Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reverend Thomas Hooker

Dear Grandfather Hooker,

Today, May 31st we are marking the anniversary of your delivery of your most well remembered sermon at Hartford, Connecticut in 1638. Those of us who are students of the origins of the United States of America, consider it to be among those sentiments that led to our Declaration of Independence. Your declaration that "the foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people" was passed on by Henry Wolcott, Jr. who was in attendance at church that day and made handwritten notes of your revolutionary statement.

In the 21st century, most have forgotten that in your time, the world was dominated by Kings and Emperors and that normal, everyday people had little, if any say, in their government. Your sermon is credited with providing some of the impetus for Connecticut citizens to ratify, in January 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first known written constitution to form a basis of government. According to the Office of the State Historian (Connecticut) historian John Fiske wrote 150 years later that the Fundamental Orders "mark the beginnings of American Decomcracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father."

So who were you? Some records are lost to history. You were born in Leicestershire, either at Marfield or Birstall on July 5, 1586.

You recieved your first formal education at Dixie Grammar School, a free school in Market Bosworth. Following that you matriculated at Queen's College, Cambridge University in 1608 and then transferred to Emanuel College where you received your BA in 1608 and your MA in 1611. You later studied Divinity there.

Front Court Emanuel College, Cambridge
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
In 1620, you were preaching at St. George's Church, Esher, Surrey and it was there you earned your reputation as an excellent speaker and were noted for good pastoral care of your parishners.

St. George's Church, Esher where Rev. Thomas Hooker preached circa 1620.
Church was not remodeled during the Victorian era and appears much as it was in Hooker's day.
from Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps it was the reputation you gained in Esher, that led to you being hired as a lecturer and preacher for St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford under John Michaelson. Archbishop William Laud decided to suppress church lecturers in 1629, and you left to run a school at Little Baddow, just to the east of Chelmsford. We don't know exactly when they were able to identify you as a leader for the Puritan sympathizers but we do know that your were summoned to the Court of High Commission and later forfeited your bond and fled to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. These difficulties led you to seek a new start in Massachusetts. Some reports say that your congregation from Chelmsford preceded your journey to Massachusetts and wrote to you in Holland inviting you to come and once again serve as their leader.

The Governor of Massachusett, John Winthrop, recorded the arrival of Griffin in his diary writing,
 “The Griffin, a ship of three hundred tons, arrived (having been eight weeks from the Downs). This ship was brought in by John Gallop a new way by Lovell’s island, at low water, now called “Griffin’s Gap”. She brought about two hundred passengers, having lost some four, whereof one drowned two days before, as he was casting forth a line to take mackerel. In this ship came Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, ministers, and Mr. Pierce, Mr. Haynes (a gentleman of great estate), Mr. Hoffe, and many other men of good estates. They got out of England with much difficulty, all places being belaid to have taken Mr. Cotton and Mr. Hooker, who had been long sought for to have been brought into the high commission; but the master being bound to touch at the Wight, the pursuivants attended there, and, in the meantime, the said ministers were take in at the Downs. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone went presently to Newtown, where they were to be entertained, and Mr. Cotton stayed at Boston." 
Hosmer, James Kendall ed. (1908). Winthrop's Journal, "History of New England," 1630-1649. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.

Drawing of Griffin from GENI
Among the passengers were your wife Susanna and children John, Samuel, Sarah, Joanna and Mary.
(For family members, another of my 11th great grandfathers, John Gallop, was also aboard Griffin.

It must have been wonderful for you and your family to be reunited with your friends from Chelmsford who had settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Once you were pastor of your old congreation, you are quoted as saying, "Now I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."

Plaque honroing Thomas Hooker's Ministry at First Church of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA
I suppose for non-comformists such as yourself and your congregation, the appeal of new land in Connecticut where you could worship exactly as you choose was overwhelming. In 1636, all of you removed to the banks of the Connecticut River where you were among the founders of Hartford.

Today, we are largely kept at home by a viral pandemic. Our understanding is that your death on July 7, 1647 was caused by a prevalent epidemic. Some times have not changed. Your death was considered a great public loss. Gov. Withrop wrote, "That which made the stroke more sensible and grievous, both to them and to all the country, was the death of that faithful servant of the Lord, Mr. Thomas Hooker, pastor of the church of Hartford; who for piety, prudence, wisdom, zeal, learning, and what else might make him serviceable in the place and time he lived in, might be compared with men of the greatest note." (Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889, Vol III, p 251) That is high praise indeed. It is believed that you are buried in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground and there is a plaque to your memory on the wall in the current building of the chuch you founded. You are not forgotten.

Hartford, Connecticut from

Your 11th great granddaughter

For family members, here is our descent from Thomas Hooker

Rev. Thomas Hooker married Susanna Garbrand
Mary Hooker married Rev.  Roger Newton
Capt. Samuel Newton married Martha Fenn
Susanna Newton married Joseph Plumb
Susanna Plumb married Nathan Nettleton
Anne Nettleton married Samuel Woodruff
Andrew Woodruff married Miranda Orton
Olive Woodruff married Stephen Sanford
Caroline Beckworth Stanford married Reuben Newton
Charles Shepard Newton married Mary Elizabeth Clarke
Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen, my paternal grandparents.

The two Newton lines do not seem to be related. Though both English, Rev. Roger Newton's line is from Lincolnshire and Reuben Newton's line goes back to Bures St. Mary, Suffolk.

Monday, May 25, 2020

On Memorial Day We Always Remember

Dear Grandparents,
This was first published a few  years ago but it seems proper to repost it on Memorial Day 2022.
Our family has a strong tradition of men and women who have served our country from the Revolutionary War to present day. By and large, they have survived their service to go on to have careers, families, and long lives. Today, as we commemorate another Memorial Day, I want to write about two family members who were not so lucky and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My 2nd great uncle, Theodore William Clarke, served with the First Nebraska Infantry fighting for the Union during the Civil War. He was an unlikely soldier and most of what we know about him comes from the more than forty letters he wrote home to his mother Lydia Hornell Clarke and sister Mary Elizabeth Clarke Newton. The letters have been carefully preserved and handed down through the generations.

Theodore or "Trit" as he was nicknamed by the family was an unlikely soldier. Born about 1838 in Michigan, he was working for the telegraph company laying wire across Missouri and the Nebraska Territory when the war broke out. On July 15, 1860 he writes home stating, "I am in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. We are engaged in the construction of the Pacific Telegraph running from Saint Louis to San Francisco in California... We're going along the Missouri River as far as Omaha City and then across to Fort Kearney... which is as far as we shall get before cold weather sets in." He is anxious for his little sister Molly, my 2nd great grandmother, to understand where he is and write August 5, 1860 from near Nebraska City, "It is about 60 miles from here to Omaha City and 180 from there to Ft. Kearney. By allowing about 5 miles for every working day you can look on your map and see anytime where I am."

Theodore William Clarke
from tintype in my possession

Though he is busy with work he is not undecided about who should win the Presidential Elections of 1860. Writing September 21, 1860 he states, "Why Lincoln's the man of course and if the territories and Kansas and Nebraska had a voice in the coming election Douglas would hear a noise that would make him stuff his ears with cotton and send him to visit with his mother for the next four years at least."

Trit stays with Western Union until they complete the line to Ft. Kearney and he learns to become a proficient telegraph operator feeling that he is making good money doing so. However, the situation changes when word of the secession of the southern states reaches the Nebraska Territory. He enlists as a 'fifer' or musician with the First Nebraska Infantry explaining to his mother on July 16, 1861, "I can never have it said that I, who have no one dependent on me and nothing but my life to loose, stood back in this hour of our country's peril and remained an inactive spectator."

His words turned out to be prophetic. Theodore spent more than 18 months with the First Nebraska, surviving the Battles of Ft. Donelson, and Shiloh before dying January 7, 1863 in Van Buren, Missouri. Like the majority of the Union casualties, Theodore died not of wounds but of a disease probably  something like pneumonia.
Battle of Fort Donelson fought February 14 through 16, 1862.
Picture created by Kurz & Allison 1887

I wish I could report that family members can visit Theodore's tombstone and place flowers their each memorial day in remembrance of his sacrifice. Unfortunately, his final resting place is unknown. When ever I visit Arlington National Cemetery, I like to imagine that our Trit is one of the 'unknowns' honored there.

My cousin Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. also gave his life, not in a national catastrophe but in a global conflagration. The 1940 Federal Census finds Phelps as a 16 year old, living with his family and attending high school.
His father Phelps and mother Martha Allen Long were running the family department store in Tallahassee, Florida. Little sister Shirley was in the sixth grade. An older cousin Lindsay Pappy also lived in the home.

1940 U. S. census, Leon County, Tallahassee, Ward 2, Florida, population schedule,
Page 2, penned, lines 31-36, house number 1016, Thomasville Rd., digital images ( accessed 24 May 2014);
citing National Archives microfilm roll: T627_597; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 38:3.
After High School, Phelps went off to the University of Florida in Gainesville and joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Probably no one anticipated the changes that would effect the family and nation in the next couple of years.

Phelps is fourth from the right in the bottom row of the  University of Florida
Seminole Yearbook image from

The first year following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not go well for American forces. Many young men like Phelps felt an urgency to do their part for the war effort. Phelps enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to New River, North Carolina for training.
Private Phelps W. Long, Jr.
copy of photograph in possession of his sister. Used with permission.

Phelps' unit was eventually sent to the South Pacific to take part in the battle for Bougainville, a strategic island that had been held by the Japanese since 1942. His unit, the 3rd Marine Division was given the task to take the hilly area around the Japanese field artillery. One of the most difficult positions to take was an area called "Helzappoppin Ridge". The Marines attacked there on December 12th. It wasn't until the 18th that coordinated attacks allowed the American troops to capture and control the ridge. Phelps was killed on the 16th.

His death left a huge hole in his tight knit family. My grandmother Hazel Allen Cone (his mother's sister) said that his mother never recovered from his loss. She died a mere five years later at age 47. Talking with his sister Shirley Long Collins last month is Tallahassee, she said that her father never got over Phelps death either. I could see the sadness over of the loss of her brother that remains with Shirley to this day. Phelps' parents eventually paid to have their son's remains returned to Florida for burial.

Hopefully, we will all take time among the picnics, boat rides, cookouts and other festivities to remember those whose sacrifices have secured our country and way of life.

Cecily Cone Kelly

P. S. For family members - Phelps W. Long was my paternal grandmother's nephew and my father's first cousin. Theodore Clarke is also on my paternal side, the brother of my 2nd great grandmother.

P.P.S Since this was written, I've discovered that Phelps Long received a posthumous Silver Star for his attempted rescue of another wounded Marine. His citation reads, "For conspicous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with the Third Marine Division in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Cape Torokina area Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands on December 16, 1943. He "courageously volunteered with another man to carry a stretcher out to a dangerous position in front of his lines and bring back a wounded pharmacist's mate. PFC Long made his hazardous way forward in the face of hostile fire and under extremly difficult conditions, succeeded in placing the injured man on the stretcher. Subsequently, raising himself slightly to move to the rear of the stretcher and pick it up, he was mortally wounded by Japanese sniper fire." The newspaper article also mentions that his parents also "received a letter from their son's company commander, Capt. Robert R. Lamb, USMC expressing tribute to the young Marines gallant bravery."

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Kees' father Jan Schipper's birthday.

Dear Kees,
I have a genealogical calendar that shows family events that have occured through the years on this date. Today it mentioned that it was the anniversary of your father, Jan Schipper's birthday, 7 May 1900. He was born in Texel, Noord Holland, The Netherlands. He was the first child of his parents Gerri and Marijtje (Platvoet) Schipper. Seven other children followed.
Birth Registration for Jan Schipper
Texel (pronounced Tessel) is an island off the coast of the Netherlands know for its dumes and bird life. It is well known for the Dunes of Texel National park filled with beaches, grass topped dunes and trails through the forest. It must have been a beautiful, if sparsely populated place to live.
Map of Texel just off the coast at Den Helder
One of the buildings that your father knew still exists, the Texel Lighthouse at the end of the dunes.
19th Century Texel Lighthouse VVV
You can't imagine how we are living these days with most of us under stay at home orders. Because many are having difficulty adjusting to these times, there have been several posts about what challenging lives those who were born in the early 20th century lived. They were young teenagers when World War I began. Considering the times most would have left school and begun their trades. Though Netherlands maintained its neutrality during the war, the population was not un affected. The Royal Netherlands Army was mobilized throughout the war and the Dutch provided housing for refugees, captured soldiers. The government also restricted the free movement of the Dutch people.

Of course, the War was followed by the depression and then the Second World War. Your father lived through very difficult times. I remember you telling be that you thought the deprivations he experienced during World War II had just worn out his body. He died, much too young, on 25 Jun 1951.

Today we salute his memory!