Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Charles Mabry Copeland - a man who followed his dash

1871 – 1938
Family Lineage: 1 Charles Mabry Copeland, 2 Charles Thomas Copeland Sr.,3 Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

Like it or not, each creature born on this planet experiences two unchangeable dates in life - the one that celebrates birth and the other designating the day life as we know it ends. But it is the "dash" between those two dates that makes that person unique.  
 Charles Mabry Copeland was three years old before his home town, Whitesburg, was incorporated as an entity in Carroll County, Georgia.  And his life ended 67 years later in the same tiny town only 40 miles from Atlanta.  While Charlie was growing up, the town had a population of +/- 500 lives and it hasn't grown much since then with the 2010 Census showing 588 lives counted. Although today's young people of Whitesburg are able to take work outside of town - thanks to modern transportation - Charlie had few opportunities to improve his lot other than farm work or some kind of employment on the nearby Chattahoochee River that flows between Whitesburg and neighboring Carrollton.

One would think that - based on the above statistics - Charlie's dash had little to recommend it to a blog writer devoted to family legends.  That might have been so during the late 1800s, but thanks to computers today and my interest in digging past dry facts and figures,  I soon discovered that both Charlie and the little town of Whitesburg, Georgia lived through very interesting times which were neither dull nor humdrum for either.

For instance, for many generations, the major nucleus of the  Creek Confederacy, a loose grouping of related indigenous people, populated the area, while owning other great tracts of land in what would eventually  become Georgia and Alabama.  But, despite being rich in land, they had little in the way of hard cash to buy essentials from the local trading posts, and made the same major mistake many people make today - they had no resources to back up their growing debt and eventually realized they would never be able to repay them without restructuring" (sound familiar?).  There was only one asset they could liquidate -  some of their lands.  

Chief Wuilliam McIntosh
So, in 1802, the Creeks contracted with Chief William McIntosh to negotiate a treaty which would cede some of their land to the United States in exchange for debt forgiveness.  Chief McIntosh was a “half breed” with  blood ties to both the Indian community and  prominent Georgians.  Because of his fluency in both languages, he seemed a good choice to handle these very important negotiations.  

They certainly didn't expect him to choose his English heritage over his equally strong Indian heritage and sign away all the tribe's remaining lands.  After his deception was discovered, the Creek National Council found him guilty of violating the tribal law protecting communal property and he was sentenced to death.  But one has to wonder whether anyone had ever thought to question William's loyalty to the Creek Confederacy in light of the fact that his  plantation and lifestyle heavily reflected only his English heritage.  History tells us that after the Treaty was signed and the Indian lands in Georgia and Alabama became available, a lottery for large plots of land was established which was open to all.

While this was going on, John Copeland (a Revolutionary War veteran living in South Carolina) died and - as was the custom - left most of his large estate to his oldest sons. Two of his younger sons, William and George, upon learning that it might be possible to attain rich farm land through the lottery in Georgia, decided to sell their farms and move their families to Georgia.  But before they could put all their plans in place, George died while only in his mid 30s.  Despite the ensuing heartbreak - or maybe because of it - George's family still was able to fulfill his dream by joining William in the migration to Georgia. 

One of George's sons was Robert Hatten Copeland, a young disabled man known derisively as the "Snakeman”, whose deformities were attributed tohis mother having been terrified by a rattlesnake during her pregnancy.   
Robert Hatten Copeland

After settling in Georgia,  Robert's infirmaries did not prevent him from marrying another former South Carolinian, Sarah Minerva, who became the mother of his 9 sons and 1 daughter before her death at age 49, the only blessing being that she didn't live to see her sons march off to war or grieve for the two who never came home.

A year after Sarah's death, 57 year old Robert married again – this time to a 25 year old, Ann Jane Ferris. They had only four years together before war was declared, and the family was torn apart as Robert's sons joined the Confederacy. 

But despite the on-going war, Mary Frances was born to Robert and Ann a year after their marriage, followed by a son, Thomas (Tommy) who was born just as the War was drawing to a close.  The last child to be born to the couple was Charles Mabry (aka Charlie) whose father - by that time - was 64 ye and ars old and mother 36.  

Grave of Thomas Copeland, Age 16
His childhood didn't last very long.  By the time he was 11 years old, his sister had married and his teenage brother, Tommy, had died suddenly.  Anytime a child dies, there is heartache and loss, but Tommy's death presented additional problems because  now there would be no one strong enough to help frail Robert with the farm's heavy chores, making it abundantly clear that they would have to find other ways to support the family. 

Despite Whitesburg's dismal reputation as a dying town, it seemed for awhile that employment possibilities would open up, thanks to the planned construction of a rail-line running through Whitesburg and connecting Georgia to the Carolinas.  But that plan went awry when workers grading the road outside Whitesburg encountered a huge impenetrable layer of rock, thus literally stopping that construction opportunity in its “tracks”.  
Whitesburg Train Depot

Fortunately for the town, a Plan B had been drawn up which would be good for the town, but not necessarily for the Copelands because there would be fewer employment opportunities which they could handle physically. That plan was to build a railroad depot in Whitesburg, making it the first rail center in Carroll County to serve the Central Railroad's Chattanooga Railroad line.  In addition, the town was finally awarded its own post office, which allowed it to become a central hub for mills shipping their product on the Snake River. 
Thanks to all the activity centering on the railroad, other jobs opened up, one of which was perfect for Robert's family, despite his physical challenges. After some pleading, the Jones Bridge authorities agreed to hire Robert and Charlie to run the ferry across the Chattanooga River while Ann collected tolls.  This was a perfect fit for them, especially because the job included a house which allowed them to stay together for three years until Robert's health had deteriorated so much that Ann and Charlie could no longer take care of him.  After conferences among the family members, Robert's son, William, took Robert to his home and cared for him until his death in 1885.   

Copeland Ferry
Charlie and his mother must have felt especially blessed to have steady work during the next five years.  And they probably could see no reason why it wouldn't continue into the future.  But the river, which had sustained them, almost destroyed them when it overran its banks and washed away their home and belongings except for a chair, a chest and the family Bible (not much to show for a lifetime but precious to them and worth saving).  There is no record of what eventually happened to the chest and chair.  The Bible, however, was eventually taken to Chicago by Charlie's oldest son who planned to have it re-bound.  But that plan was literally washed away by a another flood - this time involving the Chicago River which flooded and caused great damage to almost everything in its path - including that precious Bible.
Even after the flood, Ann and Charlie were able to continue ferrying people across the
Chattahoochie and tending the "new" toll-free Jones Bridge. That bridge  stood for less than 20 years before it too fell into such disrepair that it was replaced by another, more modern bridge in 1922 (the remnants of the old bridge still stand where the Chattahoochee River flows roughly east-to-west instead of north and south). 

Lula and Charlie with 3 sons on Jones Briedge
Charlie put his own life on hold in order to take took care of his mother until - in 1900 - she died at age 65.   Her death, although certainly sad, opened the door for Charlie to adjust his "dash" and marry Lula Jane Johnson on his 29thbirthday.  There were 4 boys and - finally - a girl born to Charlie and Lula.

 His dash over the next years centered around his family and life on a farm in Carrollton for the first 13 years of their marriage and - finally - back in Whitesburg where that final date (1938) became an official part of his history, but not before he had:

  • Been employed  as the Town Marshall, during which time rumors had started flying that animals with rabies had been seen around town.  He handled that crisis in short order by killing every animal in town - including pets (which didn't make him real popular and cut that job short when he killed the mayor's dog).
  • Become well known to the children in town as he served as janitor in the local school 
Finally, it became apparent that his dash through life was coming to an end when - at age 67 -  he began to suffer greatly with gall badder complications and died during surgery.  Lula Jane lived 12 more  years until suffering a stroke  in 1950. The graves of many family members discussed in this post can be found in the Whitesburg Methodist Cemetery.

Copeland graves for Robert, Jane (Ann), Charlie and Lula Jane

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sir Edward Montagu, Lord Chief Justice of England

1485 – 1557

13th Great Grandfather though the Montagu (Montague), Lascalles, Rhodes (Rodes), Ball, Custer, Franklin and Hayward families

(This legend  may appear far down our genetic chain, but he's still family and we can claim him with pride.  His story is the 61st to be published in my blog, but has been one of the hardest to write so far - not because of a lack of information, but because there is almost too much!  As a result, my challenge has been to give flesh to the person hidden among all those printed facts -  even though it has been more than 400 years since his death!) 

King Edward I
Sir Edward Montagu is believed to have been a direct descendant and namesake of King Edward I, who ruled England from 1272 to 1307.  That king, besides having been properly addressed as "Your Royal Highness", was called (probably behind his back)  “Longshanks” because of his great height and “The Hammer of the Scots” because of his response to the Scots' demand for independence.  Despite his heavy involvement in political intrigues and battles before and after he ascended to the throne, he was respected by most of his subjects for the way he embodied the medieval ideal of kingship (i.e. a soldier, administrator and a man of faith).  

It is also believed that Sir Edward's last name originated on the female side of the family when, before his birth, a prosperous yeoman, Richard Ladde, of Norse descent, adopted  his wife's maiden name of Montagu - a name much better known because of its deep roots into England's royal family,   

Cambridge University
By the time Edward, the second son of Thomas Montague and Agnes Dudley, was born, the family had attained wealth and a stellar reputation, which allowed him more opportunities than most people even dreamed of at  that time. So, with an eye toward building on the family reputation and making a name for himself,  young Edward enrolled at Cambridge University in order to study law.
After completing his studies (did they have graduation in the early 1500"s?), Edward built his stellar reputation on not only his well-known family name, but his willingness  to take on and successfully complete any job that was offered - no matter how seemingly menial that job might seem to those of us in the 21st Century, such as:
  • delivering gaols (jails) to the Castle of Northampton,
  • serving as commissary commissioner to the royal forces during the outbreak of an insurrection;
  • overseeing the operation of sewers in Huntingdon and neighboring counties,  
During his lifetime he was married three times, had 11 children and had inherited Boughton, the family estate, following his older brother's death since the brother had not any sons to carry on the line.

Finally his attempts to become known for his abilities and devotion to King Henry VIII  (yes, that King Henry) paid off when, in 1537, the king both knighted and appointed him a “sergeant-at-law", a position which allowed him to represent the King in legal matters.  The candidates for this honored post were required to have been barristers for at least 16 years and  the newly appointed sergeant was expected to host a magnificent feast and party to which the king and his queen were invited.  Edward took it several steps further when his lavish party lasted five days and did, indeed, include attendance by the king and whoever his queen was at the time. This was an impressive step in his career  because he was now eligible to be chosen as a judge, and even if that fell through, could continue to plead in court and win fees.

That 5 day party must have really impressed the King because a short time later, Sir Edward was appointed to serve as a judge on the powerful “Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas”.  On the surface, it seemed a giant step up in his career; however, the truth was that the Bench had been steadily losing its power over the years because of earlier actions taken, as well as the changing expectations of the public.  It took hard work and dedication, but finally Edward and his co-judges were able to stop that downward momentum by pushing for revolutionary reforms which resulted in less expensive, faster and more versatile types of pleadings.

With Edward's talent for being in the right place at the right time, he was serving King Henry when the king's anger over the Catholic church's constant criticism of him and his habit of changing wives in often violent ways boiled over in 1539.  The punishment he meted out for their actions was extremely harsh: he closed down all the Roman Catholic churches in his country and took ownership of the religious houses dotting the land, which left these beautiful buildings completely empty.   

The Boughton House today
As one of the richest Benedictine monasteries in England, the abbey of  St. Edmunds Bury had long been coveted by the Montagus who owned the adjacent property.  When the opportunity presented itself, Edward was finally able to acquire the “Great Hall of the Monks”, which had been a part of the Abbey and added it to the family estate.  Eventually Edward expanded the manor house on the property which remained in the Montagu family for many generations.
King Henry at age 49
Sir Edward continued to build his reputation and wealth over the years, even when it sometimes seemed that he had been demoted.  By 1545, he had been transferred from the King's Bench to the lesser (but less onerous) post of Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.  The timing was interesting!  By that time, King Henry's health was declining and he suspected he wouldn't live much longer. He was, therefore, driven to make sure Edward, his 2 year old heir, would be protected and nurtured.  Based on their history together, it's no surprise that Lord Chief Justice Montagu became one of sixteen executors of King Henry's will, as well as the guardian of the future king which, although important, was not his only responsibility.

One of Sir Edward's other responsibilities as Lord Chief Justice was to lead a commission investigating serious charges brought against the Duke of Norfolk.  In 1547, after the Duke finally admitted to plotting against the crown, he was sentenced to die.  Ironically, on the very day that was to be the Duke's last, 56 year old King Henry VIII died - so of course all sentences were put on hold.  It might seem the Duke had been incredibly lucky, but maybe not. His revised sentence took away both his title and all his property and, even worse, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for many years.
King Edward VI

Edward VI, the 9 year old son of Henry VIII, was crowned shortly after his father's death, and became England's first Protestant king. But, because of his youth, he had been placed under the thumb of the Council of Regency, a group of powerful men appointed by his father.  Sir Edward Montagu was also a member of the Council, but soon found himself in opposition to most of their directives.

The young king never really had a chance to rule.  At age 15 he contracted a terminal disease, which forced him and the Council to dig out the Constitution of the land with a view toward amending the “Devise for the Succession”.  This clause had become more important than ever before because if it was allowed to stand, Edward's oldest Roman Catholic half-sister, Mary, would ascend to the throne after his death.  

The young, ailing king did not have the experience, stamina or wisdom to break the spell woven over him by the majority of manipulative and powerful men on the Council of Regency.  As a result of constant arm twisting and manipulation, he finally bought into their arguments and agreed to name his cousin, Protestant Lady Jane Grey, as his successor.. Sir Edward vigorously fought against this proposed change until he realized he was in the minority and it was a losing battle.  After fighting the inevitable, he finally bowed to the majority decision and ordered that  "... the King himself was to draw up the legal instrument necessary to devise the crown away from his half-sisters."

Montagu had obviously lost much of his influence and power in that fight and had found himself being bullied by the Duke of  Northumberland, who called him a traitor and even threatened him with physical violence unless he agreed to the proposed change. Despite having eventually given in, his enemies had gained power and used that power to punish him for what they considered his betrayal of their cause. As punishment, he was fined 1,000 pounds, removed from the Court of Common Pleas, lost some of his property and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for several months.  A footnote in history tells us that after King Edward died in 1553,  Lady Jane ascended to the throne but only ruled for 13 days before she was deposed by the rightful heir, the Roman Catholic Mary.

No matter what had happened with Lady Jane and Queen Mary, Edward lost heart – and face – during the conflict, and retired to the Boughton Manor where he died in 1557.  Papers found after his death indicate that he felt guilty the rest of his life for caving and signing the Devise for Succession.  Quite a fall for a man of his stature! 

St. Mary the Virgin, Weekley
However, despite his belief that he had been a failure and "sold out his values", he was honored even after his death when his casket was carried with great pomp and ceremony in a “hearse of wax” to the cemetery of St. Mary the Virgin, Weekley which had been built a few years before his death but is still standing today. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20,22, his tomb's inscription reads:
"Farewell, O Edward Montagu father of Justice and master of the Law, you whom sober skill has nourished and wicked knaves of men have feared had lived in the ancient manner, a lover of peace and an unyielding guardian of virtue and scourge of vice... "

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thomas Tinsley - first immigrant to America in his family

Family lineage: Thomas Tinsley 1 , Thomas Tinsley, Jr 2., Margaret Tinsley 3, William Nance, Jr. 4, Reuben Nance  5Sarah Nance  6, Enos Philpott 7, Rebecca Philpott  8, Lula Jane Johnson  9, Charles Thomas Copeland  10,   Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.  11

1618 - 1702

An oft' repeated dilemma facing genealogists researching ancestors born centuries ago is that there are few documented facts about their early lives; which, of course is a problem when trying to build an accurate story about a real person who lived long before we - or even our great great grandparents -  were born. So the alternative is to write a story which might not be totally accurate but enables one to see the ancestor as a human being, while incorporating as many documented facts as possible.
This certainly holds true for Thomas Tinsley (also spelled Tisley, Tilsey and Tinsely).   Most family historians agree that Thomas (aka Tom orThom?) married an English girl, Elizabeth Randolph, in 1638 -  supposedly the same  year they both arrived in America and their first son was born. But the story has many pieces missing, such as:

  • How and when did Thomas and Elizabeth meet?
  • Were they married before leaving England?
  • Was she also traveling as an indentured servant?
  • Were they  on the same ship?
  • If it wasn't Thomas, who did she travel with? 
  • Where was she when her first son was born - also in 1638?
Lots of questions, few answers; but what is known is that 20 year old Thomas was the first immigrant in his family to come to America, and that a number of years later, his granddaughter, Margaret, married Richard Nance's son, William Nance, who was  also the first immigrant in his family to come to America.  Both men arrived in the early 1600s and settled in the Jamestown, Virginia area.  Their families became joined forever through the lives of their children and the following generations.

Why did these brave people leave their homes?  It could have been just an adventurous spirit or perhaps it was because England was in turmoil at that time and life was very hard - with few opportunities for the young.  So it might have seemed that anything would be better than the life they were living - even if it meant leaving loved ones behind and having to spend several years in servitude to, hopefully, a kind master. However, very few could afford the 6 pounds fare, and it's likely that the less adventurous decided not to  venture into the great unknown without the support of family or friends.  Luckily, for their descendants, Thomas Tinsley, Elizabeth Randolph  and Richard Nance were among those willing to take a chance on building a new life in an unknown environment.

After making the decision to leave home, Tom would have petitioned a ship's captain to make arrangements for an indenture contract.  Knowledgeable captains usually had a list of planters willing to pay the fares of young, healthy people who - in turn would work at whatever job was assigned - for five to seven years.  

John Robins (who had probably come to America as an indentured servant himself, but was now a planter in Virginia) agreed to pay young Tinsley's fare and probably that of several other immigrants, in return for receiving whatever services he demanded for a defined period of time  and a grant from the Virginia Colony of 50 acres of land per sponsored servantUpon satisfactorily completing the indenture contract, Thomas would be granted 50 acres of land in Virginia and full citizenship. So it was that Thomas (and probably his wife) arrived in James City County, Virginia in 1638 - strangers in a strange and violent land.

In 1645, when Thomas was about 27 years old, his indenture contract would have been completedRecords show that upon being freed, he was awarded 50 acres of land on Moses Run Creek, which flowed into the west side of the Chickahominy River in James CityWithin a short time, he was able to build a solid reputation as an astute and productive planter who shipped tobacco to England in return for  domestic luxuries which were not available in America at the time.

Chicahominy River settlers
Within 5 years after being granted his freedom, he could add more land to the original grant on Moses Run Creek through paying the fares of six  immigrants sailing from England - as he had done not long before. In return, he like John Roberts, received not only much needed services on his growing plantation, but was granted 50 acres on Moses Run Creek per servant.

Ironically, 12 years later he would be  granted a patent for 300 more acres on Moses Run by the colonial governor, Sir William Berkeley (who - ironically became his enemy within a very short time after that grant).  Not bad for a man who had arrived in America as a slave, with literally nothing except his brainpower, willingness and strength! 

Nathaniel Bacon
That was not a peaceful time in Virginia, however, with anger bubbling to the surface in 1676 under the leadership of Nathaniel Bacon in an action dubbed “Bacon's Rebellion".  It was a time when strong criticism was being directed at the governor, Sir William Berkeley, who not only refused to defend the frontier and settlers against attacks by Native Americans, but granted special privileges to his close friends, while supporting the imposition of high taxes and low prices for tobacco.

Despite many protests and broken promises, nothing was resolved until a very frustrated Bacon recruited his equally unhappy friends and neighbors and led two unauthorized - but successful - expeditions against the aggressive tribes.  "Our" Thomas Tinsley was one of the planters who supported Bacon as he  confronted the Governor and demanded that the ever-growing list of wrongs be righted..  
Because of unceasing pressure by both the populace and the English government, Governor Berkeley was finally forced to  convene the newly formed and mandated House of Burgesses (which he had hoped would go away because of lack of action)What was even worse, the governor had to allow his nemesis, the newly elected Nathaniel Bacon, to take his seat as a member of the new legislative body.  But the Governor still had tricks up his sleeve and had Nathaniel arrested on trumped up charges just as he attempted to take his elected seat.

But times they were "a-changing".  This arrest of a popular local man boomeranged on the Governor when it wakened the ire of supporters who had previously refused to take sides, and he was forced to set Bacon free. That did not end the matter.  The door of the jail had barely been opened before Bacon gathered his supporters and marched on Jamestown, where the cornered governor was forced to grant him a commission allowing him to continue his campaigns against Native Americans. 
The governor might have had to bow to the demands of the populace, but he was  still adamant about stopping his chief foe and critic.  As a result, he fled to the Eastern Shore of the state, where he put together enough manpower to allow him to return to Jamestown and proclaim Bacon and his followers rebels and traitors.  

After a sharp skirmish, Bacon recaptured the capital and Berkeley again took flight - but not before setting the town on fire because he was afraid he couldn't hold it against Bacon's attack. This should have been Bacon's finest hour!  After all, with the desertion by the Governor, he now controlled the colony, but not for long. In October of 1676, he died suddenly. 

Without his leadership, the rebellion collapsed and the Governor, who was not done with wreaking bloody havoc on his enemies, returned to take his vengeance on the population he felt had betrayed him. 
Blisland Parish Grievances with Thomas "Tilsl;ey" signature
Since Thomas Tinsley was a participant in Bacon’s Rebellion, he gladly added his name to a document titled “Blisland Parish Grievances”, which was dated April 2, 1677 and listed the many grievances perpetrated by the Governor that had eventually led to the rebellion.  The document was sent to England and caused such a stir that in short order, three royal commissioners were sent to investigate the reasons for the armed revolt. Included in those complaints were “high taxes, Indian murders and depredations, execution of sheriffs, selling of strong drink during court days and duties levied on ships”. The signers of the grievances had also been distraught over having had to obtain arms by any means in order to defend themselves. This document was later considered by historians to have been the opening gun of the long struggle for American independence which wouldn't actually begin for almost 100 years.

During those years, Thomas and Elizabeth built their home on what is nowTotopotomoy Creek, (originally called Moses Run)The property is 12 miles north of what is now the booming city of Richmond and was named "Totomoi" in honor of a great Indian king called Tottopottoma who was slain in battle while fighting for the Christians against the Mahock and Nahyssan Indians. Their originial house is no longer standing.  However, the house that took it's place and carries the same name was built in 1800 by Thomas Tinsley VI.  The house and property are still owned and maintained by the Tinsley family and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  

Thomas Tinsley followed the English custom of naming the first born son after the father, with this son inheriting the bulk of the estate. So in his will dated October 9, 1700, he left his eldest son, Thomas Tinsley II: "one young gray stoned colt branded TT." (This brand, which was used by him in seventeenth century Virginia, was one to the first in what would eventually be known as the United States of America. His use of this ownership mark was 100 years before burned brands had come into limited use by the end of the 18th century. George Washington, however, followed the same practice and burned "G.W." on his cattle, the position on the animal indicating the plantation where they were pastured.)

Thomas and Elizabeth must have set records at that time in our country's history by being married more than 60 years.  Even more amazing is the fact that seem to have died the same day in 1702 (wouldn't you love to know more about that event?)  They are both buried at St. Peters Church in Hanover Co., Virginia which pre-dates the revolutionary war.

For more information about the Tinsley family you might like to check. " Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666", W.C. Hill Printing Co., Richmond, VA 1912, p.239; Cavaliers and Pioneers. Op. cit., p. 471; Brock, R. A. (Secretary of the Virginia Historical Society and the Southern Historical Society), "The Tinsley Family Virginia Cousins", by George Brown Goode. Richmond, VA 1887. P. 212 (footnote) or

Friday, August 7, 2015

Frederick Francis Franklin - an Englishman in the Midwest

1 Frederick Francis Franklin, 2 Francis Edwin Franklin, 3 William Frederick Franklin,
4 Edna Bethel Franklin, 5 Judith Ann Copeland

As is usual in researching our ancestors born before the 20th Century, documented facts are scarce - even with today's technological progress.  What kind of life did 19 year old Frederick Franklin lead in London?  How did he meet his bride?  We do know that 26 year old Maria Johnson was described as a spinster on their wedding day, that he was  a boilermaker and his father a shoemaker.  What could have happened during the following  three years that resulted in making an earth-shattering decision to migrate across the sea, leaving their home, family and friends behind? 

Besides the obvious curiosity about Frederick's life, more questions surfaced recently when a family genealogist looked closer at the' birth dates of the people purported to be Fred's parents.  Things didn't add up - at all - especially when one compares  Frederick's birth date to those who are commonly accepted as his parents. If we stick with the story, Fred would have been born when his mother was 3 years old and perhaps even before his father.  Family genealogies also show his parents died in New Zealand.  Really?   Are these the right parents?  Don't think so but that's a project for the future.

What we do know for sure is that in 1848, when Fred was 22, Maria 29, Sophia Mariah, 2  and Charlotte Amelica 7 months old, they boarded the Devon, a 260.5 foot long sailing ship. What compelled them to leave their life and loved ones behind is not known. It may have been simply because they craved adventure and opportunity, but the truth is that it probably had much more to do with the atmosphere in England at that time, which was rife with poor economic conditions, religious intolerance, political upheavals and demeaning social gradations.

They obviously would have boarded the ship with both trepidation and excitement as they pictured what life would be like in a new land.  Little did they know that the trip itself was going to tear their family apart and cause incredible pain. It is known for sure that the ship was blown off course and - instead of landing in Baltimore, where they were probably headed - they eventually landed down the coast in New Orleans. The average length of time for such journeys was 43 days but this trip probably lasted longer because of the weather and heavy seas. 

Living conditions on board were primitive. Passengers slept in narrow, closely packed bunks located below deck. During storms, the door would have been latched closed, leaving passengers with little light or fresh air to relieve the stench of vomit and filled chamber pots. Constant jousting about from gale force winds made even standing difficult.  On the worst days, passengers could not even stay in their beds to sleep, but went sliding about the cabin.  Food was minimal and tasteless, and seasickness was a constant companion for many travelers.

Burial at sea
Although some could adjust to the constant rocking and bouncing of the ship, others spent the entire trip nearly bedridden with nausea. Days passed slowly for those afflicted. Occasionally, emigrants with overwhelming seasickness would starve to death during the voyage, and the young Franklins were not immune to such suffering as they helplessly watched their baby, Charlotte, sicken, die and be given up to the sea.. Whether Maria died of a broken heart or had become very ill herself during the journey, she barely got to port before she too died in January of 1849.

The next phase of the Franklin's journey was actually the beginning of a whole new life for the re-configured family. It probably started on one of the steamers plying the Ohio River from New Orleans to Cincinnati, Ohio.  The fares were cheap but the comforts few. Deck passengers usually outnumbered cabin passengers three or four to one, and most of the sweaty bodies  were squeezed among the cargo crates.  It's no surprise then that in those close quarters, disease was not only rampant but was carried to unsuspecting communities along the steamers’ routes.  

It's easy to imagine what Fred went through during that part of the journey as he not only grieved for his wife and baby, but had to keep his little one safe at his side while trying to minimize the abundant danger she faced from disease.  And of course there was always the possibility that her daddy would also be lost to disease and she would be left to fend for herself in this strange new world.
Francis Edwin  - first child of  Fred and Adelia

There is no record of how Fred met 17 year old Adelia Anna Eaton, a New Jersey girl.  We do know that her father had died several years before and her mother had remarried a Mr. Ricketts of Maryland.  It certainly is possible that they met on the steamer because it was only seven months after landing in New Orleans that they married on August 27, 1849.  Adelia remained an important cog in Fred's life until her death in 1901. Not only did she raise the child her husband had brought to the marriage, but gave birth to nine of her own. After their first child's birth in 1850, the family moved south to the Louisville, Kentucky area, where they settled in for 20 years.

“But the times, they were a-chainging”, as the 1964 song sung by Bob Dylan so aptly put it. A war was breaking out which would split up the country and its people's loyalties to each other for generations. It's never been confirmed that Frederick, who was in his 30's at the time, had joined the Union Army; but there are records of a Frederick F. Franklin joining the 5th Regiment of the Kentucky Infantry, which was based in the Louisville area where "our" Franklins lived. It's also interesting that during those war years, there was a significant gap between the births of their 5th and 8th children - not to be resumed until after the war ended. 

Whether-or-not this was “our” Fred serving in the Union Army, there is no doubt that life was not serene for anyone at the time, especially since Kentucky was a border state, with many a “brother against brother” scenario being played out. Although originally declaring itself neutral, that changed after the Confederacy tried to force the state into supporting its side of the war, which forced the legislature to petition the Union for assistance, thereafter assuring that it was solidly under Union control.

The 5th Regiment of the Kentucky Infantry was organized in 1861, mustered out in 1865, and was based in Louisville after the attempted invasion by the Confederate Army.  Surprisingly for a state that had to quickly catch up on the war effort, they were able to hold their enemies in check until reinforcements arrived from Ohio and Indiana, and became the site of fierce battles led by such military leaders as Ulysses S. Grant and Nathan Bedford Forrest (who eventually became a scourge to the Union side). 

Like many others who had suffered through the war, when peace finally came to the land, the Franklins decided to make a fresh start in a new environment. They found the home they had been searching for 80 miles away, across the Ohio River where they eventually settled down on a farm in Ripley County, Indiana, raising their children and enjoying their many grandchildren. This area turned out to be a good place to settle and, to this day, many of their descendants still live in the surrounding area..

Franklin 50th anniversary party
In 1899, a celebration of Fred and Adelia's 50th anniversary was held at their home with their six living children, 23 grandchildren and a number of great grandchildren participating in the festivities. The couple was gifted with a beautiful family Bible which inscribed dates of marriages, births and deaths of family members over a period of many years.   

Adelia was the first to die in 1901 at age 69 and 77 year old Fred succumbed three years later.  Despite the hardships and tears they had  experienced over the years, there was much to celebrate about the life they had put together.

Fred was memorialized in his obituary through the following poem written by an unknown author:
“We smoothed the curls of his silken hair, on his marble brow with tender care
And laid his hands in a final fold on his peaceful heart, so still and cold.
We kissed his brow with a sad farewell, and the anguish we felt none can tell;
We laid him to rest on earth's snowy breast to sweetly sleep the sleep of death.
We laid away his cane and his empty chair, and folded up the garments he used to wear.
The task God assigned him on earth is done. His suffering is over, his crown is won.
We weep for the form we see no more, Oh guide us, Father, to that bright shore
Be the first to greet us as of old, When the pearly gates of heaven unfold.