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Baby On Board

There are many “coming to America” stories out there but none seem to me to be as harrowing as the one involving my daughter-in-law’s 5th great grandfather. 

Joseph Musgrave Whittaker was born at sea in 1754. His parents, Charles and Rosy Ann, had made the decision to start a new life in America and Joseph just happened to be born aboard the ship taking them there. Tragically though, both Charles and Rosy Ann perished during the crossing, Rosy Ann during childbirth and Charles a few days later.

Now an orphaned infant, Joseph was looked after by friends as the ship continued its journey to America, along the Roanoke River until it reached North Carolina. There, the baby was “bound out” to indentured servitude, presumably to pay for his voyage or to reimburse for his care until he became of age.

At 21, he married Zobedia Obedience Perdue whom he called Biddie. Together they had nine children. He was active during the Revolutionary War, serving in a regiment of the Virginia Militia. He fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant, the Battle of Whetsels Mill, and at Reedy Fork of the New River. He reportedly, for a brief period, served as a courier for General Washington.

After the war, he settled down to raise his family and his crops on a small plantation in Wyeth County Virginia. In his will, he left to each of his children the sum of one dollar which, to be fair, was a dollar more than he was given at the beginning of his life.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

Hudson’s Bay Colony

When  two French adventurers (Groseilliers and Radisson) heard from a Cree source that the best fur country could be found northwest of Lake Superior bordering a “frozen sea,” they sought permission to explore the area and establish a fur trading post. They were denied permission from the French governor who wanted to keep the trade along the St Lawrence River.

Undeterred, the two Frenchmen reached out to colonial Boston merchants for help in financing their expedition to the frozen sea which turned out to be Canada’s Hudson Bay. Their speculative voyage failed when their ship ran into pack ice in Hudson Strait. They were encouraged to go to England for further financing and eventually gained the support of Prince Rupert who introduced them to his cousin, the reigning King Charles II.

With English support, two ships were acquired: the Nonesuch, captained by Zachariah Gillam (a 6th great-grand uncle of my niece’s husband) and the Eaglet. They both left port from Deptford, England but the Eaglet was forced to turn back just past Ireland. The Nonesuch continued alone and was successful in reaching Hudson Bay where, in 1668 the first fort (named after King Charles) was constructed on Hudson Bay from which the expedition initiated the fur trade.   It was Captain Gillam who reportedly made the treaty with the Indians and purchased the land (to be known as Rupert’s Land). 

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was incorporated in 1670 and functioned for the next 200 years as a kind of de facto government in parts of North American until it sold the land it owned to Canada as part of the Deed of Surrender. While a fur trading business for most of its existence, HBC now owns and operates retail stores in Canada including Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th.

As for Captain Gillam, he continued his seagoing experiences until 1682 until, while aboard the Prince Rupert, a severe storm caused his ship to drag anchor and drift out to sea. She was crushed by the ice and sank. All nine men aboard, including the captain, were drowned.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

The Juliette Fowler Communities

We often run across businesses, organizations, or companies named after specific individuals without really knowing the history of the person whose name is being so used. It so happens that The Juliette Fowler Communities in Dallas was named after Juliette Peak Fowler, Dallas’ first female philanthropist and my aunt’s first cousin (five times removed).

Juliette long envisioned a place where elders, children and youth could dwell together and receive the help and services they needed. She traveled the state visiting and learning from various social service agencies but unfortunately died before she could execute her vision. She did, in her will, set aside some acreage and a trust fund to be used to realize her plan. Her older sister, Sarah Peak Harwood, picked up the gauntlet and chartered The Juliette Fowler Home for Children and the Aged in 1892.

The first home for children opened in 1904 in Grand Prairie. Harwood Hall, the first permanent structure on the East Dallas property, opened in 1911. Then in 1913, the children were moved to the East Dallas location, thus fulfilling Juliette’s vision for an intergenerational community.

Today, Juliette Fowler Communities includes independent and assisted living, health and rehabilitation services, memory support, foster care and adoption services, as well as The Ebby House for young women who have aged out of foster care. The community serves more than 700 individuals and their families, employs 160 team members and engages more than 2000 volunteers each year. All of which was born from one woman’s dream and generosity.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.