As you know, my genealogy research findings sometimes stun me.
One of my clients is related to William the Conqueror. A couple of months later, in another genealogy, I suddenly, around 8 generations "up", start recognizing names. Come to find out, she too related to William the Conqueror. These two women, that I knew, but they didn't know each other, are related from different sides of their family.
I suppose if we could trace our roots back far enough, we'd all be related, right?
Another genealogy found that on both sides of the family and the "in betweens", they were all the same nationality. They lived in the Netherlands and married neighbors--so they were Dutch. When they came to America, they moved into Dutch settlements and married neighbors. This went on, generation after generation. I couldn't get over that, as most of us have many nationalities in our lineage.
The genealogy I finished in January, showed a family where three of their youngest sons were killed in the same battle, on the same day, in the Civil War. I got teared up over that one. They also had several ancestor's that fought in the Revolutionary War--one with such heroic valor that he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Some dying in battle and buried in mass grave at the battle site.
Now--I think I have found the ultimate. My client's 8th Great Great Grandmother was the last woman to be hung and killed at the Salem Massachusetts Witch trials. September 22, 1692. The last.
When she and her husband came to America, they were given a small piece of land by the government to settle on. When her husband died, she inherited the property. She lived as a widow for 21 years, with only a small garden and a cow to sustain her.
They had had 8 children, five had died either at birth, in infancy, or young children.
She sometimes begged the neighbor's for food. Then there came along a wealthy man who wanted to buy her small piece of land. She refused to sell because after she died, it was to go to her remaining living son.
How to get the land? Buy witnesses who would proclaim her a Witch. If she were to confess, she would be beaten and jailed, her life spared and the land would be sold to whomever wanted it. If she were to deny and be killed, the land would remain in her family.
Neighbor's told that if they refused her begging she cast a spell on them and they were harmed. Young people said that when she passed by, if she looked at them, they got sick. Because so many of her children had died, that too proved her to be a witch.
Because she had been widowed so long and never remarried, meant men were afraid of her because she was a witch. One testified that she repelled his advances.
For 6 weeks she was jailed and brought to trial every day. She denied. Witnesses were brought. She denied. So, she was hung, her body laid on the ground at Gallow Hill until it rotted, then thrown in a mass grave. Her son was able to keep the land.
2 weeks later, all those jailed were cleared and released by the State government. There were no more trials or hangings after her group.
In 2013, 309 years later, on Halloween, the government stated none of the people killed were witches. Their names were cleared a memorial monument with all their names, erected in the Salem Cemetery.
I wish I had known about this. My Jennifer lived in Boston and then Salem for 7 years. I traveled there often. I've seen Gallows Hill and the cemetery and heard the stories. If I had only known of my clients Great Grandmother, I would have taken photos and studied more about her life. As it is, luckily, on the internet and in one woman's blog, her lifestory was told.
This is going to shock my client, who is also a life long friend. Give her something to talk about at our Gal Pal luncheons!
That's why I find genealogy so fascinating and become obsessed with these ancestor's. They went through things that would kill us. I think most of us get our strengths from those hard working, never quitting ancestor's of ours.
My Great Grandma, lived just down the road (where my sister lives now). Helped her 3 male cousins homestead in South Dakota. Carried a gun on her hip to kill the rattlesnakes she came across while out plowing up the land. When she came to Michigan and married my Great Grandpa, she helped clear the land here too. She was still tending her garden and playing the piano on her 90th birthday. Even at age 96, when she became ill, she refused to lay down in her bed. She stayed propped up with pillows against the high head board. Staying like that for a month, until the day she slumped over and was dead. Who cared for her--changed her diapers, bathed her, fed her? Her daughter-in-law, my Grandma.
These before us worked hard, had children, year, after year--always a baby on the way and many of those babies died. My Great Great Aunt had a 2 year old daughter and a 17 year old son, died on the same day in 1918, mere hours apart, from the flu.
Now--we complain if the power goes out for a couple of hours, if we get snowed in. We are such wimps!!! If we had to step into their lives, the way it was then, the way we are now,...we wouldn't last a year!