A letter of importance: Workman connections to John Doyle Lee

In my previous post about the Workman family migration, I mentioned the importance of Daisy Maude Workman Lichtenwalter Locke’s letter to more than one branch of the Workman family. In her letter, she shares that Isaac Workman purchased his land from John Doyle Lee and she goes on to give her family’s account or version of events connected to John Doyle Lee and his history with the Mormon church.  When I first read the letter, I did not know who John Doyle Lee was or what his connection to the Mormon church was. I did know that another branch of the Workman family had converted to the Mormon religion and many of them did eventually settle in areas of Illinois. In all of my research of the various branches of the family, I have found little or no connection between the two branches that settled in Illinois so I did not realize any significance or possible underlying connection in the information from the letter. The ancestry member, mindweaver was actually the one who brought up the idea of some possible connection. Her interest in the letter’s contents led her to search for information on this John Doyle Lee. She mentioned to me that it was interesting that the biography for him listed a Mary Ann “Polly” Workman as one of his wives. Well, of course, I was then curious as to who this Mary “Polly” Workman was and what her connection to the Workman families might be. I discovered Mary Polly in the branch of Workmans that had converted to the Mormon religion. That in itself was not so surprising given the fact that she married John Doyle Lee who was at the time, a well respected, high ranking member of the Mormon Church.  

letter-from-daisy-workman-lichtenwalter-page-1 letter-from-daisy-workman-lichtenwalter-page-2

 

Daisy’s letter provides some possible information on John Doyle Lee’s life and activities around the time right before or after he himself converted to the Mormon religion. John Doyle Lee’s history states that he and his first wife, Agatha Woolsey were living in Missouri when they were baptized into the faith on June 17, 1838. Within six months they were back in Illinois around the Vandalia area. this excerpt from his biography at Family search states, “Thus, six months after he was baptized, John D. Lee and his family were on their way back to safety at Vandalia, Illinois. But his faith in the Church was only made stronger by that persecution; he felt that he must go out as an active missionary for the cause.”

If you look at the family land map for Fayette county, Illinois, you will see John Doyle Lee’s land next to Isaac Workman’s

fayette-county-family-maps-patent-map-twnshp7-range2e-showing-workman-land-purchases

According to Daisy’s letter, John Doyle Lee sold his land to Isaac and immediately left the area. This part in not accurate because while he may have left the area for periods of time, he actually remained for another five years before making his move to Nauvoo. During that five years, he spent half of his time as a missionary to places such as Kentucky and Tennessee. From FamilySearch, “His pattern for the next five years was to spend about half his time traveling as a missionary and half at home providing for his family. As a preacher he had remarkable success. Working chiefly among the well-to-do class, he never lacked for friends and protectors. Altogether he converted and baptized more than a hundred persons, most of whom joined in the building up of Nauvoo and later made their way west as pioneers. On his first mission he traveled with Levi Stewart into Tennessee where they separated, Stewart to work among his own kinfolk and Lee to proselyte among strangers. Upon their return to their families they joined in the move to Nauvoo where both acquired lots and built homes. Their ways parted again, though all their lives they would remain friends.” 

This would suggest that during his time at home, he may have had some ongoing interaction with Isaac. Did Isaac perhaps mention his distant relatives living in Kentucky or Tennessee at some point? That is a question we will most likely never have any answer to but it is interesting to note that shortly after Isaac’s meeting/interactions with John Doyle Lee, the Mormon missionaries did go to Tennessee where a distant relative of Amos and Isaac was introduced to the Mormon religion. 

john-workman

John Workman son of Jacob Workman and Elizabeth Wyckoff, born abt 1785 died 1855

John Workman was a cousin of Amos Workman. John Workman’s Father, Jacob Workman was a brother of Amos’ Father William. John Workman’s history states that before 1808, he was living in Maryland before his family moved on to Kentucky and then he eventually settled at Overton, Tennesse. It was around 1839 that  two Mormon Elders came to Overton County, Tennessee. They had a hard time to find lodgings. They came to the home of John Workman, as John had never turned a traveler away without food and rest, these Elders found a welcome in his home. The message they brought struck a familiar cord in the heart of John Workman. He brought out the compendium he had made and found his classification of scriptural passages to be similar to what he had tried to convey to the members of the local church and also those at Carlisle, Kentucky, for which they had cast him out and abused him and his family. 

Additional information on John Workman:

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25313591&ref=acom

Sierra Exif JPEG

Memorial to John Workman and wife Lydia Bilyeu listing their children.

The Mary Ann “Polly” Workman that John Doyle Lee eventually took as one of his wives was a daughter of John Workman. The following is my research and thoughts on Mary Polly and her short lived marriage to John Doyle Lee. For additional information on John Doyle Lee, I have provided links to his history. 

This information is compiled from the following sources:

https://familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/381335

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Lee

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25313591&ref=acom

The following story is meant to shed light on Mary Ann Workman’s short lived marriage to John Doyle Lee and provide some background information on Mary Ann’s family to give you an idea of how and why she may have become one of his many wives as well as why she might have had good reason to be “prone to stirring up strife!” I have limited the information here to John D. Lee’s time in Nauvoo and the events that occurred from 1845-1848 when Mary Ann and her family would have been involved. For additional information, please see the above links!

Mary Ann (Polly) Workman was married to John Doyle Lee, but only for a short time, and it does not appear that she had any children by him. The timing of her marriage to him can be better understood when you know some of Mary Ann’s family history and what the situation in Nauvoo, Illinois was for the families during that time.

Mary Ann’s family moved to Nauvoo around 1843 after being persecuted for their religious beliefs in Tennessee. This is taken from a biography of Mary Ann’s Father, John Workman, ‘On the 22 of July 1840, John and his wife Lydia and several of his children were baptized by Abram Owen Smoot and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 30 July 1840 under the hands of Julian Moses and Abram O. Smoot. This step increased the hatred and persecution of the local church and community against this family. In 1843 John abandoned his vast holdings in Tennessee and emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he could associate with those who had the same religious connections that he cherished. Here he bought a farm four miles west of Nauvoo, where he lived most of the time. Two of his sons lived in the City of Nauvoo.’

John moved his family to Nauvoo around the same time as John Doyle Lee decided to settle in Nauvoo. When Lee arrived in Nauvoo, Illinois in the fall of 1843 he decided that he would spend his time working in that city. He received several appointments of importance, one of them being chosen as a member of the group of forty special police officers selected in December of that year. He was also appointed secretary of the Seventies’ Quorum and was asked to supervise the building of a hall for their meetings. 

In the meantime the doctrine of plurality of wives was being taught and practiced in Nauvoo. His position as police guard over the Prophet Joseph as well as Brigham Young made it possible for Lee to be taught that principle also. Joseph Smith took his first plural wife, Louisa Beaman, on April 5, 1841; Brigham Young took his, Lucy Decker, on June 15, 1842. John D. Lee, who was working closely with both men, wrote: “Nancy Bean became a member of my family February 4, 1844. On April 19, Louisa Free, Caroline Williams, Abigail Woolsey and Rachel Woolsey.” 

About that time the Prophet Joseph Smith decided to run for the office of president of the United States, and with that in mind he sent out many missionaries. John D. Lee was one of a large group who left Nauvoo on May 28, 1844 for that purpose. A month later when word came that Joseph had been killed by a mob at Carthage Jail, Lee could not believe it. Surely, he argued, God would not permit such a thing to happen to his chosen servant. Only after fasting and prayer and a special manifestation could he accept the reality of the prophet’s death. Broken in spirit and sick at heart, he started back to Nauvoo. He arrived after the incident wherein the people of the Church voted to sustain Brigham Young as their leader.  Then John D. Lee became even more vitally involved in the activities of the Church. Brigham Young appointed him as his private secretary to keep his records and write his letters, in addition to the responsibility of completing the Seventies’ Hall and keeping their books. Lee was such a good manager that he not only finished the hall for the Seventies but soon had erected a fine home for himself in Nauvoo.

In the summer of 1845, the tides turned for the Mormon group at Nauvoo. John Workman’s biography gives an account of his family’s experience. In the summer of 1845, John had harvested a good crop of wheat and had threshed part of it. On day in the early evening he saw some of the farm home of other of the Saints in Flames. One after another moving in his direction, he knew at once that it was the work of mobs, whose fury had raged unabated since the Nauvoo Charter  had been repealed. He had a wagon in the yard with boards across the running gears. He put what he could of the wheat on this wagon and his family on top of the wheat, and drove to Nauvoo for protection. The severe persecutions that the saints suffered at this time proved too much for John’s wife Lydia. She succumbed to the trials and died 30 Sept. 1845, and was buried in the Nauvoo cemetery.

That fall and winter, the troubles with their neighbors became so acutely threatening that the Mormon leaders had agreed that the Saints would leave the state of Illinois as soon as “grass grows and water runs.” Late in January of 1846, it became evident that some must cross the river very soon to make preparations for the general migration.

John D. Lee married Mary Ann Workman on February 10, 1846 and 6 days later on February 12, he took her across the river to Iowa. ‘Charles Shumway was first to go over into Iowa on February fourth. Eight days later, John D. Lee crossed with one wagon, two horses and one cow, and with provisions to sustain the family for two months or more. With him were two wives: Polly Workman, his youngest wife, and Nancy Bean, with a six-week-old baby girl in her arms.’  

President Young and a part of his family joined the group on February fifteenth. Severe winter storms set in, bringing snow, hail, wind, and bitter cold to the area so that the people traveling in wagons across the open prairie suffered greatly from exposure. On March fourth, Lee brought the remainder of his family across into Iowa. That time he had four wagons and a number of cattle. The Lee group included Aggatha Ann and her four children; her mother, Abigail; her sister, Rachel; and two other young wives, Martha Berry and Louisa Free with her small son, John Brigham. Driving the teams were one of Polly Workman’s brothers and Hyrum Woolsey, as well as Horace Rowan, a recent convert, with his wife. 

 

Mary Ann/Polly was only 16 at the time of her marriage to John. The situation for all of the families was precarious at this time and John Workman probably felt that she was safer with John D. Lee and his other wives. John Workman remained in Nauvoo until late spring of 1846 when he was driven into the wilderness with the rest of the remaining saints. He joined his son Jacob L. at Mount Pisgah near Harrison Iowa, where he had a temporary cabin. John remained there until 1852, when he immigrated to the Salt Lake Valley. Here he lived with his children part of the time and part time in his own home built for him by his son Jacob L.

 

John D. Lee and his family suffered a brutal winter on the prairie. For the next six months the Lee family shared the extreme hardships of the exiles on the prairie, inching westward as the weather permitted, arriving in late August at Winter Quarters. During that time Lee kept a journal of the activities of the leaders and the decisions that were made. His own family was mentioned rarely; in fact, it is not known definitely as to the makeup of his family during that period and the following year. In addition to the seven wives named, there were at least two, Delethia Morris, who left him to marry a trader while he was gone on one of his numerous trips, and Sarah Caroline Williams who lived most of the time with her aunt, Marcia Allen. 

Besides keeping minutes and records and writing numerous letters, Lee was sent on several missions of vital importance. The first one was early in 1846, when he was given the entire sum of money accumulated by the Saints and directed to go to St. Francisville, Missouri, to buy wagon covers and material for the general Church migration. In late August of that year, he was sent across the continent to Santa Fe, New Mexico to collect what he could of the wages of the Mormon Battalion to help with the general maintenance of their suffering families. After the trip which had lasted nearly three months, he reported back and turned over the money on November twentieth, but he remained in Winter Quarters with his family just one month when he was sent on another trading and buying expedition. The bishops of the twenty-two wards had reported that the foodstuffs of the camp were almost depleted; their only chance for survival seemed to be to send to the Missouri settlements for food. Lee was responsible for two large wagons, each pulled by four mules. Traveling three weeks through bitter weather, he brought back his two wagonloads of food. In addition he sent back by a Gentile trader a load of provisions consisting of salt, dried fruit, molasses, honey, tallow, dry beans and twelve hundred pounds of pork. One month after his return, in February 1847, he organized and sent out three more teams under the direction of John Laub. All those foods must have been gratefully received in the burgeoning Iowa settlement where hunger stalked in nearly every family. 

All thoughts were of moving on to the mountains but it was clear that only a picked company could make the trip that first season. Others had to remain and cultivate the land or work for supplies to feed the thousands through the second winter. Each man also had to create a surplus to provide for his family during the trek. Lee had an intense desire to be one of the band of first pioneers but President Young told him that he was needed more to stay and help raise corn. Accordingly he and twenty-seven others moved out of Winter Quarters about eighteen miles to a location they called Summer Quarters. During the summer of 1847 they raised more than four thousand bushels of corn to aid in the migration the following year. This had to have been an intense and grueling amount of work for all of the members who were there that summer.

Besides (or possibly because of) all of the work that John D. was doing to prepare the church members for the coming migration, his home life was also becoming more complex and difficult to manage as well.  He recorded his marriage to Emoline Woolsey, younger sister of Aggatha and Rachel, on December 21, 1846. Then on February twenty-seventh, he took three additional wives in one ceremony: Nancy Gibbons Armstrong and two sisters, Polly and Lavina Young. All were girls whom he had converted while serving as a missionary. 

The strains and privations of frontier life, his long absences on trips for the Church, and the natural jealousy common to women resulted in considerable disharmony in his household. One wife, Delethia Morris, left him and married another man. Emoline Woolsey became insubordinate, giving aid to one of Lee’s enemies, so she was separated from his family. Polly Workman, who was prone to stir up strife, was sent to live with her brother. Nancy Armstrong fell victim to the plague and died at Summer Quarters in August 1847. Nancy Bean and Louisa Free, each of whom had borne a child by him, left him and crossed the plains with their parents. Though she had been sealed to him early, Sarah Caroline Williams remained with her Aunt Marcia Allen and did not join the Lee family again until 1850. 

To be fair in respect to Mary Ann/Polly Workman and the idea that she was prone to stirring up strife… This just may well have been the worst few years of her young life! First of all, let’s look at what her early life was. She was born in 1829 at Overton Tennesse when the family was seemingly doing well. During that time in Tennessee John bought much land and had slaves to work it. He laid his farm out in sections for the different kinds of crops. He had his own grist mill, grocery store, flocks, herds and etc. He attended church but could not take under their interpretation of the scriptures. So in due time, he quit the church all together. Then he carried on a distillery of whiskey and brandy, and got to drinking moderately himself. Overall, life was probably good for her as a child. The exceptions to that seemingly good life might have been a possible slight drinking problem on the part of her Father, a Mother who was continuously pregnant… and as a result of that condition, Mary Ann being one of 22 children! 

In 1840, Mary Ann’s Father, John was converted to the Mormon faith, and of course then so was his family. Mary Ann would have been about 10 at this time when her life suddenly took a drastic change. From this point on, the family suffered persecution and hatred from the surrounding communities. In 1843, John abandoned his farm and holdings in Tennesee to take the family to Nauvoo where two older sons were already living. This had to have been a drastic change for Mary Ann. The family had a few years of relative calm and peace before their lives were torn apart once again. In 1845 the terror struck  Nauvoo, Mary Ann was about 15. Within the space of 6 months, she lost her Mother, faced another escape from persecution and also had to come to terms with another uncertain fate. She may have been able to cope with an early arranged marriage to a much older man, that was nothing uncommon at the time, but the concept of polygamy was new to all of them during this time. This had to have been a daunting and challenging transition for all of those involved in the beginnings of this concept, and even more so for ones as young as Mary Ann was at the time. Then even before she has a chance to make any sense of it or adjust to the situation, she is suddenly faced with a mid winter escape with her new husband, another wife and a new born baby.  So, let us please not judge Mary Ann too harshly for her possible outbursts and stirring up strife!

Mary Ann’s story with John D. Lee ends with her being sent to live with her brother in 1847. She never returned to John D.’s household and by 1848 she went on to marry John Saulter Bennett in Dallas, Iowa. Mary Ann had one child with John Saulter Bennett, a daughter named Martha Louis was born about 1850. Mary Ann died some time between 1870 and 1880. She appears with John up to 1870 census but on the 1880 census, John is listing himself as single and is living with daughter Martha and her family. Considering the later events that took place in John D. Lee’s life, Mary Ann might have benefitted from her propensity to stir up strife!

 

List of John D. Lee’s wives:

Spouse(s)Agatha Ann Woolsey
Nancy Bean
Louisa Free
Sarah Caroline Williams
Rachel Andora Woolsey
Polly Ann Workman
Martha Elizabeth Berry
Delethia Morris
Nancy Ann Vance
Emoline Vaughn Woolsey
Nancy Gibbons
Mary Vance Young
Lavina Young
Mary Leah Groves
Mary Ann Williams
Emma Louise Batchelor
Terressa Morse
Ann GordgeChildren56

 

From Maryland to Illinois; Deciphering a Workman family story

My goal this year is to focus more on my own family history here so this is a start! This article is about my more recent ancestors but I feel it’s a good place to start our journey back through part of my family history. I have written about one of the people in this family before but at the time, I really didn’t have a great deal of information on her life. The previous article about Mary Jane “Polly” Owen was more about my personal thoughts on her life and her Owen family background. In a way, this post is an update to her story.

You can read that earlier story about her in this post:

https://timeslipsblog.com/2015/08/10/family-history-because-our-lives-are-stories-waiting-to-be-told/

Mary Polly Owen

Isaac Workman and Mary Jane “Polly” Owen are buried in Yolton Cemetery, Avena Illinois. A search of burials at Yolton Cemetery lists many other family names related to this research project. No burial information has been located for Amos Workman or his second wife Jane Conner/Matheny Workman. This research has verified that Mary Owen Workman lived until about 1895 and died while living with one of her children.

yolton-cemetery-location

Location of Yolton Cemetery on map

yolton-cemetery

Yolton Cemetery Photo credit to Gary Feezel on Find a Grave site

Today we are going to learn more about Mary Jane “Polly” Workman and the extended Workman family as they made the move to Illinois in 1838. This article details my recent research on  Amos Workman and his extended family group. The research is an attempt to  verify information contained in Fayette County Historical County Biographic sketch of Workman family in Fayette county, Illinois. For purposes of this specific research, I have used a land grant map that shows Isaac Workman’s original land purchases in 1838/39. The land grant map was found in a book, Family Maps of Fayette County, Illinois by Gregory A. Boyd J.D. Information on that book can be found here:

family-maps-of-fayette-county-illinois

 https://www.amazon.com/Family-Maps-Bond-County-Illinois/dp/1420311824/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485800863&sr=1-9

This is the area that the biography pertains to when it mentions the family group’s arrival in Illinois so I have kept the land grant research to this one area for this project. I have also used a number of family histories and information from various family members and trees on Ancestry as well as my best friend, “Google”!  

fayette-county-workman-biography

A number of years ago when I first started researching my Workman family ancestry, I received a biography from the Fayette County, Illinois Historical Society. For many years, this was all I had to go on as far as information for my ancestor, Amos Workman. Amos was my “Brick Wall” in genealogy terms. In many aspects, he still is my brick wall as there is still little information to be found on his history or the family history of his two wives. Because trying to tear down that brick wall was so frustrating, I set the Workman research aside for a number of years. Last year, I decided to make one more attempt at the Workman Wall. I purchased a dna test through Ancestry in the hopes that it would help break through that wall. In my mind, it was kind of my one last attempt. My thought was that if I didn’t get dna results to confirm any relationships, I would be finished with that branch and would resign myself to the fact that he was the end line for that branch. Thanks to Ancestry, that one last attempt was successful on most parts. The dna testing provided enough dna links and connections to place my ancestor Amos within the larger Workman family.  Amos and his descendants have often been overlooked and left out of the many Workman histories that people refer to. The most they generally say about Amos  is a short reference such as Amos was a son of William Workman and Phoebe Critchfield, he married a Rebecca. My dna test confirmed a connection to William and Phoebe and thus my connection back to the Workman and Critchfield families. What it did not do, however, was provide me with much more information than I already knew about Amos, his wives and his son Isaac who is my direct ancestor linking me back to Amos. I was still left with a brick wall, but now it at least had a crack in it so I was and am still optismistic about eventually tearing down that wall completely and discovering the mystery of Amos Workman. While the dna test can unlock some of the mysteries and provide some verification of family lines, it can not answer all of the questions or mysteries. The only way to truly answer those questions is through research, vast amounts of research! I have spent much of the past year doing that research on Amos and the entire Workman family. What I quickly realized was that in order to piece together Amos’ life, I had to look at the overall Workman history because there would be clues to Amos within all of those other family histories. This article provides an excellent explanation on why you need to look at the entire extended family group rather than just your individual direct line ancestry.

http://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/making-common-direct-line-mistake-family-tree/

 

I learned early on that in order to find answers, you have to look beyond just your direct family ancestry. This research of the entire family led me to an interest in extended family groups and their migration from the early colonies westward.  Amos Workman and his family were a part of that migration pattern. Their earliest beginnings were in New Amsterdam Colony, they then moved as a group to New Jersey and from there they went on To Maryland. Maryland is where Amos’ story began within that large extended family group. Even though we know very little about him, we can trace his migration with the families from Maryland to parts of Virginia, on to Ohio and Pennsylvania and eventually on to Illinois where the family finally settled in about 1838. As we learn more about the other family members and groups, a better picture of the mystery “brick wall” person such as Amos will begin to emerge. I will discuss more about Amos in a separate article, for now I just want to share the information that pertains mainly to the extended family group’s move from Ohio to Illinois. 

 

My research of the early Workman families in Maryland inspired me to go back and take another look at the Fayette County biography where they mentioned the connections back to Maryland.  The research of  early Workmans in Maryland did not show direct family connections to those families mentioned in the biography so I began to wonder what the connection might be? I also wondered if the information in the biography could be verified somehow? While working with another distant family member who grew up in Maryland and was a descendant of Workman branches who remained in Maryland, she verified the connection to Logues and McKenzies not as connected family groups but as living near each other in Alleghany county Maryland. She stated that the Logues, McKenzies, Arnolds and Logsdons were Catholics and would have been living in the Arnold Settlement while the Workman, Wykcoff and other families lived on lands that were adjacent to the Arnold settlement. With this information, I began a more thorough research of the Fayette County biography to see what other infomation or clues it might provide. I started researching more of the descendants of Amos in the hopes that some of them might have answers or at least be asking the same questions as I was.

letter-from-daisy-workman-lichtenwalter-page-1

page 1 of letter written by Daisy Maude Workman Lichtenwalter Locke. Credit and much appreciation to ancestry member mindweaver for sharing!

letter-from-daisy-workman-lichtenwalter-page-2

Page 2 of letter written by Daisy Maude Workman Lichtenwalter Locke. Credit and much appreciation to Ancestry member for sharing!

In retrospect, Yes, I probably should have went this route from the beginning because some of them did have important information that would shed light on the lives of Amos and Isaac. One family member was able to provide a letter written by one of her ancestors that describes the move from Ohio to Illinois and verifies much of the information contained in the biography regarding Isaac’s horse running away and how he came to purchase the land. Much thanks and credit to ancestry member mindweaver for sharing a letter written by Daisy Maude Workman Lichtenwalter Locke, descendant of Isaac Workman and Mary Jane Owen through son Martin VanBuren Workman. This letter provides a great deal of information and insight on Isaac’s wife Mary Jane Owen as well as information on the trip and the initial land purchase. As a result, it verifies much of the information in the biography and adds an important layer to the overall history of the Workman family. The letter adds to the history of another Workman branch, one that was seemingly unconnected to Amos and Isaac but for information provided in this letter. Daisy’s letter refers to the fact that Isaac Workman had interaction with John Doyle Lee in purchasing land from John Doyle Lee before John became connected to a distant relative of Isaac’s, John Workman. For more information on John Doyle Lee and John Workman family, please see separate article. This link is to the story I posted on Ancestry, but I will soon be posting that story here as well. I will provide that link when it gets posted here.

http://mv.ancestry.com/viewer/082c8a54-1d3b-4fbe-8e3c-82786b42ca42/63696121/210059100415?_phsrc=tTL32673&usePUBJs=true

Letter of importance: Workman connections to John Doyle Lee

https://timeslipsblog.com/2017/01/31/a-letter-of-importance/

After receiving the copy of Daisy’s letter, I became even more interested in information that the biography might provide indirectly. One of the other pieces of information in the biography was the contributors to the story. I looked into those contributors to see how they may have been connected to the families in the biography and this is what I found.

contributors to Fayette County historical society biography:

Arthur Buchanan- most likely a family member of Mary Ann McConkey daughter of George Washington McConkey, granddaughter of Mary Jane Owen. Mary Ann McConkey married an Albert Buchanan. Other Buchanan connections go back to John Jacob Dively and Margaret Earnest. I was unable to confirm which Arthur Buchanan was involved in contributing to the biography because there was more than one Arthur Buchanan who could have provided the informatin but which ever Arthur it was, he most likely would have had family information going back to the earliest years in Illinois and been connected to the Owen families as well as Dively and Earnest families who are connected to Workman family.

Mrs. Katie Owen Whitefort: daughter of John Wilson Owen and Tolitha June Jackson. Granddaughter of George Hartzell Owen and Lucinda Ralston Owen. Great granddaughter of James Owen and Nancy Brashears. James was a brother of Mary Jane Owen who married Isaac Workman. Katie’s Grandmother Lucinda Ralston was daughter of Mary Ann Kyser and Joseph Ralston. Mary Ann Kyser’s Mother was Margaret Workman, sister of Amos Workman. This would make Katie Owen Whitefort a descendant of both Owens families and earlier Workman families. According to source information, she was a school teacher, did not marry until later in life and had no children. Because of her unique link to the families, she may have had a great deal of family history information regarding both families and those early years. Katie had two brothers, and as far as I can tell there was only one descendant of that family branch.

Mrs. Joe Rhodes: Theda Mildred Ellison Rhodes-husband William Joseph Rhodes. Theda Ellison 1899-1990, daughter of Ina Della Workman and Edward Franklin Ellison. Ina Della Workman was daughter of Isaac Wesley Workman, granddaughter of Amos Workman jr, great granddaughter of Isaac Workman and Mary Jane Owen. Her husband William Joseph Rhodes’ family would have had ties back that went back to McKenzie families that were listed in the biography as families in Maryland.

Mrs. Raymond McElheney- Mrs. Raymond McElheney is Phyllis E Springman, daughter of Frank Springman and Maude Workman. Maude Workman was daughter of Isham Douglas Workman and Rosabelle Hedges. Isham was son of Ireal Owen Workman and Lucillia Jennings. Isreal was son of Amos Workman and Jane Connor Matheny.

Once I connected the contributors to their family connections, I decided to address another piece of information from the biography. The biography stated that there was a group of 16 families traveling together from Ohio on their way to Texas in 1838. Daisy’s letter did not mention the number of people in the group but did dispute the mention of Texas. Her letter mentioned that they were on their way to Missouri.

The contributors were unsure of how many of the families stayed in Illinois and how many continued on to Texas. So far I have found no evidence to corroborate the mention of them being on their way to Texas, and I have yet to find any of the extended family group that might have went on to Texas. Daisy Workman Lichtenwalter’s letter states that the group was on their way to Missouri, and a number of the family members did eventually move on to Missouri. Daisy also mentions in her letter that none of the party traveled any further so that would suggest that all 16 families settled in Illinois initially. A search of the early land grants in Fayette county along with a search of families who settled in the nearby area should give us a good indication or approximation of which families were part of this wagon train in 1838. In order to come up with a possible list of families, I used family connections along with a land grant map showing Isaac Workman’s original land grants of 1838/1839.

fayette-county-family-maps-patent-map-twnshp7-range2e-showing-workman-land-purchases

Fayette county Illinois family group land map. Credit to Family Maps of Fayette County, Illinois by Gregory A Boyd

fayette-county-land-map003

map of area that Amos and Isaac settled in showing locations of nearby townships, cemeteries as well as streams and creeks. Credit to Family Maps Fayette County, Illinois by Gregory A Boyd

I limited my focus to that one area because that is the area mentioned in the biography where the group camped while Isaac searched for the missing horse, then decided to stay. The land map shows the connected families that settled in that area. I looked at the families in that area, their possible  family connections and dates of land grants shown on the map. I also looked at individual families and their migration from Ohio to Illinois to verify that their move would coincide closely with the time frame of this trip around 1838. For many of the families, I had to use births of their children to see approximately when they would have made the move to Illinois. I also took into consideration that some of the birth places and or dates may have been incorrect or approximated by individual tree members as many of them had no actual documents to base the date or place on. The list is an approximation or general idea of who the families in that group of 16 families might have been. In most cases, they share a family link or connection which I have provided. In a few cases, such as the Earnest families, there is not a known family connection prior to Illinois but rather a link that connects them back to Ohio or Pennsylvania. At some point in the future there may be a proven family connection going further back but I have not found it yet.

I have attempted to break the families down into individual family groups that reflect how they may have been traveling to account for the number of families in the group. I have also used the land grant map to place them in the area after the trip when ever possible.

1. Amos Workman with wife Jane and at least 7 children- Isaac, Amos’ oldest son would be a separate family. There is no additional information on Joseph born about 1818, so it is possible that he did not make the move. Amos is shown as owning land on the land grant map. His purchase date was 1839

2. Isaac Workman with wife Mary Jane Owen and all 10 of their children. His 1838/39 land purchases  are shown on the land grant map.

3. James Owen and wife Nancy Brashears-brother to Mary Jane Owen, his daughter Mary Owen is listed as being born in Fayette county in 1838. There are a number of land purchase shown for James Owen with earliest one in this area being 1841. He may have purchased land in another section earlier than that.

4. Nathan Clinton Owen brother of Mary Jane and James. Nathan is listed as marrying second wife Mary Ann Griffith 1839 in Fayette county. There is a William Griffith with a land grant in the area- his land purchase is shown as 1839 so possibly he was a relative of Mary Ann’s and was a part of the original party but we can not be certain. Nathan is not shown as purchasing land in this specific area at that time but he may have been living with James during that time as he was a widower with small children prior to his marriage to Mary Ann Griffith. His first wife was Catherine Brashears, sister to Nancy Brashears who was married to his brother James. She died in 1835 so he would have made this trip on his own with three very young children.

One added note for Owen family members: George Washington McConkey, Mary Jane Owen’s half brother moved to Fayette county, but it looks like he may have made the move a few year later around 1843. He may have waited until other family members were settled well to make the move himself.
Earnest family-Samuel Ernest is shown as having a land grant in the same area, purchased 1839. The Earnest family is connected in two ways. The first is that Harriet Earnest, a relative of Samuel’s later married Isaac Workman’s son William. The second way is less obvious and requires looking further back into the families for it to make sense why the Earnest families may have been connected earlier than their meeting in Fayette county. This connection will also bring with it another family that may have been part of the original group. One of the other early families shown on the map and shown to have a continued connection to Workman and Owen families was John Jacob Dively. John Jacob Dively was married to a Margaret Earnest. Margaret Earnest was born abt 1795 in Somerset county, Pennsylvania in the same area that the other Earnest families in Fayette county list as being at. I have no definitive or absolute proof to connect her to them, but I believe she was most likely a sister to William Earnest and possibly David Earnest. They were probably all related and all made the move together. John Jacob Dively’s original property was in the same area as Samuel Earnest who was most likely another brother of Margaret. These families may have had connections to Owen families back to Pennsylvania. In order to better understand these connections and for them to begin making more sense, you need to look at the family histories and you need to look at them in a broader context than just one family’s direct line ancestry. The Earnest and Dively families go back to Pennsylvania where Mary Jane Owen and her brothers were from before moving to Ohio. Mary Jane Owen’s family history would provide some clues to these connections. Her Father’s family were Welsh Quakers and her Mother was most probably probably Pennsylvania “Dutch” which was translated from Deitsch or German. The Earnests and Divelys were most likely part of the Pennsylvania Deitsch groups. An Earnest family history mentions this association and in a Workman biography, Charles Workman also mentions the Pennsylvania and “Dutch” connection. 

5&6 The Earnest families would have made up at least two family groups depending on how they chose to travel. We know of William, David and Samuel but it’s not clear of the exact family connection. William and David were most likely brothers and from all indications, David may not have remained in Illinois. Samuel was either a brother to them or was possibly a son of David. There are no land patents for either William or David but there are for Samuel. At the time of the move, Samuel was unmarried so was most likely traveling with either William or David. Margaret would have been in a separate family group traveling with husband John Jacob Dively.

7. Dively family would have been John Jacob with wife Margaret and 6 children. They would have all traveled together as one household or family as none of their children were married at the time of this move. It should also be noted here that there is a census record for 1830 showing Jacob Dively and family in Knox county Ohio. From looking at Dively family history, it looks like John Jacob was the only one of his family to make the move on to Illinois. Prior to being in Ohio, they were in Somerset county, Pennsylvania where they were married at.

Most of the above mentioned families, except for the Earnest family, would have had a direct family connection to each other so it makes sense they would have traveled together as a group. They would have made up at least 7 or 8 of the families. The rest of the group was most likely made up those families listed in the biography. I have researched those families and traced them back to the early connections they would have had with Amos Workman’s family. The Logues and Mckenzies both go back to Maryland and follow the same migration pattern as Amos and son Isaac. Both of these large extended families were in the same areas of Ohio as Amos Workman families prior to the move to Illinois. I have not yet found intermarriages between Workmans and Logues or McKenzies prior to Illinois but I have not done an in depth search of all of those families either so there could be family connections that I have not yet run across. The Logsdon connection to Workman families is not very prevalent so I do not think those families would have been in this wagon train. There is another family not mentioned in the biography that does have strong connections back to Maryland and could eventually provide clues to Amos’ second wife who is listed as Jane Conner/Connor and or Matheny in various sources and records. This would be the Sapp family.

The Sapp family goes back to Maryland, and besides having a connection to Matheny families, they have a connection to the Critchfield and Workman families. Amos Workman’s Mother was Phoebe Critchfield and his aunt was Hester Critchfield. If you follow the Sapp family line all the way back to Maryland, you will find a George Sapp born 1743 died 1810 in Knox county Ohio. He married Christina Texter in 1765. Their daughter Catherine “Peggy” Sapp married a Joseph Critchfield who was a relative of Phoebe and Hester Critchfield. The Sapp family had a close connection to Critchfields in that another daughter, Margaret married William Critchfield a brother of Joseph Critchield.  An added connection to the Workmans at that time-their son Daniel Sapp married a Mary Robeson. Mary Robeson had a brother Solomon who married a Rebecca Workman, while her sister Elizabeth married David Workman who was a son of Stephen Workman and Hester Critchfield. Their son Joseph M. Sapp married an Elizabeth Starner. All of the children of Joseph and Elizabeth eventually made the move to Illinois. One son, William Sapp’s history gives an explanation that would coincide somewhat with our biography. It lists a time period of 1839 and says, “With several hundred relatives and friends including his brothers and sisters by forming a wagon train they left Knox County Ohio and moved to Illinois. William and Catherine had one small daughter and were pregnant with their second child.”  William’s information states 1839, but there were land agreements dated 1838 so that would suggest that the families arrived in 1838. They probably arrived and began settling in 1838 with initial land purchases by family groups.

fayette-county-migration-project

painting credit to Fayette county migration project

I believe that the 16 families mentioned in the biography were part of a much larger group as William Sapp’s information suggests. The 16 families referenced in the biography could be referring to those who camped with Isaac Workman and settled in the area where he ended up purchasing land. The Logue, McKenzies and Logsdons may have been part of the larger group that William Sapp referred to. A look at the land map will show that two Sapp brothers settled near Isaac and Amos Workman. Their land grants had purchase dates of 1839, the same as Amos Workman’s. This does not mean they were not on the land before that, it simply means that was the year the actual legal purchase agreement was made. They may have been renting the land previously, or the land in question was open and unclaimed when they settled there but they did not finalize purchase agreements until 1839. These two Sapp brothers and the location of their lands near Amos and Isaac provide a clue to the mysterious Matheny connection. As I mentioned previously, Amos Workman’s second wife was Jane Conner/Connor or Matheny. Some records and sources list Conner while others mention Matheny so she could have been a Jane Conner married to a Matheny prior to marriage Amos, or she could have been a Jane Matheny married to a Conner? Either way, she seems to have had some connection to Connor and Matheny families. Daniel Sapp, one of the sons of Joseph Sapp and Elizabeth Starner married a Sarah Margaret Matheny (no other information known about her other than birth date of 1808). Charles Sapp, another son of Joseph and Elizabeth, married a Mary Elizabeth Matheny born 1812 in Knox county, Father’s name possibly Benjamin. Given the fact that Amos’ wife Jane is often linked to Matheny families, I believe that these two Sapp families may have had some family connection to Amos through the earlier Critchfield connections and to Jane through some connection to Matheny families. For this reason, I believe that Charles and Daniel Sapp families may have been in this group of families.

8. Charles Sapp with wife Mary Elizabeth and 4 children

9. Daniel Sapp with wife Sarah and 5 children

This would account for at least 9 or 10 of the supposed 16 familes in the wagon train that all had some link to each other through either Workman, Owen or Earnest family connections. The remaining group members may well have been Logues, Mckenzies or others who made trip with this group and camped with them but did not settle in the same close location as these above listed families did.

The National Road and it’s connection to the family migration from Maryland to Illinois.

national_road_map

 

The last item I want to address here is not mentioned in the family biography but Daisy Lichtenwalter does mention it in her letter. Daisy mentions the Old National Trail or Road in her letter so I just want to touch on the National Road as it pertains to family migration from Maryland on to Illinois. The construction of the National Road and it’s route directly corresponds to the extended family’s migration out of Maryland. You can look at the family histories and see that their moves across the colonies, territories and states closely followed the years of construction of the Old National Road.

In 1802, President Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, proposed a plan that sparked interest, known as the “Origin of the National Road”. The plan allocated money from land sales, allowing a percentage to be used for the making of the first federally funded highway. The road began in Maryland near Frostburg in Alleghany county, where our extended Workman families were  in the mid 1700s. During the later 1700s many of them were migrating back and forth between Monongalia county in Virginia, Alleghany county Maryland and Belmont county Ohio. The construction of the National Road made their migration between the areas easier. As the road progressed, so did their journey westward. The road would eventually connect Alleghany county and areas of Monongalia county to Belmont county Ohio where the earliest record for Amos Workman is documented other than his birth in Frostburg, Maryland. In the late 1700s around 1790s, he supposedly had land in Monongalia county and when he sold the land, he listed his home of record as Belmont county. Belmont county was on the border of Ohio and West Virginia. By about 1815-1820, most of the families had followed the road as it was making it’s way through Ohio. The majority of families were settled together in Knox county and adjacent areas, and remained there throughout the 1820s until the mid 1830s. The road building was an extremely slow process and it took almost ten years for the road to make it’s way through areas of Ohio.

national-road-in-ohio-and-indiana-showing-the-counties

The National Road was also known as the Cumberland Road and this shows the early route in Ohio through Indiana and on to Illinois.

knox-county-related-to-other-counties-in-ohio

Knox county Ohio in relation to other counties and to Columbus. The National Road was designed to run through capitols of each state so this shows that living in Knox county, the families would have been close to the National Road. It also shows location of Fairfield where Isaac Workman married Mary Jane Owen.

http://fayette.illinoisgenweb.org/nationalroad/nationalroad.html

The first section of the National Road was approved in 1806 by an act of congress and signed by President Thomas Jefferson, officially establishing a national highway from Cumberland, Maryland to the Mississippi. There was one catch, the road would run through the capitals of each state along the route. According to congressional requirements the road was to be sixty-six feet wide and be surfaced with stone and covered with gravel, along with bridges that were to be made of stone. Mandates were placed by legislators for the protection of citizens that prohibited a tree stump on the National Road to exceed 15 inches in height. Surveyors were sent to calculate and measure westward trails. The road would eventually pass through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and Illinois.

Even though, contracts were not granted until 1811, road construction did not begin until 1815 in Cumberland, Maryland and reached Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1818, being delayed because of the war of 1812. From Wheeling, Ohio was only a bridge length away. Many families preferred to migrate by Ohio River boats than by slow wagon journey westward through the wilderness of deep ruts and low lying stumps. The terrain varied from state to state as well as the quality of bridges and roads.

Original specifications for the road were used before the utilization of Macadamization. This rather expensive and sophisticated engineering technique used layers of stone to build the road. To make the road, the ground would have to be dug 12-18 inches deep and stones approximately 7 inches in diameter were used for the base. Then smaller stones that passed through a three-inch ring and graded down. Macadamization was the ideal surface for the time, but due to the expense it was not available everywhere. Plank roads, literally building of a floor of timber as a roadway, was used and look upon as a perfect answer to providing smooth, dust-free roads in muddy rural areas. Over time, deteriation was common among these timber highways and plank roads were not used everywhere.

By 1820, money was appropriated to survey the remainder of the states: Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Road building was a huge task. And a variety of skills were needed. Surveyors laid out paths; engineers oversaw construction. Masons cut and worked the stone, and carpenters framed bridges. Numerous laborers pulled and tugged, cut and hauled and leveled to clear the path. By 1822, President James Monroe vetoed a proposed legislation to turn the National Road into a federal toll road. Ownership of the road was handed to the states through which the road passed. The states built tollhouses along the road to collect tolls to help fund repairs needed for the road.

Those traveling west of the Alleghenies on the National Road considered Ohio the Frontier and Indiana and Illinois the West. In the early 1800s, thousands of movers and tons of merchandise moved across the National Road, despite its haphazard quality. They came from the Shenandoah Valley and down from rocky New England, pausing to rest briefly at Cumberland, then driving on toward Uniontown and Wheeling. Arriving Eastern goods could either be sent upriver from Wheeling to Pittsburgh or downstream to ports in Ohio, Indiana and on to Louisiana. Agricultural produce and materials from the South and West came upriver to be unloaded at Wheeling, then to be carried eastward to cities as far away as Baltimore.
A horde of emigrants hurried westward during the golden decades prior to the Civil War. Author P. D. Jordan described it this way, “Their covered wagons had been forming an endless procession ever since the Cumberland Road was opened. After they settled Pennsylvania, they filled Ohio. When Ohio land no longer was available, they clumped on into Indiana to erect their homes and plant their fields on the banks of the Wabash. They clung to the National Road like a mosquito to a denizen of the swampy American Bottoms. It was the people’s highway, and the people crowded it from rim to edge until their carts, wagons, stages and carriages challenged one another for the right of way. (Philip D. Jordan, The National Road, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1948.)

It took almost another 10 years for the road to reach it’s end at Vandalia Illinois. In 1828, a surveyor named Joseph Shriver surveyed the eighty-nine mile route from Indiana to Vandalia, IL. Many hardships endured during his survey in July of that year. He recorded a few of these in his survey notes:

“Saturday, July 19th, 1828
Run 10-3/4 miles today- 8 or 9 miles of it Prairie-the dividing ground between the Little Walbash and Kaskaskia.
Encamped on the waters of the Kaskaskia. Lost an ox from the team today, -his death occasioned by the heat and the want of water in xing the prairie.

Sunday, July 20th, 1828
Run 7 miles today over ground not very good for a road. About one half Prairie land, the remainder broken. Encamped on a small spring branch, waters of the stream which puts into the Kaskaskia River opposite Vandalia.

Monday July 21 st, 1828
Run within a mile or less of Vandalia when a heavy rain come on and being in an extensive bottom could not proceed
further—encamped. Provisions scarce: breakfast on meat and coffee: –dined on honey and meat and supped on roasted flitch and coffee. Notwithstanding it being so near to Vandalia there is yet not the least sign of anything like a settlement, much less the seat of a Government of a State. Strange case to be within hearing distance of a city and starving.”

It was not long after Shriver’s Surveys, Congress appropriated $40,000 in 1830 to open the Illinois section of the road. Later, additional money was granted each year for the much needed work of clearing land, grading and the bridge building work. New towns began to spring up over night along the route. Many businesses began to set up shop along the road to accommodate the needs of the workers of the National Road. Huge Conestoga Wagons came in droves, traveling the dusty road westward.

In 1838 the road had finally reached its end to Vandalia, Illinois, the current state capital at that time. During the summer of 1839 the National Road was open for travel in Illinois. Although the road was surveyed to Jefferson City, Missouri, construction was halted at Vandalia, Illinois. Due to lack of funding by the government and squabbling over the route for which the road would take. Missouri wanted the road to travel through St. Louis, MO and Illinois wanting it to travel through Alton, Illinois, a town located along the Mississippi River. After a total of 600 miles and approximately $7,000,000 the road to the wilderness was completed.

Our ancestors remained in Ohio until the road to Illinois was completed and then followed the newly completed road as far as they could. Daisy Workman Lichtenwalter’s letter states that their intent was to head toward Missouri where the road was originally suppose to continue on to. When they reached the end of the road in Illinois they most likely learned that there would be no continuation of the road on toward Missouri. While their reasoning for not continuing on was initially attributed to the horse running off and that they decided they liked what they saw in Illinois, the fact that there would be no future road on to Missouri probably affected their decision to stay in Illinois.

Additional Resources for National Road:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Road

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/back0103.cfm

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-nationalroad.html

 

 

New Year, New direction…

timesips-through-the-years

First of all, I want to say Thank You to all of the fans and friends who have visited over the past few years! This space  has taken many different directions and paths since it’s beginnings. It started as just a little corner of the sims 3 world where I could share my creations. From that early beginning through all of it’s twists and turns, one overall theme or idea has been and will continue to be my guide through the next year. That founding focus is the love of history and a desire to encourage interest in the subject by any means possible. Whether that interest is spurred or inspired by your passion for a book, a movie, a game or your family ancestry, it makes no difference to me as long as something inspires you to wonder, to question, to learn more about history as you enjoy the stories that are all woven from bits and pieces of history. Our journey together began in the fantasy type gaming world of the Sims franchise, led us into the historical fantasy time travel world of Outlander, then guided us to the realms of more ancient somewhat historical fantasy world of the Vikings, the Saxons and even the earlier times of Romans in Britain. Along the way, we have delved into much of that early history and even made some forays into Norman history and the medieval era. We have explored those worlds through books, through movies, and through additional research into actual events and people as we made our way through time via the stories told.  Through it all, it was the story that first captured our attention and interest. It was a story that inspired and guided us to each and every destination in history that we have visited. All of those virtual travels through time culminated in an amazing real trip through time for me last spring when I finally had the chance to visit some of the places where so much history took place. During that trip and afterwards, I was inspired and in some way guided to take a step back from the stories of others to focus on the story within me. I took a much needed break from this space to devote my energy and passion to the history that has made me who I am. 

Lagertha Our lives are stories: Fan art by Jul Sanchez at facebook group, Vikings the Aftermath

Lagertha Our lives are stories: Fan art by Jul Sanchez at facebook group, Vikings the Aftermath

As we are so often reminded, Our lives are stories waiting to be told. I have often repeated that thought and made mention of how important I believe that statement is in the context of each of us having a story within us worth telling, worth sharing. I have touched on this subject in previous posts but just want to address it quickly here again because it directly relates to the path and direction that I will be taking in this coming year. Each and every one of us comes into this world with a story already started, we are just another chapter in that never ending story. Some may think and assume that their story is insignificant, boring, mundane and not worth reading, telling or sharing… and in some respects that may well be true. There always chapters of a story that we deem somewhat boring or tedious. We often struggle through those seemingly inconsequential, unnecessary details wondering why the author is bothering with this. We skim over those parts in anticipation of the bigger, better portion of the story only to find out later that those small insignificant details were extremely important to a later chapter or event in the overall story. Perhaps we are one of those smaller “insignificant detail chapters”, maybe much of our more recent family history falls into that category… that does not mean that we are not an important and integral part of the bigger story. It simply means that our portion of the bigger story is yet to be told. We are all a part of that unfolding story and it is up to each of us to find the meaning of our part or role in that story. 

ancestors-with-you

For some of us, we may be destined to be the story teller, the record keeper, in a way- the voice over narrator for part of the story. It may be our calling to be one of those who keeps the story alive, shares the memories of those in the past. In that capacity, we are an essential  part of the story for we enable the story to be remembered, for the events and the people of our past story to have meaning. With or without us story tellers/narrators, the story would continue to unfold but the past chapters would be forever lost to those in the future chapters. In a sense, it would be like starting to read a book, watch a movie or series halfway through and thinking, “What the Heck is going on here? I’m so confused, what happened before?” So, the reader or viewer goes to find the earlier parts and discovers that those earlier portions have completely disappeared or have been buried in some vault somewhere that requires much searching to discover. Think of it in terms of the books and shows we have discussed over the years here… imagine for example that you were only able read the Outlander series from midpoint on and had no idea what events took place in those early years? Or, you were only able to watch the Vikings from season 3 onward… when you went to search for earlier seasons, they were all locked away in a vault somewhere and not easily accessed online. You may be interested and want to know about those earlier beginnings, you may be frustrated in reading or watching the current events playing out while not knowing what happened to bring about the events you are watching or reading now but the search for that background information might become so frustrating that you just give up on knowing what happened before. As a result, in a way, the overall story has been changed and altered by not knowing the events that led up to what is taking place now and in the future. The early events and people that played an important part in getting the story where it is right now will be forgotten and when or if they are mentioned in some future episode or chapter, they will be relegated to some category of either legend or folklore, or they will be deemed as completely insignificant non-important entities even though they may have been a crucial part of the story’s outcome!

On the opposite side of the above scenario is the thought most all of us have had at one time or another when a book or series ends. We go through a sort of let down, and are often left with the all consuming, frustrating thought of “But, then what happens to them?” Many stories leave us hanging, they have some unfinished business, there is an open ended finish to them that leaves us wondering and guessing at the people’s lives after the story ends. We all know that the phrase, “And they all lived happily ever after” just does not cut it, even with the majority of pre-schoolers! Those young children are often the ones asking the all important questions of then what happened? We ponder and guess at the what happened next and in the end, usually console ourselves with creating our own sort of closure or after life for those that we grew to care about in a good story. What happens next is that life goes on, stories play out and become a part of history until it merges with the present and each of us makes an appearance.  The moment we are born, we become part of the story and the history. Whether we concern ourselves with the rest of the story or not, we are still a part of it and at some point in the future we will be part of the story even if we are a forgotten name in an insignificant chapter. While we are living here in the present, helping to create the ongoing story, it is up to each of us how we choose to be portrayed in some later chapter. We can choose to remain an insignificant bystander whose name and life events disappear into the fabric of the ongoing saga, or we can make an effort to make some contribution, to be someone more than just a faceless, nameless remnant of the story’s background. We do not have make some amazing, awe inspiring, world changing contribution, all we need to do is live a life worth remembering, make a difference in one person’s life so that one person honors us with passing on our name, our existence, our story to the future. We make such choices on a minute by minute, day by day basis as we live our life hope that in some way, at the end of our chapter, we have made a difference, made a contribution, made our name and our life a treasured and valued memory. That is how our life becomes a part of the story because yes, in the end our life is but a distant memory and a story to be passed down. 

In some case, many cases to be realistic, we are far more that the record keeper or story teller. We are often an integral part of the story whether we realize it or not. Very often, our family story is one of unknown mysteries, forgotten tragedies and adventures, and we are a part of the search for answers to those mysteries and secrets left in the past. Those secrets left in the past were often left there for what seemed like a sound or just reason at the time the events were playing out. But, as we all know, secrets seldom stay buried forever and mysteries have a way of sucking us into the story. When presented with the unknown, with a mystery, most of us are drawn into it, and what ever the secret or mystery is, we have an innate sense of curiosity about it. We find ourselves at times reading an otherwise somewhat boring or not so well written story, continuing to read just in order to solve the puzzle or have some answer to what ever mystery is presented to us. We want to know what actually happened, or why it happened and if we do not find the answers, we will often search for some fathomable conclusion on our own… and if we can not find such a conclusion, we will make one up if for no other reason than just to satisfy that sense of curiosity! 

From Aberdeen to Dublin

Those of you who are regular visitors or readers know that I  occasionally include stories from my own family history as we travel through various points in time. I have made it a point to address the idea that I feel a deep connection to my family history, to my ancestors life events and how those people and events affect who we are and how we choose to live our lives. Each and every person has a separate individual history that in one way makes us completely unique and individual but at the same time also connects us together as a group through our shared histories and our dna.  As I mentioned earlier, my journey last spring was a life changing experience in many profound ways. That journey to the United Kingdom and it’s rich history was on the surface, one of those chances and trips of a life time to savor and enjoy for the usual travel experience, but it also had some other much deeper meaning for me. It left me examining my present choices and paths, and it inspired me to put more time into my own personal family story. I have spent the past months away from here focusing on that personal family history, on many of the secrets and mysteries, the unknowns in my ancestry. After so many months of continued research into my own family history, I am ready now to begin a new chapter for this blog….

family-migration

I hope that many of you will remain regular readers as we make a change in our direction and our path. I have covered much of the more ancient past in general as it relates to such topics as the Vikings, Saxon history, medieval history, along with much of the history surrounding people, places and events that relate to the incredible world of Outlander. I have previously touched on some of my personal ancestry as it might relate to those topics- such as the fact that much of my ancestry goes back to those earliest times in Britain including some Saxons, some Vikings, and some Normans. My plan now it to take us on a journey through a slightly later time frame. In the coming months, I hope to share with you the stories of how my ancestors made the migration from Europe to this new world, America and how they moved across the country. This journey will take us mainly from England and the Netherlands to the early beginnings of New York, New Amsterdam, New Jersey and the early colonies as I attempt to trace the migration path that my ancestors took as part of a large extended family group that eventually settled in the midwest. This is not just the story of my direct ancestors but one of a collective group of families that came together in the earliest colonies in New Amsterdam and New Jersey and over generations remained an extended family group that migrated to parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio before making that one last migration to areas of Illinois. As I began to trace my family members back, I consistently found the same family names and groups intertwined together so there is really no way to tell just one individual family’s story without telling the stories of all those others! It is also a story of varied backgrounds and beliefs, from rich and poor, Protestants and Puritans, Patriots and Loyalists, Quakers and Mormons, all coming together in the struggle to survive and forge a new life for their families.

I invite you to join me as I tell the story of my family, and possibly yours as well. Along the way, I will try to give my thoughts on some of the resources, research tools that have helped me at times, or have made my life more frustrating. On a separate page I will provided a list of family ancestor surnames for my family. If any of those names or families look familiar to you, please contact me! I would love to know that I am making some difference and helping someone else taking on their own family research. I would also love to know how you fit into this ongoing story of family!

 

 

Vikings Saga: Kweni’s Destiny and legacy

I wrote much of this when Kweni met her end but did not publish it then because I wanted to see what direction Michael Hirst would go with the future of her son. For me personally, Kweni’s death in some ways served as a turning point, a sign of the changes to come and the ending fates that so many of this older generation will meet. As we come to the end of a chapter or era with the death of Ragnar, I feel it only fitting to first look at those last days of Kweni and how her death would ultimately affect the future of those left behind.  While we do not know where exactly Hirst will go with Kweni’s young son, his future is directly related to the events, the actions and the choices of Kweni in those last days of her life.

kwenis-destiny

 

Our loveable but undeniably somewhat unhinged Princess Kwentirith of Mercia met a tragic but necessary end. I say necessary because I wondered for some time what her fate would be in the creative mind of Mr. Hirst. While I am so saddened at the way Kweni met her end, I personally applaud Michael Hirst for the direction he took with this woman who’s life seemed set upon such a doomed course from the beginning. I have written previously about historical reference for Kweni’s existence and the role of that actual historical figure in the life of  the real Ecbert. 

You can read my thoughts on the historical basis for Kweni here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/vikings-trivia-who-is-princess-kwenthrith/

For more information on the actual history of Ecbert and his actions regarding that princess of Mercia in this article:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/from-charlamagne-to-egbert-and-wessex/

the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith talk to me of love and death

kwentirith's thought you don't fool me or anyone else I know what you're up to

kwentirith’s thought you don’t fool me or anyone else I know what you’re up to

Kwentirith as future ruler

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

We have watched this tragic figure of Kweni from her early beginnings a more than slightly crazed young woman scrambling to achieve some semblance of power and control in a world dominated by men. There were times when we shook our heads at her insatiable cravings and her impulsive behaviors that we could obviously see were getting her only into more trouble.

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

a drunken kwentirith celebrating her uncle's death Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

We were made aware of her seriously troubled childhood and that past allowed us to feel some compassion for this young woman’s desperate attempts to gain back some sort of control over her life and her future.  There were times when we even began to appreciate her attempts and hope for her success. Last season we saw her finally claw her way to that throne of Mercia and we wondered if there might indeed be some way for this woman, as deranged as she might be, to actually survive and win against the equally deranged and much more powerful Ecbert; Ecbert,  who was willing to go so far as sacrificing his son Aethelwulf in order to win against Kweni. 

my-father-this-my-father-that-really-aethelwulf-how-old-are-you-do-you-not-have-a-thought-in-your-head-of-your-own how-old-are-you-aethelwulf kweni-ohhhh-stop-yelling-you-fool i-think-you-may-know-him-ragnar-lothbrok let-me-present-my-son-prince-magnus

What we saw this season was difficult and sad to watch because Kweni finally seemed to have a grasp on the throne of Mercia and on her sanity as well. We saw Kweni at her strongest and at her most vulnerable. I admit that when we saw Kweni become a Mother last season, I had some serious doubts about her Motherly instincts and her ability to raise a child. This season we saw that Kweni’s greatest strength and also her greatest weakness came with Motherhood. She fought like a warrior to protect her son and she became desperate enough to risk everything for his survival and future. Kweni may have suffered from the dysfunction and the insanity that ravaged her family but her last actions were those of a Mother willing to give up everything including her life to protect her child. 

kwenis-found-her-battle-mode kwenis-guards-get-their-orders-to-kill-the-queen kweni-fights-back-with-the-rage-of-a-mother kweni-does-have-a-motherly-instinct-after-all-nobody-messes-with-her-baby aethelwulf-finally-makes-it-to-the-top-of-the-tower-to-rescue-damsel-kweni-copy

One of the most bittersweet parts of Kweni’s final story besides that of her fight for her son was that she finally found love and true affection as she put it, with Aethelwulf.  Aethelwulf was probably the one man who could understand her behaviors that stemmed from her childhood of being raised in such an environment of others seeking control and domination by any means necessary. It was that affection that even brought Kweni a friend- probably for the first time in her life.

kweni-feels-she-must-make-her-confession-to-judith judith-already-knows-that-the-child-kweni-is-carrying-is-athelwulfs-and-probably-doesnt-really-care

kweni-wants-judiths-help-to-escape-from-ecbert-now-that-is-another-matter-entirely-copy-2 kwenis-attempt-to-escape-has-failed judith-watches-as-kweni-is-dragged-away

And, in the end it was that unlikely friendship with Judith that led to Kweni’s end. For me, that ending was by far the most painful, heart wrenching scene to watch. 

kweni-is-desperate-and-desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures-copy-2 kweni-has-reached-the-point-of-no-return-with-her-desperate-measures-copy-copy

 

I knew from the onset of Ecbert taking Kweni and her son in, and holding them as hostage that there was really not much hope for Kweni’s continued presence at this court… there were few options for her short of Ecbert himself marrying her. As in actual history, Ecbert refused to even entertain this option or idea. For Kweni that left an escape or banishment to Francia which Ecbert may have allowed eventually but that option would have been certain to not include her son. Little Magnus was far too important to Ecbert’s schemes to let him out of his grasp. The one other impediment to Kweni being allowed to leave was the fact that she was carrying Aethelwulf’s child… had she not been pregnant, Ecbert may chosen that option of banishing her. He could not afford to let her go with the possibility of her having another royal heir to use as some leverage against him. So, Kweni is held to await the birth of a child that she will never be allowed to raise…  Kweni’s final days and acts of desperation set in as she realizes that she is doomed.  My personal thought on her final act is that she knew she was doomed to certain death but she would take Ecbert with her as her last final revenge. 

 

kwenis-laugh-turns-to-tears-as-she-realizes-her-position-copy

kwenis laugh turns to tears as she realizes her position.

someone-else-has-taken-matters-into-hand-with-kweni-copy

Someone else has taken matters into hand with Kweni

judith-has-stepped-in-and-saved-ecberts-life-but-now-kwenis-death-is-on-her-hands-and-heart

Judith has stepped in to save Ecbert’s life but now Kweni’s death is on her hands and her heart.

kwenis-words-ohhhh-judith

Kweni’s last faint words, Ohhhh Judith

What no one expected was that Judith would  have to be the one responsible for Kweni’s end. The look on both of their faces as they silently said that last goodbye to each other was heart breaking. But, as heart breaking as it was, it also held some symbolism and odd appropriateness. Kweni’s death was a given, she was doomed if by nothing else, the very fact that she was attempting to kill the King. Had she succeeded in her attempt or even been caught by anyone else, she would have been publicly arrested and executed most likely in front of everyone including her son. Instead of that fate, Kweni was killed by the one person she counted as friend. Her end came via the one person who would look into her eyes at that very end and convey some feeling of grief, of loss and guilt. Kweni’s death at the hand of Judith may possibly be the one salvation or grace for her son… Will Judith’s guilt at this killing be enough for her to offer some compassion and kindness to the child that Ecbert holds hostage for the future?  I would like to believe that Judith will look after this child, Magnus and provide him with some measure of love and kindness that might not be in Ecbert’s heart or mentality. The last we hear of Magnus is that he is being raised at the court of Ecbert and that it is public knowledge that Ragnar is his Father.  My worry is that without some intervention by one such as Judith would be capable of, this childhood for Magnus could be every bit as painful, dysfunctional and damaging as Kweni’s childhood was for her. 

As I previously mentioned, I wrote this portion when Kweni died. Now years later, we finally see the events, the fate and the destiny begin to play out. The child, Magnus has been raised in Ecbert’s household and for all outward appearances, it seems he has been well treated by Ecbert, Aethelwulf and Judith. He has been told of his lineage as far as everyone there knows. This boy believes he is the son of Ragnar Lothbrok- he knows no different although Ecbert admits that he’s always had some doubts about this? Probably because this boy seems to lack the “Warrior” gene?  

The meeting between young Magnus and Ragnar is to say the least, difficult to watch. As I mentioned, this boy truly believes that Ragnar is his Father and he looks forward to finally meeting the man he has been told so much about, even if that man is being held chained in a cage. Despite that, Magnus is proud to be a son of Ragnar…

ecbert-and-magnus

magnus-speaks-his-heart-to-ragnar

Ragnar puts a first cut into the boy’s emotions when he adamantly denies that he is his Father. 

ragnar-denies-that-he-is-magnus-father

Ragnar denies that he is Magnus’ Father

puzzled-and-confused-magnus

Magnus is of course puzzled, confused and hurt at this statement from Ragnar.

Now, I do have to add my own thought here… this boy seems to be a bit naive and sheltered from the realities of the world that he is living in. Apparently Magnus does not appear to be aware that living in Wessex, being the son of Ragnar Lothbrok the great Viking is not necessarily a thing to be proud of or advertising? So, Ragnar may be telling the truth, or he may be lying in order to somehow protect the boy. What ever the case, it is just the first hard dose of reality the boy must suddenly face!

The next dose of reality is just as difficult to watch… Magnus seems to have some decent relationship with Aethelwulf until Aethelwulf deals him an ultimate blow of supposed betrayal? In this boy’s mind, what else can he think this action by Aethelwulf is? Granted, Aethelwulf may also be trying to save the boy’s life in the only way he thinks possible by sending him out into the world on his own now to become a man. I’m pretty certain though that at this point in his life, that is not how Magnus is viewing it. As I already mentioned, this boy seems quite naive and does not comprehend just how precarious his fate is right now. The one thing that bothered me about this action by Aethelwulf is the fact that he tells Magnus to tell people he is the son of Ragnar and that they will help him… Really, Aethelwulf, how far is this boy going to get in the middle of Wessex by admitting to anyone he meets that he is the son of Ragnar! This just seems to be setting the boy up for a certain death as he attempts to wander his way through Wessex. A far better piece of advice to the boy would have been, “Tell no one who you really are or where you come from!”  Unless of course, Aethelwulf has some other plan of escape or rescue for the boy set up, this advice made no sense what so ever! Also, looking at the situation from the perspective of this boy being extremely naive and not much of a warrior type, I can not envision this boy surviving very long on his own without some sort of back up plan on Aethelwulf’s part…

aethelwulf-sends-magnus-out-on-his-own-to-become-a-man-its-time-for-you-to-leave-you-have-no-choice

Aethelwulf sends Magnus away out into the world on his own. “It’s time for you to leave, to become a man, you have no choice.

but-where-wil-i-go-magnus-asks-aethelwulf

Magnus asks Aethelwulf, “But where will I go”

destiny-will-guide-you-where-ever-you-go-you-tell-people-you-are-magnus-the-son-of-ragnar-lothbrok-and-people-will-look-after-you

Destiny will guide you. Where ever you go, you tell people you are Magnus, the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and people will look after you.

magnus-scared-and-heartbroken

Magnus, scared and heartbroken tries to hold fast to Aethelwulf

aethelwulf-goes-so-far-as-to-threaten-the-boy-with-death-start-walking-you-start-walking-now-or-you-will-die

When Magnus tries to refuse, Aethelwulf goes so far to threaten him, “Start walking, you start walking now or you will die!”

a-fearful-magnus-there-are-animals-in-the-woods-aethelwulf-whispers-there-are-animals-inside

A fearful Magnus says, There are animals in the woods. Aethelwulf whispers to him, There are animals within this Villa!

 

Kweni  risked everything to protect and save her son only for him to be cast out into the cold on his own with no understanding of why… Hopefully his fate and his destiny will not follow a similar path as his Mother’s!

kwenis-son-magnus

 

 

 

Thoughts on Outlander season 2 Finale

Before I take the somewhat risky journey back into the often volatile world of Outlander, I just want to share a few other thoughts and update you on my absence. As many of you know, I have taken a break from posting in order to focus on my family history research. Because of my work schedule, family commitments and events, I currently have little time to devote to my personal passions such as the family history, history in general, and this blog. 

Many of you are also aware that this spring, I took a much needed vacation to Britain in order to explore some of that history I am so passionate about. The journey was not without it’s moments of frustration and even panic. It was a journey of self discovery and soul searching. During the trip, there was a point when in the middle of that soul searching and panic, I reached out to who ever might be listening above or beyond this plane and asked for some guidance. It was in those moments of silent conversation with myself and those I could feel around me that I was reminded of my ties, my connections to all of those ancestors who came before me. It was an odd moment of reflection or revelation that I should take some time to refocus on what was truly important to me, take time to pause and change my direction or my path. It’s been a few months since that trip and I have found myself more driven and determined to work on my family history. That research has pretty much taken over what little free time I have. The direction of the research also changed in that I am no longer quite so interested in the far distant and ancient past- though I am still intrigued by it. Now the focus of that research is more one of a slightly more recent past in which my ancestors all made the choices and decisions to make the journey to a new land and a new beginning in America. They came from England, Wales, the Netherlands and Germany in search of that freedom that this new country would offer them. Some came for religious freedom but others came because there was little left for them in their homeland. I find myself now interested even more in those individual stories of survival in this new land. I have come to a point in the research where I feel like I can rest a bit from it and now sort through their stories and their journies to eventually share them here.

Some of you are probably wondering what on earth this all has to do with Outlander? Well, quite simply, it has everything to do with Outlander because in reality, Outlander is just such a story- an ongoing story of how and why a family came to be in this new America. It is an epic saga of one family’s journey, of their life, of the choices they make along the way and the reasons for those choices, of the people who become a part of their world and influence the paths they each take in life. It is in some ways a reflection of our own family histories. We each have stories of the past locked away within our family histories… granted, hopefully ours do not include time travel, standing stones and other such intriguing fantasies, but if we search through our family histories, we will all most likely find some of those well kept, well guarded secret skeletons in our closets that me may or may not be comfortable in the discovery of.  

My recent research has inspired more of an interest in the Colonial history of America, from the earliest times when my Puritan ancestors made the difficult decision to immigrate, the later years of industrial upheaval in England when other ancestors lost their economic livelihoods and made the journey out of economic necessity, through the period of the Revolution for independence here when those ancestors had to choose sides- you might think or assume that should have been an obvious no question about it decision but if you look deeper into those lives you will find that it was truly a difficult decision for many of them. As I learned more about my own ancestors and their lives, I was drawn back to the stories that Diana Gabaldon tells of that time period through the lives of Jamie and Claire Fraser and their family legacy.

For the most part, I have tried to remain outside of the realm of Outlanderia after the first season’s debut. I did this for a few reasons. First of all, while I did enjoy the first book of the series, I would not say that I was all that much of die hard obsessed fan in the beginning. In fact, in retrospect, had I read it when it originally came out and had to wait years for the next installment, I probably would not have bothered picking up the next book. Because I read it more recently and the next book was available on sale, I went ahead and read the second one just to find out what happened… I was not overly impressed or enthused with that one either but by then I was intrigued and getting a bit sucked into the overall story and people in it. So, of course since the third book was readily available, I thought I might as well just read it. I can honestly say that while I was not all that enthused with the Pirate aspect of Voyager, the rest of that book totally sucked me into the world of Outlander. From then on I admit I became somewhat of an obsessed fan of the books. I will say that my obsession in tame compared to that of many other fans.

When Starz took on the challenge of presenting this saga to us, I was as excited as anyone at the prospect of seeing the story come to life. I did enjoy that initial introduction to the story but as it progressed, I found myself struggling with some aspects of it. One of those aspects I struggled with was the overwhelming tide of Outlander fandom and storms of aggressive heated and sometimes confrontational debate over show versus books, readers versus non-readers. Then there is the continuous ongoing flood of debate, controversy and intrusion into actors’ personal lives- which in my personal opinion takes away from being immersed in the character they are portraying. Another issue for me was of course the fact that I was not as interested or invested in the first story or even the second story other than in how they lead up to the rest of the stories.

One added issue for me with the first season was that I can honestly say that I am probably one of the minority of fans who does not look at this series as a romance/love story of Claire and Jamie. For me, that is really almost secondary compared to the rest of what is involved in this saga. As I watched season one, I had the feeling that it was becoming or would become more of a romance story and I really was just not interested in seeing it go that route. As a result, I stepped back out of the raging storms of Outlander and chose to remain for the most part, a silent observer.

I did not impatiently await or endure any typical droughtlander in anticipation of season 2 because well, because as I’ve already mentioned, it was not one of my favorite books anyway so I had no real emotional investment in how it would be presented other than in how it would be presented in relation to future seasons. I was happy to see that it did not go the route of being the “breathtaking” romance of Jamie and Claire. It was a fairly realistic representation of what they went through during that time and I for one appreciate that! I am not going to go into all of my thoughts on the entire season here but I do have to say that I think I enjoyed it more than season one. I am also not going to address the changes and deviations made from the book to the show. They have already been hashed over and debated to no end by everyone. I understand why the changes were made and personally I am looking forward to seeing what differences the future brings between the two stories. I’ve tried hard to separate the show from the books but find that having read the books, it is almost impossible not to make comparisons between the two. I am enjoying the differences that the show is presenting and I look forward to seeing how it takes the story along  possible alternative paths. I am looking forward to seeing how the story plays out with some changes.

****Spoilers, Yes there are spoilers! This is your warning!”

season2 finale3

Through the Stones or not... One must stay, one must go for the sake of innocents

Through the Stones or not… One must stay, one must go for the sake of innocents

For now, I am just going to give my personal thoughts on the finale and the introduction of my two favorite people- Roger and Bree! I will readily admit that I was and am emotionally invested in the story from this point on and I was concerned about how these two characters would be represented. I also admit that I do have some  initial reservations about Sophie Skelton and whether she can fully portray Bree as I know her in my head… Then again, I have to remind myself that I had these same reservations about Catriona Balfe in the beginning and she has completely won me over! So, with that in mind, I am giving Sophie benefit of doubt and going with a feeling that she will eventually find her footing and capture that essence of Bree that Ron D Moore and others must believe she’s capable of doing. I did find that I was more comfortable with her performance and portrayal after watching the episode a second time with a more open mind and a thought towards that overall awkward situation that she finds herself in.

Bree on better terms with Claire

Bree on better terms with Claire

Roger and Bree at Fort William

Roger and Bree at Fort William

Don't be dragging him into this fantasy!

Don’t be dragging him into this fantasy!

I did see some glimmers of that inner Bree so I am going to assume that Sophie has actually managed to give us a fairly accurate portrayal of that younger Bree caught in the difficult and awkward situation that she was placed in at the time… As I’ve said, I’ve liked Bree from the beginning. I never saw her a spoiled brat who treated her Mother so awful. She was a young woman who as Claire mentioned, was just like her Father- stubborn to no end with a fiery temper. She is also a young woman who suddenly discovers one of those skeletons in the closet, discovers that her parents have lied to her for her entire life. Put yourself in Bree’s shoes for a few moments and imagine that your own Mother told you such a story? Would your reaction really be so much different than hers was? Would you have immediately just have accepted such a story and said, “Ohhh this is all so exciting and wonderful for all of us!”  My one thought while watching this all play out on screen was actually that I wished Bree had shown more of that temper! I was waiting for her to completely explode and destroy the room in that fit of uncontrolled rage and frustration over the entire situation.

If it hadn't been for the battle of Culloden OMG Stop just stop... I was not bored

While so many others are venting and bashing on spoiled Bree, I’m sitting here enjoying her outbursts and her evolving sarcastic humor. I watched it all play out and had the same thought as I did with the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way they managed to merge the book events with the limits of the show with Bree’s thought and suspicion that something was not exactly right with her parents’ relationship and that there was something, some incident that they had kept secret. When people stay in a bad relationship “for the children” and assume that their children do not know something is wrong, they are not giving their children enough credit…Children sense things and usually know far more than we are willing to admit. Bree loves both her parents but she knew instinctively that there was something not quite right with their relationship.

Bree: Sometimes it seems like you didn't really love him.

Bree: Sometimes it seems like you didn’t really love him.

Bree My Mother lives in another world2

As to the character of my dear Roger Mac… I initially had a few doubts about Richard Rankin portraying him but that is due to the image I have stuck in my mind of him from the books. After the first few moments of watching Richard’s performance, I was already seeing that other image merge with the new image of Roger- so well done Richard Rankin! You’ve managed in one episode to assure me of your ability to transform yourself into my Roger Mac. I need to add here that I put off watching the finale because I was in the middle of re-reading the Fiery Cross which involves some very serious life struggles for Roger.  I knew I was going to have a difficult time regrouping from those events that have such a profound life altering affect on Roger so I waited until I was finished with the book before watching. I have to say that seeing Roger in the show helped ease my left over sadness. To see him awkwardly trying to impress Bree, to watch the beginnings of his and Bree’s story made me smile! An added reminder here for others who had some difficulty with this portrayal of Roger… I’m not really sure what you may have been expecting but Richard Rankin presented us with just exactly what Roger is at this point in his life, a university history professor, a rather reserved and quiet young man who was raised by a minister. Roger is a work in progress and Richard Rankin shows us that. He stumbles, he falls, he fails, he is not some perfect Highland Warrior type and he knows this. Richard Rankin gives us that somewhat imperfect guy who is immediately infatuated with Bree and can not hide it very well. He has also captured that quirky sense of humor and dry wit that he and Bree will share as time goes on. 

We meet Roger and Fiona

We meet Roger and Fiona

Roger's rat satire

Roger’s rat satire

roger describing frank he was a snappy dresser wore his hat down over one eye

roger describing frank he was a snappy dresser wore his hat down over one eye

I think we found your incident

No stay it's your house after all

No stay it’s your house after all

Roger Ummm what don't look at me like that cause really I think you're crazy too I'm just trying to be polite about it So you're saying my ancestors are a war chief and a witch..2. Roger it's not important if I believe it or not she believes i2t

My Mother's insane Hmmm a sentiment echoed by daughters everywhere.... no mine really is

One other performance I want to give my highest praise and appreciation of is that of Catriona Balfe in her transition to a much older, wearier and somewhat wiser Claire. My only comment to this older and wiser Claire would be to those watching the situation with her daughter play out… Really, what did you think Bree’s reaction would be to such a story? Did any of you honestly think or assume that on being told such a story, anyone would react any differently than Bree… or for that matter Roger. Of course their immediate reaction is that the woman is insane. Bree is horrified that her Mother has apparently went off the deep end while Roger is a bit more restrained in his reaction but is trying to hold it together for benefit of Bree. 

 

Claire raises her glass to the Reverend

Claire raises her glass to the Reverend

Claire on her own mission to remember that other world Claire visits Culloden and adds her own thoughts

Yes, Claire’s visit to Lallybroch left me in tears

visions of Jamie at Lallybroch

But, I did have one other thought when I saw the condition of Lallybroch… please not the very small for sale sign by the steps. 

lallybroch circa 1968

sending Fergus to Lallybroch for two purposes...

How do I explain that I traveled through time and got pregnant without making myself sound like a lunatic

Really what did you think the reaction would be?

Really what did you think the reaction would be?

 

 

I was moved to tears by Claire’s haunted memories of the past, and the other thing I was personally moved by was the narration of the events at Culloden… that was Tobias Menzies/Frank’s voice was it not?

Claire walking through Culloden field while what sounds like Frank's voice narrates the event

Claire visits Culloden while Franks voice narrates the events that took place

Clan Fraser

 The remaining events of the past played out as I expected- Claire was not at the battle, she could only recall events leading up to that point- we should see the actual event unfold in bits and pieces in future seasons. I did cry as she remembered sending Fergus off to Lallybroch with the deed and for his own safety. And in my mind, I was saying my own goodbye to Murtaugh with much sadness. I was even moved to some tears over the demise of Dougal and his gut wrenching feeling of ultimate betrayal from Jamie. Yes, Jamie was acting in self defense and protecting Claire, and yes Dougal made more than his own share of bad decisions that led to this action, but his loyalty to the cause was indisputable and Jamie knew that. 

I'll guide the men to safety but ken this then I'll return to die with you

You've betrayed us all of us

You’ve betrayed us all of us

Dougal: I'd rather be hung drawn and quartered than be known as a traitor to the cause and my king

Dougal: I’d rather be hung drawn and quartered than be known as a traitor to the cause and my king

Dougal's despair

Now, having this book and season finished, I have to admit that I am suffering a bit of droughtlander if only for the fact that I am so looking forward to Voyager and, to Drums of Autumn. I am thrilled that we’re assured of seeing at least these next two seasons because for me this where the adventure of their life truly begins to unfold. I even look forward to that nasty encounter with a much changed Geillie Duncan. Speaking of Geillie…

Gillian Edgars future psychopath

Geilli of course believes you need a human sacrifice...

Geilli of course believes you need a human sacrifice…

And she's off to make history...

A few last thoughts to keep in the back of your mind while waiting for the future… I’ve always believed that Frank knows far more than we think, and hopefully the show will give us some that- at least in flashback form. 

letter from Frank asking rev to quit searching for Jack He's not the man I thought he was

letter from Frank asking rev to quit searching for Jack He’s not the man I thought he was

Frank knows more than we think and some of it has to do with Roger’s story…

roger's plane again

 

 

 

Time travel dilemma: From Last Kingdom to Vikings Saga and back again…

****Warning**** Spoilers involved in this post for Last Kingdom series and Vikings Saga!

Ahhhh Okay, I wrote this post quite some time ago and never got it finished… Many of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Why bother with it now since we’ve already seen what happens with the Vikings return?”  Well, yes we have seen what happened when the Vikings returned to Paris but we have also been given a glimpse further into a future that will coincide on some level with the events taking place in that parallel universe of The Last Kingdom. We have also been given an interesting clue that directly relates to the premise of this original post. While much of the anticipation and preview concerns the sons of Ragnar, there is one other very important young man that did not get included in the preview of the future. Just because you did not see him does not mean that he will not be important to that future when the next generation  heads  to England. Everyone is so entranced and fascinated with others such as Ivar or even Ubbe that they pay little attention to others who will play an important part and role in the events that take place in England.

 

adult sons of Ragnar

adult sons of Ragnar

Ivar

Ivar

Ubbe

Ubbe

 

I  admit that after my first visual immersion into the Last Kingdom world, I had difficulty transitioning back to the Vikings Saga world. When I wrote this piece back in October, I knew that I would have some trouble adjusting to the altering worlds and their differences. Now that I have experienced the first half of Vikings Season 4 and had some time to adjust to it, I find that some of my earlier thoughts actually have merit and possibility here in this fantasy world of revised history.

 Before I present this prequel type narrative, I want to take time to give some praise and credit to Mr. Hirst for his work on this season so far.  As most of you who read this blog know, I have at times been rather critical of Hirst’s creative license and adaptation of history. What I saw in the first half of this season was some redirection on his part back from the all out historical fantasy realm. True to his assurances, he has steered Rollo in a direction that more accurately portrays his history… yes he did have to put Rollo in that most difficult position of much hated betrayer of his own people but in my opinion, he has done so in a way that also shows Rollo’s inner struggle with that decision- one that I believe will come full circle in the second half of the season.

At the end of the battle Rollo is in pain emtionally as well as physically

At the end of the battle Rollo is in pain emtionally as well as physically

 

I also appreciated the historical aspects that Hirst touched on with Ecbert’s power play in Mercia as well as little Alfred’s pilgrimage to Rome. I will discuss all of this in future posts.  

Wigstan to ecbert you shelter for your own interests and purpose another of my mad descendents Kwentirith whose only claim to the throne is by way of killing her uncle and her own brothers.

Wigstan to ecbert you shelter for your own interests and purpose another of my mad descendents Kwentirith whose only claim to the throne is by way of killing her uncle and her own brothers.

For now, I want to stick to the subject that I originally wrote this post about so many months ago. As I spent time in the Last Kingdom, I became quite fond of one Viking in particular, Guthrum.  As my time there came to an end for an undetermined and unforeseeable future, I found myself torn between him and my other loyalty, Rollo.  People scoff at this loyalty and often accuse me of being a betrayer and traitor… I know that I must hold my head up and stand firm in spite of these words. There have of course been instances as well where my stand for Guthrum has been questioned but I stand firm in that too. In some ways, the two of them are quite similar- their early pasts are not much known about, they went their own ways and made compromises to their Viking beliefs in order to accomplish their personal goals of victory and success. Both Guthrum and Rollo accepted Christianity (at least on the surface) to reap the benefits that the Church backing would bring them…

The importance and the future of Guthrum

The importance and the future of Guthrum

As you read through my earlier thoughts and my dilemma at the time, you will find historical information- as much as there is- on Guthrum which may help you in figuring out his role and his his historical importance or relevance in both the Last Kingdom and in the future of the Vikings Saga.  I do need to say here that since so little is actually known about his early history, I have no qualms or issues with Hirst’s creative license with his back story! I am looking forward to seeing Hirst’s version of him, although I readily admit that I am most partial to the Guthrum I already now know in Last Kingdom. Hirst has his work cut out for him as far as presenting me with a version of Guthrum that comes close to the one I already know!

Guthrum God of rome strike me down

 

My earlier time travel dilemma (written back at the end of October)

In just a few months, I shall be packing my bags and heading back to France to join my friend Rollo as he follows his destiny in founding the Kingdom of Normandy. I am having a worrisome visit here in Wessex. Things are not going so well here even though this King Alfred will soon achieve some glory and begin his life long quest to unite England. This land is in the midst of upheaval and war between Saxons and Danes right now… much a different place than when I visited Ecbert’s home earlier. I think this Standing Stone method of time travel has some flaws in it? I truly believe now that they send us not only to different points in time, but to some sort of parallel version of history as well. I had my suspicions about it previously but now I am quite sure of it… When next I return to the future, I am going to have a serious discussion about this with that Mrs. Graham of Craig Na Dun Time Travels!  

craigh_na_dun_time tours

I will share more of what has happened in this Wessex with Alfred, the Dane Guthrum and the warrior Uhtred later. Right now I want to share some thoughts on what I may find when I return to Rollo and those other Vikings.  I hear much speculation, assumption and even accusations on what Rollo’s actions may bring in the future. I also hear many rumors and assurances from a certain other authority that Rollo’s destiny and story will play out as our history reflects it. In the midst of all these swirling rumors and predictions, I have also heard another King will make arrival… a Norse King by the name of Harald Finehair and his brother Halfdan the Black will be showing up, for reasons as yet unknown.  I make mention of these Norsemen because I do wonder what their story will entail, what reason will they have for their appearance and of what consequence if any, will this be for Rollo?  I do not presume to know the future… or the past in this case. I am not a seer, although there be some in these times who have suspicions about me because occasionally this altered state of history makes some match with what I know of our version of history.  

Right now, I am sitting here somewhat rather comfortable and safe for the time being in the sanctuary and seclusion of a Viking version of  Royal residence.  I can not say more but will only leave it at this… I shall never complain about Viking camps again after having spent some time with Alfred’s group in the swamps!

Eilswith in the swamp

I can not say which was worse, living in the swamp or having to endure that Eahlswith’s company for a length of time. The time spent with her was intolerable and being unable to take any more of it, I sought my refuge instead with Guthrum of East Anglia! I enjoy his company and he enjoys mine… we shall leave it at that. He has ensured my safety and has offered protection as I attempt to find a suitable place from which to make my next journey.   In the past I have used various standing stone sites and even some ancient boat burial grounds. My current dilemma is finding such a suitable site here in East Anglia during Guthrum’s time. Were I still in Wessex or any western portions of the Isle, I should have no difficulty finding sites, for they are plentiful in other regions of the land. But, here in Guthrum’s Kingdom of East Anglia, there are few such Stone circles or most ancient of sites. 

My other dilemma is of course the time line and trying to ensure that I arrive in the same altered place and time that my other Viking friends are in. That may be the most difficult problem to solve since I do firmly believe that other place and time is very seriously altered as far as it’s time, events and people. The history that I reside in right now is fairly stable and reasonably accurate as far as people and events. That does not make it any easier to live here but at least I have some idea of what will take place and I can also be reasonably certain of travel points which will fit my needs and send me where I need to go back and forth in time. It is that oddity of time lines that I am concerned about right now.

Here with Guthrum, I know well the time and area that I am residing in.  The year is 878 and Guthrum recently signed the Treaty of  Wedmore with Alfred. 

Guthrum gets baptized

Guthrum gets baptized

guthrum: I've heard mention of this heaven

guthrum: I’ve heard mention of this heaven

Under the Treaty of Wedmore the borders dividing the lands of Alfred and Guthrum were established, and perhaps more importantly, Guthrum converted to Christianity and took on the Christian name Æthelstan with Alfred as his godfather. Guthrum’s conversion to Christianity served as an oath or legal binding to the treaty, making its significance more political than religious.  Politically, of course, Guthrum’s conversion to Christianity did nothing to loosen the Danish hold on the lands that Guthrum had already acquired via conquest.  Instead it not only garnered Guthrum recognition among Christian communities he ruled, but also legitimized his own authority and claims. By adopting the Christian name of Æthelstan, which was also the name of Alfred’s eldest brother, Guthrum’s conversion “reassured” his newly acquired subjects that they would continue to be ruled by a Christian king rather than a heathen chieftain.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Wedmore

I also know that I could remain here fairly safe under Guthrum’s protection for some time if I were so inclined to do so. Guthrum will uphold his end of this treaty. Guthrum upheld his end of the treaty and left the boundary that separated the Danelaw from English England unmolested. Guthrum, although failing to conquer Wessex, turned towards the lands to the east that the treaty had allotted under his control free of interference by Alfred. Guthrum withdrew his army from the western borders facing Alfred’s territory and moved eastward before eventually settling in the Kingdom of Guthrum in East Anglia in 879. He lived out the remainder of his life there until his death in 890. According to the Annals of St Neots (ed. D. Dumville and M. Lapidge, Cambridge 1984), a Bury St Edmunds compilation, Guthrum was buried at Headleage, usually identified as Hadleigh, Suffolk.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guthrum

kingdom of guthrum mapalfred1

I know that I can travel safely throughout this area of East Anglia that Guthrum controls, but to go elsewhere in the land right now would be unwise and unsafe as Guthrum reminds me. The battles and wars will continue on for some length of time throughout much of the land. Guthrum can only guarantee safety to a certain extent and does not want to provoke or incite any additional revolt or uprising just to ensure my protection in travel to a place because of my odd whimsy… He has stated that he would prefer that I just remain where I am but because of his regard for me, is willing to indulge this strange fascination of mine regarding ancient monuments and such . So, I must find a place within our realm that may or may not connect me to that other realm that Rollo is now residing in.

Along with finding such a site, I must also find some connection between the two realms such as some sort of factual information shared by both realms even though the timelines may be different.  I must look at the times, the people and the events which took place in that other realm and find some connection here in this history.  There is so much that is distorted in that other realm of Viking history, including of course the major issue of the timeline… how do I determine a connection to get me back to the correct place?  When I made the journey from there to here, I used those Stones in Wessex and thus landed into this more accurate history. I would have to assume then that those Stones predate all of these changes in timelines and history- they would thus take me back and forth between time and between realms in accordance with my thoughts. Tis extremely complicated and difficult, this time travel process- do not assume that it is as easy as just walking through the Stones!  As I mentioned, those Stones of Wessex are not available to me, nor are any people of Wessex who might provide some sort of connection to that other past or realm. 

It is almost impossible to ascertain some linking time, place or person to that other Viking realm. Out of all of the people there, I would guess though that my friend Rollo is most out of place and time and he is the one person that I want to get back to. As far as I know, in that other Viking realm, the great Heathen Wars have not yet occured… Ecbert is still alive, Alfred is still a baby… that would put their time period feasibly around the years of 840 to 850s. In accurate history, Ecbert died long before Alfred’s birth. Ecbert died in 839 and Alfred was not born until about 849. Ragnar’s sons are still very young-far too young to yet be involved in those wars that began in 866, so my assumption of a time frame around early 850s might be close approximation except for Rollo.  Rollo in our history as we know it, was not born until about 846… putting him close to the same age as Alfred.  For some reason, I believe that if I look at Rollo and his history, that may be my key to getting back to him in that other realm. My reason for this is that a certain authority on the Rollo of that other realm of Vikings history (aka Michael Hirst) has implied many times that Rollo’s destiny and path there will remain fairly close to that of the history we know of him in this realm.  I keep thinking that perhaps if I know more about Rollo’s truer history, it might take me back to him in that other realm. I know it is far fetched reasoning, grasping at proverbial straws  but tis all I have to go on at the moment! I try to remember all that I have read about other versions of Rollo’s history in hopes of making some connection between the Rollo of this realm and the Rollo of that other place.  I keep thinking of all of this and it is driving me to distraction, of which Guthrum comments upon- asking me of where my mind wanders to so much of late.  Of course I can not tell him of everything- he already thinks I am touched by some spirits. His reasoning and comment on that is these spirits do not seem dangerous and other than my often strange ideas and ways, I am of entertaining and sometimes useful value to him so he pays it not much mind. 

As I ponder on Rollo of this history and Rollo of that other realm, I suddenly begin to wonder what Guthrum might know of the Rollo in this world, or possibly any others who might serve as some connection. As I have mentioned, the year here is now 878 looking towards 879 and Guthrum has some peace in this East Anglia. But, before this peace occurred he fought with many of the other Viking armies throughout the land, knew many of these warriors and probably still keeps some form of contact with some of them.  Perhaps Guthrum is my key to unlocking this puzzle? Why did not I not think of this earlier and realize that my spirit guides, my sisters of fate had set me on path to him for more reason than just to escape the confines of Eahlswith’s court and company. Guthrum is the one person who could be my link to that other version of history.  I must use Guthrum’s knowledge and possible connections to my own gain and advantage.

I am not so concerned right now about Alfred or the English for now though if I were to ask, Guthrum probably knows much more than he lets on about all of them.  I am more curious and interested in the Danes and others here who might prove to be of some connection to that other realm. Guthrum is happy to talk of his acquaintances, his comrades and the various victories they have achieved but talks seldom of any early connection he might have with any of them.  Of course, Ubba the great warrior son of Ragnar Lothbrok is dead now, as is his brother Ivar and another brother Halfdan. Guthrum sighed and shook his head as if to clear his thoughts, “Fine warriors all of them, now gone on to Valhalla together”  I ask him about the other brothers I had heard of such as Bjorn Ironside and Sigurd Snake in the eye… Guthrum thought again and said that  Bjorn did never come here and was not a part of these wars. “Bjorn has been occupied with his own raiding in other parts of the world.”  As for Sigurd, yes Guthrum did mention of him being with his brothers in the battles against Aelle and Osbert at Northumbria. Guthrum laughed and said how Sigurd was probably the wisest of all of them even though none thought so at the time… Sigurd took a daughter of Aelle as wife and returned to their homeland with her.  All of these things I had read varying accounts of in the future where they would appear in different versions of the Norse Sagas.  Guthrum was speaking of the basic beginnings of these events before they were embellished on over the centuries so I could see the truth in these events. But, none of this really helped me so I asked him of one other of which I knew and was most curious about. Did he know of a man called Rollo or Hrolfr Rognvaldsson?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rognvald_Eysteinsson

This question caused Guthrum some puzzlement and then suspicion. “Why should you ask of him? How would you know of him, he is not part of this war, has sworn no oath or allegiance to any here and if he has fought it is only for his own personal gain…not that there is any wrong in that mind you, every man must look out for himself first, especially if as with Rollo, there is little family backing or love between them.”  He paused and still eyed me with some doubt before going on with what little he knew of this man Rollo. He had heard some stories that the man was a relative of Rognvald Eysteinsson whose family rules an Isle in the far north, Orkney. That family is bound and connected to Harald Fairhair, a King of Norway. Guthrum added, “There is little love between the Danes and the Norse, the only reason we have fought together here is to achieve an equal goal of land and wealth. Now that is some accomplished, we will try to avoid each other and stay to our separate territories. They can have those lands in the north, no one else should want them anyway!”  He laughed at that, then grew serious again. “This Rollo that I know of, he is a loner and seeking his own gain, fortune and reputation. He is not much attached to that family in the north or where ever… so there may have been some bad blood or feud along the way? He fights now for who ever serves him best. He has fought in some battles here, some in the north, and even some in Ireland.  Now he raids in Francia with Danes, Siegfried and his partner Godfried.”  Guthrum laughed and voiced a final thought, “I have heard that this Rollo is a man of such appearance that women are much attracted to him even when they should be fearful of his kind.  I think you have heard stories of him from other women and now ask about him because even you are curious and desire to see him. You must remain curious because I will not send you on to Francia and I do not think he plans to return to this land!” Guthrum paused before adding, “Besides I have heard that he has found a Frankish woman  that suits him well…” 

Rollo victorious

rollo to gisla don't be afraid... Gisla I can't wait for the games to begin

I just smiled and nodded my agreement. I assured him that was my only intent, womanly curiosity had gotten the best of me and I would be content to remain curious… He was not so gullible, did not fall for my agreement quite so easily. Before departing my company that night, his words were a sterner reminder. “You will remain in this land and there will be no trips across the sea!”

 

After his leaving, I am left alone again in the peaceful quiet of this room. Guthrum has gone to spend the evening with his warriors… the hall will be much noisy and boisterous with ale flowing. He has made his supposed commitment to the Christian God as per Alfred’s request and I do think that he has some belief but only as far as to count this God among the many others as so many others do the same. He puts on good display of this religion when need be but he allows his men the freedom of their own beliefs and he is far from the pious zealot that Alfred is. Guthrum’s court is far more friendly and merry to the point of raucous and rowdy. The few wives and women of this place generally retire to their rooms and allow the men their enjoyment. Guthrum believes that this time serves his men well. They gather together like this in some solidarity, celebrate their survival, release their pent up energies and frustrations.  Guthrum says that they need this time together and it makes for better warriors. He also says that in this way, they are all together in one place and he can watch them easier to see what is going on… once they have drunk some ale, he often sees who may be likely to cause trouble, which men do not get on with each other, who might be plotting betrayal and which men are truest and loyal to himself and to the Danes in general. 

I spend the rest of the evening thinking over what little information he has provided. It certainly is not much and I can see little value in it. Most of it, I already knew of and I can not see how it will help me.  His description of Rollo is vague and he professes not to know much about him or his history but for some reason I feel as though he is keeping something from me. What he does know though seems quite similar to my Rollo… some sort of troubled childhood and early family problems which have caused him to seek his own destiny separate from his family and hold few if any close family ties. He has been in this land before, involved in some battles and possibly made some other connections or acquaintances along the way but as Guthrum says, he is unlikely to return here and has chosen to seek his fortunes in Francia.  I remember Guthrum’s mention of those other men that Rollo has joined… Siegfried? Could that be the same Siegfried who was with us in Paris? My mind goes back to that battle and I must calm my nerves as the visions of that horror wash over me and leave me much shaken. I suddenly recall reading of Siegfried and this partner of his, Godfried! I dig through my chest to find my worn leather bag filled with scraps of  parchment, and anything else capable of being scratched and scribbled upon over the years. These writings are quickly strewn across my room as I search for one that contains the story of Siegfried and Godfried… finally I find it within a document about the Frankish city of Trier.

 

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/from-treveri-to-trier-from-celts-to-vikings/

vikings in trier1

I stare at the words on this parchment… this was the siege of Paris in which Rollo and Sigfried were involved. The one that eventually led to Rollo’s destiny of Normandy, the one that we were all at together. This is the time and place that I must somehow get to. It is only 879 right now so I suppose that I have two options. I could remain here with Guthrum in East Anglia for a few more years and try then to sail to Francia in the spring of 886, but that would really not work because I would arrive there at the right time but this would be a different version of the event and a different Rollo who would not know me at all. No, I must still try to find a way to travel to this other parallel and altered world in order to find the correct Rollo. I must either find some spot here in East Anglia to attempt the trip from or convince Guthrum to allow me to sail to Francia and find a spot there to attempt the trip forward in time and place. I do suppose that much of this will depend on what events will be taking place here in that future- how safe would it be for me to travel forward to that year and land in this place as it will be altered according to what ever is taking place in that other world? Along those same lines, I must try to think of what will be happening in Francia during that time and where would I even find a site in that region that might suit my needs? These are the very serious dilemmas that time travelers must concern themselves with! To further complicate the time travel issues, I must also contend with this matter of alternate realities and worlds.

I think on this problem for some time as I attempt to enjoy what time I have here with Guthrum. I know not if or when I might see him again and I do like him. He speaks little of his past and there are times when he reminds me of Rollo or who Rollo may become in the future.  It seems to me that Guthrum has done much like Rollo in putting distance between his past and even other Danes here now to achieve his own goals and his own fame or reputation. I know that he was and is a well respected warrior leader of these Danes but with this Kingdom of East Anglia, he has carved out his own place, is working to have peace here and is working towards some longer lasting goal for this Kingdom. He does not speak of the earliest years of this war or how he became leader of the Danish war chieftans, nor does he speak of how they managed to gain such foothold in East Anglia to begin with… His words are that it was war, a war in which difficult decisions must be made in order to win. His reason seems to be, first you must win enough to have equal balance or hopefully upper hand, then you can make concessions and negotiate for that which you truly desire. What ever his reasons or theories, they seem to have worked for him. I would like to tell him or warn him of the future- one that will not bode well for East Anglia.

I should like to warn him that this trouble and demise will come not from his own doing, but that of his somewhat less than capable young heir. I know next to nothing about this young man named Eohric but sometimes called Guthrum. This young man’s existence is somewhat similar to that of Ecbert and his son Aethelwulf…  Guthrum never speaks of a wife but does call this young man son at times… at others, he curses the boy wildly and refers to him as a waste of seed. He has on occasion commented that this Eohric is about as capable and trustworthy as that English by-blow Aethelwold. I hate to be bearer of such news that in the future, Eohric will indeed team up with Aethelwold and that will be the downfall of everything Guthrum has worked for.

Guthrum and Aethewold

Guthrum and Aethewold

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guthrum_II

 As I said, I should dearly like to warn him but I do not want to be considered as a seer… Guthrum has little time for that sort of nonsense and Ubba’s reliance upon seers is still fresh in his memory.

Ubba's sorcerer, Storri

Ubba’s sorcerer, Storri

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

No, tis bad enough that he thinks me a bit addled, it would not do for him to view me as a sorceress or seer! I would like to remain on his good side, in his good graces. All I do for now is try to suggest that he keep a firm eye and hand upon Eohric and try to steer him the right way. I think Guthrum knows the youth is much of a lost cause and disappointment but can not bring himself to completely set him aside… besides, there is no other heir at this point and Guthrum does not seem keen on naming anyone else who might prove as useless as Eohric. It is Guthrum’s problem and I can not concern myself with it- my problems are many enough as it is without trying to sort out all of his as well! 

For the time being, I content myself with traveling throughout East Anglia with Guthrum, learning more about this Kingdom, it’s people and it’s history. I keep hoping to find a site which might call to me and be a means of travel to that other time and place.  

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

All of those months of searching and wondering about some connection. Imagine my surprise and my relief  to find that the connection is indeed  with Guthrum himself! He seldom spoke of his past, his connection to the sons of Ragnar… it seemed to be a rather touchy subject with him that would oft put him in a foul mood so I did try to make no further mention of them. One night however, he was in a somber mood.  I asked what bothered him and he mentioned only that he thought of his home, his youth and the Mother he so vaguely but fondly remembered. I did not want to pry or cause him to react in a bitter way as he had in past recollections of his earlier years so I chose simply to sit next to him and softly add  thoughts of missing my own family at times. He spoke so quietly as if to only himself, it was difficult to hear his words as he murmured a name from my distant past with those of Kattegatt.  I heard him say that familiar name of Torvi…

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

never mind... torvi's mind is working over time

it is easy all you have to do is turn point and pull the trigger

Torvi has inherited Erlandeur's crossbow

 

Perhaps though, it was a much common name so I did not seek to question it.  He sat there for some length of time staring out our small window at the stars before he continued his wandering thoughts of a long gone childhood, “They are all gone now, all those who were a part of my life but I remember them. I remember all of it even when I try to forget.” He closed his eyes for a moment as if to see them, to hear them again. “I think of her often, as do I think of the other one, Lagertha who gave me wise counsel as a young child.”  I tried to hide my surprise at the mention of Lagertha but there was no need for he was lost in his own world of memories. “I took much heed of her words so long ago, she advised me to keep my friends close for some of them would die all too soon and the others would betray me. That counsel has kept me alive to this day.” 

Lagertha tells Guthrum she must leave

Lagertha tells Guthrum she must leave but that he must remember to keep his friends close for some of them will die and others will betray him.

Guthrum's destiny

Guthrum’s destiny

Lagertha assures Torvi that her son is well and she has no doubts the Gods have great plans for him

Lagertha assures Torvi that her son is well and she has no doubts the Gods have great plans for him

 

I had not words in response to his remark but rose to stand behind him, place my hands upon his shoulders and stare out at the night sky with him. I attempted to offer some small measure of solace and assurance to his thoughts as I whispered, “I will not betray you or your heart, Guthrum.”  There was an odd comfort in our silence together as we each watched the stars that night thinking of the past and of the future. 

My thoughts turned to my own memories and my reasons for this journey… It had begun so long ago as a gift with ulterior purpose. I had received my wish to travel back in time, to experience this time period on condition that I document the events, not interfere and discover the mysteries surrounding all of these people. I had been forewarned and cautioned not to form attachments to any one person or side but to be unbiased in my observations.  I felt now as though I may have failed in that objective. To live this long in this time and not form personal attachments or take a side in events was nearly impossible. I also felt that one portion of my objective was complete as far as I could tell in both of these worlds that seemed to be converging on each other. Rollo was now where he should be, on his path to shaping history as we know it. Perhaps there was no need for me to make that dangerous time travel journey once more? Perhaps I could just remain here now with Guthrum for what would remain of his life.  I knew that as far as history would record, Guthrum would remain here in East Anglia and continue his peace with Alfred. He would not return to his homeland and his life would be centered on this Kingdom that he had won. That thought brought me some measure of peace and I was content now to remain here with him in this history.  Perhaps over time, he would share those events of his youth and I would then learn of what happened to all of those others. 

My only nagging concern was that of these two different worlds coming together, merging together… there was little I could do about that but I did wonder if it had been destined to happen from the beginning or if it was the result of our time travel? All that I could really do now was try to decipher some of the events that would lead up to this convergence. I did not want to go back again to that earlier time again and I did not want to go home to the future yet. No, I would remain here where I was for now and make some effort to find out about those differences in history by the only means available to me now, listening to the stories that these people around me would tell of the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Aberdeen’s history: Start at the Tolbooth!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we did not originally plan to spend much time in Aberdeen and did not really know much about the city or it’s history.  Our  intent was just to fly into Aberdeen and then quickly head out towards Inverness.  Naturally, most people want to see Inverness or Edinburgh but really, how often do people list Aberdeen on their list of places of must visits for history or anything else?  I will be the first to admit that we were initially quite disappointed when we had to alter our plans and eliminate Inverness from our tour. Our first depressing and foreboding thought was one of, “Well this is just great, now we’re stuck in Aberdeen for three days. What are we going to do with three days in Aberdeen?”  At the time, we really had no other choice but to rather petulantly and grudgingly accept our fate and try to make the best of it.  At the end of three days however, we were complaining because we did not have enough time to see everything.  My personal thought as I left was of how and when I could make another visit!

Aberdeen city of history

The disaster that led to our longer stay in Aberdeen was actually one of  fate or the powers above intervening on our behalf. It provided us an opportunity to explore, discover and appreciate a city that in my personal opinion does not get nearly enough credit for it’s historical importance or it’s present day contributions. What I want to do is share some of what we discovered and maybe change your mind about Aberdeen.  Hopefully by the time I’ve finished, you will be interested and inspired to look at this city not just as a stopping or transfer point on your way to those other places, but as a destination in itself.

First, let’s look at why we even decided on Aberdeen as our starting point for our trip rather than one of the other flight options. Our original plan was to do a driving tour. We knew we wanted to visit Inverness as well as Edinburgh so when we looked at the map, we saw that Aberdeen would be a good option. It is located on the coast a few hours north of Edinburgh and also only a few hours from Inverness. The drive from Aberdeen to Inverness would take you along the Castle trail. The Aberdeenshire area of Scotland is most famous for the number of Castles located there (My main reason for wanting to back)! 

This is a map showing various sites of interest close to the Aberdeen area. Yes, there are even Standing Stones nearby- I will be doing more research on them!

castles near Aberdeen

This map shows Aberdeen in relation to Inverness and Edinburgh. I do want to add here that because of the way our plans were altered, we were unable to fit Inverness into our schedule.  It is very easily doable to take the train from Aberdeen to Inverness, then train from Inverness to Edinburgh. When I checked the train time, it states about a 2 1/2 hour trip from Aberdeen to Inverness. That is not the purpose or focus here though so I am not going to go further into it here other than to say that our experiences with the train and bus systems were great. I will definitely go that option in any future trips!

map showing Aberdeen

Now you understand our main reason for choosing Aberdeen as starting point and why we were looking at it as just a quick stop over. Fortunately, we were inadvertently rewarded with that unexpected longer stay to get to know Aberdeen better!

What we found in Aberdeen was a fascinating history that stretches back at least 8000 years. Besides that history, we discovered a city that is friendly and welcoming but  not a kitschy, over done or over crowded tourist magnet.  There is a wealth of history to be explored here but that is not it’s truest wealth, asset or value.

1969 considerable deposits of crude oil were discovered in the North Sea. Since then, North Sea Oil has come to eclipse Aberdeen’s traditional industries, employing an estimated half a million people living in and around the city. Aberdeen’s port has been improved and developed to serve the off shore oil rigs with the result that most of the fishing fleets have been moved along the shore to Peterhead. Economically this so called “European Oil Capital” has left other Scottish cities behind – indeed, by some accounts it is the wealthiest area in the UK outside the southeast of England.

Aberdeen is a Scottish success story. Any visitor to the city will be impressed by the lively bustle of its streets and the ceaseless activity in the port. The impact of the petroleum industry is undeniable, but in some senses it should not be seen as a development which entirely breaks with the past: Aberdeen has always been a successful port city and has always had an internationally minded economy. Today this  University City is home to around a quarter of a million people and provides cultural diversions for all ages. For the visitor its grand granite buildings, which shimmer like polished silver, its distinctive neighborhoods, its harbour and sandy beach, provide other, more natural, attractions.

Throughout our stay, we observed that the city seems to be undergoing  massive renovation and construction in just about every area from the outskirts of the airport to the city center and all points surrounding it. Do not let that deter or sway you from visiting the area! Our taxi driver pointed out that this work is all much needed and deserved by the city that has contributed so much financially to the UK and it’s about time they got something back! He took all of the construction in stride and gave us a pleasant and much amusing trip from the airport to our hotel near the city center.  I have to say that everyone we encountered during our stay was friendly and helpful with suggestions and commentary about their city.  One other added bonus- everything was less expensive than in Edinburgh! 

As I’ve pointed out, we didn’t know much about the city so one of our first stops was the Tourist information center located near the city center. They went out of their way to help us with everything from free maps to writing notes and directions on the map for us, to giving advice and directions on using the bus system along with which bus to take to different areas. They also offer a variety of day tours to activities and sites outside the city making it very easy to many of those sites if you’re not driving.  One added suggestion on the bus system that they pointed out- besides the city buses, there are buses going to many of the outlying villages and sites you might want to visit. We did not have extra time for those options but the staff will happily fill you in on how to get to certain sites- such as which bus to take, where you can catch the bus and what times they run.  Because we knew so little about the city or it’s history, they suggested we start with a quick tour of the Tolbooth museum which happens to be right across the street from them. I did mention that there is a great deal of renovation and construction going on throughout the city- the Tolbooth block/building is no exception but do not let that deter you from your visit!

Tollbooth tower renovations

Tolbooth block and buildings undergoing renovations

tollbooth and townhouse plaque

plaque on building next door to Tolbooth

Tolbooth Museum

The Tolbooth Museum is one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings and one of the best-preserved 17th century gaols in Scotland. It features displays on local history and the development of crime and punishment through the centuries. It  provides a unique experience in the form of its atmospheric 17th and 18th century cells, original doors and barred windows. Displays include the Maiden and the blade of Aberdeen’s 17th century guillotine as well as some animated cell inhabitants. Regarding the animations-they were not scary. This is not a spooky type tour. I have heard a few people comment that they were a bit disappointed or let down as they were led to believe it would be more of a ghost, haunting or scarier type experience with more visual effects. If that is what you are looking for, this does not fit that category. It was a bit eerie and haunting but in a realistic way of getting a feeling of what it was like to be incarcerated here back then. 

banner-ackobites-cell

tolbooth museum

 

While the supposed main focus or purpose of the museum is it’s history as gaol or jail, it does provide an excellent introduction to the history of Aberdeen. It is a free tour and probably takes less than hour to do…  we spent a bit longer in there because we had an excellent tour guide who was very informative and gave much additional insight to the overall history. The first half of the tour is about the history of Aberdeen with displays and dioramas of the earliest beginnings of the area that originally consisted of two separate villages. Once our guide realized we were very much interested in the history, he probably went into more depth on it than usual. He seemed rather excited to share the added history with us and we enjoyed all of it! During the first portion of the tour, we learned about some of the early  events and people that had connections to Aberdeen. These important connections go back as far as the Picts and much of the history can be found around Aberdeen yet today.  The legend of Saint Machar tells that Machar was  a companion of St Columba on his journey to Iona.  God (or St Columba) told Machar to establish a church where a river bends into the shape of a bishop’s crosier before flowing into the sea. The River Don bends in this way just below where the Cathedral now stands. According to legend, St Machar founded a site of worship in Old Aberdeen in about 580. He ministered to the Picts around Aberdeen. For this reason he was described anachronistically as the first Bishop of the see of Aberdeen.  The church was also the site for another legend surrounding William Wallace. After the execution of William Wallace in 1305, his body was cut up and sent to different corners of the country to warn other dissenters. His left quarter ended up in Aberdeen and is buried in the walls of the cathedral. 

 

Robert the Bruce also had a connection to Aberdeen. In 1136, David I began the development of New Aberdeen north of the River Dee, and the earliest charter was granted by King William the Lion about 1179, confirming the corporate rights granted by David I, which gave trade privileges to the burgesses. This charter is the oldest surviving charter. The city received other royal charters later. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property owning and financially independent community. Bruce had a high regard for the citizens of Aberdeen who had sheltered him in his days of outlawry, helped him win the Battle of Barra and slew the English garrison at Aberdeen Castle. He granted Aberdeen with the nearby Forest of Stocket. The income from this land has formed the basis for the city’s Common Good Fund, which is used to this day for the benefit of all Aberdonians.

Aberdeen is also home to King’s College, one of the oldest universities in the British Isles.  In 1495, William Elphinstone, the relatively newly appointedBishop of Aberdeen, petitioned Pope Alexander VI on behalf of King James IV to create the facility to cure the ignorance he had witnessed within his parish and in the north generally. A papal bull was issued in February 1495 (1491 in the calendar of the day) founding the university; a royal charter later that year recognised Aberdeen’s status as equal to that of Scotland’s two existing universities at Glasgow and St Andrews. As a former professor at the University of Paris, Elphinstone modelled the university very much on the continental European tradition. Hector Boece, a fellow professor at Paris, was awarded the status of first principal of the new institution. It would not be until 1509, with the issuance of a charter by Elphinstone, that university life at King’s truly began. Construction of the chapel began in 1498; it was consecrated in 1509 and dedicated to St Mary. By 1514, the university had some forty-two members in the form of both staff and students.

Once you finish your tour of the Tolbooth, you can easily find monuments to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce on a walk around the city. You can take a city bus to Old Aberdeen to tour St. Machar’s Cathedral and King’s College. You can also easily take a bus to another site, the Gordon Highlanders Regimental museum which I will talk about later. 

William Wallace monument in Aberdeen

William Wallace monument in Aberdeen

William Wallace monument inscription 1

William Wallace monument inscription 1

William Wallace inscription 2

William Wallace inscription 2

Robert the Bruce monument in front of Marichal College building in Aberdeen

Robert the Bruce monument in front of Marichal College building in Aberdeen

Marichal College building in Aberdeen, now used as offices

Marichal College building in Aberdeen, now used as offices

St Machar's Cathedral in Old Aberdeen

St Machar’s Cathedral in Old Aberdeen

King's College entrance in Old Aberdeen

King’s College entrance in Old Aberdeen

gordon highlander museum2 gordon highlanders museum

 

The only thing you won’t be able to find is Aberdeen Castle! The Castle was situated on Castle Hill, a site today known as the Castlegate, near the City center.  

Castlegate area today

Castlegate area today

Mercat cross at city center

Mercat Cross at Castlegate area near Tolbooth Musuem in Aberdeen

You will see the unicorn throughout Aberdeen and other places in Scotland as it is Scotland’s national animal! You will also find mercat crosses in various cities of Scotland. A mercat cross is the Scots name for the market cross found frequently in Scottish cities, towns and villages where historically the right to hold a regular market or fairwas granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron. It therefore served a secular purpose as a symbol of authority, and was an indication of a burgh‘s relative prosperity. Historically, the term dates from the period before 1707 when Scotland was an independent kingdom, but it has been applied loosely to later structures built in the traditional architectural style of crosses or structures fulfilling the function of marking a settlement’s focal point. Historical documents often refer simply to “the cross” of whichever town or village is mentioned. Today, there are around 126 known examples of extant crosses in Scotland,  though the number rises if later imitations are added.

Aberdeen’s mercat cross history would go back to that earlier history when it received  Royal Burgh status from David I of Scotland (1124–53). 

The cross was the place around which market stalls would be arranged, and where ‘merchants’ (Scots for shopkeepers as well as wholesale traders) would gather to discuss business. It was also the spot where state and civic proclamations would be publicly read by the “bellman” (town crier). The cross was also the communal focal point of public events such as civic ceremonials, official rejoicings, and public shamings and punishments, including executions. Some crosses still incorporate the iron staples to which jougs and branks were once attached. This would be the reason for it’s close proximity to the Tolbooth, which would often hold public executions right outside their door.

Despite the name, the typical mercat cross is not usually cruciform, or at least has not been since the iconoclasm of the Scottish Reformation. The cross atop the shaft may have been replaced with a small statue, such as a royal unicorn or lion, symbols of the Scottish monarchy, or a carved stone displaying the arms of the royal burgh, or, in the cases of ecclesiastical burghs or burghs of barony, the bishop’s or feudal superior‘s coat-of-arms. Thus the reason for the Unicorn at top of Aberdeen’s mercat cross.

Five crosses: at Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth, Aberdeen and Preston (modern Prestonpans) were supported by a drum-shaped understructure, known as a cross-house, with a platform reached by internal steps or ladder. In the case of Aberdeen‘s late 17th-century cross the platform is supported by a series of open semi-circular arcades. 

 

close up of unicorn at top of mercat cross

Close up of unicorn at top of mercat cross

 

views of city center city center view of black friars pub

The castle was surrendered to the English in 1295 and on 14 April 1296, the English King, Edward I arrived in Aberdeen and stayed in the castle as part of his tour of the east coast of Scotland having defeated the Scots.  However the next year, after defeating the English at Dunnottar Castle in 1297, William Wallace marched his men to Aberdeen during their campaign to retake the east-coast for the Scots.

They found the English hastily preparing to leave in an armada of one hundred ships. The speed of Wallace’s arrival from Dunottar caught the English unawares and at low tide the stranded ships were attacked in the harbour, the crew and soldiers slaughtered, the cargo taken and the ships burnt. The English Sheriff of Aberdeen, Sir Henry de Lazom had been left in charge of the Castle, but during the chaos of the attack he defected, declaring it in the name of the Scottish King, John de Balliol.  This account of William Wallace’s actions and victory in Aberdeen would certainly explain or justify why the English may have sent a portion of his executed body back to Aberdeen! 

It is thought the castle and fortifications were burned down  by King Robert the Bruce in June 1308, during the Wars of Scottish Independence immediately following the Harrying of Buchan. Bruce and his men laid siege to the castle before massacring the English Garrison to prevent its use by the English troops of Edward II. It is said the Scots showed no mercy but “slew every man who fell into their hands. Edward I, indeed, had already set the example of executing his prisoners, and it was not to be expected that the other side would fail to follow the same course”. On 10 July 1308, English ships left Hartlepool to help the English garrison.  However, by August 1308, Gilbert Pecche and the last troops had all been forced out of the city. Following the destruction of Aberdeen Castle, Bruce marched his men to capture Forfar Castle.  Legend tells that the city’s motto, Bon Accord came from the password used to initiate Bruce’s final push and destruction of the castle.  Bon Accord translates to Good Agreement. 

In the first part of the Tolbooth’s history tour, you will find a diorama display of the earliest days of Aberdeen.  At that early time, it was still two separate villages and there were three hills. The city began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen at the mouth of the river Don; and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement, where the Denburn waterway entered the river Dee estuary.  The city was burned by Edward III of England in 1336, but was rebuilt and extended, and called New Aberdeen. The city was strongly fortified to prevent attacks by neighbouring lords, but the gates were removed by 1770. 

Aberdeen was in Pictish territory and became Gaelic-speaking at some time in the medieval period. Old Aberdeen is the approximate location of Aberdon, the first settlement of Aberdeen; this literally means “the mouth of the Don”. The Celtic wordaber means “river mouth”, as in modern Welsh (Aberystwyth, Aberdare, Aberbeeg etc.). The Gaelic name is Obar Dheathain (variation: Obairreadhain) (obar presumably being a loan from the earlier Pictish; the Gaelic term is “inbhir”), and in Latin, the Romans referred to the river as Devana. Mediaeval (or ecclesiastical) Latin has it as Aberdonia. You can see a remnant of the Pictish history on a tour of St Machar’s Cathedral.

Pictish carving at Machar's Cathedral

Pictish carving at Machar’s Cathedral

pictish cross stone information at Machar's Cathedral

pictish cross stone information at Machar’s Cathedral

Over the centuries, the rivers were diverted at various times and two of the three original hills disappeared. Aberdeen Castle sat on Castle hill (Castlegate). This is the only remaining hill. The other two hills were Port hill where the early City Gate was, and St. Catherine’s hill which has been completely leveled. Those three hills are represented on the city’s shield of arms and on the city’s banner flag by three towers.  

coat of arms for Aberdeen

coat of arms for Aberdeen

City Banner flag of Aberdeen

City Banner flag of Aberdeen

 

tolbooth2

 

The second half of the Tolbooth tour went further up the stairs to the cells with history of the jail and it’s various inhabitants from some early witches, a pirate, a lot of debtors, and some Jacobites after the rebellion of 1745. As he talked about the Jacobites, our guide gave us some insight from the standpoint and perspective of ones who were not Jacobites but suffered consequences and affects of the various rebellions. His comments and thoughts gave me pause for thought and inspired me to learn more about all of the sides, the reasons and complexities of so many events taking place over the years,  which combined and culminated in the last Jacobite rebellion.  Most of the tour history on the cells and inhabitants dealt with the period of that last rebellion and later. If you look at Aberdeen’s earlier history and the date the prison was built, it most likely played a part in the rebellions and civil wars during the 1600s. 

The Tolbooth was built between 1616 and 1629 by Thomas Watson, a master mason from Old Rayne. The Wardhouse of the Tolbooth was the prison for both the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire until the 19th century.

Over the centuries The Tolbooth has witnessed, and often played a part in, some of the key events in Aberdeen’s and Scotland’s history. During the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, when the Duke of Cumberland stayed in Aberdeen in order to put down the rebellion here before leaving for Culloden, he posted troops on the steeple of The Tolbooth to watch out for rebels and very visibly display the reasserting of royal authority. After the rebels had been defeated at Culloden hundreds of rebel prisoners were brought back to The Tolbooth where they were interrogated. In the mid-18th century The Tolbooth was one of the many places associated with one of the darkest episodes of Aberdeen’s history. A number of Aberdeen’s merchants and magistrates organised the kidnapping of hundreds of children from both the town and countryside. These children were then stored in various places, including The Tolbooth, before being transported to the Americas and sold as indentured servants.

Regarding the Tolbooth’s involvement in that darker part of Aberdeen history- the child slavery mentioned above, the Tolbooth museum was more recently involved in opening the curtains of that shrouded more secret history. On 11-06-07 the city of Aberdeen pulled back the curtain on a dark part of the cities history. At the Tolbooth Museum “Open to the Public” they had re-enactments of a very dark part of Aberdeen’s past history and helped to tell the stories of those children.  You can read the story of one of those abducted children here:

The Tale of Peter Williamson   http://unknownscottishhistory.com/articleseventeen.php

The Tolbooth stopped being used as a prison in the 19th century and was replaced by Aberdeen’s first ‘modern’ prison, the Bridewell, built on what we now call Rose Street. The Tolbooth remained in use during the time the Bridewell was opened and after, when the Bridewell was replaced by the East Prison on Lodge Walk, as a holding prison. The Tolbooth survived when the new Townhouse was laid out. The front of The Tolbooth was encased in granite, but the rear of the building still shows its original sandstone with its 17th century battlements. 

For anyone interested in history, this museum is an excellent introduction to the history of Aberdeen. It was my first stop on the way to learning about Aberdeen’s long, turbulent past and how it fit in with the rest of the many events that shaped and forged what Scotland has become today.  My only caution to those visiting the museum- it is not suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties as the only way to reach the museum is by way of very narrow medieval type spiral type steps up to the different levels. Because of the building, there is no way to provide any assistance or other option to reach the upper levels- my meaning in this- there is no way for them to say install a lift or elevator.  It is also probably not suitable or appropriate for young children who would not really understand much of the history presented. 

You can plan your visit to the Tolbooth for early in the morning and then head out to all of the other sites of interest within the city. After our visit to the Tolbooth, we went to the Maritime museum which was fairly short walk from city center. This museum gives you a great history of Aberdeen’s long connection to the sea as a port city from it’s earliest beginnings to it’s present day importance in the oil industry. There are a number of hands on activities for children and it also currently has a toy history exhibit which everyone will find interesting and fun!

Aberdeen maritime museum early diving suit at maritime museum robot diver at maritime museum

After the Maritime museum, we went back up to city center and embarked on a self guided walking tour of the city. The maps provided by the tourism office were excellent and we found it easy to find our way around the city. We stopped at St Nicholas Kirk which is easy to spot due the Arches. It is close to city center and you really can’t miss it!

St Nicholas Arch

St Nicholas Arch

St Nicholas kirkyard information

St Nicholas kirkyard information

walkway to St Nicholas Kirk

walkway to St Nicholas Kirk

graves and tombstone in St Nicholas kirkyard

graves and tombstone in St Nicholas kirkyard

St Nicholas Kirk

St Nicholas Kirk

We continued our walking tour and eventually found the William Wallace monument. It was a long walk but we had a beautiful day for it and the city was full of sites and scenery to view.

views of the city

Later in the afternoon, we returned to city center and headed out in the opposite direction with a trek down to the harbor, the old fishing village neighborhood of Footdee or Fittie. The guidebooks and tourist info are a little misleading about this area… it is not a living history village but is an actual residential neighborhood with it’s buildings still being those old stone cottages from the days of the original fishing village. It was a nice walk down to the harbor and beach though. You can walk along the seawall walk behind the cottages towards the beach area. 

footdee seawall walk footdee-fittie

north sea coast3 North sea coast at Aberdeen north sea 2

On our walk back up from the beach we found a great little pub called Fittiebar. You won’t find this pub/bar on the tour guides. It is not one of those trendy touristy type places, it is in the working neighborhood of the docks. There is nothing fancy about it. It is a casual comfortable working class place to grab a pint, a plate, relax and probably enjoy the company of regulars and friends. The menu is on the board listing the specials for the day, though the Bartender/server did laugh and mention that one of these days they get posh and order some real menus… My personal advice- don’t change a thing! Possibly the best part of the experience was seeing her mix up the batter for our fish with an addition of beer from the tap! 

fittie bar2

Fittiebar in Aberdeen

IMG_7531 fittie bar menu

That was our first day in Aberdeen! In my next post, I will share more of our stay in Aberdeen along with more of it’s history. This awesome Granite city so full of  interesting history that I am intrigued and fascinated with all of it! As I mentioned in the beginning, everyone is so interested in the other cities and places such as the Highlands and Edinburgh that Aberdeen and the area around it does not get the attention it deserves!  I look forward to returning and exploring more of it.