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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...

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.