Ad Free and Paid Analytics Free

I understand that by not adding advertisement and paid analytics tracking my viewers are limited by your willingness to follow me and get the word out to people who may be interested in my work. I make this choice because I don't believe advertising and tracking is as important as content and truth. If you feel the same, get the word out, start a dialog with me. I do the same with those I follow. Thank you!

Featured Post

Who's your Daddy

Yes, I read lots of non-fiction, not as much recently as I would like. Mostly early American History, but I have another (of many) interes...

Friday, July 25, 2008

John Adams

The best money I've spent in a long time went to the HBO miniseries "John Adams" with Paul Giamatti as John Adams, Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton, Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin, produced by Tom Hanks.

All I can say is "WOW". Historically accurate (finally) with the good and the bad. The difficulties and the triumphs. The acting is superb!! This production is based on the book by David McCullough, one of my favorite historical writers.

Find a way to see this, please. It is relevant then and it is very relevant to today. I purchased my copy from Costco with a $10 coupon for $24.99. Quite the bargain if you're a member. is selling it for $41.99, I believe.

If you're a history buff, this is a must buy. If you just like a good story, or like great acting rent it from Netflix, etc...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Berea College gives all colleges an example to follow

A bit of deversion from genealogy, but worthy info:

Berea College in eastern Kentucky (my home state) has a Billion dollars in endowments, much like major universities like Harvard. But, what is this small rural college doing with this money. Investing in it's students! Tuition is free and they only accept lower income students who end up being mostly black and white students from the rural hills of Appalachia (can you say coal mining). While Harvard and the like, sit on their hefty endowments and increase tuition, this same college is a shining example of what our educational system in America is supposed to be about.

Thanks, Berea!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Hero

There are many reasons why my life is blessed. My beginnings in this world were very turbulent (see early posts). Role models are very few and far between in this life, but one is blessed when one saves your life, yet never really knows it. My Dad, was my hero. Maybe that shouldn't be a big deal, but for me if was crucial. You see, he was not my father biologically. He was no relation to me by blood. He wasn't even my step father. He was my step grandfather. But, from the age of 2, he and my grandmother became my parents. I was never treated as anything other than their child. My older brother and sister (really my 1/2 aunt and uncle) were my siblings. I never questioned my relationship in this family. I was troubled by other issues with who I was, why my mother didn't want me, etc...

I adored my Dad. I wore his flannel shirts that were 10 sizes too big. I watched him shave, I imitated his strategic moves when he went to view his weather station. He gave me the responsibilty of mowing the yard, even though I was the youngest and my sister was waiting in line (sorry Cis). Even when I ran over his plants, it remained my job.

Dad didn't talk much. Mostly observed life. He was the most content individual I have ever met. He questioned organized religion, never went to Church, but read the Bible. I remember him talking about reincarnation, yet he was a strong conservative republican.

Later, when I was discovering my own liberal views we clashed greatly. He feel hard off the pedalistal I had put him on. I was ashamed of his views. In 1986 we argued when he and Mom visited me in Mississippi. At 25 I thought I knew it all and was outraged by his defense of a Church having the right to deny a Black student entrance. I slammed the door and walked out. I didn't know then that I would never ever lay eyes on him again. I didn't speak to him for years as well as my Mom for this and more important complicated reasons.

I lost my hero. I later reconciled with my Mom (grandmother). Before she died she told me that right before Dad died he said, "We never talk about Danny." I feel apart....

I knew Dad was in WW II. He never wanted to talk about it. When he died and I was visiting my Mom in Florida, she brought out a little box. In that box was my Dad's medals from WWII and some papers which included a letter home to his dad. Poppa. Poppa was in my life until he died at the age of 96 and as sharp as a tack. He was born in 1887.

My Dad had a scar on his lip where a bullet had entered during the war. Apparently the bullet was lodged within inches of his brain. The story of the War was a mystery. Here is a copy of his letter home and excerpts of his achievements.

Dad, I miss you terribly. I'm not suprised by what you did or had to do in the war. You were the most honorable man I've ever known. I try everyday to be half the man you were. I love you. Thanks for being my father and teaching me that genealogy isn't the only lineage to hand down.

May 22, 1945

Dear Dad,

From now on there is no more censoring of letters over here so we are free to write just about anything we want. You’ve probably wondered at times just where we were, so I’ll give a kind of outline of our activities.

I left the states last October 14th, from Jersey City, NJ. Coming across wasn’t too bad except for the food. We were on a British ship and they are famous for bad food. The trip took eleven days and we landed in Liverpool. Then we took a pretty long train ride to a camp in England. I’ve forgotten the name of the town we were near. I stayed there for five days and then took a train ride to South Hampton and we loaded on a Dutch boat for the trip across the Channel. We got to France on November 1, carrying packs weighing around one hundred pounds. We landed on the beach where the assault landing took place on D-Day. I’ll never forget the hill we had to climb with all that weight, and just on the top of the hill was an American cemetery of about two or three thousand graves; men killed there on June 6 and 7. If you could see that beach and the hill you’d wonder how anyone could go up it in the face of fire and live.

That night we camped out and the next day we got on some of those famous “40 and 8” French box-cars. They are built for 40 men or 8 horses and we put 30 men in them with all of our equipment, so you can see we haven’t been blessed with too much room. We traveled like that for four or five days and nights until we came to an old French cavalry post and stayed there for a couple of days.

On November 13, we were split up among the regiments of this division and I found myself assigned to Co. G-318 Inf. The other two regiments being the 317 and 319 Inf. I had a lucky break as the second battalion (it’s the one I’m in) got ten days rest as division reserve just then. We were in a town called Holacourt about seventy-five miles east of Nancy. From there we moved ten or fifteen miles and went on line. We had Thanksgiving dinner there as we were not having any fighting. It was a regular dinner, --Turkey and all the trimmings.

After a couple of days we moved into position to attack a town on the Maginot Line. It was Zimming or something like that. Only one man was hurt in the attack so it wasn’t much of a scrap. My first real battle was a small town called Henriville a few days later. It was around the second or third of Dec. After taking the town we dug in outside of the place and almost froze for five days and nights. Then we got a break and were sent back to Freming in Lorraine about four miles from Forbach which you can probably find on the map. It’s 30 or 40 miles from Saarbrucken. We were all set to spend Christmas there. We were living with a French family and really were having a nice time when the Jerries made that break through in Luxembourg and Belgium. We got in trucks and rode all night long up to Luxembourg City and took up a defensive position and waited for the fight. We had a few minor scraps and on the twenty-fourth of December our battalion was attached, for a few days, to the Fourth Armored Division and we all started for Bastogne. On Christmas day we had one of our toughest times, and lost half of our men, killed or wounded. We go to Bastogne on December twenty-ninth with a company of forty-three men.

**Note from me: This above was the Battle of the Bulge
This 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry, received battle honors for “outstanding performance of duty during the period 25 to 28 December 1944. The battalion was heavily engaged with the enemy in the vicinity of Ettlebruck, Luxembourg, when it was withdrawn from the front lines for the movement to the Bastogne, Belgium area. Its effective rifle-fighting strength had been reduced to 200 men. Attacking on Christmas Day after several days without rest, the battalion began its assault of the enemy positions encircling Bastogne, Belgium. Throughout the next 4 days and 3 nights, the depleted battalion battled its way in freezing temperature through the besieged forces in Bastogne. The stubborn resistance of the enemy and well dug-in positions required constant use of the bayonet and hand grenade in their destruction. Suffering heavy small-arms fire from flanking positions, the battalion fought on with an unrelenting determination that overcame all obstacles, routed the enemy, and established contact with the forces within Bastogne. The aggressiveness of the heroic infantrymen of the 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry reflects the finest traditions of the Army of the United States.” Extracted from the War Department Battle Honors Citations of Units, General Orders No. 24, GO 24, Washington, D.C. 6 April 1945.**

We had Christmas dinner there four days later. Then we came back to Luxembourg to a town called Ettlebrook for about a week. There we got replacements and rested a little. On January 21st, we shoved off at two o’clock in the morning in an attack of a town called Berschniede a little ways east of Ettlebrook. The snow was six inches deep and it was close to zero and you couldn’t see ten feet ahead of you. I was carrying a light machine gun (40 lbs.) and we walked four or five miles. It’s enough to say it wasn’t a pleasure trip. We arrived at the town about day-light and started the attack at once. We had our two machine guns set up and before we could get off more than a few rounds we were pinned down by sniper fire. They hit five of us inside of fifteen minutes. I got back to the rear some how and was taken to the hospital and you know the story on that.

I came back to the Company on March 14th, and was put in charge of one of the machine-gun squads. That same night we got in a tough spot and had to shoot our way out. Then began a long series of hiking, riding and not much shooting. We were in St. Wendel, Kaiserlautern, and crossed the Rhine at Mainz. From there we went to Kassel, then to Erfurt, and then to Chemnitz.

**Note from me: This is where my Dad’s modesty is amazing. He received the Bronze Star for individual heroic achievement during the course of the attack on Kassel, Germany April 2, 1945 (two days before their surrender). “Sgt Smith, (then Cpl) a rifle squad leader, located the source of the enemy fire. Disregarding intense enemy fire, Sgt Smith ran to an exposed position where he fired his rifle so effectively that he killed three, wounded two, and forced eight other enemy soldiers to surrender. Sgt Smith’s courage and untiring devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States.” Extracted from Headquarters 80th Infantry Division APO 80, U. S. Army, dated 24 May 1945, general orders No. 135.**

We had a hard fight going into Erfurt and lost a lot of men. From Chemnitz we went to Nuremburg in southern Germany. That city has been almost completely destroyed by bombing. Hitler called it the “most German of all cities.” We stayed there on guard duty for several days. Then we went across the Inn River into Austria at Branau. That’s were Hitler was born. By then we knew the war was practically over as we had gone for a week without hearing a shot, and it was just a few days later that we heard the good news.
Well, Dad, that’s pretty near the complete story. Now we are on guard duty at some little town in Austria about 20 or 25 miles west of Branau and 200 miles west of Vienna. All we’re doing is checking all the Jerry soldiers for discharge papers. The whole Sixth German Army is being demobilized around here. Every little town is full of people who left their homes to get away from the Russians. I simply can’t exaggerate the fear these people have towards the Russians. They are scared to death of them. In all seriousness, Dad, I sometimes wonder how we won this war. Some to the crazy things and silly orders we’ve carried out makes me wonder. I suppose the real reason we won is that we had so damn much stuff that the Jerries just couldn’t hold. Make no mistake the Jerry soldier was well drilled and as long as he had officers he would stick in there. But once you knocked their officers out there were so many lunk-heads. They had a tank better than ours and their 88 gun was a real piece, but we just had too much. Dad, if you have any questions just ask them and I’ll try to give you a straight answer. I suppose I’ll have quite a bit of time now to write. What I’m really wanting is a piece of paper with “Discharge” written in capital letters on it. I think I’ll be back in the States this summer and we can talk of a lot of things. I’ve changed quite a bit, Dad. I know I’ve grown older in appearance and I’ve lost some weight but I’ll put that back on when I get back. My nerves are still good though I feel just lucky about coming through it all with no more than a few missing teeth. How about sending me a corn-cob pipe and some Granger tobacco? Make sure it’s Granger because I can get other kinds over here, but I don’t like them.
I’ll close for now.
Love from,
Your son,

Major company offers grants to preserve history!

EMC a major company located outside Boston, in Hopkinton, MA has offered $100,000 in grant money to preserve historical documents around the world.

View the above article to see who received the grants. Thanks EMC for making preservation of history a priority!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

History is all around! SAVE OUR HISTORY! Partake, if you can!! Part 2

My previous post on the largest collection of the photography of Edward Sheriff Curtis held at the Peabody Essex Museum has a sad ending.

This is the second case of researching historical holdings at major institutions that have either been sold and not documented or lost.
First, a portrait of my ancestor John Badollet, which was a possession of his life long friend Albert Gallatin, was in the possession of the New York Historical Society. So...I contacted them. I expected the portrait to be in storage (Badollet is not a prominent historical figure). Unfortunately, as is the case with organizations that are trying to juggle money making and survival, many of Gallatin's collection and others were sold by a former director of the NYH Society. Albert Gallatin was instrumental in the history of this organization, and was the former president of the Society until his death in 1847. Now, the NYH Society has a wonderful location and a wonderful collection. I do understand how it is important to downsize collections. But, it seems that this former director went on a spree of selling off lots of collections to downsize. I understand this need at times, but it is unconscionable to do this and not document the sale, so that it can be traced at a latter time. The picture, which is believed to NOT be a daguerreotype as stated, but a oil painting, is below with the flower (see post on "Travels Home" dated 1 Mar 2008). If anyone out there has seen this or has any information on its location, PLEASE contact me, it is the only known portrait, other than drawings by Charles LeSuer, of Badollet.

Back to my trip to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to find Curtis's large collection of Native American photography. Seems that this extensive holding is in storage, was displayed briefly in 2002 or 3, and has no future intention of being accessible to the public. Travesty! And they HAVE a Native American collection on display and a great video referencing this wonderful collection. They were very nice and congenial, but when I stated the significance of this collection I was told, "We have lots of valuable assets in our collection and we can't display them all". Fair enough, but how 'bout some rotation time. Curtis died unrecognized. A documentary on him was done by American Masters and they have no intention of showing it in the near future. You can't rent it, but you can purchase the DVD or VHS for about $200. Ouch...

It sure is hard to find out anything about anyone other than George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and other very visable historical figures. I really think it's the people that surround these famous people that bring history to life.

With a bit more research it is astounding to find that not only are many historical holdings in Museums and Societies not accessible, but warehouses across the country have storage that is not even documented. They have NO idea what history is lost in storage!

If you give money to a Museum or Society, please express your interest in knowing what holdings they possess, what they plan on doing with them, and how they are preserving our history. Don't accept "we don't have the funds to maintain our collection". If you get this, find out what they pay their director or CEO/President, and research how this salary has changed over the years. If you find it reasonable, inquiry if they are going to sell these collections to another organization that can maintain the holding or a private person or organization that can be referenced to find the objects. Beware, you won't be well liked for you efforts. So what...our historical records and artifacts are worth it. That is my favorite form of activism!!

Ok.....I'm climbing off that soap box!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News.

Good stuff...........One of my problem ancestors (there are many) is Spivey Blackard. Yes...what a name. I've had a tough time getting much info on him other than he was born about 1810 in Sumner County, Tennessee. Within the last year I was able to discover his birth date and marriage to Catherine Garrett/Garrott, who was also a stumbling block. What I love about genealogy is the process of digging and digging, coming up short and leaving it for long periods. Then...something amazing just falls into your lap with the wonders of the internet! I do have the Blackard's dated back to Spivey's grandfather, Charles Blackard, but I'm consider the dates and places only the beginning of the search. I want to know about their lives and what history was happening all around them.

Here is a picture of 'ol Spivey and Catherine taken about 1880 when Spivey must have been about 70 years old and Catherine about 68. They are my ggg grandparents. I also found information on Catherine Garrett/Garrott that I have to prove, but I believe she is the daughter of John Garrett and Jenny McMurtry of Sumner County, Tennessee. I will be making a trip to this area late this summer to do some research.

These pictures are amazing as they were my grandmother's (who raised me) maternal great grandparents.

Thank you to K. Kiester for putting this out there for Blackard family members to find.

Bad stuff...............I was very excited to find a link on to find out what famous people to whom you are related. Computer database linking has come a long way. Sadly...almost every person I was supposed to be related to was absolutely wrong. The first was a Mayflower link to Christopher Martin. This link had me to believe that Christopher Martin was my direct 12th great grandfather through his son George. Unfortunately, Christopher Martin had only one know son "Nathaniel". Christopher and his wife "Marie Prower" died in Plymouth the winter of 1621. Nathaniel did not leave Burstead, England, and to my knowledge there were no other children.
BE VERY CAREFUL about internet genealogy information even on trusted sites such as and the LDS website: Both have no policing of family information that can be posted at random. I even posted my family tree on ancestry years ago, only to find out I couldn't edit what I had wrong. They just told me to repost the right information. Much to my horror, this erroneous info is STILL on their site and I can't change it.
I use these sites as clues to go out and find the actual records to back up the findings. Lots of information turns out to be correct, but lots doesn't. Be careful out there! Happy hunting!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who's your Daddy

Yes, I read lots of non-fiction, not as much recently as I would like. Mostly early American History, but I have another (of many) interest in Artist, painters particularly, Jacques Louis David, Vincent Van Gogh and Eugene Delacroix. Yes, for their artistry, but even more so by their thoughts and life experiences within their historical context. The post below, shows you my introduction into learning more about Jacques David.

Eugene Delacroix was residually introduced as a character in the movie "Impromtu" which is one of my favorites about the relationship between Frederic Chopin (I have an enormous admiration for his music) and George Sand. George Sand ( real name: Amandine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin) was a romantic novelist of the time of Chopin and Delacriox. Delacroix is considered by many to be the symbol of Romanticism.

Like Rainer's "Letters to a Young Poet", Delacroix wrote of growth out of introspective loneliness. My favorite quote from Delacroix :
"One must be bold to extremity; without daring, and even extreme daring, there is no beauty."
So, I was interested to learn more about Delacroix. I purchased his diary/journal which was extremely fascinating. Delacroix is a much neglected artist. His writings are insightful and introspective. From the introduction of his journal: "I have heard it said-and by a French artist- "I don't really care for Delacroix's pictures, but as a writer of memoirs he is great and will be remembered."

In researching more about his family lineage I came across an interesting bit of scandal. It seems that Eugene Delacroix's father may have actually been the famed Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. (These French and their endless names!)

In a nutshell, Talleyrand was from privileged nobility, which he rarely acknowledged. The tragic story of his youth will be relegated to another time. Let's just say, his childhood was one of rejection by his parents because of being born crippled. He was basically given to the Church to be raised. He became a renowned priest and womanizer, and a mastermind of the French state throughout the most decadent and turbulent times in French history.

I am in the midst of reading "Talleyrand: The Art of Survival" by Jean Orieux that was translated from French to English by Patricia Wolf and published in 1974. (You can see a theme here with me and out of print books).

Several circumstances lead credence to this long held belief that Talleyrand was Delacroix's father. First, and foremost was evidence that Eugene's documented father, Charles Delacroix, was reported to have an extremely large growth around his "member" that led to his impotence during the time of Eugene's birth. It was believed that Talleyrand was having an affair with Eugene's mother during this time. Another compelling event was the early anonymous donor to Eugene Delacroix's paintings. Later believed to have been Talleyrand. Finally, you can judge for yourself by the portraits of both. Eugene and Talleyrand share a distinctive nose and clef chin.

Decide for yourself.

Both pictures are from the book "Talleyrand: The Art of Survival".

Genealogical finds help us have a deeper understanding of History

Being a genealogist can many times feel extremely rewarding and down right exciting when we find (through our extreme focus on one subject) details overlooked or deemed unimportant by historians. This, ultimately, is the focus of this blog.

Through my studies of Albert Gallatin, life long close friend of my ggggg grandfather John Badollet, I was able to purchase an out of print copy of Gallatin's son, James' diary. In this diary, mostly focused in the period of 1813-1827, we get a wonderful glimpse into how vital Gallatin was in American history, his European connections, with Voltaire (his grandmother had a close relationship with him), Napoleon (who tried to get Gallatin to give him inside US information, which Gallatin refused), and Jacques David (famed French painter of Napoleon's coronation), and others. Gallatin was negotiating the Treaty of Ghent at the early part of this diary (where James, his son, was his personal secretary).

Jacques David had asked Gallatin if his son, James at age 16, would pose for a nude portrait "Cupid & Psyche" with a young woman. This famous portrait is in the Cleveland Museum of Art, with few knowing the history of the portrait. James was asked to pose for this painting March 3, 1815.
The picture above is copied from "A Great Peacemaker: The Diary of James Gallatin", published in New York by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

History is all around you! Partake! I'm an emotional sap who sees motivational deja vu energy all around. My discoveries always open my eyes to what is around me and, constantly, I am blown away by circumstance or destiny. Which, I can never decide.

My discovery of Edward Sheriff Curtis has found me with such a situation today (see previous post on Curtis). I live in a neighboring town to Salem, MA. In the Peabody Essex Museum you will find the largest collection of Edward S. Curtis photography found anywhere! Right under my nose.

Do yourself a favor. Visit the Peabody Essex website under their collections/photography, and view these photos as well as the video about Curtis by Thomas Haukaas, M.D. Sicangu Lakota Artist & Psychiatrist click on video.

His view of Curtis is one I believe in as well. The photography is magnificent!

If you can't visit the museum, you can get a good representation by viewing their photos at the Peabody Essex museum website. This museum is a hidden jem in the Boston landscape.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Family Tradition Continues

Pascal Badollet has started a new chapter in the Badollet watch making family tradition. Take a look at how the torch has been passed down for generations and a glimpse into Swiss history.
I have conversed very briefly with this wonderful man who has been working so very hard to make his dream a reality. Congratulations, Pascal!!

Badollet Part Two "Progressive Thinker"

Badollet had the great privilege, or curse as he sometimes saw it, to be amidst the turbulent times of change in this country's history. He met and associated with Francis Wright (women's movement in early to mid 1800's), Tecumseh (arguably one of the greatest Amer Indian chiefs), William Henry Harrison (whom Badollet loathed very publicly, the man responsible for killing Tecumseh, signing many illegal treaties with the Amer Indians, oh..and a President of the US).

Badollet helped the Harmony Society purchase land and admired and associated with many of its great founders, artist, and humanitarians, which included Francis Wright, Robert Owen, the naturalist painter Charles LeSuer who was a friend of Badollet's sketching his house and Badollet himself.

Badollet did not mix words. Sometimes to his own peril.

letter to Gallatin January 30, 1792 in which his hopes for American Democracy suffered early disillusionment:
"I can hardly help deploring that in our adopted Country, true virtue, disinterestedness & genuine public Spirit are so seldom to be met with. Fair Columbia, which I have so many reasons to love, for having enlightened my mind, for having offered me an asylum when forlorn & having blessed me with many domestic endearments, Columbia fosters a good many unworthy sons.
Offices sought for on account of their emoluments without regard for the qualifications they require, public bodies filled with interested men, public measures taken to answer private views & which proves that the evil is great, nobody surprised at it. I declare that I never went to an election without a painful depression of Spirits & my pride as a freeman considerably humbled."
...Wow! Sound familiar. Does anything really change.

"When we consider that however good in theory a government may be, its stability and happiness of its beings it is destined to conduct, depend almost entirely upon the Sense and virtue of the people, is it not deplored that public instruction is in trusted to persons whose prejudices are axioms & false reasoning the trade, who confound virtue with bigotry & morals with religion? I mean clergymen of all denominations.......Why should not a general system of education become an object worthy of the attention of the legislature, why should not a catechism where the natural union of politics & morals would be established & consecrated by plain and well connected maxims, prove more beneficial to our youth than all unintelligible jargon of grace and election mongers? You need not be angry at me, Gallatin. I respect religion...but when disfigured by nonsensical sales, when converted to criminal purposes, when put in lieu of virtue, when a cloak for the wicked, then I hear her name with horror."

You go, man!

Who is Badollet and why do I feel such a connection? Part 1

My 5th great grandfather, Jean (John) Louis Badollet (14 Jul 1757-29 Jul 1837) was by all accounts a sensitive man. (Those who know me would say the same. My birthday is July 22, so Badollet and I share the same astrological sign of Cancer.

A large number of letters exist to confirm this. The most compelling being a letter to his daughter's (Sally) son John Badollet Caldwell from Albert Gallatin before his death. This letter is a response to a letter written to Gallatin from J.B. Caldwell asking him about his grandfather. This letter along with others show a man very liberal in his views and very rigid in his views on human nature and morals.

From this letter written 3rd of June 1841 from Gallatin's home in New York, I will transcribe portions. Within this letter you find a timeline for the Badollet family as well as Badollet and Gallatin himself. This original letter, along with many others, is housed at the Lewis Library on the campus of Vincennes University. It has also been microfilmed by the Indiana Historical Society for their collection.

"Dear Sir:
I am in my 81st year, write with difficulty and was prevented by other pressing avocations from returning an earlier answer to your letter of 27th April last. It would afford me pleasure to be of any service to the grandson of my late excellent friend John Badollet."

"In conformity with your wishes I will give you a sketch of your grandfather's life until he removed to Vincennes. John Badollet belonged to an ancient Genevese family settled at Geneva since about the year 1520, but which had fallen into poverty. His father was a watch maker and he was himself educated to be a Minister of the Gospel..........Though near three years older than me, Badollet and I were in the same class and took our degrees of A.B. on the same day in May 1779. He then entered the Theological Seminary, but feeling no vocation, he determined to abandon that career. (Badollet became an outspoken freethinker and strongly anticlerical...p.18 of The Correspondences of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, edited by Gayle Thornborough, Indiana Historical Society, 1963).

This letter goes on to give details of Badollet's life leading up to his commission as the land registrar of the Indiana Territory, a position Gallatin helped him obtain. The one and only sign of favoritism in Gallatin's long career. I would argue that Badollet was more suited for this position than many because of the Indiana Territory being largely French at the time with English being a second language. Someone had to go into this area to sell and record land purchases diplomatically from French who spoken none or very little English and were uneasy about the turn over to Americans. Badollet, being a gentle, fluent French speaking, foreign born America, most likely made this transition much smoother.

"......You know the respectable standing which your Grandfather earned in Indiana by his virtues and talents. He had been no less respected and was generally beloved in Greene County, PA, where he was an associate judge and might have had, when Chief Justice McKean became Governor of that State, the lucrative office of Porthonothary (chief court clerk). This he declined rather than the incumbent should be turned out merely on account of his political opinions. He was a good scholar with much general information and no inconsiderable talents; but his prominent qualifications were not simply strict integrity and morality, but a purity and disinterestedness rarely equalled, never within my knowledge surpassed by any human being."

(here is were you get a glimpse into his sensitively) "He was from temper and habits ill-qualified to make money and had to struggle hard in Pennsylvania in order to supply his family. I lost in him the best surviving friend of my youth and his memory will be dear to me so long as I live.
I remain, with sincere wishes for your welfare,
Your obed'nt servant,
(signed) Albert Gallatin

John B. Caldwell,
Shawneetown, Illinois
(John B.'s father John T. Caldwell was the land receiver in Shawneetown, Illinois moving there about 1816. My grandmother, who raised me as my "mom", grew up in Shawneetown and never knew of this heritage.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Edward Sheriff Curtis Photography

Edward Sheriff (his mother's maiden name) Curtis was, in all probability, a descendant of the large Curtis family branch of early Connecticut. I descend from Dinah Curtis who married Eleazer Fairchild (1724-1811). My Fairchild family line comes from my maternal grandfather's maternal grandmother, Vena Iola Fairchild (died 1940 in Oklahoma).

Of my many quests, this new one of discovering a possible link to this fascinating historical figure, is what makes history and genealogy very innertwinned.

Edward Sheriff Curtis was a renowned photographer of Native Americans. His photographs were taken at a time when Native American ways of life where on the verge of vanishing. It is controversial as to whether Curtis helped or helped progress vanish the Amer Indian way of life. Personally, I feel that history is vastly taken out of context and Mr. Curtis had very good intentions devoting his life to documenting the destruction of a race. His methods of changing backgrounds to authenticate a lost heritage where, in my view, well meaning at the time. The proof is in the viewing, so visit websites that show his history and his photos to judge for yourself and learn about a forgotten man in our history.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I finally found the error!

Colonel William Gilham West Point Cadet class of 1840, graduated 5th in his class right in front of William T. Sherman (who graduated 6th and was also offered a comminssion in the confederate army that he turned down)

It is my firm belief that Historians and Genealogist should, in order to tell truthful history, actually respect and listen to one another. I have found many errors in historical based non-fiction by historians who did not bother to dig into the genealogy of their subjects, thus spreading either misinformation or incomplete information.

Two examples: I was in a book store, about a year ago, previewing new non-fiction history books when I can across a new book (unfortunately I cannot remember the title or I would be writing the publisher immediately) which stated Albert Gallatin fought in the French Revolution receiving a permanent scar on his face. Well...being very well versed in Gallatin's history, which anyone can look up, it took me quite by surprise to hear of his service at a time when he was deeply embedded in Pennsylvania politics. Gallatin arrived in America in 1780 during the American Revolution, traveled to Machias, Maine for one season, taught French at Harvard for a short time, then moved on to Western Pennsylvania to start a Swiss community with his friend Badollet. Gallatin then became involved with state, then national politics rising to Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson. Several daguerreotypes and paintings exist on Gallatin and I dare any one to find a large scar on his face, yet place him fighting as a commander in the French Revolution.

There is an extensive biography (one of many published in the 19th century when Gallatin's name was very well known throughout U.S. History) by Henry Adams. In this hard to find, close to 700 page, biography you will find where this author mentioned above erroneously lifted his information about Jean de Gallatin, who did indeed serve as 2nd in command of a regiment in the service of Louis XVI. Jean did suffer a large scar on his face while dueling with the Baron dePappenheim. Jean is NOT Albert Gallatin. Oh...and this information is on page one of the Adams biography, which must have been as much as this, so called historian read about Gallatin, who was just a passing subject on his sojourn into the depths of yet, ANOTHER, book on Thomas Jefferson. The text in question is on page 3 or 4 of this book on Jefferson. The author read the first page of the Galatin biography which is the Gallatin genealogy. Without scrutiny assumed Jean de Gallatin was our Albert Gallatin.

Second...a Civil War historian , Eric J. Mink gives a lecture in 2000 that was posted on the web at

In this lecture Mr. Mink says that Gilham was born in Vincennes, Indiana in 1818, states that little is known about his personal life, yet goes on to describe his family history as "His father's family came from Virginia and it was with the Old Dominion that he would make his mark."

What about Gilham's mothers side? Had this historian bothered to look into his genealogy he would have find out that Gilham's maternal grandfather was the one who got him into West Point, helped educate William and was an advocate against slavery, wrote the major portion of the one article in the Indiana state constitution that made Indiana the first state to assume responsibility for educating its citizens by public schools irregardless of economic background. He could have found such a compelling story in the fact that Gilham's mothers side of the family never spoke to Colonel Gilham again because of his involvement fighting for the South. How Gilham tried after the Civil War to reunite with this side of his family only to be shut out forever. (I will deal more in depth with this fascinating man in future posts).

My point being, Historians and Genealogist can service history much better working together. Genealogy is hugely influential in our historical past. Many Genealogist are just as guilty being so absorbed in their own family findings that they miss historical significance of time and place. Where was your ancestor in 1824 through 1825? I have several ancestors who met face to face with the Marque de Lafayette on his pilgrimage through this country during this time. I have ancestors who end up in early state beginnings of Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma just to name a few. That is just the fact, but the more fascinating story is to find them in these territories before statehood, then leaving upon major settlement, only to show up in the next great territory. Some of these ancestors where face to face with Bat Masterson and Bill Tilghman (Tilghman is a family connection). The wild west!

I hope to work on this relationship with my genealogical and historical research being equally significant. Through this method we give life to our ancestors and see how history affected their lives and how their lives affected history. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etc.. could not have done it on their own. Let's find out about the other hero's of our past who may be even more fascinating!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Travels Home

A few years ago I made a pilgrimage by car from my home on the Northeast coast to where I grew up, making stops along the way that were ancestral stomping grounds. I will give a long post on this important visit for me. For is a picture from the book "The Correspondence of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, 1804-1836", edited by Gayle Thornborough.

When I found Badollet's grave site in Vincennes, Indiana it was in the midst of a very dry hot spell. The temperature was over 100 degrees. Dry parched grass was everywhere, yet in the center of Badollet's grave was a lone tiny white flower just waiting for my arrival. I have keep this flower pressed in my book.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Answers begin to be revealed

My maternal grandmother was 14 when she saw her house float away during the 1937 Shawneetown, Illinois flood. This was in the midst of the great depression and in January during the cold winter time. She was the youngest of 9 children and the only girl. Her family lived in a tent for a while and then lived with various relatives until they found a new living arrangement. Yet, through this she had an eye for a good watch. She always admired the Swiss watches.

This never meant much to me until I discovered she was a descendant of one of the oldest watch/clock making families of all time from Geneva, Switzerland.

Jean (John: Americanized when he immigrated to the US) Louis Badollet was my maternal grandmother's ggg grandfather.

J. L. Badollet was born in 1757 in Geneva, Switzerland. He came from the Badollet clock/watch making line that began in the mid 1500's. Not a watch maker himself, J. L. attended college in Geneva where he became close friends with one of his classmates, Albert Gallatin.

Both, Badollet and Gallatin sought to leave their home land for the hopes of America. Gallatin, with the assistance of a loan from Badollet, who could not leave at the time, left against his prominent families wishes. Badollet soon joined Gallatin and they both pursued their goal of starting a self sufficient Swiss community in a rural area of Pennsylvania. This is where these two life long friends parted ways.

Gallatin became immediately involved in state, and later U.S. politics while Badollet remained in the small PA community handling the businesses they had begun. Gallatin rose to prominence and became Secretary of State to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, holding that position for longer than any other Secretary of States in our country's history.   I will later deal with the extraordinary accomplishments of this man, who has, to this day, been horribly forgotten and over shadowed.

To be continued.....

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Advantages of Knowing Your Past

For those lucky people who have been given a true sense of their family history my story may seem quite unusual. However, today families are disconnected by distance, family strife, and pain. This is how my genealogical search began.

I was a mistake. As cruel as that sounds it is a fact I cannot change.

My grandmother, who raised me, went to great lengths to protect me and her family. The positive of this, what you don't know cannot hurt you, right? For me, the downside was a broken past with many unanswered questions.

Until very recently I knew very little about my biological father or my maternal grandfather. There were no pictures, no stories, just secrets. Fortunately, my step grandfather (my grandmother's 2nd husband) was my "dad" and a great male role model. For this I am especially grateful. However, there was a hole in my life.

In many southern families there are often handed down, unspoken traditions of keeping bad family events and people locked in the recesses of memories, so they may somehow disappear or better yet, have the pretense of never existing. For me, these secrets affected my life and still does.

My step-grandfather "dad" died of cancer in 1991. My grandmother "mom" started showing signs of not being the strength of the family (which she always was) around the turn of the century. I realized many questions that I was afraid to express in the past, had to have answers or they would disappear forever. It was time for me to push. Just who am I?

Secrets, no matter how noble the cause, leave pain and longing. Children are emotionally and spiritually wise beyond our wildest imagination. They can sense something amiss even when no words are spoken. Unfortunately, they, many times, place blame upon themselves. My blame for myself was strong. Had I not been born my biological mother would have had a better life.

My mother was 16 with a bright future, headstrong, extremely intelligent, and musically gifted. Like many teenagers she became interested in the opposite sex and became pregnant with me. My father had not yet turned 18. They tried the honorable thing, married, moved into a hovel with no running water or heat. It didn't last.

My grandmother was 37 when I was born. She and my mother's father "Bill" had divorced bitterly fighting for custody of my mother when she was about 10. My grandfather "Bill" lost and remained in the same area to be close to his daughter, even though he wanted to return to his home in Oklahoma.  My mother wanted to live with her father.

When my mother turned 18 and was legally an adult, she and her dad "Bill" took me with them to live in Oklahoma. We were there less than a year when my mother's beloved dad died instantly at the age of 47 of a ruptured aorta. She returned with me to Kentucky and told her mother that she couldn't handle raising me. This story wasn't told to me until I was much older.

It gets more complicated....when my grandmother and "Bill" where married and he worked traveling often as a welder on pipelines, my grandmother developed "TB" at the age of 25. My mother was 5 and getting ready to start school. My grandparents moved suddenly to Missouri because it was one of the only states that didn't require "TB" patients to be institutionalized. My grandmother was bedridden for a very long time. Lost a large portion of one lung. My mother was not allowed to play with other children and was isolated.  My mother's life was tragic from the beginning. Thus my guilt only grew.

What I have found is that secrets and tragic circumstances can leave a person with no past history. For many, this doesn't matter. To me, it is my whole being. By digging into my past and my families past for answers I have discovered my genealogy.

I don't descend from Royalty and even if I did, I could care less. What I do descent from is the most fascinating historical past I could have never imagined! It reads like a wonderful historical novel.

This is just a small window into my life. I hope by sharing this others will learn the value of family lineage no matter how bad it may seem. It is my dream to honor those who came before me, their stories run through my blood. The gift of family, no matter how turbulent, is a powerful gift. The world really is a very small place.

I am changed in ways that words cannot describe by what I have found about my family. I have had strangers on the Internet contact me who have the same family lines as mine. I have had pictures of my grandfather (I had no pictures or even a description of him) sent to me by just posting a query on a genealogy website. I received an email one day two years after leaving this message saying, "you must be the child of Diana?". She was my grandfather's niece. She sent me pictures of my grandfather's "Bill" mother. My own mother has many of her features.

My dear grandmother "mom" did not have an easy death. I was with her and knew there was so much she wanted to say to me. I knew she was sorry for the pain, but I told her it was OK. She asked me to look after my mother who is mentally ill. She knew I blamed myself for her life being so difficult. She shared with me a story.

When my biological mother was pregnant and in about the 7th month I almost didn't make it. While she was outside my mother's hospital room she told me she had prayed that I would die. "How could a child have a child?" One of our neighbors had stopped by to comfort her and said, "You have no idea what great things this child may do!". She told me how grateful she was that I had lived! are the stories from history that have led to me being alive............