slaves and had to serve for at least 10 years to earn their freedom. William Powell was a mean master and he abused all of his “servants”. It is said that he was also a drunk. In 1619 Thomas complained to the Governor of Virginia about his master’s behavior to which William brought charges against him for disloyalty. This Petition by William Powell to the General Assembly caused the Governor himself to give this sentence upon Thomas Garnett “that the said defendant should stand four days with his ears nailed to the Pillory” that is to say from Wednesday, August 4th and for likewise Thursday, Friday and Saturday next following…and every of those four days should be publicly whipped.” [Journal of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619, page 12].
To me, regardless of the circumstances that each of these ancestors found themselves in, feel that these accounts bring some “Flavor” to my Family History. I actually find myself spending more time in research and writing about the ancestors that were “unique”!
What type of stories do you have in your Family Tree?
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter