Saturday, November 12, 2016

Francis Posey (aka Fancois Poschet)

 1615 - 1654

1 Francis Posey, 2 John Posey, 3 Susanna Posey, 4 Edward Philpott, 5 Charles Philpott, 6 David Philpott, 7 Enos Philpott, ,Rebecca Philpott , 9 Lula Jane Johnson, , 10 Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr., 11, Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.
While some genealogists believe that he was named Francois Pouchet and born in Cambrai France, an attractive town with a rich history going back to Roman times, others are convinced that he was an Englishman named Francis Posey, born somewhere in England.  I,  however, have found myself with a foot planted solidly in each argument, and have come to believe that Francois and Francis are actually one and the same man whose name was changed to fit the circumstances he encountered throughout his life. 

Many of the pieces of my theory seem to fall into place when one simply accepts the supposition that Francois was born in France to the Poschets, a Huguenot family forced to flee their home because of escalating religious persecution which threatened their very existence.

John Calvin
Their Huguenot (aka "French Protestant") religion had been founded by John Calvin, an influential French theologian who preached a message critical of many of the religious practices of the Roman Catholic church (the official religion of France at that time). 
Although Calvin's message resonated with up to a million followers in just 100 years, it was reviled by the royal and religious powers of France.  Even after Calvin's death in the mid-1500s, his followers continued to  strongly criticize the French King for the hardships he and the Roman Catholic Church imposed on the Protestant population. 

So it isn't surprising that eventually young King Louis XIII lost whatever patience he had and imposed terrible penalties on the Huguenots, such as the loss of their homes and whatever privileges they might have attained over the years.  However, they were assured that all they had lost would be restored to them when and if they accepted the “one true church” and pledged their loyalty to the King. 

Despite those continuing threats and promises, however, most of the Huguenots remained steadfast in their faith and refused to accept Catholicism, a position which finally forced them to flee their homes and seek safety in another country.

The Poschets were among those who refused to give up their faith.  Such a stand involved great sacrifice, including selling or giving away all their possessions before they fled France forever. They were desperate people who probably believed that they would be able to rebuild their lives and fortunes simply by crossing the English Channel. But that was not to be!  Life in England could also be dangerous - as they discovered the hard way.

History is unclear about what happened to the Pouchet family after they left France, but it couldn't have been good!  What is known is that a 12 or 13 year old boy now known as Francis Posey was living on the streets of London either as a beggar - or thief - or both. 

Although the name Francis Posey seems at first glance to be very different than the one he had been given at birth,  it's likely that the change came about either because the English couldn't spell or pronounce "Francois Pouchet" correctly or he was illiterate and simply didn't know how to write the name he had been given.  It's even possible that this was his way of leaving his French heritage behind and turning himself into an Englishman.
Bridewell Prison and Hospital
Supporting the assertion that Francis was in serious trouble with the English authorities before turning 13, his name can be found in the "Minute Book of Governors in London".  The entry was dated July 19, 1628 and signed by Sir Richard Deane, the Lord Mayor of London.   It reveals that a Francis Posey was to be imprisoned in Bridewell Prison and Hospital until attaining the age of 21.  (Although Bridewell had originally served as a royal palace, by the 1600s it was used solely to house  both the disorderly poor accused of petty crimes and the homeless children found on the streets of London.).  Francis could have been either or both of those, but sadly there is no record clarifying the reason for such a sentence.
In the meantime, the authorities obviously weren't all that thrilled about putting freed inmates like Francis back on the streets where they would probably revert to their old ways.  An answer to that dilemma seemed to rest in what they considered their "dumping ground", aka America - a place where they could get rid of their "refuse yearning to be free . . ."

They even worked out a way to get rid of  those prisoners without having to spend much, if anything. That answer came in the form of American settlers who desperately needed more bodies to work their land and build their homes.  These colonists were willing to pay the fares of non-violent prisoners in return for not only refreshing their supply of laborers, but also obtaining additional land of their choosing.

It was a good deal for both of the  contracting parties, but not  necessarily that great for the prisoners who had been hoping to be freed after serving their sentences in Bridewell.

So, with contracts signed and money paid, Francis Posey and 39 of his fellow Bridewell prisoners were marched onto a ship which would eventually dump them off on the shores of America.  The journey had been arduous and dangerous, with many of the prisoners falling ill or dying before even setting foot on land. 

However, despite their dire circumstances, these former prisoners did have something to live and work for.  That "something" was the assurance they had received that in return for their loyalty and hard work, each of them would eventually be granted not only their freedom, but also 50 acres of land and a small stipend to help them get started wherever they wished.

William Farrar
What a sight it must have been to see these bedraggled and weakened prisoners finally being marched off the ship and introduced to their new owner, William Farrar of Henrico County, Virginia, who - besides receiving new laborers would be granted 2,000 acres of prime land by the government.  

There's little doubt that although these former Bridewell prisoners would have been relieved to finally set their feet on dry land, fear would have trumped relief because: A) they already knew that their lives would not be their own for years to come; and B) they had  no idea how they would be treated - or even if they'd live through the experience.  

And so it was that “ffrancis Posey” (as his name appeared on the manifest) arrived in Virginia, knowing full well that while his new life would probably be hard, it would surely be no harder than it had been when he was an orphaned child on the streets of London or incarcerated in Bridewell.  He had also been warned that his eventual freedom depended on his successfully completing his obligation to Mr. Farrar.  

Based on what we know about his tenure as a slave in Virginia, it is obvious that he was a smart man who used his time to learn everything he could about the land in which he was being planted.  At some point during those early years, his research convinced him that the best place for him to settle would be along the Potomac River in Maryland, and he started planning for that eventuality.

He had even identified the person with whom he wanted to share that life.  Her name was Elizabeth (her last name is unknown).  She had just started her period of indenture for Cuthbert Fenwick, a well known Roman Catholic and former indentured servant himself.  Whatever plans they had, however, would have to wait until Francis could build a home and earn enough money to buy out Elizabeth's contract.

The first stage in that plan was achieved when Francis finally earned his freedom and was awarded a warrant for 100 acres of land, which was double what was usually granted to indentured servants who had completed their contract.  Taking that and the stipend he had been paid for his service, he put his research to good use and bought rich farmland about 100 miles northwest of Henrico, Virginia in Charles County, Maryland.  

That decision possibly meant more to him than simply attaining land on which to build his future.  One has to wonder whether it also brought peace to a man whose family had probably owned land in France before having to leave it all behind because of their religious beliefs. 
During his first several years of freedom he often traveled between Virginia and Maryland in order to hire dependable manpower and begin to build the home of his dreams.  But his strongest tie to Virginia was obviously his deepening relationship with Elizabeth, who still had several years remaining on her indenture contract before she would be free to follow her heart.

It was only after having selected the land and built a home in which to settle his future family that Francis entered negotiations to buy Elizabeth from Mr. Fenwick.  It's obvious that by that time, he had become a skilled negotiator  because when the dust cleared, he not only "owned" and married Elizabeth, whose indenture contract promised a warrant for 50 acres of land, he negotiated to buy Thomas, an indentured manservant who also came with a warrant for 50 acres of land.  With both purchases, Francis, was finally ready to leave France and England behind him and give his heart to America. 

So, after  packing up his expanding family and their few personal possessions, he headed back to Maryland, where he  proceeded to sink his roots and build a productive life.  After all, he no longer had personal ties to France, England - or Virginia -  to hold him back.

To solidify this commitment, he signed an "Oath of Fealty" (aka oath of allegiance) to the “Lord of the Manor and Crown”.   This oath was considered evidence of a person's loyalty to England - even while living in one of the colonies.  Thanks to that commitment, he became a citizen only one year after settling in Maryland.
Francis took his citizenship very seriously, as shown by his willingness to serve on juries and even as a deputy sheriff at one point.  Those commitments must have been especially meaningful to him whenever he remembered the tragedies and heartache in his former life.  In addition, he sank his roots deeper all the time in Maryland through buying 3,450 acres of land on which to grow his tobacco and continued to travel back and forth between Maryland and Virginia in order to honor his commitments.
One of those commitments took the form of his assuming a leadership role in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1641 to 1650.  (The House of Burgesses was the first legislative assembly of elected representatives in North America. It had been established as a way to encourage English craftsmen to work  in North America, while still  retaining their loyalty to the “Old Country”, thus making conditions in the colony more agreeable and comfortable).

Ironically, this French Protestant man - despite all he had suffered during his early life - remained true to his Huguenot faith, even though he once more found himself living among a large population of Catholics in Maryland. Thankfully America - even then - showed its colors of tolerance towards people of different faiths. 

35d Lord Baltimore (1647-1715
This became a point of pride for Francis who publicly declared a few years before his death that despite the heavy Catholic population in the area, the Protestant inhabitants always received fair treatment from the administrator, Lord Baltimore, and had never been forbidden to worship as they pleased (good news indeed for a man whose family had lost everything for proclaiming their faith).

Francis and Elizabeth had only 7 years together before he died at age 42 in 1657, leaving behind his widow, two young sons, (Benjamin and John) and a fine estate on the west side of the Wicomico River.   

Wicomico River
His was truly an American story! Exiled from the land of his  birth, orphaned and living on the streets of London, imprisoned in an old palace, and then enslaved in a foreign land.  Others might have just given up the fight long before those last chapters, but he was obviously a man of great spirit and brilliance who, during his 42 years of life, overcame all adversities and made a huge impact on the lives of others through the example he set for perseverance.

 His children followed in his footsteps. Despite losing their father while they were still young,  the Posey children continued to live where their father and mother had planted them, and become respected family men and planters.  However, in later years, while some of his descendants retained their French identity in both civil and church records, many drifted away from their Huguenot heritage and were eventually assimilated into other Protestant denominations.  

For more information on the Poseys and the Huguenot religion, you might want to check out:  
Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania
Huguenot Society of America

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Joseph Alexander Adair, Sr., Revolutionary soldier and settler in South Carolina

1711 – 1789
1 Joseph Alexander Adair, Sr. 2 Joseph Alexander Adair, Jr., 3 Elizabeth “Betsey” Adair, 4 Elizabeth “Betsey” Jones, 5 Robert Hatten Copeland, 6 Charles Mabry Copeland, 7 Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr., 8 Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

History describes Joseph Alexander Adair, Sr. as one of the first settlers of District Ninety-Six (a judicial district established in South Carolina in 1769 and incorporated into Laurens County in 1799).  His other claim to fame?  He was over 69 years old when he became the oldest known soldier to fight for freedom against the very country he had left 50 years before.

Ballymena Castle, Antrim County, Ireland
This member of the Adair family spent the first 18 years of his life in Antrim County, Ireland.  His Scots-Irish family had lived in Ballymena Castle for hundreds of years and proudly claimed as an ancestor the Rev. Patrick Adair, who had fought against the kings of that time for religious freedom in Ireland 100 years before (and featured in an earlier "Legends" post). 

But life for his family changed forever when,  in 1730, they came to the painful conclusion that despite Rev. Patrick's efforts all those years before, religious intolerance, loss of individual rights and repressive taxes still plagued the people of the United Kingdom and it was obvious that things weren't going to get better any time soon.  

Although there were many who accepted the situation or were afraid to change their lifestyle, others – like the Adairs and families featured earlier in this blog (the Copelands and Blakeleys) - had sold almost everything they owned and made arrangements to leave the country they had loved and served for hundreds of years in the hope of building a life which matched their beliefs.  
King George II

An area of deep concern of course was that  despite the distance, America, too, was under the thumb of King George II and his repressive government.  Perhaps they simply had to tuck that worry away in the hope that they would be able to lose themselves in the vast new country.
Joseph was only 19 years old when his entire family gathered whatever they could take with them and left their homeland. The journey was long and dangerous, and perhaps their arrival in America was just as scary!  One can't help but wonder how they felt when they finally neared land and spotted the wilderness that was to become their home. It certainly didn't look anything like the home they had left behind!

After replenishing their supplies, they finally arrived in Chester, Pennsylvania, a community composed of many Scots-Irish families which was situated between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers.  It was there that they started to accustom themselves to a totally new way of living.

There was plenty to do during those first two years in America.  After all, fields had to be cleared and houses built.  It was only after things seemed to settle into a routine in this area known as “Little Britain” that 21 year old Joseph married Sarah Lafferty, whose parents had been born in Scotland but had migrated to America before she was born.

Their first years together were not exactly relaxing!  Besides building and furnishing their home, raising livestock, planting their fields, and using all their spare cash to invest in parcels of land, they had their first four children to care for. There were also very real fears that they would be attacked by Indians who weren't thrilled about being moved forcibly out of their ancestral lands and often resorted to making raids in the area now known as Pennsylvania.  

But since their spirit of adventure continued to linger despite the hardships they were enduring, it's not surprising that many of the transplanted settlers, including the Adairs, began to wonder what life would be like in another part of this vast country and turned their energies toward planning another big move.

Their journey from Pennsylvania to South Carolina was accomplished mostly on the "Great Wagon Road" which ran through the Shenandoah Valley and North Carolina  before reaching South Carolina.  Since the caravan was made up of people of all ages with all their worldly goods and animals, the journey was often tortuous and took considerably more time than had been anticipated.

Finally, they arrived in an area in South Carolina originally lived in by the Keowee Indians and named District Ninety-Six because of having been settled at the 96th milepost of a trail used by both traders and Indians.  (According to people living in the town today, its unofficial name was and still is "ABC Town" in honor of its first settlers, the Adairs, Blakelys and Copelands, many of whom still live there.)
During his first 37 years as a South Carolinian, Joseph: 
    Duncans Creek Presbyterian Church
    • Built a home for his expanding family;
    • Plowed and planted the fields;
    • Joined the other settlers in clearing 250 acres of land on Duncan's Creek where they built the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church which is still active;
    • Set aside a portion of that property to serve as a cemetery; 
    • Buried parents and friends;
    • Was the grandfather of Mary Ramage Dillard who became known as a heroine of the American Revolution  because of her bravery; 
    • Lost his wife, Sarah, when their youngest child was 8 years old and eventually married Susanna Long;
    • Prepared for war!
    Mad King George III
    Perhaps these settlers had hoped that the English king would forget them and let them live in peace.  It was not to be. By 1776, "Mad King George III", the son of the late King George II, was making strong demands that his rulings were to be obeyed and taxes paid - no matter how odious those taxes were.  

    It is doubtful that Joseph, who was about 65
    when war was declared, would have ever considered actively joining the fight.   He probably thought that all he could do was pray for the young men going to war and cheer them on from afar. But obviously someone he trusted convinced him that his talent for management was badly needed and he'd be letting down his country if he simply stood on the sidelines and watched his friends and relatives die.  
    He was about 70 years old when he was appointed Commissary under Colonel Levi Casey, who reported to Col/Brig. General  James Wilson and General George Washington.  In this role, Joseph was responsible for the purchase and delivery of food and supplies desperately needed by the  Little River Regiment. It was a very stressful position, given the Revolutionary army’s lack of resources, especially when compared to those available to the British. (Backing him up as Deputy Commissary was his son, Joseph, Jr., who will have his own post one of these days.)

    Col.Wilson was a popular leader and fine soldier, who did things his own way and - after stepping on a number of toes - was accused of very bad behavior by powerful people in the regiment who the rank and file soldiers believed to be "private enemies of our Country in order to hurt Little River Regiment".  

    Pressures mounted to have him completely removed from leadership of his troops until finally his frustrated soldiers, including James, submitted a petition defending him  just before they went into battle at Kings Mountain.  This petition testified to his capabilities by saying (no one said people of that time knew how to spell!): 
    "We know Col. james Williams to havfe been a zealous Patriot from the commencement of the America contest with Briten; and to have allways stood foremost in every occasion when called upon to defience of his country.  l
    Kings Mountain battle
    Despite all the pressure against him, Colonel/Gen Brig Williams continued to lead his men until he was shot in the chest by one of the jealous officers who did not approve of his actions and thought he had gotten off lightly.  Colonel Levi Casey was then assigned to take over the command of the Little River Regiment and James Adair was assigned to support him as he had Col. Williams. ""James Williams: An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry" By William T Graves

    During those war years, he fought beside two of his sons (Joseph Jr. and Benjamin), a grandson  and his granddaughter's husband, Capt James Dillard. 

    Upon his death at age 78, Joseph Alexander Adair, a charter member of the church, was buried alongside his loved ones in the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery which he had helped to clear all those years before.

    This  marble tablet which honors the service of the townsmen buried in the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery was placed on the wall inside the church by the Daughters of the Revolution in 1988. 

    Saturday, July 30, 2016

    Sarah Mounts - Wife, mother and Cherokee Indian

    1775 – 1869

    Family lineage: 1 Sarah Mounts, 2 Delila Wilson, 3 Lewis Bartram, 4 Emarine Bartram, 5 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 6 Edna Bethel Franklin, 7 Judith Ann Hayward

    It's not uncommon these days to brag about having a “Native American” in one's DNA, but that wasn't the case just a few years ago when just a whisper that Indian blood ran through the family tree brought forth adamant denial.

    The Wilson/Bartram/Dickerson/Franklin/Hayward family was no exception.  As late as the 20th Century, one's elders might have led their guests into a room with a door that locked in order to talk about the "family secret".
    In the meantime, the children, who knew something "scandalous" was being discussed, usually had their ears firmly plastered against the door, hoping to discover what all the whispering was about.  It wasn't until they reached adulthood that they were finally entrusted with "THE SECRET” about Sarah (aka Sally) Mounts, the family's Cherokee Indian.

    Sadly, although her secret was eventually revealed,  many of the details of her story remain unknown and questioned, such as whether: 
    1. Sarah and/or her mother were stolen by the Cherokees and held captive for seven years;
    2. Sarah was born in the “old country” (before it became Maryland);
    3. Sarah was one quarter Cherokee Indian;
    4. Sarah was a half blood Cherokee Indian;
    5. Sarah was a full blood Cherokee Indian;
    6. Sarah's father was an Indian carrying the “white” name “Old John Mountz” and/or the Indian name “Woodal”;
    7. Sarah's mother was an Indian woman named Raincrow;
    8. Sarah had at least one sister and brother named Polly and David Mounts (question: were they also the children of Raincrow?);
    9. When, where and how did Sarah's parents die?
    10. When was Sarah born (1775 or 1780)? 
    11. Was Sarah 15 or 20 years old when she married?
    Adding to the confusion is the fact that modern-day DNA results of many of her direct descendants do not indicate Native American genes (which makes one wonder whether this could have come about because she lived so long ago and few - if any - of her descendants married Native Americans.) 
    It was only after Sarah (aka Sally) was orphaned and made a ward of Robert and Agnes Givens in Bath County, Virginia that her life achieved some consistency and she met 27 year old James Parot Wilson, whose story also has many questions which include:
    • Where did his middle name, “Parot”, originate?
    • Was he born in North Carolina or Virginia?
    • Had he previously been married to a woman named Phoebe?
    •  Did he actually serve as a drummer boy with Washington's army during the Revolutionary War? 
    The Givens obviously took the responsibility for the welfare of their ward or wards seriously!  After James had requested permission to marry Sarah, they demanded that he confirm his intentions by joining Robert Givens in posting a $150 promissory bond with the Bath County, Virginia court. (a large amount of money then and now).  This bond's wording may seem somewhat awkward by today's standards, which isn't surprising when considering that it was written in the late 1700s  It read: 
    Know all men by these presents that we, James Wilson and Robert Givens, are held and firmly bound to the Commonwealth of Virginia in one hundred and fifty dollars, current money, to be paid to the Commonwealth – to the which payment well and truly to be made – we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly and severally firmly by these presents. Sealed with our seals and dated this 13th day of January 1795."
    It goes on to define the terms of the bond:
    The condition of the above obligation is that if there be no lawful cause to obstruct a marriage intended to be had and solemnized between the above bound James Wilson and Sally Mounts, then the above obligation be void, else to remain in full force. Signed, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of James Wilson and Robert Givens."
    Then a handwritten entry was added to the court record saying:  “This is to certify that I am willing for saly (sic) Mounts to join the bonds of wedlock with James Wilson given under my hand this 11th day of January, 1795.   Witnesses – Robert Given and John Berry – signed with a mark by Agnes Given, her guardian.”
     They were married by a Baptist Minister on July 31 and the event was recorded in the official Bath County court records.  

    Despite extensive research, there is still very little information about who the Givens were and how they happened to have been appointed guardians of the Mounts children. Some historians believe they were neighbors while others think they were connected by marriage. 

    One has to believe that since James had enough resources to execute the $150 bond, he was not poor.  Even after the marriage, he proved himself capable of supporting his very large family, thanks to first being appointed surveyor of road construction and then serving as the Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney for eight years.  In addition, he was highly successful in buying and selling land parcels for over 50 years. 

    A short time after their marriage, the couple was blessed with the first of 13 children,  Delila (aka Delily or Delilah), who was eventually followed by 6 sisters and 6 brothers. 

    After their children had grown, tragedy struck when their youngest son, Allan, was killed by some Union “Home Guards” while sitting
    on his front porch in 1863. According to a fine resource book on the family ("Bartram Branches", Violet W. Bartram and D. Kent Bartram, Jr.., Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, 1984), they were looking to steal livestock, but they didn't all escape! One of the participants was caught by local residents, tied to a tree, shot in both knees and left to be found by his cohorts or the buzzards.” (yikes!) 
    During their marriage, James and Sarah lived in what is now Wayne County, West Virginia.  When they became too feeble to run their farm, they moved to Genoa, WV where they lived with their daughter, Elizabeth Wilson Lambert until their deaths.

    James died first, in 1857. His will stated that his “beloved wife” Sarah was “to have one cow and all household and kitchen furniture and all the bedding and clothing with two hundred dollars out of the money that Calvin Wellman and James Wellman Jr. are owing to me”.  

    Each of their living children were bequeathed $5.00 plus proceeds left after paying any debts and dividing the estate. His youngest son, Allen (who was murdered 5 years later) was named Executor of the will. 

    Sarah remained a widow for 12 years before she too died at age 84, in the home of her daughter Elizabeth Lambert in Falls Tug in Wayne County. It is believed that both James and Sarah are buried on a family farm but, ironically, her story didn't end with their deaths. 

    On May 24, 1894, 25 years after Sarah's death, her 42 year old twin grandsons, Hiram and Jackson Wilson, filed identical petitions on the same day in the Wayne County, West Virginia Circuit Court with the only difference between the documents being the names of their wives and children (which I am omitting in interests of brevity).  Their father was Allen, Sarah and James' youngest son, who had died violently. Although the petition at times had awkward  verbiage, it got across its point, stating;
    "This is to certify that I, Hiram Wilson, do and always have claimed that I was and am a Cherokee Indian by blood, and I have never denied it at any time and not that I know anything about this, only that I have been taught by my parents who raised me from childhood.
    "My grandmother's name was Sarah Mounts and her Indian relation is Old John Mounts and Woodal and Rain Crow.
    "My grandmother was born in the "old country" (Maryland)  and I, Hiram Wilson, a grandson of Sarah Mounts, do claim the same Indian relation that is specified in the petition as my tribe of people and I, Hiram Wilson, was born in Wayne County, W.VA and was married in Wayne County, W.VA to Elizabeth J. Booth, a white woman, and I, Hiram Wilson, am willing to meet the Cherokee National Council at Talico whenever it convenes and testify all the above mentioned that is specified in my petition (his 7 children were named here).   Signed - Hiram Wilson.
    "This is to certify that I, Hiram Wilson, do authorize and appoint J.J. Robinson, Cornelius Bootknot and Houston Bing to look after and seek out my rights, titles and citizenship which I claim in the Cherokee Nation by blood, according to treaty stipulations that were made between the five civilized tribes of Indians that all who claim or prove the sixteenth part of Indian blood are entitled to the Ninth and Eleventh Amendments.” Signed - Hiram Wilson
    The Council turned down the Wilsons' claims (possibly making some wonder whether the legend that Sarah and her mother had been kidnapped and lived with the Indians for seven years was true!)  

    One has to remember, however, that the twins were probably 8 or 9 years old before both their grandmother and father died.  How exciting it must have been for the little boys to hear the stories of their Indian heritage told by someone who had actually lived them!  Can't you imagine them whooping through the house and playing "cowboys and Indians" while their elders laughed?

    However, those stories probably didn't exactly make life easier for the boys as they got older.  It's likely they were teased - or even taunted - by their peers  because they were "injuns".  However, when looking at their actions during their adult lives, it is obvious they were proud of their heritage

    Despite the ruling of the Cherokee Nation over 100 years ago, we continue to believe that Hiram and Jackson's claims were rooted in truth.  Perhaps that ruling will be overturned some day when their claims can be reviewed in light of modern technology.  In the meantime, James and Sarah's descendants are grateful that those legends have been passed down from one generation to the next, and that we - the children with our ears pressed against the door - finally learned a "family secret" to be proud of!   

    Saturday, June 25, 2016

    Patrick Adair - A Presbyterian minister fighting the system

    1625 – 1694
    1 Patrick Adair, 2 Alexander Adair, 3 Thomas Adair, 4 Joseph Alexander Adair, 5 Joseph Alexander Adair, Jr., 6 Elizabeth “Betsey” Adair, 7 Elizabeth “Betsey” Jones, 8 Robert Hatten Copeland, 9 Charles Mabry Copeland, 10 Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr., 11 Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

    Fortunately for genealogists, the history of the Adair family is fairly easy to trace. Their name is derived from the old English name, Eadgar or Edgar, and is most often found in the history of Antrim and Down counties in Ulster, Ireland.  As one of the most influential and well known members of the Adair family, Patrick, who had been born in Antrim County, spent much of his life traveling between northern Ireland, England and Scotland. 

    St. Giles Cathedral, Edinborough
    His role in history actually began when, as a 10 year old boy,  he witnessed violence in what was normally a peaceful place - Edinburgh's St. Giles Cathedral.  Why he was there is anyone's guess. Maybe - like a typical 10 year old -  he was simply exploring the nooks and crannies of the huge cathedral; or perhaps he was accompanying an adult who was planning to attend worship there.  

    Whatever the reason, this young  boy did witness a local woman named Jenny Geddes and several of her friends flinging three legged stools at the dean and bishop of the cathedral. Since women had very little voice in the politics of the time, this was an attempt to let the powers-that-be know how angry they were about the new service book being introduced into the church without their input or agreement (and our pastors think they have problems sometimes!).

    Over the years some have questioned whether Jenny Geddes was a real person or simply a tale created by those who longed for a symbol of the fight for Scottish independence in 1635.  Whatever the truth  might be, it is a fact that a brass plaque commemorating the event was attached to a three legged stool and is still on display in the cathedral. 

    One can't help but wonder whether the 10 year old hid behind a pillar or crawled under a pew to escape the violence. What is known is that he often talked about what he had witnessed that day and how it affected him as he grew into manhood.

    Cairncastle in Antrim County, Ireland
    Perhaps Patrick's experience in the cathedral was responsible for his decision to enroll in Glasgow College's divinity school nine years later.  After completing his theological education in 1646, he returned to Cairncastle in Antrim County, Ireland, where he was ordained by the "army presbytery"  (formed by chaplains of the Scottish regiments in Ulster with a mission of protecting the protestant settlers in Ulster while crushing the "Irish Rebellion").

    After his ordination, he was called as pastor of a church in Belfast, where he officiated for about 20 years.  During those years he became a highly influential cleric who provided steady leadership while the world around him was caught up in the intense religious upheaval between his Presbyterians and the Roman Catholic churches. 
    Crowd to see beheading
    Those were turbulent times in both Ireland and his life,
    King Charles I
    especially after he joined a committee which had as its main goal the replacement of Roman Catholicism with Presbyterianism as the main religion in Ireland.  Through building close relationships with influential advisors to King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland, they were just beginning to make headway toward their goal when even more influential men managed to get the king beheaded.   

    After the king's violent death, his son, Charles II, who was not much wiser than his father, ascended the throne (briefly). The new king's luck wasn't much better than his father's.  He might not have been beheaded, but he was defeated in battle by a commoner, Oliver Cromwell, who firmly believed that Parliament was ineffective (probably true) and assumed the leadership of the kingdom from 1653 to 1658.

    Needless to say, when the news got out that Cromwell was now in charge of the country,  Presbyterian ministers in Ireland felt the ground shaking under their feet.  In an attempt to regain at least some of the ground they had lost, a meeting was convened in Belfast to figure out how to tell  the country at large (without TV, radio or email) that the king's violent death was an “act of horror without precedent in both divine and human history”. 

    As we know today, their fears were well-founded. Recognizing an opportunity when they saw it, the parliamentary generals sought - and were given - permission to search and seize all Presbyterian ministers' homes and assign their ministries to independent and baptist ministers. 

    Adding to Patrick's woes was the heavy pressure he was receiving from all sides to sign "The Engagement Oath" which renounced the king's hereditary claims and bound the signatories “to be true and faithful only to Cromwell's government”.  He refused!  Although many dissenting clergy had already fled to Scotland, Patrick was one of the few who refused to leave, and continued to minister to his flock through clandestine open air meetings. 

    Such actions did not make him popular with Cromwell, who had taken  the title of “Lord Protector” and was determined to put down all resistance. In light of that refusal, troops were sent to Patrick's residence to seize all his papers (which would have been devastating since , as the official historian of the Presbyterian church, he kept most of the church and committee records). Thankfully, one of his loyal maids found a way to hide most of the papers and gave them back to him after the soldiers left.

    It took Cromwell awhile to realize that Presbyterians, while incredibly stubborn, were essentially law abiding and peaceful people, and finally ended his persecution of them in 1655.  A short time later he had his minions draw up a list of 14 pastors (including Patrick) whom he considered qualified to preach the Gospel.  

    Sadly, the seeds of evil had continued to grow during Cromwell's reign and came into full bloom after his death. About the same time, Patrick once more took his life in his hands by pleading that tithes be restored to ministers who had been forced to depend on the charity of their parishioners to simply feed themselves.  Although he was not totally successful, the ministers were finally  granted a small annual salary which would allow them to feed their families and regain some of their independence. 

    It was after Cromwell died and the exiled King Charles II was restored to his throne that the Presbyterian circumstances changed again - for the worse.  This period was known as "The Restoration" and celebrated the King being restored to his throne.  The problem was that it also allowed the old lines of power to also be restored.

    One of the survivors of this power struggle was a newly appointed Roman Catholic bishop, Jeremy Taylor, who demanded that Pastor Patrick Adair and seven other Presbyterian ministers attend his installation. When they refused, their churches were declared vacant and they were ejected from the ministry.

    Despite finding himself no longer the pastor of Cairncastle Parish Church, Patrick continued to pull every string in an attempt to find relief  for his fellow ministers.  But his efforts were in vain since he could only obtain permission for them to “serve God in their own families” - not in their churches.

    Thomas Blood
    It's no surprise that during this time of unrest, someone new would step up with a plan guaranteed to bring positive change. That person was Thomas Blood and his plan, which was supported by Patrick Adair and many of his fellow pastors, proposed that Dublin Castle be stormed in order to usurp the government and kidnap the thoroughly disliked Bishop James Butler.  Sadly for all who had supported it, the plan fell apart before it could be carried out and the supporters were persecuted. 

    Unlike many people who had given up everything to follow him, however,  Blood evaded the authorities by hiding in the mountains until he could escape from the country altogether.  One has to wonder if he ever regretted leaving behind so many broken lives and careers, including that of 38 year old Patrick Adair who,  although charged with complicity (which usually carried a sentence of death by hanging), somehow managed to get his sentence reduced to a long prison term.  What was even more amazing was that he was freed from prison after only three months, on the condition that he "would promise to live peaceably".  (It's only a guess but it's likely that a lot of people were beholden to the pastor who had served them so well during many tumultuous years and finally had an opportunity to return the favor.)

    Cairncastle Parish Church
    After being released from prison, he went home to Cairncastle.  Shortly after his return, a small meeting house was built by his parishioners which finally allowed him to  conduct worship services. 

    It wasn't until 1687, when the newest English king, James II issued the “Declaration of Indulgence”, that the Irish Presbyterians were finally allowed to preach openly.  This ruling was confirmed later by King William III, who seemed to feel kindly toward Patrick, especially after he had presented a congratulatory address to the new king on behalf of the general committee of Ulster Presbyterians.
    In his later years, this man, who was known for his part in negotiations with the government for religious liberty, began to write “A True Narrative of the Rise and Progress of the Presbyterian Government in the North of Ireland"  (the  narrative can be found in  He was joined in this massive endeavor by one of his four sons, Pastor William Adair,   Sadly, before his work was done, time ran out for Patrick in 1694. 

    Although he lived and died over 300 years ago, his spirit lives on through the legends of all he accomplished during his lifetime.