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Rev. Henry Loveall

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It is no surprise to find, among the branches of our family tree, several relatives who served as pastors or ministers. But none did so as infamously as Rev. Henry Loveall, an 8th great-grandfather of my niece’s husband. 

Born in England in 1694, he came to America in 1729 and soon thereafter began offering his services behind the pulpit as a Baptist minister. From all accounts, he was known as being an accomplished orator and preacher. What wasn’t known is that he had fled his home in Cambridge, England in order to escape prosecution over an “inexcusable immorality.” Fortunately for him, a congregation in Piscataway NJ was in need of a replacement for their aging pastor and quickly chose to ordain Loveall as their minister despite suggestions to have him first enter into a trial period. They learned to rue that decision for not only did they discover that Loveall’s real name was actually Desolate Baker but that he had changed his name to obscure a number of indiscretions, including a bigamous second marriage, sexual liaisons with slaves and Indians, and the fact that he was perhaps an escaped convict. 

Even though the Piscataway church forbade him from administering the holy ordinances and soon excommunicated him from their church, he traveled to other parts preaching to Baptists up and down the eastern seaboard and, as far as the records show, apparently never changed his nefarious ways. He became the first pastor of the Chestnut Ridge church in Baltimore MD (pictured above) in 1742. Four years later he was “forced to resign.” 

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.

Vengeance Is Mine

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While researching my wife’s side of the family to gather the data needed for her Daughters of the American Revolution application, I came across her 6th great-grandfather, Benjamin Conner, who served aboard the armed Privateer called the Vengeance.

Owned by private individuals, it was commissioned by the colonies to set sail against the British. Under the command of Captain Wingate Newman, Conner served as a lieutenant in 1778 and 1779. Records show that on September 17, 1778, after being at sea for several weeks, they engaged and captured the British packet ship Harriot with its 16 guns and 45 men. Three days later, they faced the British packet ship Eagle and after intense fighting of 20 minutes, were again victorious, capturing its 12 guns and 43 men including 7 field officers and several others of inferior rank.

From there, seeing as they were so far eastward and the ship now had more prisoners aboard than crew, the decision was made to head for the first port they could reach in either France or Spain. On Sept 29, they anchored in La Coruna where they were able to exchange their 87 prisoners for an equal number of Americans of similar rank.

The Vengeance continued its patrol for another couple of months, sailing off the coast of Spain and Portugal and while they did have some skirmishes and captured other “prizes,” none were as valuable.

The Vengeance returned to the states in late April 1779 and Lieutenant Connor, now Captain Conner, settled in Washington City. The ship, now with a new crew, took part in a failed mission to drive the British from a newly established military outpost in Penobscot, Maine. On August 17, 1779, the ship was destroyed in the Penobscot River by order of the Commodore to avoid it being captured by the enemy.

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 Underground Railroad

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Alexander Nelson, my daughter-in-law’s 6th great grandfather, was born in County Down, Ireland. He emigrated to America with his parents in 1759, when he was just ten years old. They first arrived in Philadelphia where he had the fortune to be patronized by Robert Morris, the celebrated financier of the Revolution. As he grew, he eventually moved to Virginia, purchased a plantation called “Poplar Grove” and became an influential member of the community. 

He, as so many did in those times, built his success on the backs of the slaves he “owned.” This had a profound effect on at least one of his children. John Mathews Nelson left Virginia and his family home out of disgust for the practice of slavery to which he was witness. He and his wife Mary Lewis Trimble Nelson moved to Ohio where they established a way station for the Underground Railroad. They were involved in aiding rescues for fleeing black slaves up until they retired. Their son, Marshall Telfair Nelson, took over where they left off, using the family home at Clear Creek, northeast of Hillsboro, Ohio, as a safe haven for those who could make the journey.

In 1842, James Nelson, John’s brother, purchased a family retainer, 33 year old Lewis Morton, who bought the freedom of his ailing wife and three children. They reached the Nelson safe house in a one-horse cart and set up a forge on Clear Creek where they continued to aid fellow refugees from slavery.

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

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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.

The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends

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Oliver H. Hovda, my daughter-in-law’s 1st cousin (4 times removed), was just twenty-two years old when he left his family home in Minnesota for the relatively wide open spaces of Montana. His uncle had promised him a good job in the silver and lead mines there.

He and his cousin Lee Simonsen began working in the mines in 1889. Not only was it dangerous work, life in general had its perils. All miners back then carried “sixshooters” and any differences that occurred between them was usually settled by an exchange of gunfire. Six months later, Oliver and Lee decided to leave the mines and instead bought some sheep. 

By this time, Lee’s father had purchased some land along the Stillwater River and started a town called Absarokee, a Crow Indian name that meant People of the Raven. Oliver and Lee brought their sheep to the prime grazing area above the river, ignoring the threats of the cattlemen who wanted the land for their herds.  The tensions between the cattlemen and the sheepherders continued to intensify. Oliver’s camp was burnt down twice by the other faction which finally drove Oliver to move his herd (which by now amounted to some 10,000 head) to an area already grazed by the cattle.

The hostility reached its climax when the cattlemen killed a German sheepherder named Heide along with many of his sheep. Hovda, incensed, stormed into the saloon where he knew he would find the guilty parties. With his six-shooter strapped to his side, he challenged all the cattlemen present to a shootout. Fortunately for Hovda, who was not very good with a gun, his uncle was also present and managed to hustle him out before blood was spilled, in all likelihood, saving 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 be sure to watch our TEDxEustis talk at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

The Little Forkers

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In 1859, following the John Brown raid, a group of Southern men formed the Little Fork Raiders, a calvary militia that would train in Oakshade, at the Little Forks Church in Culpepper County Virginia. When Virginia seceded from the Union, they attached themselves to the 4th Virginia Calvary Regiment as Company D. They became involved in some of the most important battles of the Civil War. My brother-in-law’s great-grandfather, George Sudduth, joined the Little Forkers as a private at the beginning of the war but received a field promotion and was eventually discharged as a first sergeant. He was one of 57 names appearing on the muster roll at the beginning of the war. By the end, only twelve members remained in the company. The others had either mustered out, died, or were wounded and captured.

The 4th Calvary received the nickname “Black Horse Calvary” due to the dark horses the rangers rode to distinguish themselves on the battlefield. They were assigned to General J.E.B. Stuart, who upon seeing them drill made the following observation: “Discipline very good. Instruction very good. Military appearance excellent. Arms deficient in quality, Revolvers needed. Accoutrements serviceable. Clothing remarkably good. Horses excellent.” Among the noteworthy battles that the 4th Calvary faced were: Fredricksburg, the Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsyvania, and the Seven Days’ Battles.

At the end of the war, the survivors of Company D did not surrender. They simply rode home to try to rebuild their lives in the wake of reconstruction. Most, like George Sudduth, would eventually present themselves to a Federal officer to receive a pardon.

In 1904, on the 43rd anniversary of the Little Forkers enrollment to active service, a monument to their courage, bravery and loyalty was unveiled at Oakshade, the site of their original training grounds. It’s inscription reads:

Firm as the firmest where duty led,
They hurried without a falter;
Bold as the boldest, they fought and bled:
The battles were won, but the fields were red,
And the blood of their fresh young hearts was shed
On their country’s hallowed altar.

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 Grande Dame of Daniel Street

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Built in 1718 for Archibald MacPheadris, an Irish-Scot sea captain and merchant, the two-story brick Warner House is one of the finest examples of early-Georgian architecture in northern New England. It was home to six generations of an extended family (including some of my wife’s ancestors) and is today the oldest brick residence in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

When MacPheadris died, his widow, Sarah Wentworth Macpheadris (7th great-grandaunt), married George Jaffrey II, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Sarah and her 14 year old daughter, Mary, moved into the Jaffrey Mansion just up the street so she rented her home to her brother, the Royal Governor Benning Wentworth (7th great-granduncle) who used it as the Governor’s Mansion and lived there for 20 years. Reportedly he never paid rent during the entire time he was there and adding insult to injury, left behind a few broken windows. Mary, as the only surviving child and heir to Archibald, would eventually inherit and become sole owner of the property.

Mary would later marry Jonathan Warner, for whom the house derives its name. He would reside there for 54 years. Afterwards the house passed through a number of heirs and it eventually fell into a state of disrepair. It was threatened with demolition in 1932 but was saved by a group of Portsmouth residents and historians who formed the Warner House Association with the intent to restore and run the site as a house museum.

Among its many historic elements, it was said to be the first residence to have a lightning rod attached to its roof. It was installed by the device’s inventor, Benjamin Franklin.

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 Dark Horse

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One unexpected side benefit from doing all this ancestral research is that it compels us to take a more vested interest in history. Before this, I couldn’t name the 11th president of the United States, let alone know what he did while in office. Now, I can tell you all about him… all because I discovered that he is my niece’s husband’s 2nd cousin.

Wikipedia states: “James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849. He previously was the 13th Speaker of the House of Representatives and 9th governor of Tennessee. A protégé of Andrew Jackson, he was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. Polk is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States through the Mexican–American War. During his presidency, the United States expanded significantly with the annexation of the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following American victory in the Mexican–American War.

He was a dark horse candidate in the 1844 presidential election as the Democratic Party nominee; he entered his party’s convention as a potential nominee for vice president but emerged as a compromise to head the ticket when no presidential candidate could secure the necessary two-thirds majority. In the general election, Polk defeated Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party.

Historians have praised Polk for meeting every major domestic and foreign policy goal he had set during his single term. After a negotiation fraught with the risk of war, he reached a settlement with Great Britain over the disputed Oregon Country, the territory, for the most part, being divided along the 49th parallel. He provoked a war with Mexico in an attempt to expand the United States and succeeded in doing so, as it resulted in Mexico’s cession of nearly all the American Southwest. The same year, he achieved his other major goal, re-establishment of the Independent Treasury system. True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term, Polk left office in 1849 and returned to Tennessee, where he died three months after leaving the White House.

Though he is relatively obscure today, scholars have ranked Polk favorably for his ability to promote and achieve the major items on his presidential agenda, despite limiting himself to a single term.”

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 be sure to watch our TEDxEustis talk at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

Oyez, Oyez! Read All About It!

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Many males who are my age or older will remember that our first taste of employment was had by delivering the local newspaper. Being a paperboy was almost like a rite of passage that is sadly disappearing from today’s American culture. For young boys it could instill a sense of responsibility, pride of ownership (your route was YOUR route), and allowed us to develop many of the skillsets needed to be successful as we moved forward in life.

Whether delivering the daily paper or a weekly supplement, the process for the paperboy was pretty much the same. The papers were delivered to a common area where you would pick them up. You’d have to assemble the sections and fold them into a throwable form. You would then fill up your satchel or bag, sling it across your shoulder, hop on your bike and pedal through your route having memorized the houses that have subscribed to the paper. 

But, as in any profession, there are always some who manage to take it up a notch. Ed Kukst, my son’s grand-uncle, was one such “special delivery” carrier. He completed his route on a motorcycle. That’s him, in the center of the picture, with two other lads getting ready to deliver the Spokane Chronicle in the 1920s. Ed grew up to have a career in law enforcement. He retired from the Spokane Police Department as a lieutenant.

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 be sure to watch our TEDxEustis talk at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.