Outlandish family tales
April 20, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 20, 2010 at 11:21 p.m.
By Martha Jones
Today I offer you some outlandish tales that were published in Ancestry magazine a couple of years ago. You are going to find them amusing and some will even resemble those passed down in your own family.
We all know that no one can claim descent from George Washington because he had no children of his own. In one family, however, a tale passed down for many generations was that an ancestor had been the personal aide and confidant to Washington throughout the American Revolutionary War. The ancestor's name was Sgt. Lawrence Everhart. When a researcher requested a complete copy of his military records from the National Archives, she discovered the real story. Sgt. Everhart did serve during the American Revolution for an extended time. The pension records, however, dictated by Everhart in 1834 described all his military assignments, including the names of his superior officers during his enlistment. Repeated throughout the account was the fact he served as the personal aide to Lt. Col. William Washington, first cousin to George Washington. It did, however, mention that he met George Washington once in 1777 on the porch of the general's headquarters in New Jersey.
Another contributor offered the following tragic tale: Anthony and Bridget O'Malley, it was told, lived in France and at the outbreak of the French Revolution they fled back to Ireland, where they had a son named John. Then they came to America and settled in Pennsylvania, where they had another son named Thomas. Here they purchased land and went to Pittsburgh to sign the papers. They left the children with neighbors and during the trip were attacked and killed on an island. Imagine the researcher's surprise when she discovered the story could not possibly be true. John wasn't born until 1848, so if Bridget fled the French Revolution, which started in 1789-99, she would have been in her 80s when she finally had John. In addition, the researcher knew Anthony and Bridget were alive and well in 1870 when Bridget gave birth to her youngest child in 1869. Yes, the Irish are known for their storytelling, but the researcher suspects the truth of the story is that Anthony's grandparents were the ones who fled France. As for the people killed on an island, probably no one will know for sure, but if it is true, it probably happened to another branch of the family.
Finally, a researcher's great-great-grandfather, Martin August Schulze, was just a teenager when he and two friends began walking from their homes in Fox Valley, Wisconsin, down the Mississippi to seek their fame and fortune. Their journey took them to New Orleans just as 50 Americans were massacred by the Spanish when the Spanish American War began. This made the three young boys so angry they enlisted in a company organized against the Spanish. Each boy received a pistol, uniform, and enlistment pay and were ready to fight.
That same night, however, they went to the Jenny Lind Saloon where they spent their new enlistment wealth, got drunk, and with others proceeded to destroy the saloon, a printing office and tobacco house. The next morning they began their walk back to Wisconsin. Unbelievably, the researcher was able to confirm the story in the book, History of Outagamie County, Wisconsin, 1911.
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