Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How Much of a Tarheel is Sage? (or, Keeping Up with the Ed Abbey)

A few months ago Ed Abbey posted about his genealogy and how much Iowan blood flowed in his veins. Not to be outdone although I’m not nearly as industrious as Ed when it comes to genealogy (I leave that to a brother and my sister), I recently spent time with the massive printouts they’ve created in an attempt to figure out just how much Tarheel blood flows in my veins. The list below shows each generation of my grandparents, the years of their birth and where they were born`.

Grandparents: 1913-1919, all four born in North Carolina

Great-grandparents: 1887-1894, all eight born in North Carolina

2x -great grandparents: 1839-1864, all sixteen born in North Carolina (one fought Civil War)

3x great grandparents: 1820-1864, 28 born in NC, 4 unknown birth locations, 3 fought in Civil War

4x great grandparents: 1785-1822, 9 born in NC, 10 unknown birth locations, 1 in transient from Scotland to NC, 1 fought in the Civil War

5x great grandparents: 1749-1798, 4 born in NC, 5 born in VA, 3 born in Scotland, 20 other dates and names known but no location of birth (many were probably NC or Scotland)

6x great grandparents: 1701-1752 3 born in NC, 7 in VA, 4 in Scotland, 1 in England, 2 in Germany and 8 others with no place of birth, (at least one fought for the Colonies and one for England in the Revolutionary War)

7x great grandparents: 1675-1724, 1 known to be from NC, 23 from VA, 2 from PA and four from England

8x great grandparents: 1620-1694, 2 from England, 1 from PA and 7 from Virginia

Oldest known birth of Sage's kinfolk in North America: Henry Pitts and Mary Galloway, both born in VA in 1645. Henry and Mary are Sage's 9x great grandparents

Oldest known relative--William Ball, born in 1449 in Berkham, Berkshire, England

What does this tell me--you have to go back before the Civil War to find ancestors of mine who were not born in North Carolina. Also, it appears that there is too much English blood in my veins, but that’s probably a misconception. Instead, it appears that the English were better historians. The English also appear to have settled in Virginia and moved down into North Carolina, while the Scots came directly from Scotland to North Carolina. Also, we’re a pretty pacifist bunch as I had no grandparents serving in the Second World War and no Great Grandparents in the First World War. I did have a brother of a Great-Grandfather who was gassed in World War 1 and another brother to a Great-Grandfather (from another side of the family) who left North Carolina in order to dodge the draft. You have to go back to the Civil War to find military experience (5 fought in the Civil War, all for the South). In the Revolutionary War, my bet was hedged as I had relatives on both sides. Interestingly, from my sibling’s work, it appears I’m the first Sage in the family!

Looking at my ancestors, my the one I feel the most kinship to is a guy named Daniel "River" Blue. He was born in Scotland in 1770 and emigrated from the Isle of Jura (where ever that is) in 1804. He settled on the Lower Little River in North Carolina. There are many who think that my middle name should be "River!"

As for first names, there are a couple "John Calvins" and one "John Wesley," the latter not being from the Scottish/Presbyterian side of the family. There are two cemeteries that seem to claim more than their fair share of my relatives--Union Presbyterian and Abbotts Creek Primitive Baptist Churches cemeteries.


  1. SO, Sage, what are you doing living up "nawth?"

  2. This makes me want to try again to find my grandmother's birth records. I was not able to find a birth certificate for her anywhere.

  3. The chap from Jura may well have been given a push. At the time there was the highland clearances. A very nasty system that evicted Clansmen to the coast to work seaweed. Jura and all of those islands are somewhat odd, in that the numbers of Catholics about equal those following a Calvinist route and I doubt if there were ten Anglicans confined to the households of duke of Argyll and the earl of Bute.
    Anyhoos, mostly when in an Archive, the history of any family depends on two things, the ability to own and the ability to read/write. And the only people for the last 800 or so years that could do both in an either/or sort of way were the English.

    Have a happy Christmas.

  4. Sage
    Isn't it fun to find out about our roots, somehow the tainted characters add color to the blaize'
    dull ones. And look you carried on the family heritage of loving 'rivers' and being a 'Presbyterian.' Maybe it was in the Southern water you drank. A little later I'll delve more into the documents you've made available.thanks.

  5. Kenju, a mutant gene with the wandering bug appeared with my father, who was the first in our direct line to leave NC for VA (3 years). Although they settled back in NC when I was 9, they later moved out of state twice more--to Japan and to Korea--so I suppose my wanderlust comes from my dad...

    Jen, you need a sibling to do that kind of work! :)

    Vince, Thanks for the information. The other to move from Scotland that we know about about (Hugh McKenzie--alhtough the Mac was changed to Mc after being in the Carolinas) was born in 1730 on the Isle of Skye. (If legend has it right, as this was from a history written by my Great-Granddad

    Eutychus, I truly want to know more about the misfits and scondrels--the source of our family's original sin!

  6. Sage
    I love it, 'the source of our family's original sin!' thanks. Sure keeps one humble when you look at it in that light.

  7. Yes, but isn't the real question, "NC, NC State, Duke or Wake Forest?"

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friend.


  8. My great great great grandpappy fought your great great great grandpappy in the civil war. Yours won, mine lost an arm.

  9. Eutychus, Just like I had folks on both sides in the Revolution, I've had folks on both sides of the law when it comes to the distilling business.

    Randall, UNC (in state). If they're playing anyone out-of-state, I'll root from them all, and that's especially true if the university happens to be from Missouri :-) May you too have a Merry Christmas.

    Walking Guy, Actually, two were receiving pensions from their wounds. My 3x great-granddaddy was wounded and sent home and then rounded up to fight Sherman when he came into the state.

  10. One thing sure and certain, I will see the Mackenzie river where she leaves the lakes before heading north. For sometimes the melt will arrive from the south quicker, if there is clear skies to the south. And the upward pressure of the melt from the lake will cause the solid ice in the river to rupture, upwards, violently.
    But why would a Mackenzie be on Skye, are you certain of the dates.

  11. River would be a great name. I sometimes wish I had a cool name.

  12. Hey it's really interesting to know about one's origins, your siblings did a great work!

    I don't have such a detailed genealogy report -I only know i have Spanish and a bit of Italian blood-.

    Merry Xmas, Sage. Enjoy thee days!

  13. Vince, I'm pretty sure of the dates, more so that of Skye (I need to pull out the history and check it, but even the history may be wrong as it was written early in the 20th century)

    Charles, I like "River" You should run a contest and we could give you a name. The Cajun Razorback would probably be too plain!

    Leni, Yes, I'm glad it was them doing the work. My blood must run cold--the Scottish isles and German--Italian and Spanish sounds warmer and a hertiage with better food!

  14. An appropriate time think deeply about family :) Merry Christmas and have a joyous, healthful New Year!

  15. Sounds like you have quite a streak of Yankee blood in you!

    It's nice knowing your heritage.

    Merry Christmas Sage!

  16. Sage: Merry Christmas to you and your family! :D)

  17. So it we cut you open, it's pretty much a guarantee you'll bleed Tar Heel Blue?

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

  18. Mine was elected judge here in the D and had a school named after him so i guess in the end of it all they still did OK as long as they weren't killed.

  19. Vince, to answer an earlier question--in a history of the McKenzie family that was re-edited in 1940, it listed a Hugh MacKenzie from the Isle of Skye (of course, 1940 was a long time after 1745-50 when he supposedly immigrated to the US). We also have two stories of his demise--that said history has him dying of some disease in SC while serving in the Continental Army, but another has him living a few more decades and buried in NC. The first makes a better story, but I'd feel better to know he's in NC soil. All this is to say, "who knows where he was from"

    Merry Christmas, Karen

    Ed, yeah, right, Bone has it right about the source of my blue blood, the rest is gray! I hope Little Abbey had a wonderful Christmas.

    Michael, Merry Christmas.

    Bone, which explains why I'm more into college hoops than football!

    Walking Guy, I'm sure a few of mine went before judges... I did have one that became a Revenuer (actually a US Marshall, but was known to bust stills), which should have made some interesting Christmas dinners considering the rest of the family's business interests.

  20. It is not odd that a Mackenzie went to the USA. But the date, seems very odd as it brackets the Culloden '46. And odd that Skye would be the source of his trip. If he was on the run and I very much suspect he was, the MacDonald lands of Skye would be the very last place, in the frying pan into the fire, idea. But this is even more reinforced given that his Clans lands went north quite some distance. Further it may well also help explain why his life after is a bit vague. And also where he ended up living. The writ ran long and far after, for if you look they very nearly won.

  21. Vince, I don't know much about the old country--but there were number of MacDonalds who also settled in the Sandhill region of NC. Flora McDonald being one of them, but she left the Carolinas after aligning with England in the Revolutionary War. There are a few McDonalds in my family tree.

  22. How cool to know all this. For me, only three of my four grandparents were born in the U.S., and none of my great-grandparents were!


  23. This is quite a lot of work! My father and uncle told me a lot about my family's origins before they passed away. It was very meaningful. Wishing you a wonderful 2010, Sage!

  24. Pearl, does your family still carry around a green card, just in case?

    Michael, I have fond memories especially of my mother's grandmother (I should blog about her) and my great-granddaddy McKenzie (I have blogged about him). They'd tell stories from their parents who were in the Civil War--it made it seem not that far in the past!