Bush Cemetery

I’ve been lucky to meet Matt Barnes online. He’s the project guru for maintaining and restoring Bush Cemetery in Rock Port, Missouri.

Bush Cemetery Tour 1 of 2

My Horn ancestors are buried in this cemetery. When Grandma Miller was first telling me about her ancestors, this cemetery is where they were buried.

Matt sent me a note night before last to let me know how spring clean up day went, and give me some photos of a stone he’s re-setting: “Mowed the cemetery and reattached the top of Ruth horne’s stone. I also removed several stumps”

Ruth (Barrett) Horne (1830-1872)

This Ruth Horne was the widow of Lewis Skidmore Horne, who was brother of my ancestor William Steven Horn(e) (1831-1896). William was Grandma Miller’s grandfather.

Whenever I hear from Matt about his latest projects, I reflect about how it would be if every small cemetery in rural America had someone like him. I wouldn’t mind hearing from dozens of people all around the country about the work they’re doing to maintain and preserve the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried.

I subscribed to Matt’s YouTube channel. This is the kind of ongoing family history I want to hear about.

Updated May 10, 2020 to add link.

Bure Tree Redrawn

I’m surprised we don’t hear more DNA stories like this, particularly in Scandinavia where the widespread use of patronymics would channel research along these lines.

The Bure family in Sweden, a prominent family since medieval times, has a project devoted to using yDNA to investigate the early origins of their patrilineage.

They recently found a match whose accumulated mutations show he must belong to a branch that separated from their line in historic lines but would not be descended from their earliest known ancestor.

Every genealogist’s dream, but it takes work. And a bit of luck.

We have a similar situation with the Svanström connection to the Briese family but we haven’t attracted the same level of attention a prominent family like the Bures does.

The yDNA suggests the common ancestor of the Svanströms and Brieses lived within historic times. Maybe in the 1600s or 1700s. And now we have a closer connection to the Kruse family. The Briese family has a formal project. We’re tagged along with them.

Our earliest proven ancestor was Peter Jönsson Cavat (1732-1759). His son Jonas adopted the name Svanström. Some descendants exchanged Svanström for Ögrim and Øgrim.

Because of the geographic distribution of our closest yDNA matches, it now seems clear Peter Cavat’s paternal ancestor, not so far back, came to Sweden from what is now Germany. Perhaps from in or near Lütjenburg in Schleswig-Holstein, up near the Danish border. That’s where our Kruse cousins originated. (My sisters might perk up here: this is the same town where Grandma Place and the Gottschs originated.)

Both Peter Cavat and Jonas Svanström were connected through their wives to the German merchant community. There are several Kruse families in Sweden. The ones I’ve been able to track have been from Germany. That makes sense; Kruse is a German name that means curly. Some were even in Östergötland and Kalmar, near the Svanström family.

My guess is that we’ll turn out to be a branch of one of those families, but we need more testing of Swedish Kruses to make it work. Testing will help both by including and excluding possible connections.

More Information

Preservation Societies

Is there anything that needs preserving that someone somewhere isn’t doing already? I’m in the mood.

The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society (Official Audio)

Black Dutch

I had a link I liked about the term Black Dutch. I went looking for it today and found it in Wayback. The page is so old it recommends a Yahoo group for further discussion.

In 19th and 20th centuries America it was relatively common for people to identify themselves or other people as Black Dutch. The idea was that even though a person’s skin was dark enough to be noticeably different, they really were still White.

The Black Dutch were said to be Germans (Deutsch) or Dutch with dark hair and coloring. The analogy is to the Black Irish; Irish with black hair as opposed to Irish with red hair. (Remember, we’re dealing in stereotypes here.)

In reality, Black Dutch was often a euphemism for bi-racial (White and Indian) or tri-racial (White, Black, and Indian). It was also relatively common to explain people with dark skin as Portuguese, which served the same purpose of obscuring a mixed-race background.

Grandma Miller told me her Horn ancestors were Black Dutch. “Grandma Miller” was Evelyn (Horn) Miller (1913-2010), of Lovelock, Nevada. Her grandmother Rachel (Roberson) Horn (1847-1932), of Tulsa, Oklahoma was probably Cherokee or part-Cherokee. (This is my conclusion. It’s been hotly debated my entire life.)

I wasn’t surprised. The Horns claim to have Indian ancestry. If that’s true, and it seems to be—the DNA shows the smallest trace of it—they would almost certainly have had some way of explaining it away. The odds were good their explanation would have been Black Dutch.

Mike Nassau finds 8 different meanings for Black Dutch, including the relatively modern “Melungeon“. As a working definition I still prefer to gloss it as bi-racial or tri-racial but I like Nassau’s niceties. I’m hoping to find a case someday where one of the less common definitions comes into play.

  • Mike Nassau, “Black Dutch,” Black Dutch <blackdutch1.webs.com>, Apr. 6, 2006.

Myth of the frontier

I keep watch for pieces about the mythology of the American West.

Westerns and cowboys are the American myth, hands down. My neo-pagan friends find meaning in Norse culture, in Celtic culture, in every romanticized period of history except America.

I’m not going to embed this one because it’s so long: How Historians Killed the Western.

"The Western died in the 1970s. It went from the primary genre of Hollywood production, making almost a third of yearly movies at its peak, to a relic of a bygone era requiring revival for new productions. The Western was felled from its high-horse. What murdered it? The direct murderer does not matter, for as one Western about a mistaken murder said, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The genre was fueled by the American frontier myth, which also propelled American exceptionalism. As the historical theory behind the frontier myth crumbled in the wake of great social upheaval, especially when related to the American Indian Movement, the driver of Westerns died, resulting in the Western’s demise."

Historians notwithstanding, the generation before mine loved cowboy romanticism. Both my parents devoured Zane Grey and other cowboy novels when they were growing up, then graduated to serious history as adults. In the early 1960s my dad watched Westerns—which meant we all watched them, like it or not. I think he liked them, but also Westerns were all that were on all three networks from probably 7 to 10 pm every night. That’s when we watched TV because Dad believed in getting up precisely at 6 am every day, weekends included.

It was the way things were back then.

The way I remember it, Westerns began to give way to police and detective shows after about 1965.

It’s a truism to say fish don’t see the water around them. My chums don’t see cowboy culture because it’s all around us. Europeans see it more clearly. I’m not surprised anymore when my European cousins want to hear about their relationship to people in the Old West.

Thomas Nock

I noticed recently the Scottish Prisoners of War Society (SPOWS) still lists Thomas Nock as a possible prisoner. Oh my. I thought we settled that.

The Scottish prisoners of war who are the subject of this society’s research were taken prisoner after the Battles of Dunbar (1660) and Worcester (1661), then deported to New England. In America they tended to stay together, with some intermarriage in the first generations. They formed the Scots Charitable Society, now the oldest charitable organization in the Americas.

It was this tendency to stick together that led to the idea Thomas Nock might have been one of them. He was where they were, and his surname Nock could maybe be a form of Knox.

The modern expert on the Scottish prisoners is Andrew Millard, an archaeologist at the University of Durham. He supervised excavations on a mass grave used for the Scots who were interned at Durham Cathedral in 1660 after the Battle of Durham.

The SPOWS page for Thomas Nock quotes from an email Dr. Millard sent to Teresa Rust and me on Oct. 9, 2018:

The date of the 1652 grant was doubted by Stackpole in his Scotch Exiles typescript (see attached page) where he said “the last figure is very indistinct and doubtful. It may be 1656 or later.” Have you managed to see the original of this grant?
If that date is not certain, then all are agreed he had a land grant was in 1657, but there is another indication he was there slightly earlier. Both the Tibbetts and the Knox books says Thomas’s son Thomas jr. made a will on 15 Feb 1676, though Stackpole says 15 Sep 1676. An image of this will ought to be on Ancestry https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8996, but I don’t have a subscription to US records. Ancestry have transcribed the month as February.  Sylvanus, another son, was taxed in 1677 according to the Tibbetts book and Stackpole. They must have been 21 to make a will and be taxed, placing their births in or before 1655 and 1656. Sylvanus was apprenticed in 1670 according to the Tibbetts book, which conventionally would have happened at the age of 14. Although age at apprenticeship did vary, this would fit with a c.1656 birth.
If the 1652 date is correct I agree he is unlikely to be a SPOW, but if he first appears in 1655-56, in a place where there were a number of SPOWs, then I’d still consider him to fall in the possible category. The key thing is the date on that first land grant, for which the original or a good image of it needs to be consulted.

Good enough. We have to start somewhere. I was skeptical, however. It’s unfortunate my response the same date is missing from the Society’s website.

One of the main reasons for thinking Thomas Nocke might have been a Scot is that his surname could have been Knox, and in fact this is typically the modern spelling among his descendants. However, the spelling Nock is preserved in the place name Nock Marsh, and there are Nock/e families documented in England. In fact there have been several attempts over the years to identify Thomas Nocke in Dover with different men of that name in English baptismal records. I continue to be cautious. This line of thinking can only be speculative until there is a firmer basis for going a particular direction.

I think it's also worth noting that while Stackpole did so much of the pioneering research on the families in this area, he is not always as careful as he might have been. You yourself have provided an example. He says the will of Thomas Jr. was 15 September 1676. The actual date is "the ffifteene day of ffeburary in ye Yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred Seaventy Six". 

Similarly, when he says the "the last figure is very indistinct and doubtful" in the 1652 grant, that's something I would want to verify. It might be worth noting that others have also read it as 1652 (for example, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire). I've seen it myself on LDS microfilm but didn't pay any particular attention. Without unpacking my notes, I couldn't even say right off if what I've seen is the original or a typescript copy. As I recall it's in a somewhat unexpected place in the records so it might take me some to find it again.

However, I'll repeat what I said in my first message. Thomas' son Thomas Jr. was born 26 March 1654/55. This, I believe, is key to the rest of the dating. Thomas Sr. and Rebecca were likely married before June 1654. This makes 1652 a very plausible date for a first land grant to Thomas. We see this scenario over and over and over in early New England genealogy. A boy reaches his majority, ends his apprenticeship or indenture, then marries and gets a grant of land almost simultaneously. Of course it would be that way. The town would not have allowed him to marry if he could not provide for a family. Nor would the town have failed to provide him with land if he had recently come of age and expected to marry. Thomas' marriage before 1654 and the date of 1652 for the grant are mutually supportive.

Then approaching the question from the opposite direction - if Thomas had been taken prisoner at Dunbar in 1650, and arrived with other Scots prisoners on the Unity in Dec 1650, it seems he would have served an extraordinarily abbreviated indenture if he was free and married by June 1654. Three years, compared to the 6, 7, 8 years served by other prisoners. 

This additional information seems dispositive. It is highly improbable Thomas Nocke was one of the Scottish prisoners.

More Information

My SPOWS ancestors are John Clark, Peter Grant, John Sinclair, and John Taylor. Thomas Nock is my ancestor but not one of the prisoners.

Stackpole, Scotch Exiles


We watched Waco last Sunday night. It was, for me, unimaginably powerful.

Here’s a trailer from YouTube.

In 1993 the ATF got a search warrant for the Branch Davidian headquarters in Waco, Texas, and an arrest warrant for David Koresh, the religious leader of the group, on weapons charges. Instead of serving the warrants, the ATF launched a surprise raid, trying to force entry. There was a gun battle. The raid failed. No one has ever figured out who fired first but both sides blamed the other. The FBI took over, then for 51 days all America watched the Feds fumble the operation. Finally, on April 19 the FBI launched an assault that resulted in the deaths of 76 people, including 25 children and 2 pregnant women.

These events in Waco took place against the backdrop of Ruby Ridge, a similar incident in Idaho six months earlier. That one was an 11-day siege of the Randy Weaver family cabin after Weaver resisted arrest on weapons’ charged. The FBI killed Randy Weaver’s dog, 14 year old son Sammy, and his wife Vicki.

None of these people were particularly warm and fuzzy characters. Randy Weaver was a white supremacist, and David Koresh seems to have turned the Branch Davidian women into his personal harem. They weren’t “nice people” but the bad guys here are the government agents who went after them.

I don’t imagine it’s a parallel that will occur to most people, but I see my early Mormon ancestors in these stories. Joe Smith was a prophet with questionable morals and tactics. He seduced other men’s wives, engineered a ponzi scheme, created a private army, destroyed a printing press when it was used to print an opposition newspaper, and on and on.

Smith was, of course, immeasurably more successful in his own lifetime than either David Koresh or Randy Weaver. Next to Uncle Joe they look like two-bit wannabes. Even so, in the eyes of their contemporaries the early Mormons must have looked every bit as outlandish as the Branch Davidians. And those Mormons didn’t have just one equivalent of the Siege at Waco; they went from crisis to crisis. Everything from the Panic of 1837 to the Haun’s Mill Massacre to the assassination of the Prophet at Carthage Jail and the exodus to the western wilderness.

After watching Waco, I’m reflecting on what makes our Mormon history “sacred history” and Branch Davidian history just some crackpot and his followers resisting arrest?

I think it might have helped that Joseph Smith’s church survived the early setbacks and was fortunate to get some distance from American mobs while it matured a bit under the leadership of Brigham Young. I would be surprised if any of my Mormon relatives think of our pioneer ancestors as being in the same category as David Koresh and the Branch Davidians.

Heritage of Hate

I hadn’t planned to write about Southern identity any time in the immediate future. I decided to do it because of this excellent video by The Cynical Historian. He does interesting work and this one is particularly good.

The video is particularly timely right at the moment, when America is governed seemingly by un-reconstructed Confederates and neo-Nazis. This is not our ancestors’ patriotism.

The basic idea here is that there is a mythology of the South’s Lost Cause, with four important elements:

  1. Slavery was good for the enslaved.
  2. The issue in the Civil War was states’ rights, not slavery.
  3. The North was the aggressor.
  4. Reconstruction was designed to punish the South.

If you’re a Northerner, or like me a Westerner taught by the modern equivalent of Yankee schoolmarms, you’ve heard it all before and you’re rolling your eyes. If you’re a Southerner, you want to punch someone—or failing that, maybe just vote for Donald Trump again. (Why the South fell in love with a New York City conman is a mystery to us all. No sense of heritage there.)

One of the things I like about this video is that it is not just a partisan hack job. There’s an element of truth in each of the mythological claims. Cypher takes time to explore. For example, it would be hard to see Sherman’s March through Georgia as anything other than total war (“Northern Aggression”) but at the same time we should acknowledge that Gen. Stonewall Jackson on the Southern side advocated total war from the beginning.

I have some cousins who belong to Sons (and Daughters) of the Confederacy. I qualify for membership but I can’t even imagine joining. They say “Heritage Not Hate.” I say “Heritage of Hate.” And, as an old-fashioned Patriot it’s hard for me to imagine any world where someone could celebrate ancestors who committed treason.

My main take-away from this video is the idea that someone I think is eminently reasonable (Cypher) thinks there might be a good rationale for keeping the public statues to the heroes of the Confederacy. The argument seems to be that we don’t need to destroy history even when we disagree with it. I come at it a little differently. I see no reason to maintain public statues and monuments of any kind if they don’t represent a widespread majority of the population there now. I don’t see that we need to maintain statues that represent only a race and class ascendancy from an era when those people could position their views as “normative.”

At one time I believed the rest of the country is just waiting for the old guard to die off so we can all move forward. Now our national politics have shown there must have been a stronger undercurrent of racism than we imagined.

And that brings me to one of my long-held but definitely minority opinions. We didn’t do ourselves any good fighting the Civil War to keep the South. We should have let them go. By forcing them to stay in the Union, we’ve likely sewn the seeds of our own defeat.

Daughter of Time

As a Riccardian, Josephine Tey’s novel Daughter of Time is an old favorite.

Re-reading last night. I didn’t expect it to provide an example of how researchers go wrong.

The story goes like this. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is convalescing after an injury. A friend triggers his interest in Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. One of the most famous mysteries in the English-speaking world. Richard supposedly had them killed. It now seems that story was pure Tudor propaganda.

At one point in the novel, a student researcher tells Grant the story of the Boston Massacre. Grant responds by telling the story of the Tonypandy Riots.

Grant says the point of his story is not just “Someone blowing up a simple affair for a political end.” It’s how history has been falsified. “The point is that every single man who was there knows that the story in nonsense, and yet it has never been contradicted. It will never be overtaken now. It is a completely untrue story grown to legend while the men who knew it to be untrue looked on and said nothing.

When I was an undergraduate I read a similar story about the dangers of oral history. Star-crossed lovers in wartime Yugoslavia who ended up committing suicide. Except both of them were still alive, and the people telling the story knew them, knew their identity, and knew they weren’t dead.

This is the kind of thing we need to bear in mind when doing historical research. Very often it’s the story that matters. Contemporary accounts aren’t necessarily true accounts.

A few pages later, Grant and his researcher decide they need to look at reactions to the death of Edward IV. Tey gives us a great parting line: “Only historians tell you what they thought. Research workers stick to what they did.”

I’d say that’s sound advice for genealogists.

Re-thinking education

A few days ago I wrote about Online Learning (Apr. 13, 2020). There’s no doubt you can learn on the Internet. Good quality stuff, if you search it out.

Here’s an article that suggests targeted learning might someday replace university degrees. “Could targeted, bite-sized chunks of education help you get a job?”

This particular article focuses on the rising cost of education, and whether online courses and certificate programs could replace a university degree. Or maybe not replace, just supplement.

This isn’t a new idea. I think it must have been around since the early days of the Internet. Hey look, here’s something that might happen. Easy futurism.

Now the landscape has been transformed, just in the two months since this article was written. Here in Colorado we’re all in COVID-19 lockdown. Schools are closed; replaced in various ways by online instruction.

It’s a new world, both for school and for work. It was totally impossible, so they said, to let people work at home. Until it had to be done to keep employers in business. Now it’s magically possible.

I tease my nephew that his education is over. He’ll never get further than 9th grade. It’ll be digging ditches for him. It’s funny only because we know the world has changed. Whether or not he’s ever able to go back to a traditional classroom environment, the certification process will adapt. He’ll graduate high school and go on to college, in whatever way those things end up being defined.

When I retired a few years ago, I thought I would like to good back, finish my Masters’ degree and get a PhD in History. I applied to universities. I got accepted. And I decided I don’t really want to go. Not this school. Not that school. Not right now. I love reading and watching videos; the learning itself.

Even when I was college I pushed against the structure. I wanted to go my own direction. Week 3, I’m thinking that chapter we had to read is fascinating. I want to explore that. I’m not ready to move on with the rest of the class to the next topic.

Today, when I look at online versus classroom education, I agree with the guy in this article. “[H]e came to the conclusion that a major part of formal education was ‘signalling’; that it was used to ‘filter society by which people are smart, conscientious and conformist enough to put up with it'”.