Category Archives: Genealogy

State #13, New York

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April 23, 2017.

Done with New England! Now, down the coast to the Mid-Atlantic states.

The blurry picture above is about as close as I like to get to NYC –or any large city. It wasn’t always so, but these days I have a “thing” about crowds and concrete. As in they make me break out in hives and have rapid, shallow breathing. Nevertheless, I’ll make a brief mention of the Island at the Center of the World. She is the iconic Big Apple, known worldwide and home to millions, such as fellow cat-lady Tamar Arslanian, who published a book on some of NYC’s awfully adorable residents. I first visited in 1988, when you could still ascend the internal scaffolding of Lady Liberty to admire the harbor from her crowned forehead. I can insert a genealogical note: Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of Central Park, is some type of 10th cousin or so. We don’t share a lot of DNA, but we do share a love for green spaces.

The last two times I visited the concrete jungle and its environs involved horrific travel woes, which may have jaded me. The airline abandoned me to the cruel whimsy of holiday traffic, I spent $220/night for a “budget” hotel where someone had boosted the coffee pot and the list of local attractions, in 2009, was headed by the World Trade Center. Then in 2010 or so, I helped my brother move from DC to Brooklyn. He fell asleep as night fell on the I-95, and I only realized I had missed the turn in Elizabethtown as I was admiring the beauty of the Manhattan skyline … that was passing on my right … as I drove north. (It was a pretty Ayn Randian moment of awe at the works of man –when she liked NYC, not the part when she turned out the lights and killed it.)

I had to drive through the Lincoln tunnel, when half of New Jersey was coming in to see the theater, and then navigate Manhattan on a Saturday night, where everyone on the street was either drunk, a zombie –or both. I saw more drunk people than I did when the aircraft carrier had a port call at Fort Lauderdale Fleet Week, which really is saying a lot.

More amenable to me was the Finger Lakes region, long ago carved out by the retreating glaciers’ nails. Ithaca is quite lovely, too. Further west in Cortland, there is a small gem of a ski resort called Greek Peak –from the top of the downy slopes you can see the little village twinkling. A very pretty place.

I visited Niagara Falls in winter, as well. Buffalo is a vast somnolent industrial giant, sleeping in the earth until Father Time blows his horn. The falls are frightening, and they fill the air with sound and mist. Leaning over the wall on the Canadian side, I put my hand in the smooth bend of water and felt both its power –and a horrible urge to lean further and be part of it. Am I fey and death-seeking, or does anyone else get not a voice, but a cellular urge to jump from high places?

New York came about the Big Apple nickname honestly: the state is this nation’s second largest producer, with an annual production of 29.5 million bushels. That’s a lot of Mott’s applesauce. That family got their start with big apples, turned to big Buicks, and now is involved with big sugar in Florida. For myself, I especially enjoy the Cortland apple.

I should probably have more to say about the Empire State, but why repeat what has already been said? Little Miss Traveller provides a detailed week of walking tours, and this blog digs even deeper into NYC. Enjoy!

 

SelfieCorey is not quite an international woman of mystery, but is hard at work becoming a regional person of interest. Previously both a Classics Major and an Army Major, she is currently travelling where the road will take her and leaving digital footprints at http://www.greensunla.wordpress.com. Upcoming reports may include improving trails in Muir Woods, diving from a liveaboard in the Bahamas, flying military Space-A across the Pacific Ocean, and taking a month long cruise to Antarctica on a refitted Russian research ship. You may also check out some older writing at https://coreyschultz.contently.com/ or email at greensundiver@gmail.com.

 

State #11, Pilgrimage to Massachusetts

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Cape Cod.

I celebrated Thanksgiving 2016 in Plymouth, Mass. This was a trip of a lifetime –13 lifetimes, in fact. My amateur attempts at genealogy, enhanced by the power of Mother Internet, turned up something very cool: no fewer than four ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. What to do but celebrate Thanksgiving 2016 in Plymouth, Mass.?

Some people thought I was brave to attempt a family road trip from Michigan with two aunts and two teenage cousins. “I’d rather be on the original Mayflower,” was one reaction. Have you SEEN the replica of the actual Mayflower? You’d violate Admiralty Law, Coast Guard regulations and probably the Geneva Convention trying to cross the North Atlantic in that today.

Yet, 100 Pilgrims (they called themselves Separatists) and a crew of 50 braved the North Atlantic as winter was coming. One of my ancestors was named John Howland, who was known for several things. He was the thirteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact, despite having been an indentured servant (he inherited from his childless masters when they died in the terrible winter). He was one of the last surviving original settlers.

And, he almost didn’t make it. The captain had ordered the passengers to stay below-decks due to harsh weather. Howland, doubtlessly needing a breath of fresh, 30 degree F air and some 44 degree salt water, went on deck –and promptly was washed overboard. (Yes, these are my people…) There is a beautifully illustrated and lightly fictionalized children’s book about John Howland available. Maybe in 13 generations, someone will discover this blog and write a children’s book about me? I haven’t fallen from any historical vessels, though E-2 prop wash almost knocked me off the flight deck of the TR, many years ago in a past life.

Planning on making a Thanksgiving trip?

What to see: Plimoth Plantation, a reconstructed version of 1627, is south east of the modern town. The tour starts with Wampanoag Village, where you can see how the native people lived around the time when the Pilgrims landed.

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Crafting a dugout canoe in the Wampanoag Village at Plimoth Plantation. The Native American reenactors are all members of the Wampanoag and other tribes. These two young men are cousins, which I think snapshots the amazing diversity of our nation. 

Pilmoth Plantation serves Thanksgiving dinner. The buffet style is less expensive than the served meal, but it is well-orchestrated and the same food. It’s probably much tastier than dinner in the 1620s, too.

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Thankful we did not have to make dinner from scratch.

The only contemporaneous structure in modern Plymouth is the Jabez Howland House. It was continually inhabited until 1912, when it became a museum. The tour of the restored house shows how lifestyles evolved. In the 17th century, the family pretty much shared one multi-purpose room, while by the late 18th century, living spaces looked more modern.

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A 17th century hearth. Say what you will about the modern world, but I am thankful for my microwave oven.

Where to stay: if you have DoD base priveleges, the CG station at Bourne rents out townhouses. This is a big summer vacation area, so you’ll have the place to yourselves in November. Some of the seasonal shops and restaurants are closed, but enough are open to enjoy yourself.

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A do-it-yourself Thanksgiving option presents itself on USGC Base Cape Cod.

What not to see: The Plymouth Rock. First, it is a weeny-looking lozenge of a thing, which crushed my childhood imaginings of the Pilgrims standing on this massive granite cliff in their funny hats, leggings and bonnets. Second, there is no evidence that it had anything to do with the actual Pilgrims who actually landed in 1620. Daniel Webster made a big deal of it in a speech in 1820, and its reputation grew from there. It is like a geologic Kardashian: famous for doing nothing.

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Squashed, miserable thing.

Unrelated Massachusetts trivia: If you aren’t interested in Pilgrims and Wampanoags, did you know that Masschusetts has not only a state poem –but a state polka?  [scroll to bottom of page]

 

SelfieCorey is not quite an international woman of mystery, but is hard at work becoming a regional person of interest. Previously both a Classics Major and an Army Major, she is currently travelling where the road will take her and leaving digital footprints at http://www.greensunla.wordpress.com. Upcoming reports may include improving trails in Muir Woods, diving from a liveaboard in the Bahamas, flying military Space-A across the Pacific Ocean, and taking a month long cruise to Antarctica on a refitted Russian research ship. You may also check out some older writing at https://coreyschultz.contently.com/ or email at greensundiver@gmail.com.

State #10, Just Passing Through Connecticut

CT state flagSometimes the process of travel is very pleasant, such as riding Amtrak’s Northeast Regional from Rhode Island to Washington, DC. I like the size and the ease of the train, the ability to move around the car at will, and the hypnotic bass line of the wheels while the country streams past your windows. The train shows you a different view of the area: its pediment and guts –variously agrarian, industrial, or abandoned. You pass the back gates of parts’ yards, where you can see deconstructed cars between cyclone fencing and repurposed boards. Connecticut is home to cranberry bogs, so like its neighbor Massachusetts, you couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving without this state. (Probably not the literal truth as the cranberry industry is alive and well in Massachusetts, as well.) And from the pointless trivia department, OPI produces a nail polish shade called “Connecticut Cranberry.” In my next life, I want to be the person who names the makeup colors: they are underappreciated aficionados of our language.

I’ve also taken the I-95 through Connecticut to Massachusetts, thankfully at night when the commuters of Westport and the students of New Haven were off the roads. Cities seem secret and personable at night, while less populated areas appear blank and deserted, occasional orange cones of the sodium lights illuminating the corner of a gas station or a closed convenience store.

I’m not the only one who passed through Connecticut: my ancestors called Hartford home for about 250 years, until they started popping west, to New York State and then to Michigan. And whither then I cannot say. Reading one of the genealogy books so thoughtfully digitized, I see that back in London, Francis Spencer was an “ale brewer,” one brother was a “haberdasher,” and the other a “grocer.” If 17th century England had been the Army, my people would have had a nice little Supply Mafia going. (Army Supply Mafia … you know who you are!) The whole book, on Thomas Spencer, not Army Supply, may be found here: https://archive.org/details/thomasspencerfam00instar. Wish I would have mentioned the supply connections to Fort Irwin CIF before they took back my sleeping system…

And on that note, sleep well!

SelfieCorey is not quite an international woman of mystery, but is hard at work becoming a regional person of interest. Previously both a Classics Major and an Army Major, she is currently travelling where the road will take her and leaving digital footprints at http://www.greensunla.wordpress.com. Upcoming reports may include improving trails in Muir Woods, diving from a liveaboard in the Bahamas, flying military Space-A across the Pacific Ocean, and taking a month long cruise to Antarctica on a refitted Russian research ship. You may also check out some older writing at https://coreyschultz.contently.com/ or email at greensundiver@gmail.com.