The miracle of the Internet, combined with the hard work already done by genealogists for their own projects, has enabled me to take a deep dive into my family tree – one that wouldn’t have been possible only scant years before. The things that I’ve learned have been amazing: that I’m descendant of William the Conqueror; that I have Bohemian heritage; that my surname may be as old as 1000 years; and much more. Most of this overlies nicely with the 23&Me results I have in hand, as well as with the various historical documents my family possesses. Most surprisingly however, the main lessons I’ve taken from these last few years of research have had little to do with my particular genetics, my surname, or any claims of famous ancestry. There are three of these lessons:
Lesson One: Your surname has next to nothing to do with your heritage. I know that’s surprising, and possibly sacrilegious among genealogists, but it’s true. Unless your family has spent its entire history having marriages only between people of the same surname, your actual heritage spreads out exponentially with every preceding generation. Take my own case, for example. Surely Gilbert is a Norman surname, but my mother’s surname is likely of Pictish origin. So, fifty-percent Norman you might say? Well, one move up the rung to my four grandparents reveals surnames of Norman (my father’s father, of course), German, Pictish (mom’s dad), and another German. So now the preponderance of my heritage is, if not now German, at least non-Norman. How about great-grandparents? Norman, Bohemian, German, Anglo-Saxon, Pictish, German, German, Scottish (probably Orkney). So, just going back a mere three generations I went from “being” Norman to “being” three-eighths German, one-quarter Scottish-ish, and with a bare smattering of other origins to include now only one-eighth Norman.
I say ‘being’ in quotes there because that is the central question: What does it mean to ‘be’ something? For example, Americans have the habit (annoying to some Europeans who don’t understand the context) of saying something like “I’m Irish” if they have an Irish surname. Of course, this is American shorthand for saying “My family immigrated from…” but even that has less and less meaning the farther one moves away from the first generation of immigrants bearing the surname. My Gilbert ancestors arrived in North America as early as the 1640s but the male line has been married into by something like a dozen other families – each varying between “just off the boat” recently immigrated to being in America since colonial times. Those marrying-in families have had just as many generations of marriage with other families as the Gilbert line has had, and so on. Therefore, in 12 generations of Americans, an individual has 4,096 direct ancestors. Of my 4,000 or so American ancestors, I know 12 were Gilberts. Therefore, to say “I am Norman” is a bit of a stretch. That leads us to the next lesson:
Lesson Two: Your ancestors’ homelands don’t really say much about your or their genetic makeup. Going back to the “I’m Irish” example, a lot of people (sometimes jokingly, other times more seriously) say things like “I found out I’m German, that’s why I’m so organized,” or like sauerkraut, or whatever stereotype fits. Looking at my own Norman heritage, I used to think Gilbert was an English surname – which it is, but what makes up ‘English’? Normans, Angles, Saxons, Romans, various Celtic tribes, Norse, and many other ethnicities. Go back a bit earlier and you have a land inhabited by peoples such as the Dumnonii, Durotriges, Belgae, Atrebates, Dobunni, Catuvellauni, and a score of others. Focusing just on the Anglo-Norman origin of Gilbert, one has to further ask “Well, what is Norman?” These people were from Normandy, but the nobility at least was descended from Vikings – but also experiencing the same in-marrying effect from the year 911 to the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066. This made Norman heritage Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Anglo-Saxon, Italo-Roman, Gaulic, Celtic, Frankish, Visigoth – and a ton more you’ve likely never heard of like the Suebi and Occitans. The point is that early Europeans were far more highly mobile, intermarrying easily and absorbing migratory cultures over and over again, than one might think.
The impact all this has on genetic makeup is dazzling. I remember my time in the Balkans, a place of highly charged emotions regarding heritage, identity, race, and religion. There, a person of one particular nationality described to me another of the Baltic peoples as being less-than-human, another race, and inferior in all ways due to their ethnicity. Of course, his culture (like everyone’s of any culture I spoke to there) possessed “the original” culture, and therefore superior institutions – and most importantly the right to rule over their inferior neighbors. My response was “You all look white to me.” That’s the point, there is no ‘race gene’, only a collection of phenotypes that have been tossed into a millennia-old blender that sometimes produces vaguely recognizable physical characteristics in certain geographical regions. Simply put, at some point about 800 to 1000 years ago, one of my 30,000 to 100,000 direct ancestors who happened to be speaking French and living around the English Channel said “my surname is Gilbert” – bringing with him a million years of tribal history back to the dawn of our species.
Lesson Three: The good news – your family can be as large as you want. Language, culture, geography, and genetics do not map to each other perfectly, or at all in some cases. Look at my Bohemian ancestry: Bohemia is named after a tribe known as the Boii, but they were pushed out and supplanted by a series of tribes. The last of these tribes were a group a Slavs. Who knows how many of each tribe remained and became absorbed into the new ones? Also, what does ‘Slav’ mean? Well, it turns out that nobody really knows. No doubt there is a Slavic language group, but scholars point out this might even have arisen from ancient Thracian, a people mentioned in ancient Greek texts. Certainly, linguists agree, that going back even farther one finds that the Slavs and indeed all Europeans spoke a single, ancient, lost Indo-European language akin to Sanskrit. So, you may “be Irish”, but you can also celebrate your Indian ancestry.
While all of this may be disconcerting and bewildering to someone trying to find their roots, take heart! The math makes it clear. At the start of the American Colonial Period, about 400 years ago, each of us statistically have about 65,000 direct ancestors living at that time. Going back to the time most Europeans started taking surnames, say 1000 years ago, each of us should have about 1.2 TRILLION unique, individual, direct ancestors at that time! Of course, that is impossible as the total population of the Earth at that time was only about 275 million. This clearly shows us that every single one of us is closely, very closely, related. One can very nearly just pick a culture from history they want to celebrate as theirs and it is likely he or she has at least SOME connection. In fact, mitochondrial DNA studies show that every single person alive today shares a single many-great grandmother between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. Maybe we should start considering trading in “I’m Irish” for “I’m human”.
It truly is breaking my heart to make this decision…but feel it is the best thing to do…. After talking to town official’s, donors and those planning on attending – they have all stated it would be best to postpone our upcoming 2020 Barkhamsted Lighthouse gathering.
Due to several factors: virus, economy and many people not going to be able to attend due to loss of jobs and or money not available… We feel this is the best decision to make.
I truly am sorry about this… Want to post it now so that those that made reservations can cancel and get money back before time is up for refunds.
I will be updating event calendar with new dates once I get it all planned.
Once again I apologise for any inconveniences this might bring.
Join other researcher’s & descendant’s in our group on Facebook Group’s at: Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village
I am just updating a few things and wanted to let you know that my blog has changed a little bit… It is still called an “Ever Widening Circle,” but it is now called a “Quest for our Ancestral Roots.” (conidubois.com)
Doing genealogy for well over 30 years now (started at 17 and I’m almost 53 now – so for a very long time), I have uncovered many wonderful stories, and it involves Colonial & Native American along with so much American history. Consequently, with that said, I am broadening my blog to include all I find and not just the Native American research I do. I have so much to share. Will be updating more once I get through the 2020 Lighthouse Gathering I am hosting in July~
I want to note: My blog also has my cousin – John Gilbert, as an Author, who has been researching the Gilbert side of us (Maternal line). He has uncovered so much & I can’t wait to see what he finds in the future.
Can view more on his other work on his blog: http://gilbertforge.com/
Gilbert research: http://gilbertforge.com/genealogy.html
Wikipedia Links he created:
I have been informed of a comment via JoannBarberClupper on Find A Grave. She has stated in her comment that the tombstone posted on his Find A Grave (# 62768815) “is not his tombstone. I would like to clear up this issue of William Henry Barber tombstone!
I want to CLEARLY STATE “THAT IT IS HIS TOMBSTONE!“
I spent the weekend researching and visiting the grave site and that of other Ancestors in the area. Even visited the “Barber homestead” along with visiting with living family member’s that were at the funeral along with spending a day in the records to dig up all we could find.
Reason for the confusion: The tombstone was bought several years later (confirmed by family) and the wrong birth date was put on it at that time – He was born in 1857 and it states 1861 – this was done by uncertain dates and family being incorrect on the date.
BUT IT IS FOR CERTAIN HIS TOMBSTONE!
Cathy Genella has also ‘re-confirmed’ info herself and received an email with this info for us.
Via Cathy to me: I asked him where does he get the info from, he stated the previous Sexton put it all on a spreadsheet.
Via the now Sexton? to Cathy:
Cathy, I apologize for my timing I hope this will answer any questions.
William Barber owned 8 sites, 6-11-A through 6-11-H.
Burials are as follows.
6-11-A Open 6-11-E Beulah Barber
6-11-B Maryette Barber 6-11-F George Barber
6-11-C William Barber 6-11-G Open
6-11-D Allen A Barber 6-11-H Allan A Barber Jr.
The Township has no record of sale for sites, Allan A Barber was buried in 1926. That is the earliest burial there. I found no reference to a baby being buried unless that is Allan Barber Jr.
Note from Coni: Just adding his info I have along with obit & death certificate here for you also~
Oak Grove Cemetery
Location: on South Branch Road north of South Branch, Ogemaw, Michigan. Oak Grove Cemetery is located on E. County Line Rd. in South Branch, Goodar Twp. The nearest major town is South Branch, MI.
latitude – longitude: coordinates of N 44.4789 and W -83.88638.
Barber, William Henry 8/22/1857 – 1/12/1945
Father – Age 87 – Husband of Mary
Other’s buried here:
Barber, Allen A 22 y 1926
Barber, Clia Marion 1 x 1919
Barber, Jackie William 3dys x 1930
Barber, Melvin L 60 y 1980
Barber, Myron Allen 61 y 1988
Barber, Olive M 80 y 1983
Barber, Peggy Rosella 15 y 1949
Barber, Stacy ng y ng
Barber, Verna 2 hrs x 1972
Barber, William H 88 y 1945
Barber, William Henry 70 y 1962
William Barber, 87 Of Hill Township Buried January 9
Left 12 Children, 62 Grand and 50 Great-Grandchildren
Funeral Services for William Henry Barber, an early settler of Hill township, were held from his late farm home between North and South Dease lakes at 2:00 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon of this week, January 16, and from the South Branch Church at 2:30 P.M. Rev. Frank H. Collin Officiated, and burial took place in the South Branch Cemetery, His age was 87. William H. Barber died at 7 o’clock Friday morning of last week, January 12, from the infirmities of age. He was born in Pennsylvania on August 26, 1857, and came to Ogemaw about fifty years ago from Owosso, where he married on November 13, 1881, to the former Maryette Clark.
He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Margette Clark Barber; 12 Children; Grant Barber of Bay City; Matthew, of Newberry; Judson, of Jackson; William and Stacy of Long Lake, Iosco County; George, of Hale; Erwin, of Goodrich; Mrs. Ada Thayer, of Curtis, Mich.; Mrs. Mary Rowbottom and Mrs. Minnie Craiger, both of Flint; Mrs. Anna Riley of Selkirk; Mrs. Nellie Ballard, of Bay City; one sister Mrs. Rose Short, of Mancelona, Mich.; 62 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren.
Hey Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village Descendants & Followers:
Due to what is happening in this world… we have postponed our event for next year.
Please SHARE to your families so we can get it out there~
Note: There is A LOT of links in this PDF & I am finding a few I need to correct… please let me know if you run across any. Please include the page # and link/title~
ALSO more exciting NEWS!!
Post Commander of the Riverton American Legion Post 159 (Ted Sweeney) called me yesterday about the 2020 Barkhamsted Lighthouse Gathering’s 3 day event… He is wanting to take our group on a tour of Pahke’s Cave after our July 2nd event at the Lighthouse site 😁 Orrain (Orrin) Wright married Mercy Elwell (Cooke 1st marriage) (of the Lighthouse) and lived and had several children in Pahke’s cave for many years (children were later taken and indentured out) I have yet to make a actual connection to any of the 12 children’s descendants~
Super excited to finally be able to visit the site! I will be adding this to the newsletter and updating soon!
All are free to join in on the tour!!! (AS with all other events!)
Some other links for you:
James Chagum Chief of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse (this is my 661 page research book)
Answer is NO…. by my research…
Both Henrietta Webster’s (YES there is 2 of them) they were both born in Litchfield Connecticut abt 1838 – One was born to Montgumery Webster – wife Sybil Elwell of the Lighthouse Tribe in Barkhamsted CT & the other one was born to David Sanford Webster – wife Clarissa Wattles in Bethlehem, CT
Rev. A P Viets in the Connecticut, Town Marriage Records, pre-1870
Name: Rev. A P Viets Marriage Date: 4 Sep 1848
Marriage Place: Barkhamsted, Connecticut, USA Residence Place: Canton
Spouse: Hannah Webster Spouse Residence Place: Barkhamsted
Note: Hannah could of been a ‘nickname’?
Rev A P Viets in the U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930
Name: Rev A P Viets Event: Marriage Marriage Date: 9 Oct 1848
Marriage Place: Pleasant Valley Spouse: Henrietta Louisa Webster
Spouse Father: D Sanford Webster Newspaper: Christian Secretary
Publication Date: 13 Oct 1848 Publication Place: Connecticut, USA
Call Number: 486549
Rev A P Viets in the U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930
Name: Rev A P Viets Event: Marriage Marriage Date: 9 Oct 1848
Marriage Place: Pleasant Valley Spouse: Henrietta Louisa Webster
Spouse Father: D Sandford Webster Newspaper: The Hartford Times
Publication Date: 14 Oct 1848 Publication Place: Connecticut, USA
Call Number: 486551
Henrietta Louisa Webster in the North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000
(Pg 103) Viets Genealogy
Name: Henrietta Louisa Webster Gender: Female
Birth Date: 11 Jun 1830 Birth Place: Bethlehem, Conn
First Marriage Date: 9 Oct 1848 Spouse: Apollos Phelps Viets
Ellsworth Phelps Berkley Viets
Wordsworth Bertrand Viets
John Charles Viets
Mary Louisa Viets
Beulah Ruth Viets
Henrietta Claribel Viets
All mentioned below are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Waterbury, CT.
Apollos Phelps Viets in the Connecticut, Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934
Name: Apollos Phelps Viets Age: 89 Birth Date: 1819 Death Date: 1908
Burial Place: Connecticut, USA Cemetery: Riverside Cemetery
It always saddens me when I disprove a line…
The “only way plausible” is if there is 2 Rev./Clergyman A P Viets also…..
On October 14th, in the year 1066, an army from Normandy fought a single battle against the Anglo-Saxon defenders of England near Hastings in East Sussex. By that very afternoon, the English king was dead, William the Bastard became William the Conqueror, and the Normans were in England to stay. What followed was the wholesale dispossession of the Anglo-Saxon ruling class in favor of Norman aristocracy. The newest among this class were Normans of relatively humble birth who had accompanied William during his great victory. While it is certain that hundreds of high-born Normans (as well as Flemish, Breton, French, and others) were among William’s companions that day, thousands of much more humble origins served in the rank and file. To share in such glory was to immediately propel one’s family into high status and new opportunity. To this day, 953 years later, studies show that English families bearing Anglo-Norman last names are financially slightly better off than their Anglo-Saxon-named countrymen. The names of some of these men who were there on that fateful 11th century day were said to have been written on a list. Called the Battle Abbey Roll, it supposedly hung in an abbey William had erected on the very spot King Harold was killed during the battle. The original (if not a complete fiction) has been lost since the 16th century. What we have are incongruent and partial lists of varying reliability. On one of those lists is the name T. Gilbard.
There is a fantastic renaissance work called The church-history of Britain from the birth of Jesus Christ until the year M.DC.XLVIII, written in 1655 by Thomas Fuller. In it, Fuller pulls together a collection of supposed Battle Abbey Rolls and other references to the companions of William. It is on the list provided by one Mr. Fox, an alias of an antiquarian named Thomas Scriven, we see T. Gilbard astride 243 other names. Gilbard, of course, is one of the many early spellings of Gilbert (pronounced something like jeel-BARE then and in France today). Immediately there appear to be several problems with the claim that someone with a Gilbert surname was on the Battle Abbey Roll. First, hereditary family names in such a first-name-last-name format were rare in 1066 Europe. Second, this is the only mention of a Gilbert on any of the other versions of the rolls I have seen (outside of the well-known and probably-not-related Richard and Baldwin Fits-Gilberts). Third, construction of the Battle Abbey itself took until 1094, so any list would have been at least 18 years after the battle. Finally, any remnants of rolls we have can only be sourced to the 1500s at best.
The last of the two problems cannot be well addressed here because of the immutability of the facts. However, scholars have established beyond doubt that between 20 and 40 individuals appearing on the various lists were indeed at Hastings. That suggests the rolls contain at least some measure of truth. The problem of only a single mention of Gilbard from among the several versions of the lists is a bit of a tough one, but not insurmountable. Again I point to the very low numbers (scores out of hundreds) of named individuals who have actually been verified as having been at Hastings. This only points to the importance of those individuals, being mentioned elsewhere in contemporary accounts and rosters – such venerable names as Robert de Beaumont, Walter Giffard, and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. It is entirely possible that the combination of nonstandard spellings and lack of fame could cause individual names to fall off of some lists and be included in others. Either way, a lesser-known or lower-born member of the soldiery would not be as likely to show up in other records of the time.
Looking into the problem of hereditary names brought to light some surprising lessons, modifying my own view of when the usage of such took place. Studies strongly suggest that the oldest true heritable surname in Europe is O’Brien, having origins in the early to mid-1000’s in Ireland. Even Fuller notes that, while not universal in Europe until the late 1100s, these kinds of family names predate Hastings buy as much as 40 years. Importantly, he asserts that this new widespread use of surnames was a French invention. The claim seems to be supported, at least a little, by my earlier studies of William Gilbert de Ragoles, Bishop of Poitiers from 1117 to 1124, whose siblings shared the last name Gilbert. To further investigate the matter, I counted up how many ‘modern’ surnames appeared on Mr. Fox’s list. I found that 46 out of 244 had surnames without the older-fashioned ‘d’, ‘de’, ‘de la’, ‘Fitz’, or other titular and place references. That amounted to about 19%. Studies of other near-contemporary lists of names showed similarly small, yet definitely real, percentages that we might consider modern surnames. Therefore, it is at least possible that someone with a name like T. Gilbard could have been at Hastings in 1066 without being an anachronism.
Briefly onto the first name, the initial ‘T’ is tantalizingly without explanation in Fox’s list. Luckily for our research, French first names at the time seldom started with ‘T’, so it is easier to narrow down. Typical of the era are Thomas, Thosetus, Trutgaudus, Tassilo, Theoderic, Theudebald, Thorismund, and Toustan among a few obscure others and variations of each. Out of pure popularity, Thomas seems the most likely candidate for our T. Gilbard.
So, while not verifiable, it is at least plausible that a Norman-French warrior of lower status named Thomas Gilbard came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. This Thomas would be of about the same generation of Bishop William Gilbert’s parents, possibly being at least distant kin of this Parthenay family. Whereas there is no evidence of name-bearing progeny from the Bishop or his siblings, it is some fraction of possible that Thomas established himself and the Gilbert line in England after Hastings. Thirty years thereafter, tax records start showing Gilberts like Richard, Walter, Robert, and William transacting around Wiltshire and Devonshire. Eventually, some of this clan may have started marrying up into the venerable Champernowne family beginning in the early 1200’s, establishing the Gilberts of Compton. Acknowledging this has as many points of data as your typical conspiracy theory, it is at least not out of the realm of possibilities. Whether or not even being in the line leading to the Gilberts of Compton, the existence of Thomas Gilbard would push the origin of the surname back to about 950 years ago.
I was recently delighted to find that a small company out of Markham, Virginia, would print me a hard copy of J. Wingate Thornton’s 1850 Genealogical Memoir of the Gilbert Family in both Old and New England. Setting aside the forgivable retransmissions of errors found in earlier works by Westcote and Prince, this little 23 page gem inspired me to compile a brief sketch of some of the lesser-known, but still notable Gilberts from history. In doing so, I consciously decided to omit the more famous Sir Humphrey Gilbert (who claimed Canada for England) and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh (who hardly needs introduction here). Further, Thornton’s enthusiastic view of the bravery and industry of the Gilbert family tempted me to produce a romanticized rescript of past nobility. This I also resolved to avoid, leaving in the sometimes savage and sometimes sorry behavior that still follows our little clan and marks us as human.
Among the more ‘human’ of us, and the one I feel most akin to, was Sir Adrian Gilbert of Compton (1541-1628). At his lowest low, he was called “the greatest buffoon in England” and “cared not what he said to man or woman of what quality soever”. Like his brothers Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh (especially when they were in Ireland), Adrian was accused of “great fury” and “savage cruelty”. Nonetheless, he was noted for his intelligence in mathematics and alchemy, something he shared with noted mathematician John Dee. In the 2000 book Following the Ark of the Covenant, authors Kerry and Lisa Boren go so far as to say Dee charged Adrian with carrying the Ark of the Covenant to the Americas! Less far-fetched is that Adrian became “a great favorite of Mary, Countess of Pembroke” due to their shared interest in alchemy, he becoming her laboratory assistant. What is certain is that Adrian was of the same ilk of Devon explorers as his many Gilbert relatives, having received a patent from Queen Elizabeth I for the discovery of a northwest passage to China, the document being titled “The Colleagues of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the North-west Passage”.
Another of these Devonshire explorers was the sea captain Bartholomew Gilbert, who arrived in America in 1602. His mission was to establish a colony in the New World, which he did in Cape Cod (named by him). Captain Bartholomew apparently did not inherit his uncle Adrian’s mathematical acumen. The colony failed after a few weeks when it was discovered that he had miscalculated the overwinter provisions, having brought only six weeks’ worth of food. The entire party packed up and was back in England by late July. Captain Gilbert cannot, however, be discredited for lack of bravery. The very next year, on May 10th, he set sail from Plymouth, England, determined to discover the fate of brother Walter Raleigh’s famously-vanished Roanoke Colony. Upon anchoring off the desolate former site of Roanoke on July 29, Captain Gilbert and four of his men formed a landing party. Once ashore, they were attacked by a band of Algonquians and killed. The seal of Northampton County, Virginia, today bears the date 1603 in commemoration of Captain Bartholomew Gilbert’s courage.
Another Gilbert, a son of Sir Humphrey, also engaged in what Thornton called the Gilbert’s, “hereditary scheme of peopling America with Englishmen” in 1607. In that year, two ships under the command of Sir George Popham and Captain Raleigh Gilbert, set out from Plymouth, England. They arrived with one hundred men, weapons, and supplies at the mouth of the Sagadahock, or Kennebeck River, on the coast of Maine. They built a fortified store-house they called Fort Saint George, and the two ships returned to England for supplies. The forty-five men who remained were under the presidency of Popham and the admiralty of Raleigh Gilbert. Over a harsh winter Popham died, leaving Raleigh as president. At some point, news reached the colony that Raleigh’s older brother, Sir John Gilbert (another son of Sir Humphrey) had died. With that news, and in the face of “nothing but extreme extremities”, the colony unanimously voted to return to England. It is said that they were so resolute in this goal that they built a ship to facilitate the return voyage, which would probably be the first oceangoing vessel built in America – built under the direction of a Gilbert.
These stories are a reminder that European colonization in Native American lands immediately locked the two cultures in a complex, brutal war that came in waves of violence lasting nearly 300 years. An example of this comes from the tale of Mrs. Rowlandson’s captivity from the book Tragedies of the Wilderness, by Samuel Gardner Drake, 1844. Mrs. Rowlandson and her three children were made slaves for eleven weeks by Narragansett, Wampanoag and Nashaway/Nipmuc Indians led by Monoco after their attack on Lancaster, Massachusetts. Later, after being purchased out of slavery for 20 pounds sterling, she wrote about her encounter with young John Gilbert, son of my many-great grandfather Captain John Gilbert (first of my line to come to America). Mrs. Rowlandson writes, “I went to see an English youth in this place, one John Gilbert, of Springfield. I found him laying without doors upon the ground. I asked him how he did; he told me he was very sick of a flux with eating so much blood. They had turned him out of the wigwam, and with him an Indian papoos, almost dead, (whose parents had been killed,) in a bitter cold day, without fire or clothes; the young man himself had nothing on but his shirt and waistcoat. This sight was enough to melt the heart of flint. There they lay quivering in the cold, the youth round like a dog, the papoos stretched out, with his eyes, nose, and mouth full of dirt, and yet alive, and groaning. I advised John to go get to some fire; he told me he could not stand, but I persuaded him still, lest he should lie there and die. And with much ado I got him to a fire, and went myself home.” I have found no further record of the fate of young John Gilbert.
The unfortunate young John Gilbert’s father, Captain John Gilbert (1626 – 1690, and one of many with that name), soldiered on along with his brother, Jonathan Gilbert, in establishing Hartford, Connecticut. Of John we know he married Amy Lord, daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Lord, on May 6, 1647, and had probably arrived from Yardley, England, in about 1645. He and his brother Jonathan, the latter being a linguist of Native American languages of the region, are recorded as acting as emissaries between the Governor in Hartford and the local tribes. In 1653, Jonathan was even so important as to be made a ‘marshal’ of sorts, receiving a special warrant from the Colony to “rayse such considerable forces as hee sees meete”.
It was Jonathan’s younger son, Captain Thomas Gilbert, who rekindled the maritime adventurism of his recent ancestors. Born about 1655, Thomas was said to have been “a brave and successful officer, and a leading man in the primitive navy of the colony”. For several years, Thomas commanded the twelve-gun Swan during a turbulent time of war on the high seas. During King William’s War, Thomas and his associates captured the French ship Saint Jacob. The Swan’s luck ran out in 1695 when it was overtaken by a French privateer of 20 guns. Even in this defeat, a witness’s account prompted Thornton to write that Thomas displayed, “fortitude and self-possession in difficulty, manly and generous heart, and desperate and unflinching defense against superior force”. This Captain Gilbert was said to be self-confident enough to freely weep when moved by the scene of two companions being joyously reunited after the Swan went down. He spent the rest of the war a prisoner in France, released afterwards during a prisoner exchange.
Captain Thomas Gilbert’s uncle, Captain John Gilbert (1626-1690), is from where my American line descends. What follows is what I consider to be typically and woefully American: eight or so generations of virtually no family history. I know very little about the men and women of my line from Captain John’s son Joseph through my grandfather, Robert. However, despite my earlier self-admonitions against romanticism, I cannot resist putting the stars of my father and my grandfather up among the constellation formed by my ancestors. Notable to me, and just as bravely, my grandfather Robert James Gilbert recrossed the Atlantic to help defeat the Nazis as an infantryman in Europe. The best I can tell he fought in some of the most harrowing battles in Italy – and had the artillery-shrapnel scars to prove it. My father, Bernard James Gilbert, spent eight years in the Army and National Guard during the Cold War, only to spring back into volunteer service to rescue victims and recover bodies during the lethal Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak. After that, he spent fifteen more years in the Civil Defense helping flood and disaster victims without taking a dime. Precious little is known about my female ancestors, and I do not mean to neglect them here. I submit that whoever and wherever a Gilbert may be, man or woman, we belong to a family of singular daring.
Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village Descendants:
–Please click this link to sign in–
I need EVERY descendant to please join our group and sign in to our Roll Call! If you are unsure of lineage – I have many of the lines done and would love to help figure it out~
We have a lot exciting things happening for the Lighthouse People so make sure you join to keep up to date! And feel free to post about your family’s, their stories, photos & memories.🥰
Please share this post to your boards 😘
I can’t wait to see how many of the descendants are still living~
Narratives of the Fischer, Knight, Clarke and Gilbert families
Quest For Our Ancestral Roots
DOUBLE GENEALOGY: the ADOPTION WITNESS
Samson Occom's trip through England
Proclaim liberty throughout the land
Marldon Village, Life in a Devon Parish
This site is dedicated to the ancestors of the Johnson, Booker and Petruff families of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania and thier connecting lines of lineage.
My quest of finding my ancestors (& a bit of my life)
Searching for Forgotten Forebears - A Work in Progress
Myths, legends, folklore and tales from around the world
the spaces between
Serving the interests of genealogists since 1967
Essays on Heritage and Culture