52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Quick and Dirty Catching up! (Week 11 [luck] and Week 12 [popular] and Week 13 [Nearly Forgotten])
I’ve been swamped with school work the past couple of weeks, especially as our university transitioned all our courses to online, stay-at-home learning. They were prepared and the transition went smoothly, even for a luddite like me, but it was still a lot to handle in addition, of course, to preparing for the whole shelter-in-place for the next couple of weeks. It’s only now that I have a chance to sit down and catch up. So without further ado, let’s get started. These may be a bit short and to the point, but that’s better than nothing!
Week 11: Luck
I don’t actually associate luck with my family. I know we have it, we’re survivors but when I think of luck, I think of great success or fame or fortune and that’s not my family. They were, depending on which line one explores, lower landed gentry, peasant farmers, craftsmen, or clergy. We’re still here though so I guess that counts for something!
Actually, if I had to say who was lucky in my family, I’d say myself. Even through the most grueling moments in my life, the darkest and roughest, there’s been a glimmer, a lifeline. The Gods provide. I’m grateful for that and maybe I need to recognize it a bit more often. I’m lucky.
Week 12: Popular
Well, they’re not my blood ancestors obviously, but they are a family of spirits that I honor with deep love and affection so what the hell. For popularity, you can’t get more popular than the family of spirits I term my ‘masked ones’: the castrati and also the various ballet dancers that I honor (the latter because I was a ballet dancer, that is my professional lineage, and these were the men and women who inspired me when I worked in that field). Men like Carestini, Cafarelli, Senesino, Atto Melani and women like Marie Salle, Olga Spessivtseva, Marie Taglioni, et al. Now I do have one opera singer in my line (my maternal great grandmother) and one pianist (my adopted mom) but none strove for a career like these luminaries. I’m grateful for what I know of their struggles and trials and it is their popularity and success that has carried those stories down to us now.
Week 13: Nearly Forgotten
I’ll tell the story of the death of my third great grandfather William Seymour Baldwin (1823-1864). He lived in Hardy County, West Virginia and died there too on October 16. I received the story from a distant cousin, who himself is an avid and skilled genealogist. It was taken from a family bible belonging to the Pratt family, from a record written by S.Y. Simmons, Esq. in 1896. If it hadn’t been for my distant cousin being willing to share this information, or for S.E. sharing it with him, this story would have been lost to my family. Here we go:
“”Issac Pratt was killed on Walker’s Ridge while in pursuit of his horse, by some roughs who had formed themselves into a company in the late war. He was unarmed and they took him prisoner.” S.Y. Simmons says “Seymour Baldwin was with him and was killed also. I sent for them and had them brought home and buried in Snodgrass Cemetery.” According to older Pratt family members living in WV a man by the name of Klein was believed to be responsible for these deaths.”
According to a story told in West Virginia –When a man by the name of Klein and his family moved into the area many, many years later, the Pratts living nearby made his life so miserable that he and his family moved in three days. The older Pratt members living in that area still have no use for the Kleins. Received from S.E., Moorefield, WV.”
So, my three times great grandfather was killed by a band of roving thugs while helping his friend retrieve a stolen horse. No good deed goes unpunished, apparently.
There’s a lot left unsaid in the description. Was Seymour armed (one would hope that when going to retrieve stolen property, one would take a rifle at the very least)? How were they killed (beaten? Shot? Stabbed?)? Was Seymour ex-military? If you’ll note, the Civil War had just ended when all this happened. It wasn’t uncommon for (often run-away) southern soldiers to form small criminal bands. We can tell from the story that Seymour wasn’t part of such a band but did he himself have military service? Had he just returned from war? So much left to research!
Maybe one day I’ll get to visit his grave.