Playing the Race Card

What exactly is race, and why is it such an issue in our culture today?

According to Merriam-Webster, race is a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits. But if we are all part of humankind, why have our distinctive physical traits become so significant? Why do we treat people differently, based solely on the way they look?

Jax and Reddy haircut picture

Jax and Reddy are five year olds. Jax asked his mother to shave his head like his friend Reddy. That way he could trick their teacher because she would not be able to tell them apart.

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Climbing My Family Tree, Part 24

Immigrants Francis Cooke, Hester le Mahieu Cooke, Jane Cooke, and Experience Mitchell

Francis Cooke (my ten times great-grandfather) was a Mayflower passenger. I stumbled across his lineage while investigating the Packards in Part 22. Francis was born in England in 1583. Curiously, we find him living in Leiden, Holland, about eight years before John Robinson and the rest of the Pilgrims arrived. This period was before the time of Protestant persecution in England under King James, so the original motivation to move to Holland is unknown. His occupation was that of wool comber. Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part 14

Immigrants Thomas Moore, Ann Grafton, Daniel Ladd, George Corliss, Thomas Davis, and Christian Coffer

This week I introduce six more of my ancestors who immigrated from England in the first half of the 17th Century. They were among the original founders of the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, a part of the wild western frontier of that time.

The immigrants suffered no small heartbreak when one of their sons was killed by Native Americans, and a grandson was captured and physically maimed.  Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part Nine

Immigrant John Fillmore

This week we turn to tales of high sea adventure, complete with swarthy pirates, and we even come across an American president. Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part Eight

Immigrants Edmund Rice & Thomasine Frost Rice, Thomas King & Ann Collins King, and Samuel Rice & Elizabeth King Rice

The Rice and King families immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1638. The two families became extensively entwined when three Rice boys married three King girls. Samuel Rice King (my seven times great-grandfather) was born into the Rice family, and then was adopted into the King family. Because of this adoption 350 years ago, my mother was born Patricia Louise King, as opposed to Patricia Louise Rice.

Although the two families immigrated just eighteen years after the Mayflower, their history in the New World was vastly different from that of their Pilgrim neighbors to the south. The Rice and King families were Puritans, not Separatists, and their family histories involved deadly encounters with the native populations, in stark contrast to the relatively peaceful interactions in Plymouth.

The family story is one of war against the Natives, resulting in a succession of retaliatory attacks including killings, burning settlements to the ground, and the kidnapping of five young Rice children.  Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part Six

Immigrants Matthäus Hoffsäß & Margaretha Wüstin Hoffsäß

I have long known the oral tradition of my great-grandfather’s coming to America from somewhere in Germany in the 1800s, but I was some surprised to discover I have German roots on my mother’s side of the family as well.

Matthäus Hoffsäß, as it turns out, was both my five times and my six times great-grandfather. Continue reading

Climbing My Family Tree, Part Five

Immigrants Palmer Tingley, Anna Fosdick Tingley, & Stephen Fosdick

Palmer Tingley, my nine times great-grandfather, was born in Kingston-on-Thames, England in 1614. Palmer was a miller by trade, and at the age of 21 he boarded a ship departing London, headed for New England. The Planter set sail in mid-April, 1635, safely arriving in Boston harbor several weeks later.

Palmer was a “good churchman” and carried a certificate to prove so on his journey to America.

Two years later, Palmer fought in the Pequot War of 1637. Continue reading