Monday, May 26, 2008

On Memorial Day

During Memorial Day Weekend I've been thinking about my ancestors who fought in various wars. [The cartoon on the left is by John T McCutcheon and is circa 1900.]

Since Memorial Day is primarily to remember those who fell in service, I first thought of my Great Uncle Mandell Newmark, who died in WWII. I wrote a year ago about scanning in his war journal, but his handwriting unfortunately lacks legibility in many parts.

Mandell's brother, and my grandfather, Melvin Newmark, served in WWII, as did my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch. However, Mandell is the only relative, direct or collateral, I know of who died in military service.

I've claimed before that I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War and the American Revolution. I'm not sure that is true. Family lore has said it is true, but I think there was some flexibility on the definition of 'ancestor' to include collateral relatives.

I have only two ancestors who were male and of the correct age during the Civil War. One: Ebenezer Denyer, definitely fought for the Confederacy. I've found a lot of documents on him at Footnote, including his signed surrender at Vicksburg.

The other would be Samuel Van Every. He was born in 1820, and by 1860 ten of his ultimately 22 children had already been born. If he did any fighting there's a good chance it was on the side of the Union. He lived in Michigan. There is a "Samuel Vanevery" listed on the Union rolls from Michigan on Ancestry, however, there is also a widow of a "Samuel Vanevery" of Michigan, listed on the pension rolls, and my second great grandfather didn't die until 1888. (And the first name of the widow doesn't match any of his three wives.) So it appears there were two Samuel Van Everys in Michigan at the time, which isn't too surprising.

My odds are better with the American Revolution, especially since I have been unable to trace all the possible lines. My second-great-grandmother even claimed to be 1/8 Choctaw, and many Choctaw fought on the side of the colonies. Unfortunately, I know nothing about her parents.

I am definitely descended from Loyalists - McGregory Van Every and his son David Van Every can both be found in the United Empire Loyalist rolls. I was looking through the DAR Patriot Index on Saturday at the local library, and there are several Van Everys, Showers, Hortons, and Swayzes on the list -- all surnames in my ancestry - though only one name matched a name on my tree - a Michael Showers from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, while the Michael Showers in my tree may be from Pennsylvania, he was a registered member of the UEL (and allegedly the first Loyalist allowed to build a farm on the Canadian side of Niagara.) Alas, finding a direct ancestor on the winning side of either war may prove difficult.

No comments: