Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo has seen a great many tee-vee commercials recently for the 23 and Me DNA genetic testing outfit. You know, the people who, if you send them some of your spit, can peg your historickal tribal roots. I’ve also seen a running ad for Ancestry.Com in which people are invited to plug their names (and, presumedly, other personal info) into a data port sit up in some random public place, to be regaled by revelations of the existence and achievements of their immediate ancestors.
Ol’ Robbo doesn’t know about all this. On the one hand, the history geek within me applauds such research. On the other, the innertoobs Luddite in me warns that, as with things like GPS and EZ-Pass technology, if you know this data, somebody else does, too. Big Brother, anyone?
And that, frankly, makes me jumpy.
Speaking of ancestral research (here, the old-fashioned kind), I mentioned in my post-Thanksgiving post below the fact that my indefatigable elder cousin had established Robbo Family gunnegshuns to what is now western Virginia during colonial times. Whelp, the woman actually did a road trip detour on her way home from the turkey feast and sent me the following on-the-ground report [interpolations in brackets are mine]:
I found several family sites in Rockbridge Co., VA, on 11/25/16.
1) The Kerr’s Creek Massacres are commemorated by a State Highway Historical Marker (title: Kerr’s Creek) about five miles west of the Washington & Lee Law School on Route 60, where there is an entrance to I-64. [Ol Robbo went to Dubyanell for law school and first met Mrs. R in an apartment complex on Route 60 just west of town.]
Kerr’s Creek was the southern border of the 1748 Borden grants of John and James Gilmore. Rt. 60 runs parallel to Kerr’s Creek, on the north side of the creek. I must have been traveling across 18th century Gilmore property. It is pretty creek bottom land.
Our direct ancestors, John and Agnes Gilmore, Sr., were killed there in the First Kerr’s Creek Massacre in 1759. Their son Thomas was killed in the Second Kerr’s Creek Massacre in 1763, with the family kidnapped. [According to another of my cousin’s emails, Thomas’s wife and son were eventually repatriated by the French, who had bought them from the Shawnees. The two daughters of the family were never heard of again. In 1818, surviving members of the family [led, I recall, by Thomas’s brother James] joined a migration to Ohio, in large part over the question of slavery. Another branch of my family ran a station on the Underground Railroad in southwestern Ohio and, as I’ve mentioned before, my great-great-grandfather was an officer in the 10th Ohio Light Artillery Battery during the Civil War who saw action in the Atlanta Campaign.]
2) The site of the 1746 New Monmouth Presbyterian Church, where the Gilmores attended, is marked at Whistle Creek on Rt. 60. The newer building of New Monmouth, still operating, is three miles further west. [As I have mentioned before, the Old Gentleman’s family were just about pure-bred Scots Presbyterians. Ol’ Robbo’s great-grandfather was a minister, in fact. I chuckle at the idea that they are all turning in their graves over the fact that Ol’ Robbo has gone back to the Old Religion.]
3) High Bridge Presbyterian Church, where our direct ancestors Thomas and Agnes (Leech) Lackey are buried, is still operating on High Bridge Road (county route 693, at an overpass of I-81) off Rt. 11, just south of Natural Bridge, VA. [This is another family branch. Without the chart in front of me, I can’t recall where they fit in, but I think it’s the next generation after the Gilmores mentioned above.]
4) The ruins of our direct ancestor James Gilmore’s 18th century mill can be seen by following Gilmore’s Mill Road off Rt. 130, at Natural Bridge Station. Gilmore’s Mill Road (Rt. 708) descends to and parallels the west bank of the James River. The ruins are where Cedar Creek runs into the James at the intersection of county routes 708 and 608.
5) James Gilmore’s c. 1780 brick two- story house View Mont, now Sydney Vale, is across the James from the Mill but is on private property and inaccessible.
I’ll give her credit: It’s all cool stuff, all the more so because my cousin does these things the old-fashioned way – through pouring over archives and getting out into the field.
On the other hand, her level of energy curiously exhausts me, especially when she hunts me down at family gatherings (armed with maps, genealogy tables and local historickal pamphlets) and proceeds to drill me in her most recent finds. I mean, Ol’ Robbo is a history geek, but not that much of one. (The Gels, by the bye, have learned to flee my cousin’s very presence for fear of getting quizzed on family history.)