Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I have written about my disappointment in learning that my DNA testing revealed a total lack of Native American blood running through this old Nebraska body. You may recall that my Dad and his brother Jack were pretty insistent that their grandmother was native American. That tall tale was just that - a tall tale. Completely false. I was "bummed" to learn of this family lore falsehood. That was the bad news...
The good news, upon further research, I may have descended from a rather nasty pirate. This blood relationship goes way back. We are talking 11th great grandfather. This pirate guy is from my father's side of the family - which is weird because I didn't really have any information on my father's side of the family so to find a pirate in the archives is fascinating and almost makes up for the native American hoax.
You noticed I wrote "MAY" have descended... my research is completely non-thorough and mostly for entertainment purposes - my entertainment purposes! The Ancestry website gives you hints and you follow those hints back through the generations. The hints range from "consistent with family history" to "nope - not a chance"... When a hint seems to be "probable" or even this side of "plausible", I go ahead and add that person to the family tree.
Later on I might find that the person in question is completely wrong. The dates don't line up or an examination of records indicate this person couldn't possibly be part of the family line. It's easy to just delete that person and the wayward branch of the family tree is discreetly pruned. The computer program provided by the Ancestry site keeps track of your additions and deletions - you just start over and review the hints once again.
Thus far, it appears that this pirate lineage is fairly straight forward and kind of fascinating. From what I have been able to gather, our pirate grandfather was Dutch. He was married to a Dutch woman and had a couple of kids.
However, being a seafaring man, he sailed away and at some point became a pirate. He was captured by the sultan of Morocco. In Morocco, he converted and became a Muslim. He married for a second time and had children with his Moroccan Princess Bride or concubine... I say princess!
One of their children Anthony Van Salee sailed to New Amsterdam (New York) around 1630 or so. He was fairly wealthy having received some family money from the lucrative pirating business. He married on the ship traveling to New Amsterdam. His bride was older and in one article I read concerning her behavior, she was described as the "Carrie Bradshaw of Colonial Manhattan". It is written that she was relieved when their first child looked like the "Turk". That is what Anthony was called back then. According to other documents, he was probably the first Muslim to come to the new world.
Sooooo… my 10th great grandmother was pretty much European and a tad on the sexually permissive side, my 10th great grandfather was half Dutch pirate and half Moroccan princess. Which may finally explain why one of my second cousin's DNA sample came back with that tiny little bit of west African Moroccan blood. Somehow he was able to preserve his pirate heritage down through the generations while my pirate blood has been reduced by the invasion of the Swedes...
Dad and his brother had a darker complexion. Their mother and her siblings also had darker complexions - so it was easy to think that they were Native Americans. But alas, everything leads to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and just a pinch are descended from a Dutch Pirate Admiral and what I imagine to be a beautiful black Moroccan Princess.
My brother is supposed to travel to the United States this summer. I hope he will be able to make the trip. He plans to take the DNA test once he arrives in the States. I am hopeful that his DNA results will shed more light on our shared ancestors. I may not have everything figured out and the journey traveling back through time may not be entirely accurate, however, the journey has been entertaining, enlightening, time consuming and certainly one that has made social distancing tolerable...
I was going through some old files and found what must have been a rough draft of a column I had written for the 100th Anniversary of the Lewis Clark Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The local DAR chapter was founded here in Fremont in 1903 and included some rather prominent names of the time. I didn't mention any of those prominent names in the rough draft in my column. I'm pretty sure I didn't mention any of those prominent names in the final column. As usual my writing centered around ME! In this instance - I also included information about ME learning more about MY Revolutionary ancestors and some of MY other more recent ancestors. I may try to clean up this rough draft a bit... but for the most part I will just copy what I had originally written in 2003. So here we go...
DAR Series 2 - (and I'm not sure what that means - I didn't find Series 1)
When it occurred to me to write a series of columns on the ancestors of the members of the local DAR Chapter, it didn't really occur to me that people would have so little information on their illustrious antecedents and when I say people, I mean people like MY Mother.
In order to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, you have to be able to trace your family lineage back to someone who fought in the Revolutionary War. You have to prove that a blood relative served during the conflict that established our great nation.
I had this impression that everyone in DAR (not me, but every other DAR member) was fairly knowledgeable when it came to their specific family lineage or at least had it written down some where so they could get their hands on the information if needed for a column at some later time...
Mom wasn't sure where to look. Mom is remodeling her kitchen and it's like - what about these cupboards, does this tile go good with the counter top, I want a wallpaper I can live with... and so it goes. Her life is all kitchen right now - all kitchen, all over the house. No way could you find papers on the family ancestors when you are remodeling your kitchen.
SPECIAL NOTE: I AM REMODELING MY KITCHEN - HOW WEIRD IS THAT? My kitchen stuff is spread out all over the house and yet I found this particular notebook with this particular column tucked in it... sort of blowing my mind here...
So anyway... back to the column.
Mom was able to tell me that our ancestor was traced back on MY Grandfather Joe Green's side of the family and that the name of our Revolutionary War Ancestor was Jabez Heath. He evidently played an instrument in the band - they had bands? Whatever.
That was embarrassing. Why couldn't MY ancestor have done something really cool? But hey - if they needed band members, that's fine - he served and that is what is important! Right?
Mom suggested that I call her older sister Peggy Freeborn, who lives in Middletown, Pennsylvania. She has all the information on the family history. She would be able to tell me more about Jabez and his service in the Revolutionary War.
I think Aunt Peg was a bit surprised to get my call - mainly because I haven't ever called her before. The information she provided on the family history was most helpful - even clearing up a little mistaken identity. It seems our Revolutionary War Ancestor's name was Job Heath - not Jabez! OK - well that's good to know.
But and this is a big BUT - we do have a Jabez connection. It is where the Greens and the Heaths come together. MY Great Great Grandfather Jabez Green came to America before the civil war and he married Mary Heath. If Dr. Jabez Green hadn't married Mary Heath, Mom and I wouldn't have had the blood line to Job Heath who played in the band during the Revolutionary War and we wouldn't be members of the DAR.
This next little bit doesn't have anything to do with the Revolutionary War but Aunt Peg got off on a family tangent and I just have to throw this in.
MY Grandpa Joe Green operated Greens Greenhouse for many years and if you knew MY Grandfather, you probably knew him as Carnation Joe. He was a lively, colorful character who spent his entire life dedicated to his family, his business and his beloved Fremont. He often said that he had been born under a bench in the Greenhouse located at 14th and Bell here in Fremont, but he was actually born in the front bedroom of the family house right next to the Greenhouse, on Thanksgiving Day in 1900. Joe Green's mother, Katie (Rogers) Green married MY Great Grandfather, Charles H. Green in 1897. MY Great Grandfather Charles had purchased the Greenhouse in 1896 - I tell you this so you have a little bit of an idea of that generation's history.
So what I found out from Aunt Peggy Freeborn (MY mother's older sister) is that MY Great Grandmother Katie (Rogers) Green's father, was in the Civil War. Which I did not know! So MY Great, Great Grandfather Henry W. Rogers was in the Civil War and Peg told me he had been wounded.
Now this gets weird so stay with me. Peggy Freeborn's husband Carl Freeborn has a relative (I don't know this guy's name - it doesn't matter, this is all about MY family anyway) who was in the Civil War and he was wounded in the same battle as my Great Great Grandfather Rogers. So Peggy (Green) Freeborn and Carl Freeborn who are married and who come from good old Nebraska, have relatives who were wounded in the same battle in the Civil War and get this - spent time in the same hospital recovering from their wounds. Mind blown...
Now about the wounds - it seems old man Rogers was in a bit of a hurry to get his sword out of the holder thing and he ended up cutting his hand. This was serious - because - gangrene. Then I learned that the Freeborn relative had been shot in the heel - we are guessing that he was running away from someone with a gun.
Don't you think that it is quite a coincidence that these two married folk, Aunt Peg and Uncle Carl, would have relatives that shared a portion of history in the Civil War? Oh - but wait - it gets even weirder. Both of the Civil War soldiers were captured by Rebel forces at Shotsville and held in Andersonville Prison. How about that?
I didn't know anything about Andersonville Prison but when I told this story to local historian Loell Jorgensen, he seemed duly saddened that anyone would do time at Andersonville. He also told me that the term back in the Civil War Era for running away from the whole getting shot with a gun thing was called "Skeedaddling."
I did not know that! So Carl Freeborn's relative got shot in the heel when he was probably skeedaddling (not my relative) and Peg's relative (MY relative) was wounded because he was just a little uncoordinated with his sword.
Just so you know, MY Great, Great Grandfather Henry Rogers survived the Civil War and Aunt Peggy told me there is a plaque at a battleground back in Pennsylvania that bears his name. That is cool - not real coordinated but at least he didn't play in the band!
MY mom and her younger sister Joey just sort of rolled their eyes when I told them some of the other stuff their older sister Peggy told me about Great Great Grandpa Rogers... I believe Peggy but you will have to decide for yourself if her story sounds true. Peggy told me that later in life, Henry lost a leg. She did not know how he lost the leg but it did not kill him. They buried the leg. Old Henry kept having phantom pains and complained that his toes were cramping up.
He insisted that they dig up the leg and fix the toes. Which they did -- I would like to know who "They" were. Anyway - "they" straightened out the toes and put cotton between the toes and made sure the foot was all comfy and that the toes wouldn't curl up again. Then "they" reburied the leg - and that was the end of the problem.
Peggy remembered visiting Henry's grave and there was this shallow leg shaped recession in the ground where the leg had been buried separated from the body. For some odd reason, she liked to sit in the leg recess of Grandpa Rogers grave... Well - like I said, I believe her but you have to decide for yourself...
Aunt Peggy also had some information on Jabez Green who married Mary Heath. Mary Heath is MY connection to Job Heath, the revolutionary war soldier who played in the band. Jabez Green would be Joe Green's Grandfather or MY Great Great Grandfather and it just so happens that Jabez also served in the Civil War. He was a Physician and a Pharmacist who served with the 29th Iowa Brigade (or something like that).
Now this would be really weird... what if Great Great Grandpa Dr. Jabez Green had treated Great Great Grandpa Rogers and that Freeborn relative? That didn't happen, but that would have been weird and pretty cool. OR - how about if Jabez Green had been the one who took off Great Great Grandpa Rogers leg? What if Dr. Green was one of the mysterious "They" people who uncurled the toes later on? Nope - that didn't happen - but that would have made a super good story!
So with all that family ancestor war related information written down, I needed to find out more about this train band thing. I wonder if he played a trumpet or just banged on a drum... and what did it have to do with a train? I did find out that they didn't have a whole lot of officers during the war and the officers weren't going around playing the drums - at least I couldn't find any information on that.
My online research revealed only one mention of the train band. It was on the website of the family of a revolutionary war soldier who served in the militia. I e-mailed the family but they didn't have a clue as to what train band meant.
Next I talked to local historian Loell Jorgenson. What's a train band? He wasn't sure but a train back then could be a group of wagons. Possibly supply wagons and maybe they "band" together. This was beginning to make me feel better and make some sense.
I called Keene Memorial Library and asked them about a train band. I stumped them but Barb and Ann set about trying to find out a definition of a train band. While they were trying to figure it out, I called the DAR library back in Washington D.C. to see if they could help me out - surely they would know what the term train band meant.
I explained my situation to this nice gentleman and he explained that a train band was a supply train. The wagons carried the artillery, the ammunition, the gun powder - all the "killing stuff" that accompanied the Continental Army during the war effort.
I asked the nice gentleman how he knew this and he haughtily replied "Because I am an Historian." Well - there you have it - from an actual Washington DC historian, _ Loell's guess was right on track! This is awesome! This means that Job Heath didn't play in a band! He was an officer in charge of supplying the army with the "Killing Stuff" - cool!
I was so glad that was settled. Then Ann Stephens called me from the Library and their research had yielded a different definition of the term train band. NO! I like the supply wagon train band definition. I wanted to keep the "I am an Historian" definition but I had to admit the new definition was kind of cool and it actually had some verification going for it.
A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away... even as far back as the reign of Alexander the Great (849-899) the term or concept of Train Band or trainbands meant that for the greater security, certain men in or near each State or City, who volunteered or were selected otherwise, were given, or agreed to procure, arms in advance of any emergency. Most European nations had abandoned this type of protective militia system by the sixteenth century.
According to the information that Ann gave me, the Colonial Americans actually chided the English for abandoning the militia system because it had proven so effective in keeping the aborigine in check here in the Colonies.
In Colonial times, people were armed, they were trained in the use of their weaponry, they had a plan and they were ready to protect whatever needed protecting.
By the time the Revolutionary War came around, the "Trainband" was made up of citizen soldiers. They were a trained militia who took up arms against the British from time to time. These citizen soldiers were tradesmen, farmers, men from all walks of life and vocations. They had one thing in common - they stood together in times of crisis and fought as a last recourse when their country was threatened.
The citizen soldier did not enter war for pay or for glory - he went to war only reluctantly. He fought because it was a matter of patriotism and it was a matter of national security.
According to the Constitution Society Home Page, the term "Trained Bands" actually referred to those select or specifically enrolled militia enlisted by the colonies or states. The minutemen of New England were a select or enrolled militia. MY ancestor Job Heath lived in New England and he served as a Lieutenant in the Train Band.
MY ancestor, Lt. Job Heath, died in service. Where? I don't know. How? I don't know. It just says he died in service. MY Aunt Peggy had told me that there was a Job Heath who was a General and a hero of the Revolutionary War - she also told me that he wasn't OUR Job Heath.
OUR Job Heath wasn't a General in the Revolutionary War... and that is fine. OUR Job Heath didn't play the trumpet in the band... and that is more than fine! OUR Job Heath was here before the beginning of OUR country and our shared ancestors were here before that... and that is way cool. OUR Job Heath died in service to his country... a reminder that freedom is never free. It is probably a good idea that this is written down - someone down the line may appreciate the family history!
In revisiting this column, it brought back such fun memories. My mom remodeling her kitchen. She and I talking about our ancestor Jabez Heath who wasn't Jabez but Job. Mom thinking he was in the band... we were so confused. I am glad I talked to my Aunt Peggy - she was a delightful, water spewing, overflowing, fountain of information. Both Mom and Aunt Peg have passed and it was wonderful to reread what I had written at the time. I remember Mom and Aunt Joey just rolling their eyes when I told them what Aunt Peg had told me about Grandpa Rogers and his leg pain. The synchronized eyerolling performance would have earned them a 10 if it were an Olympic event. I loved reading that I had asked Loell Jorgenson for his advice and also Ann Stephens - who along with Barb, found what I needed. I had forgotten about that DAR "Historian" - what a funny guy! (My Mom Alyce, Aunt Peggy and Aunt Joey are pictured below.)