Monday, November 30, 2020

A Christmas gift from my great-great grandmother

 I was working with some of my family history records and found this little book that was given by my great-great grandmother to my grandmother when she was a baby. Then when I was a baby, my grandmother gave it to me. 

The original giver was Maria Elizabeth Harper Stone, 1850-1929. 

She sent the little book to her granddaughter, Lois Elizabeth Stone, 1913-1997. The photo is of Maria's daughter-in-law, Edith Hall Stone, with her firstborn, Lois, in 1913.

Lois, who was my grandmother, sent it to me when I was a baby in 1960. This was the photo taken within hours of my birth. 

I don't have children, so I'll leave it to my niece Rachel for her descendants. 

I've photographed the book from cover to cover, including the inscriptions. Enjoy! 

The inscription is from my grandmother Lois to my mother, Judith.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A benefactor of the world, ancestor of countless thousands

 Though I've had a copy on Kindle for a year or so, I ordered a hard copy of Vol 1 of an 1851 book called The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, an anthology of his books, tracts, correspondence, and a memoir collected by Robbert Ashton. I've written several times in my history blogs that Rev. John Robinson was my 9th great-grandfather (12 generations). He lived from 1675 to 1625, passing after a short respiratory infection at age 49. 

One of the chapters in Vol. 1 is "The Descendants of the Rev. John Robinson," traced by Rev. William Allen, D.D., 1784-1868, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and member of the American Antiquarian Society, and of the Historical Society of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York; and formerly Congregational minister, Pittsfield; regent of Harvard University; and president of Dartmouth University and Bowdoin College, Maine. 

Since the book and chapter are well out of copyright, I will reproduce parts of it here. 

"Many a man," says Milton, "lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life." 

As Mr. Robinson did not live a burden to the earth, but a benefactor of the world; so it is a great satisfaction to witness now a reviviscence of his valuable but long forgotten writings, and to perceive, that they are to be accessible to a great multitude of his Puritan followers.

It is but the truth to say, that many tens of thousands of Christian men hold his name in honourable remembrance. He yet lives by his example, and by the influence of his sacrifices and toils; and in the third century [1851] after his death, he enjoys the singular distinction of being equally honored in the east and west, -- in two countries separated by a mighty ocean.

Doubtless the natural inquiry will now spring up in many minds--Has Robinson "a life beyond life" in a different sense from being the author of "a good book?" Does his "life-blood" still flow in the veins of descendants who are the imitators of his virtues? 

In answer to such inquiries I am happy to be able to say, that I have recently conversed with several of his descendants, who bear his name, ministers of the gospel, who receive and love the same truths which commended themselves to his intellect and heart, and who, by reason of their descent from him, feel an incitement to preach faithfully the same pure, uncorrupted gospel of salvation, which he announced to his fellow-men, and in the maintenance of which he was constrained to flee from his beloved native land, finding, as an exile, his grave among strangers. Useful and distinguished men, now deceased, have been also among his descendants, of whom the following is a brief account. 

... ... [The author gives pages of descendants of Rev. John Robinson's son John and daughter Faith, focusing particularly on the ministers who were descendants, but no mention of Isaac's descendants. Isaac is my ancestor.]

From this very imperfect and incomplete account of the descendants of Robinson, it will be concluded that they are very numerous, scattered over New England and other States of the Union: it will be seen that they are in various respectable and useful stations in life. 

The pride of ancestry is not a very commendable emotion; but the consciousness of being descended from the excellent of the earth--the servants and friends of God--whose example lives in faithful history, and the benefit of whose prayers, long since uttered, may descend even to us, should be an incitement to the imitation of their virtues, and to strenuous efforts in the cause to which they were devoted. 

After surveying the life of the illustrious Robinson, in respect to whom we are assured, that he has passed away from the toils of the earth to the paradise of God, how can the words of the great Head of the Church fail to come with new force upon our heart--"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life!" 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Children who had children

© 2020 Christy K Robinson

My third-great-aunt, Louisa Salyers, married at age 12.75 in 1847, had a baby son at age 14.5, and died at age 14.75. Her husband was only 19 when they married, so at least he wasn't an old lecher, but obviously, such an early marriage and childbirth didn't go well for the girl. The husband remarried, had more children, and died at age 50. The baby lived to 78 years old. 

Woman holding dead baby, 1850s.
Photo: Evergreen College

I have no idea why Louisa Salyers married so very early, unless she was actually born a year earlier than listed, and got pregnant before marriage. You can't tell by census records because they listed the father, and then females or males of certain age ranges, but not by name. So my guess is that Louisa had a shotgun marriage. This was Ripley County, Indiana, and they were very poor farmers. 

Louisa's older sister, Leticia Salyers, got married at 16 and had her first child at 19. She gave birth 15 times.

Leticia Salyers Edens was the
sister of my ancestor. 

Louisa's and Leticia's younger sister, my great-great-grandmother Harriet Salyers Swinney (grandmother of Opal Carter Robinson), got married at 22 and had her first child at 23, who was my great-grandmother. 

Negative implications surrounding teen pregnancies are a relatively new concept. Women in the 1800s were expected to marry early in life with many being married before the age of 20. Early marriage was not only expected, but necessary. Life spans were significantly smaller in the 1800s and the sole reason for women was to procreate and support the men in their lives. In 1800 the average household consisted of seven children. https://www.babymed.com/blogs/summer-banks/has-teen-pregnancy-always-been-taboo 

The Salyers sisters were part of a family of thirteen siblings. In the 19th century they had so many children that they only had a few years of formal education, and the audit of their goods when they died showed not enough plates or chairs as they had mouths to feed.

Harriet Salyers, my great-great-grandmother, was lucky to marry into a slightly more prosperous Seventh-day Baptist family. Her husband was Daniel Webster Swinney and they had five children. 

Harriet Olive Salyers Swinney was my direct ancestor.


Christy K Robinson is author of these books (click a highlighted title):
Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  

And of these sites:  
Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)
Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)
Editornado [ed•i•tohr•NAY•doh] (Words. Communications. Book reviews. Cartoons.)

Read more: http://rootingforancestors.blogspot.com/2019/06/#ixzz6YrNZ9D5c

Monday, November 11, 2019

#OnThisDay 11 November: The Mayflower Compact

© 2019 Christy K Robinson

On 16 September 1620, the ship Mayflower departed Plymouth, England for the New World, carrying 102 passengers. Two months earlier, the Speedwell had left Leiden, where the English separatists had lived for more than 10 years. The Speedwell took on water and had to be taken out of service, so its passengers and cargo were transferred to the Mayflower.

The Mayflower Compact, signed on 11 November 1620 by the Pilgrims at Cape Cod, set up their new colony as a "civil body politic," that is, not a theocratic or religious government. It's true that only a few years later, they were undertaking punitive measures for what they considered ungodly behavior, from chopping down a Maypole in 1627 to beating and imprisoning Quakers in the 1650s, but it appears that their original intent was to form a secular government for both the Saints and the Strangers, the commercial investors on their expedition. They had already endured government oppression and prison terms for their religious practices and desired peace and security.

Mayflower Compact:

“A ship comes into the harbor. Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are;
and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.”
-- Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford, in his book, "History of Plymouth Plantation."

I had several ancestors who risked their lives on the Mayflower, some of whom died in the first winter of scurvy or other nutrition-related pestilence while others survived and raised families in Plymouth, Sandwich, and Barnstable. Early in 1631, after a perilous winter passage on the Atlantic, John Robinson's youngest son Isaac arrived in Boston on a desperately needed food-relief ship (with lemons to cure Boston's scurvy) and settled in Plymouth Colony. He had numerous children, who also had large families, and nearly 400 years later, here I am with the Robinson surname, both common--and special because of the legacy of principled compassion of Rev. John Robinson.


Christy K Robinson, 12 generations removed from Rev. John Robinson, is the author of five-star nonfiction and fiction historical books, (click the colored title):

Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  

Effigy Hunter (2015)  

And author of these sites:  

Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)

Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)

William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

Editornado [ed•i•tohr•NAY•doh] (Words. Communications. Book reviews. Cartoons.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#Mayflower400: They that in Ships unto the Sea down go

Music for the Mayflower

A guest post by Tamsin Lewis

I direct the early music group Passamezzo [www.passamezzo.co.uk], an established ensemble known for their ability to bring historical events to life through their engaging performances and programming. We specialize in English Elizabethan and Jacobean repertoire.

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from the Netherlands and England to Plymouth Colony, and so it seems appropriate to record a CD of music to celebrate this event. Our programme aims to recreate the world of those on board ship: the Saints (the Pilgrims), the Strangers, and the sailors.
In Autumn 1620, the Mayflower left England. In addition to the ship’s crew, there were 102 passengers: religious separatists, merchants, their families and apprentices, all seeking a fresh start in the New World.

This much is well known. What is perhaps less widely known is that Elder William Brewster (one of the passengers) had three books of music with him.

The first of these was Henry Ainsworth’s translation of the psalms, with simple melodies. We have taken the title of our programme They that in Ships unto the Sea down go from Ainsworth’s translation of psalm 107.

The second book was another psalter: Richard Allison’s Psalmes of David in Meter. This is a beautiful collection of music in “table-book” format, so that the musicians and singers could sit around the book and sing or play from different ends. These are quite elaborate, with 4 voices, and lute and cittern tablature.

This ties in with John Taylor’s statement in his Threefold Discourse (1642) that the founder of the Separatists “was a singular good Lutenist, and he made his Son Timothy usually on Sundays bring his Viol to Church and play the Base to the Psalmes that were sung, so far was he...from being an enemy to Church Musicke.”

The final music book was Richard Johnson’s Golden Garland of Princely Pleasures and Delicate Delights, a collection of popular songs. There is great variety in this, from ballads telling of the purported grisly deeds of Richard III, or the death of Lady Jane Grey, to moral songs, and the exquisite lutesongs of John Dowland and Thomas Ford. For the others on board, there are sailors’ songs, and rounds, and other music for mariners.

And for the merchants, songs and dances to tell of some of the wonders that they hoped to find in the New World, and, of course, tobacco: we have a song about Kawasha, the god of tobacco, from a masque of 1614 where he “had on his head a Night-cap of red cloth of gold, close to his skull, tied vnder his chin, two holes cut in the toppe, out of which his eares appeared, hung with two great Pendants, on the crowne of his Cappe a Chimney, a glasse chaine about his necke, his body and legges of Oliue-colour stuffe, made close like the skinne, bases of Tobacco-colour stuffe cut like Tobacco leaues, sprinkled with orcedure, in his hand an Indian Bow and Arrowes....The Sergeant of Kawasha carried on his shoulder a great Tobacco Pipe, as bigge as a Caliuer.” The health giving properties of tobacco are also enumerated in other songs…

Kawasha, the god of tobacco

The programme includes music by: Richard Allison, Louis Bourgeois, Thomas Campion, John Dowland, Thomas Ford and Tobias Hume.

It will be a rich and varied programme, and one that is exciting for us, as we believe that much of the material in William Brewster's music books has not been transcribed or performed since the 17th century. We hope that this recording will bring a new insight into the musical soundscape of the Mayflower.

Although we have received grants to cover much of our costs, we still need to raise more money to make this project a reality. We would be very grateful for any help that you can give us!

 Tamsin Lewis studied violin at the Florence Conservatoire before reading Classics and Italian at Oxford. She has written, arranged, directed and played music for many theatre productions and is a member of the Lions part theatre company. She performs frequently on violin, viols, lute and harp and directs the Early Music consort, Passamezzo.
Tamsin is also a freelance consultant on historical music, costume and dance and has published a number of books for Rondo Music Publishing. Particular areas of expertise are popular music and song, broadside ballads, Elizabethan and Jacobean masques, iconography and theatre music in early modern England.


Note from Christy K Robinson, blog owner:
Many thousands of Americans can claim ancestors who were passengers on the Mayflower, or who emigrated to Plymouth Colony shortly after its founding. Knowing something about the lives, tastes, occupations, and associations of our ancestors is more interesting than simply connecting to a name and birth and death dates. Decades of research have led to writing numerous books, magazine articles, and hundreds of blog posts, as well as speaking about Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer at historical events and in a television documentary.
I've also been a professional church musician from the age of 10, with an interest in religious music from medieval literature to contemporary styles, so making the acquaintance of Tamsin Lewis and her research and expertise is a pleasure. I hope you'll support the funding of Passamezzo's recording project with your pounds, dollars, or euros.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Forefathers Day

This is a collage graphic I made in Photoshop, of five successive generations of Robinson ancestors. They are descended from Rev. John Robinson, the pastor of the (Mayflower) Pilgrims in Leiden, Netherlands, and his son Isaac Robinson, who emigrated to Plymouth Colony in 1631.

© 2019 Christy K Robinson

William Riley Robinson, a farmer, was born on November 27, 1791, in Goshen, Connecticut. He married Cynthia Stevens on October 28, 1819, in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. They had 19 children, 13 of whom were living at his death (10 were in their minority). He died on January 21, 1849, in Forkston, Pennsylvania, at the age of 57. I don't know his cause of death at such an early age, but influenza and cholera were epidemic in 1848-1850.

Stevens Allison Robinson, a farmer, was born on March 20, 1824, in Forkston, Pennsylvania. He married Harriet M Grist on September 9, 1843. They had 13 children. I'm not sure if he was a Civil War veteran or not. He died on August 9, 1911, in Hope, Kansas, having lived a long life of 87 years, and was buried in Dwight, Illinois.

Wesley Lyman Robinson, a farmer, married Mary Isabella "Belle" Hamner on April 3, 1878, in Marion, Iowa. They had eight children. He died on November 20, 1934, in Lovilia, Iowa, at the age of 82, and was buried there.

Leonard Robinson, a WWI veteran and farmer, married Opal Carter on June 30, 1921. They had five children. He died in 1975 in Park Rapids, Minnesota, at the age of 89.

Kenneth Robinson, a wholesale foods distributor, was born in 1935, in Lake Hattie Township, Minnesota. He married Judith Anson and they had two children together. He died in 2012, in DuBois, Pennsylvania, at the age of 77. Kenneth was the grandfather of two grandsons and several step-grandchildren.

William Riley Robinson (first image above), back to 1520.

Christy K Robinson is author of these books (click a highlighted title):

Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  

And of these sites:  
Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)
Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)
Editornado [ed•i•tohr•NAY•doh] (Words. Communications. Book reviews. Cartoons.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ayers: Miraculous survival of a family line

© 2019 Christy K Robinson

The Ayars/Ayers/Ayer/Eyre/le Heyr ancestors show up in Wiltshire in 1220. The earliest for whom I've seen records was a man who miraculously fought on crusade with King Richard Lionheart in the 1190s, and then was born in 1220. Neat trick, right? Unless some hobby genealogist can't do math but wants a royal connection. Yes, that's probably it.

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Thomas Eyre (1549-1628) and Elizabeth Rogers
memorial in south aisle chapel of St. Thomas Becket
church in Salisbury.
The Eyres survived the horrible famine of 1317-1320, the great bubonic plague outbreak in 1347-1349, and many plagues thereafter.

After living for 300 years in the parish of Wedhampton and Urchfont and baptizing and burying at the church of St. Michael's and All Angels, a branch of the Eyres moved a few miles to the city Salisbury to do business, probably something to do with leatherwork, wool production and textiles. Their wealth and trade in the East India Company elevated father and son into Parliament, aldermen of Salisbury, and they were elected mayors of Salisbury.

In a time (from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I) when it was perilous in turns to be Catholic or Protestant, the Eyres of Salisbury were Protestant, and then purifying separatists called Puritan. This can be seen in the inscription on their memorial sculptures in St. Thomas Becket church in the shadow of the great Salisbury Cathedral. They "lived virtuously and charitably gave to ye cittie of London and also this cittie for the erecting of an almshouse in this cittie and maintenance thereof for ever & for a weekly lecture in this parish for ever & being of ye age of 47 years: departed this life in ye feare of God hating idolatry." Hating idolatry is dog-whistling for hating the rituals and veneration of saints that Catholics and Anglicans practiced.

In 1608, thousands of people in England, on the European continent, and Russia died in the Great Frost and its famine, which were caused by a Peruvian volcano's ash ejected into the atmosphere.

John Ayer (descendant of Juliana Cockerel Eyre and son and grandson of Salisbury merchants and mayors) and his wife Hannah Evered Webb and their first six children left England in June 1635 because their Puritan religious beliefs and practices were under attack by King Charles I. Hannah was seven to eight months pregnant when they planned to arrive in Massachusetts Bay Colony. After a perilous journey of eight to ten weeks, very near to their destination, the ship James sailed into the worst hurricane ever to strike New England, and their ship was nearly destroyed off Maine and New Hampshire. All passengers and crew providentially survived. Their son John Ayer Jr., born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was my ancestor. The baby Hannah was pregnant with, Obadiah Ayer, was born safely on October 1, 1635. Imagine being tossed in a wooden ship in a severe hurricane when you're seven months pregnant. Perhaps the other passengers surrounded and cushioned her against the shifting crates, barrels, and belongings needed during the voyage. They were hardy stock!

The ship James lost its masts, anchors, and sails in the August 1635 Great Colonial Hurricane off Maine, New Hampshire, and Boston Harbor. They miraculously survived and limped into Massachusetts Bay.  Among the families on board were the Ayers and the Evered-Webbs, as well as Increase Mather, an important official in Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Salem/Ipswich/Haverhill, Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Ayers and Evered-Webbs settled on several properties in the area of Salem, which was even more zealous and fanatically Puritan than Boston or other communities, having had a succession of hellfire and brimstone ministers and been governed by the hotheaded John Endecott, who was the sometime governor of the colony and whose personal seal was a death head. The first minister of the first church in Salem, Rev. Samuel Skelton (1592-1634), was so extremely conservative that he refused to allow Communion to the members of the ultra-Puritan Winthrop Fleet when they arrived in Salem in 1630. Skelton was my ancestor.

Rev. Roger Williams was their minister for a short time, but he was ousted and fled for his life in 1636. Another minister, Rev. Hugh Peter, was among the inquisitors at Anne Hutchinson's trials, and in the later 1630s and 1640s was involved in child trafficking and adultery. He was executed for treason in 1660. In the 1650s and 1660s, Salem, still under Endecott's local influence and rule as colonial governor, persecuted Baptists and Quakers with great zeal, including nearly-fatal whippings, crippling fines and confiscations, and attempting to sell teenagers into slavery.

Of the Ayers' large family of children, their eldest daughter was Mary Ayer, who would later marry Nathan Parker. After Nathan died in 1685, Mary Ayer Parker, who was in her late 60s by this time, would have lived a comfortable life with farms, domestic animals, and numerous adult children to keep her financially secure. But in late summer of 1692, Mary Ayer Parker and a daughter were indicted in the Salem witch scandal. Mary was hanged despite her protests that she was only one of several Mary Parkers in the area and they had falsely accused her. (Of course, all the Salem "witches" were Christians, without a hint of enchantment, curses, or satanic congress.) Her daughter, though imprisoned, was reprieved as the hysteria of the trials faded and the remaining women were released.
Wm Barker has affirmed to ye grand inquest that Mary Parker did in company with him sd Barker afflict Martha Sprage by witchcraft ye night before sd Barker confessed, which was ye 1 of Sept 1692. 
Hannah Evered Ayers' brother, John Evered-Webb, was in charge of Mary Dyer's execution on Boston Neck. He was a supporter of Gov. John Endecott, who ordered Mary Dyer hanged.

Swansea, Massachusetts Bay Colony
The John Ayer who had survived the hurricane as a boy lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts, until his death in 1657. His eldest son, Capt. John Ayers (my 11th great-uncle), was scalped and killed on 2 August 1675 in Brookfield, Massachusetts, in one of the early battles of King Philip's War.

My branch of the Ayers family, who had at some point  (perhaps in the 1650s or 1660s) become Baptists and either witnessed or experienced severe persecution  by the Salem Puritans, moved south to Swansea, Mass., a Welsh Baptist enclave, in time to survive the first massacre of King Philip's War there. If they had stayed in Salem, surely more of their nonconformist family would have been accused and hanged as witches in 1692, but living in Swansea didn't prove to be very salubrious to their health, either. In June 1675, nine Englishmen died, were scalped, and their heads and hands were placed on poles nearby. After their cattle were slaughtered, their food stolen, and farms and a stockade were burned out by Wampanoag Indians, Swansea was abandoned, and many southern Massachusetts people fled to Newport, Rhode Island, which was a haven because Rhode Island was a pacifist society and refused to join the armies of Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies.

During their time in southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Ayers came into close association with a Seventh-day Baptist woman named Tacy Burdick Maxson, who later became a Quaker. In an era before middle names were common, they actually named their Baptist child Tacy Burdick Ayars, so the original Tacy, who had died 20 years before Tacy Ayars was born, must have been quite an interesting person. As I learned recently, Tacy Burdick Maxson is my 9th great-aunt on my maternal side. Small world, in colonial times!

There was a Seventh-day Baptist meetinghouse in Newport, Rhode Island, and the Ayer/Ayars family may have attended the congregation there. I visited the Newport Historical Society, which is housed in that church. The current building was erected in 1730, after the time the Ayers were there.

Cumberland County, New Jersey
In 1687, the Ayers moved on to Cumberland County, New Jersey, and their descendants were Baptist or Seventh-day Baptist from then until now. The Cohansey Baptist Church was organized in 1690 in a log house. After merging with the Bowentown congregation in 1710, a frame meeting house was built between Sheppard's Mill and the Cohansey River. 

Obadiah Holmes Sr. was whipped nearly to death by
Salem Puritans in 1651. The Ayers would have known
this could be their fate.
The New Jersey Ayers family definitely knew Rev. Obadiah Holmes Jr. (Baptist minister), whose father was well-known to the Dyers in Newport. The senior Holmes had been beaten in Salem for visiting and giving Communion to an elderly, blind Baptist there. Holmes Jr. was a Baptist minister in New Jersey.

The Ayers intermarried with the Bowens, Jenkins, Davis, Swinney, and other Baptist and Seventh-day Baptist families, and many were buried in the Cohansey Church cemetery. To read a bit more on their associations, see my article, Nathaniel Jenkins, Another Brick in the Wall

In my lines, the Ayers "girled out" and married into the Swinneys, who were farmers and remained Seventh-day Baptists until the 20th century at least. I recently discovered a DNA relative whose Carter ancestors are Seventh-day Adventist. A Swinney married a Carter, which produced my paternal grandmother, Opal Carter Robinson. I remember that Grandma Opal felt some slight disdain for one of those seventh-day cousins' families, but I don't know which. She attended a country fellowship in the 1930s, and in the 1970s she was a Methodist. When she was in her late 90s she lived with her daughter, whose husband was an Evangelical Lutheran minister. Grandma didn't make waves.

Learning and retelling the stories are why genealogy and history are fascinating to me. It personalizes history, and whether white-hat or black-hat ancestors in our 21st-century eyes, nobody gets to be a flat cartoon--they take on dimensions and we carry them on in memory. 
DNA Painter map of my shared DNA with distant cousins on 23andMe. This includes both my parents.
About 34% of my DNA is mapped so far.

When I was writing the Dyer and Hutchinson books, I didn't want to make a caricature villain of Gov. John Winthrop, I wanted to understand and respect him. I intended to do the same for Gov. John Endecott, but honestly could not find one nice shred about him, even in the writings of his descendant, so I decided not to try to get into his head, and just see him through the eyes of Edward Hutchinson and William Dyer. 

But all my research from hundreds of books and papers and colonial records give me an insight into what kind of people lived and died and eventually resulted in thousands of descendants, including me. From a life that's not related to me, I can find details of what ancestor lives were like and who knew who 400 years ago. It's fascinating to wonder which strands of their DNA influenced who and what I'd become.

So there you have it: 800 years of survival in one family line, from medieval times to the present. They survived through severe famines, the Black Death, the English Reformation and its burnings, the Great Frost, immigration in a small wooden ship that was all but destroyed in a hurricane, religious persecution, the outbreak of King Philip's War right in their village, a journey to New Jersey where there were fatal measles and influenza outbreaks, and eventually a move to Indiana, where they lived as farmers in such poverty that they didn't have as many plates or chairs at the table as they had mouths to feed. They served in the War of Independence, the Civil War, and two world wars. By Providence, they made it through those trials and tragedies. Whether the Ayers/Eyres were your ancestors or not, your forebears must have survived the same events or you wouldn't be here, safely reading this article from the comfort of your computer chair.

It's easy to think that I could never have made it through such adversity. But they sent their DNA down to me: I could survive and thrive with that strength and courage. It makes me straighten my spine and throw my shoulders back, ready to stride into the unknown.

Let's go, cousins. We can do this.


Christy K Robinson is author of these books:
Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  

And of these sites:  
Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)
Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)
Editornado [ed•i•tohr•NAY•doh] (Words. Communications. Book reviews. Cartoons.)