Black sheep, huh!? Are they referencing “dyed in the wool” black sheep…”bad to the bone” black sheep…or perhaps, “poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep? My family tree has every one of these varieties.
“Dyed in the wool” black sheep: Being a specie of this type depends on who is doing the judging. In this case, King James I of England is the judge of this case. Meet our defendant George Soule who is an indentured servant. He and his master are what are called Separatists. They do not wish to belong to the Church of England of which King James is the head. Loyal subjects of the realm must be loyal to this church. George and his master are not. In James’ humble regal opinion, these men are black sheep among the sheep he shepherds. When these Separatists/Puritans wish to come to the New World, James is most happy to be rid of them. So, this flock leaves the fold. George, who is my 9th great grandfather, will board the Mayflower in 1620. His descendants will populate New World with even more “dyed in the wool” black sheep Englishmen and women.
“Bad to the bone” black sheep: These bad boys are rebellious, disloyal, unfaithful. They will take up arms against their king, their motherland, their fellow English citizens…no matter the cost. If their King George III finds them guilty, they will die the traitor’s death of being hung. Their fortunes and lands will be denied their remaining families. How dare they turn against Great Britain and all she embodies? How can they be so ungrateful to the King’s good protection? Just who do they think they are? These anti-loyalists would be termed “patriots”. Joseph Story, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, Joseph Boultenhouse, and John Nichols are my 4th and 5th great grandfathers who opposed the king during the American Revolution. Their descendants would fill the newborn nation with others who would also be rebellious. Are they too “bad to the bone”?
“Poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep: What was once a family story, related by my mother to me, turned out to be a real life soap opera. The story went that our great aunt had run away with the parish priest. Researching the story, I found newspaper accounts in several Midwestern newspapers. She had! She stole her husband’s car and headed to her sister’s home in a metropolitan city. The priest was with her along with her 5 year old daughter. The husband went to the local police and asked to have a warrant for the priest’s arrest…the car was registered to him alone so the pair were guilty of auto theft among other crimes. Once captured after a high speed chase by the police in another state, the pair and child spent the night in jail. When the husband arrived, he reclaimed his wife and struck the priest. Later that year, the wife filed for divorce…the priest took off for parts unknown after failing to come to court for the trial. Some think he ran to Mexico…defrocked and disgraced.
No matter who the black sheep are…no matter what they did…no matter at all.
Naomi Ruth Stevens is the name this aunt and niece shared. They both came from pioneer stock and learned early to care for others. They both carved out names for themselves which would be based on their talents and characters.
The aunt of the duo was my great grandmother, Naomi Ruth Stevens Boultinghouse. She was born on a farm in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas in 1875…just four years after her family settled under the auspices of the Homestead Act. Her parents were English emigrants who had migrated across this nation from New Jersey, Tennessee, and into the Sunflower State. Her father was a Civil War veteran of the Union Navy. Her mother was a talented seamstress. From them, she learned the virtues of hard work, perseverance, and resilience. At the age of 19, she married my great grandfather Lafayette Edward Boultinghouse and became a mother to four children. She was most dedicated to her family. She and her husband Lafe had a small farm for a few years, but farming was not to their liking. Together, they established a small general store and cafe. Friendliness was part of the service, and Naomi (nicknamed Mamie) enjoyed visiting with customers. She was noted as a master gardener and earned fame among
the locals for her roses and other flowers in her yards surrounding her home. People said that she could turn a mess into a masterpiece. She also enjoying taking pictures of her family, including her grandchildren. Toward the end of his life, she shared her home with her ailing father, William Henry Stevens. When she passed away in 1947, it was my parents’ wedding day. When her husband Lafe passed away in 1949, it was the day after my birth.
The other Naomi Ruth Stevens Lindley was born in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1915..she is my first cousin. Her parents had migrated from Kansas, and she was their last born child. Not much is known to me about her. From 1942 to 1946, she was a first lieutenant in the U. S. Army Nurses Corps. She preciously had cared for others as a public health nurse so caring and nurturing were part of her spirit. Her pioneer spirit shown forth when she was willing to be a woman in the military. She met and married her husband John while serving her country. She lived until the age of 80 and is buried in a military cemetery.
Same name…same charisma…same fortitude…remarkable and remembered.
They never met, yet they are very important to me. They came from different worlds with one being a farmer and one being a steelworker. One had a long ago grandfather who came to the New World on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom. One sailed in steerage on a ship that went through Southampton, England, a few weeks before the Titanic…he was searching for freedom from hunger and want. If they had met, they would not have been able to communicate in the same language…one spoke American English and the other Polish. One lived on the plains of Kansas surrounded by wheat fields; the other lived in Philadelphia surrounded by tenements and factories. One had served in the Prussian army much as an act of fear of imprisonment. The other had served in the U.S. Army much as an act of patriotism. They did hold something in common: they raised children who knew the value of hard work and the importance of a faith in God.
These two men were my grandfathers. Gramps was my mother Merna Mae Storer’s father, and his name was Andrew Earl Storer. He married my Grammy in 1922 in Osborne County, Kansas. Dziadek was my father Edward Joseph Slabik’s father, and his name was Franciszek Slabik. He married my Babcia in 1914 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
No, they never met…at least not until they entered Eternity under the loving eyes of the Father.
Several mysteries shroud my second great grandparents’ story. One is the circumstances of their first meeting. Here he was Amos Howell Boultinghouse, farmer boy from Illinois. Here she was Maria Magdalina Kramer, French immigrant living in Manhattan, New York. In 1843, they were married when he was 25 years old, and she was 15 years old…a man, seasoned by hard work and survival, and a teenager, seasoned by lessons in a convent school. When I first met them, I wondered if she were a mail order bride. Now that would be a mystery to solve!
Then, I discovered that Amos had been in the U.S. Army when he enlisted at the age of 19. In perusing his records, I noted that he had been stationed at Fort Columbus, New York, at the time of the marriage. This fort was the major defender of New York harbor. It was located about six miles from Manhattan. Yet how did they meet?
They were married in the Church of Saint Nicholas, the first German-speaking Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan by Father Gabriel Rumpler. Their marriage certificate was found among Amos’ Civil War pension records. I decided to do more investigation. If she was 15, who signed for her to marry? I had never found her parents’ names or immigration records. Would other facts come to light if the church archives were consulted?
Since this parish no longer exists, I did locate the church where its records are stored. The parish secretary told me that the records from 1843 were there. Because of their age, these could not be scanned…they could be transcribed if they were readable. (I prayed they could be read.) A few weeks later, the transcription arrived in the mail. Well, here comes the bride…Maria had lied about her age and stated she was 22 years old. Another discovery on the record was Amos’ surname…it is Boultinghouse, and it was recorded as Boardinghouse.
Going to the chapel, I discovered that Maria was not a mail order bride…she claimed to be seven years older…the two witnesses at the ceremony were other priests who resided in that parish. Time would bring Amos and Maria many hard decisions, many devastating losses, and, perhaps, many joys.
The mist places a veil over my head, and I cannot see ahead. Am I lost or just seeking? Will I find my way, or will I try to turn back to return from where I came? I am searching but can find nothing. Is it hopeless?
The mental picture of lost in the mist is what clouds my brain when I am looking for the answers to a genealogical puzzle…and it is not even in my family tree…it is about my husband’s third great grandparents.
Benjamin and Julianna Beeson Haffner were married on 21 December 1825 in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia. They would have six children, but only four would reach adulthood. During the Civil War, this part of Virginia would become part of the new state of West Virginia. Little is known of them. Benjamin was listed in the 1850 and 1860 Census as a plowmaker. In the 1850 Census, he declared that he was a pauper.
During the Civil War, Martinsburg stood in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. General Thomas J. Jackson commandeered trains and tracks right in the city so Union forces could not ship soldiers and supplies. The trains were moved over land to Strasburg. There were turmoil and chaos surrounding the city and its citizens.
But what of Benjamin and Julianna? Did they survive the war? They completely disappear after that 1860 Census…as if vanishing in the mist. They can be traced to no final resting places. Some day, I want to see them coming toward me as they break through the mist, and the veil of separation is no more.
On that Sunday morning in December, he was returning from Mass with his family in a Nicetown/Philadelphia ethnic neighborhood. As the family walked home, a neighbor burst out of his house to flag them down. The neighbor knew that the Slabiks did not have a radio, but he extended the invitation for them to step inside his house to listen to an ongoing news broadcast. The news was numbing and unimaginable, but after all parts of Europe were already at war. What…this happened at Pearl Harbor? His brother Stanley was in the Army and had been just a year ago stationed in Honolulu. The Japanese…why was the world crashing down?
When he returned to high school the next day, all his buddies were ranting against the attack. Graduation could not come too soon, for they wanted to enlist right away and save America…save the world. They often bragged about seeing each other in Tokyo a year from now. The minimum age to enlist was 18 years old, and Edward would not reach that age until next November. Patriotism called…how could he wait?
After a June, 1942, graduation, he began to figure out how he could enlist. He would “create” a new birthdate. After all, a birth certificate was not entirely necessary; one could have a witness testify about that birthdate. He would only be fudging a few months since Uncle Sam and the United States needed him. Instead of stating that he was born on 6 November 1924, he and his witness declared the date as 1 September 1924. (On another document, he stated that it was 6 September 1924.) He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. He would be trained to fight in combat.
While in basic training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, he and the rest of his new buddies were given nicknames that would remain with them for the duration of the war. Edward enjoyed humor and laughter and playing pranks, so he was nicknamed “Silly From Philly”. Perhaps, that humor saved his sanity when he was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.
Edward would return from war in December, 1945, to that ethnic neighborhood in Philadelphia. He came home to his parents and neighbors. He was 21 years old. His mother was alarmed at how jaundiced and skinny her boy Edjui (Polish for Edward) looked. He was home safe…America was also safe.
It would be four years later in December, 1949, when I would first meet my father. He and my mother had married in 1947 after becoming war time sweethearts…but that is another story!