How My Ancestors Saved America…and other stuff.

So, I’ve become obsessed with researching my ancestry.  I had done as much as I could and decided it was time to hire a pro to help me out…and what a good idea it was!!  I’ve learned so much I didn’t know!  For example, I always thought (and so did my granny) that my dad’s family was all Irish.  Not the case!  One branch of his family was, in fact, English and another Scottish.

Some of the interesting stuff I learned about more recent relatives was that one was a soldier for the Confederacy (of course) and was captured and held as a prisoner of war at Alton, in Illinois.  He luckily survived the deplorable conditions and the dysentery, smallpox, and other vile infections that killed so many of the men there.  After the war, he returned to Arkansas and started a new life.  

I also learned two of my ancestors fought for the Continental army in the Revolution.  One was Amasa Mitchell, assigned under General George Washington and survived Valley Forge and was there when Cornwallis surrendered.  That’s on mom’s side.  And one ancestor was Captain Thomas Nathaniel Edwards, born in Wales, and was also present at the surrender of Cornwallis.  It is said he was on the front, firing one of the first shots of the battle of Camden, but of course that battle went to the British.

Of course, the Kennedy’s were from Ireland, that we know.  We even know where that part is from, roughly…somewhere in Tipperary.  Unfortunately that’s about all we know because my great grandmother didn’t talk about her past too much.  She didn’t talk about anything bad, sad, or painful.  A family trait.  We do know they were very poor.  

But then there’s the Hollands and McClanahans, a branch of the family I knew little or nothing about.  I still don’t know much about them.  Unfortunately good records were not kept of family history in Ireland, at least of the poor people.  I was informed if I wanted to travel to Ireland, I could probably take the information I have and research my family through the records kept by the Catholic church for baptisms and such.  I was also informed that, in all likelihood, my family was probably very poor, possibly even living in a workhouse, separated from one another–even the small children from their mother–for quite some time before being sponsored to immigrate.  Records are kept at these places as well, but long story short, I’d have to go to Ireland and dole out lots of money to travel here and there to discover more about them…money I simply don’t have.  So I’ll have to settle for knowing they’re from Ireland.

BUT. The cool stuff comes in now.  My dad has one branch of his family that married into the Holland family that was English (as I mentioned, some of them were Welsh).  I learned one of my ancestors, Samuel Jordan, was a member of The Virginia Company of London and arrived in The New world in 1610 on board The Sea Venture after a 14 month journey, due to crashing off the coast of Bermuda.  Once they arrived, as the third group of settlers to the New World, they found the settlement of Jamestown to be in bad shape.  Their arrival and much needed supplies saved the settlement.  He was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.  His home was called Beggar’s Bush near the James River.  The town of Jordan’s Point, Virginia, once called Jordan’s Journey, was named after him.

I am also descended from Sir William Wynter, Elizabethan Vice Admiral of England during the Anglo-Spanish War, son of Sir John Wynter and Lady Alice Tirrey of Cork, Ireland.  

We’ve traced the English branch of my family back to the late 1300s so far.  Thanks to their being notable people of high status, good records were kept of them and there are even paintings of Sir William still in England.  It’s amazing.  There are some other “ladies and sirs” in the line, but we are still searching for more information on them.


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