I’ve wanted to rant for days and days, but I haven’t gotten my thoughts in order. I want to rant about all sorts of things from politics to social injustices, to neighborhood crazies on Facebook and Mommy Wars. Every time I sit down to try and sort it all out, I just keep coming back to one main thought. So what? And not “so what” in the usual way that nobody wants to really hear what I have to rant about. I’m fully aware that I’ve got a pretty, um, well, a pretty limited audience. It’s different this time in that I know I’m just adding to the problem I’m most annoyed by. I don’t really know how to fix that. I want to jump in and share my indignation, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the world is full up to the tip top with all the righteous indignation it can hold, and most of it ain’t doing anybody any good whatsoever.
Instead of trying to distill my indignation, which I assure you is super duper righteous, into any kind of actual post, or even trying to figure out how to channel it into something of some use to somebody, I spent several hours on Friday on a project of no use to anyone. Absolutely nobody on this planet is better off for knowing what I figured out in the three hours or so I spent on this task. No one will eat, sleep, or breathe any easier because of this knowledge. Yet, somehow it helped me put some things into perspective.
Let me see if I can distill THAT for you. I’ve mentioned before that I discovered a few years ago my direct descent from Gov. William Bradford. That and a five dollar bill will get me a plain red cup of coffee these days, for sure. I’ve done the math. Some THIRTY FIVE million Americans can trace their lineage to one of the 24 males on the Mayflower who produced heirs. I just ain’t that special. The cool thing is that I know all the names. ALL of them, that directly connect me to the Mayflower, and the pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving, and all that. Now, this isn’t the time to tell me about the down side of Puritanism. I’m well acquainted with the shortcomings of this favorite American myth, but that’s not the point I’m getting at, either.
The super cool thing about knowing all those names, is that they’re all wrapped up with all sorts of other cool things going on in the country over those generations. Think about it. There just weren’t that many families back then compared to now, and even fewer of them had the means to do more than subsist. And those that did do important things often didn’t have surviving records for us to peruse today. But having an ancestor like Gov. Bradford means there’s a good chance that many of the generations in between are also well documented. So, I’ve found out some other fun things over the last few years.
For instance, Maj. James Fitch, who married Alice Richards Bradford, granddaughter of Gov. Bradford, generously donated the farmland and all the glass and nails to build the first building for what would become Yale University. James and Alice’s daughter, Lucy married Henry Cleveland, a cousin of Moses Cleaveland, credited founder of Cleveland, Ohio. Maj. James Fitch’s maternal grandfather, Henry Whitfield, was the leader of another group of puritans. They founded Guilford, Connecticut and built the Henry Whitfield home. The stone house still stands, and is a state museum.
So, I knew about Lucy Fitch Cleveland. For no particular reason, about a year ago I came across Lucy Fitch Kilbourne, first wife of James Kilbourne, founder of Worthington, my adopted hometown. I just knew there had to be a connection, given the time period and the fact that the Scioto Company came here from Connecticut, too. I wrote a bit about it when I came across the name last year. It popped up in my Timehop, Facebook memories, blah, blah, and I’d forgotten all about it. Friday seemed a good day to waste some more time on this project. I reposted the blog post on Facebook, and a genealogy enthusiast friend jumped right on it! It took us less than an hour to track down the actual connection this time. I’ll spare you the begats and begots. Here’s a chart.
Clear as mud, right? Well, Paula and I were pretty psyched to figure it out. It was a lovely little diversion. Of course, I couldn’t just say MYSTERY SOLVED and go on about my productive day. That would be ludicrous. I spent another couple hours poking around the internet reading random things about the Fitches and the Kilbournes. Turns out, one of James and Lucy’s sons was Byron Kilbourne, who was one of three founders of Milwaukee, WI.
I found a few more tidbits, but they’re too convoluted to spell out. Let’s just say there’s a link to the Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch. That doesn’t even get me a family discount, so whatever.
This is what I know now. I have even more connection to this place, Worthington, than I thought. It didn’t matter when I thought I had no ancestral connection to this town, and it doesn’t matter that I found one now. Still, for all that it doesn’t matter, or change a thing, I’ll still go visit Lucy’s grave this week. Lucy Fitch Kilbourne died in 1807 during childbirth. She and the unnamed baby girl, her eighth child, are buried together in St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery just a mile and a half up the road.