In February I shared that I had discovered some family roots while working my genealogy hobby. The web has become a wonderful tool for family discovery and each time I come back to my hobby I find more and more resources. Many states are now actively scanning old texts and records and placing them online. Most do charge for access but there are tons of free resources that can point a person in the right direction.
At any rate I thought today in celebration of our Independence and in memory of those who risked everything, I would share some brief bio information on some of my ancestors, the Revolutionaries…
My 6th Great Grandfather Thomas Johnson of Georgia:
Unknown source, “Dr. Thomas Johnson, a soldier of the American Revolution, moved from North Carolina to Georgia sometime after the birth of his oldest child in 1770. He served as a Private in the Georgia Line under Captain James McNeil. It is thought by some that McNeil’s group consisted primarily of Scotsmen as McNeil himself was just one generation from his homeland in Scotland. At any rate, Dr. Johnson received 287 acres bounty land in Washington County, Georgia in 1784 for his services rendered during the War.
My 6th Great Grandfather Avington McElroy:
From ANCESTORS OF BILLY JOE WOOD, “Avington McElroy got into a fight and wound up losing the top of his left ear. He did not want to be branded like his distant relative who had his ear cut off by a common hangman in Tolgate prison before being deported to America. So, Avington petitioned the Court in Wake County to find that he “had lost the ear when it was bit off by his adversary in a battle.””
My 5th Great Grandfather Ebenezer Newell of Dover Massachusetts:
From THE GENEALOGICAL HISTORY OF DOVER, MASSACHUSETTS by Frank Smith “Mr. Newell lived in various places in town but finally settled at the centre, on the farm now owned by Eben Higgins. He kept a tavern for a time and Parish Meetings were sometimes adjourned to “Newell’s Chambers.” He was a member of the Dedham board of selectmen for some years, commencing his service in 1764. When the town of Dedham in 1774 passed a vote, forbidding all inhabitants to drink any kind of India tea, Mr. Newell was appointed one of a Committee of three from the Parish to see that this vote was complied with, and to post the names of any who violated this vote. Ebenezer Newell was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary Army. He took care of the meeting-house and in 1771 was granted an order by the Parish for his care of the meeting-house and sweeping it one year, twelve shillings. He must have been a lover of a good horse, as in 1780, he sold his horse to the Selectmen for use in the Continental Army for œ900 (continental money). He was a deacon in the First Parish Church and the District clerk.”
And I know it’s a stretch… One of the five delegates chosen by Massachusetts to the Congress of 1774, at Philadelphia; delegate to the Second Continental Congress in 1775, “the Martin Luther of the American Revolution,” and 2nd President of the United States, my 2nd Cousin 8 Times Removed John Adams. Ask a 1st grader.
The Adams clan married into the Newell clan in my family. My grandmother who will be 100 years young this November is a Newell and direct descendent of Abraham Newell, one of the founding fathers of Massachusetts.
Of course reading between the pedigrees in my tree are numerous men and women that lived through and served in the American Revolution. Many of them played minor roles. Some played major roles. In any event I feel proud to have discovered some of my past and proud to pass it along to the kids. Now not only does this holiday hold special memories of family times and traditions to pass along, but now it connects us to our nation’s past.
With ancestors who fought for Independence, to preserve the Union, to secede from the Union, or to defeat Japan I feel blessed to call myself an American this day. I wish only the best to all Americans on this day. I hope your July 4 holds many memories. And don’t forget our men and women who continue the fight!
Happy Birthday America!