“There Went the Neighborhood!”

Just as bodies falling in space increase velocity at exactly thirty-two feet per second, I have become convinced that time itself accelerates with similar immutability as our minds travel through the years.

It seems impossible. Here we are today only three short weeks before Thanksgiving Day 2011, nationally celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November as initiated by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 — although dating back to those Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621.

And there we were — visiting family in Cincinnati — when what before my wondrous eyes should appear but some remarkable research by daughter, Colleen, which reveals something of which I had been completely unaware.

Quoting from just a tiny section of multipage documentation:

“Hezekiah Newcomb married Jerusha Bradford on November 14, 1716. Jerusha was the great-granddaughter of William Bradford, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620, and who was Governor of the Plymouth Colony for many years.”

Everything is tracked without break from that point to Mabel (Newcomb) MacClasky, “Mother of Kathryn (1902), Isabel (1903), Jennie (1907), Isaac Dennison (1909) and Wilma Newcomb MacClasky (1912).”

Isabel (1903) was my Mother, Isabel M. Cavanaugh, headed for Heaven in 1998 in her 95th year of life, finally joining her husband, Donald Cavanaugh, after a full half-century of widowhood. “This is the longest time he’s been away”, said Mom, just weeks before their reunion.

The transcript Isabel’s granddaughter, Colleen, provided is utterly fascinating. It includes all sorts of curious notations, including a four year-old falling into boiling soap (unpleasant consequences), a father acquitted of killing his son (details not provided), and piracy at sea, courtesy of one Thomas Newcomb, cited as a “Soldier of the Revolution”, drafted into the American Army under George Washington on 23 August, 1777, at the age of 16. “Tea Party?” Cousin Thomas was the real deal.

There are fishermen, farmers, soldiers, merchants, surveyors, constables, judges, tanners, tavern owners, ministers, blacksmiths and wagon makers strewn throughout the pages of our ancestry. We are told of babies by the dozen, “troublesome Indians” by the score and at least one extramarital affair, balanced quite nicely by sworn testimony that old Hezekiah Newcomb (1693-1772)) led a “virtuous, pious and truly exemplary life” and “was almost never seen without a Bible in his hands.”

Thus I find myself tracked back to the Mayflower.

But that’s no big deal.

There are millions of Mayflower descendants living today, but very few are actually aware of such seemingly unique distinction.

Among notable proven Mayflower offspring are Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H. Bush and George W. Bush. Then we have such famous figures as Marilyn Monroe (pun intended) , Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Orson Welles, Noah Webster, Clint Eastwood, Alec Baldwin, Dick Van Dyke, Richard Gere, Christopher Lloyd, Bing Crosby, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hugh Hefner, Cokie Roberts and Bob Bradford, Founder of Yosemite Films.

Traceable to the Mayflower or not and surely inclusive of the Wampanoag and other native Americans who never issued engraved invitations to dock up and drop by in the first place, we all share a common past as we proceed together into an uncertain future.

“Relatives” are not only those with whom we will gather at a bountiful harvest table this coming Thanksgiving Day. For each seen and known, hundreds more are hidden from us by the impenetrable mist of forgotten bygone days — aging children– one and all.

Let’s jointly reflect upon our collective history — being thankful for and responsible to — each other.

3 Responses to ““There Went the Neighborhood!””

  1. Don Richards Says:

    Long time between new posts, Peter. I was beginning to worry about you.

  2. petercavanaugh Says:

    I was “Back East” for a few weeks. I’ll make up for lost time now!

  3. Charles Walker Says:

    Sounds like you are justifiably pround of Colleen.

    The Mayflower Society website syas, “Today there are tens-of-millions of individuals descended from these brave souls. It is the goal of The Mayflower Society to join together people who share this heritage and to carry on the memory of our Pilgrim ancestors.” Obviously those 29 passengers were truly a fecund group.

    None of my progenitors made it out of the Olde Sod before the potato famine. Back in the late 1920s when he was momentarily one of the “1%” my Grandfather Walker commissioned a geneological search, no doubt hoping to prove a linear connection to Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. He pulled the plug when they traced the Walker lineage back to a Seamus Walker who was hung for horse thievery in the late 1790s.

    Oh, well. At least I have famous friends.

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