Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I am NOT a member of the D.A.R.

I have written two historical novels for young readers that focus on the American Revolution, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, and A Buss from Lafayette.  Here are their covers:


Lest you think I have some kind of vested interested in writing about the War of Independence (glorifying my own ancestors and such) I would like to tell you what they actually did in that conflict.

Not that much.

On my father's side, the only direct ancestor I could find involved in the Revolution lived about fifty miles from Boston.  He was supposedly a Minute Man who responded to the call when the British marched on Lexington and Concord.  Unlike most of the Minute Men, it seems that my ancestor took several days to actually get anywhere near Boston (he was far too late for Lexington or Concord).  He did apparently make it to the encampment of militia etc. that was "besieging" the city.  It is my understanding that he only stayed a few weeks, however, then went back home again. That was it.

The Revolutionary War record on my late mother's side of the family is even less admirable from the American point of view. My mother always thought her grandmother, whose maiden name was Yerxa, was of Welsh descent. My sister living in Australia, however, made it her business to ask everyone she met there who was Welsh about the name Yerxa.  "Not Welsh!" they all said. My sister told me about this, and we turned to the internet, only to learn that 1) our Yerxas were from Holland and lived in New Amsterdam in the 1600s; and 2) as soon as America declared its independence, they sided with England and moved to New Brunswick, Canada.  They were TORIES!

Well, well.

Now perhaps someday I will find someone else in my family tree who played a more active role in this significant event in our country's history. (We are supposedly connected with General Nathaniel Greene, but not directly.  The same goes for Artemas Ward, the head of the Massachusetts militia who was displaced as leader of the American forces by George Washington. I won't even talk about the family story that he later mooned the Father of Our Country.)

Meanwhile, I am writing a new, non-Revolutionary War historical novel for kids.  This one is about King Philip's War, in 1675 New England.  In this case, I actually know that some of my direct ancestors, William and John Salisbury, played a significant role in that conflict: not only did they personally start it, but they were the first two settlers killed, in Swansea, Massachusetts in June, 1675.

I doubt I'll be glorifying them, either.