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First names, like eye color, tend to run in families.

In my (ex) brother-in-law’s family, every first son is James, every second son is John. It has been like that for generations. He broke the tradition by a hair, naming his first son John. James will have to wait for esteemed son number two.

My sister tossed on our own family naming tradition by adding a middle name for baby John that is old-fashioned and multi-syllabic: Chauncey, which is the name of our great-great grandfather.

Chauncey is also a name that is typical for my family. Given names for us tend to be a mouthful: Theodore. Cynthia. Thaddeus. Justine. Florence. Priscilla. Abigail. Frances.

In all 2,101 ancestors I’ve come up with so far, our most common female name is Mary. There are 112 of them, which still leaves 1,989 who are not named Mary. That makes for a lot of unique names.can you buy Lyrica at walmart

Of course, each generation seeks its own naming trends,whether we’re talking the 1980s or the 1480s.

Every one of my 16 Abigails are from the 16- and 1700s, except one 1800s.

Sometimes these generational naming trends fight family traditions for naming supremacy.

And so somewhere right now 2014’s trending “Joshua” is bumping a favorite family name off the birth certificate. Just as the name “Ashley” did a few years ago.

And the way “Ruth” spiked from 66th to fifth most popular girl’s name after the birth of the hauntingly beautiful “Baby Ruth,” daughter of President Grover Cleveland, in 1891.

But does every family have names as odd as mine?

Look through my ancestors and you’ll find Aleonore, Amabil, Ansfred, Apollonia, Apollos, Augustine, and Avelina. And Benoni, Beriah, Biggett, Bishop, and Bran. That doesn’t even exhaust odd names from the A’s and B’s!

Sherlock Holmes hatOf course, they probably weren’t odd for the time, and that’s where it helps to put on your best Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat and play Ancestral Name Detective.

You can sometimes guess in what era an ancestor was born, or the circumstances of an ancestor’s birth, just by the their name.

My eighth great grandfather was Benoni Gardiner. That odd name is a clue that his mother might have died in childbirth, which she probably did, as her year of death is also his birth year.

It didn’t take me much Googling to find that Benoni is a name that had special meaning in early New England families. It comes from a passage in Genesis on the death of Rachel, wife of Jacob:

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

Pilgrim kidsIt’s no trick at all to know that my ancestors, Silence Brown, Delight Kent, Mindwell Osborne, Temperance Stewart, and Thankful Clapp were all named in the trendy Puritan practice of choosing virtues as children’s names.

And with a name like Henry de Pomeroy, you can bet my 21st great grandfather lived in 11th or 12th century England, which he did.

But I admit I was thrown by my 18th great grandmother, Ethel May Dyer, who was born in 1320 England, not the early 20th century American Midwest.

You can learn a lot about history, too, when researching ancestral names.

Walter Giffard, my 23th great grandfather, was born in 1040 in Normandy. I figured he must have palled around with William the Conqueror, because next we see him he’s been installed as Earl of Buckingham after William won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and parked his throne in England. cheap beer lyrics

Sure enough, a little Googling proved my hunch was right. (Don’t be too impressed. The Battle of Hastings in 1066 is one of the few historical dates I remember from school.)

At first ol’ Norman-named Walter was surrounded by people with weird Anglo-Saxon names like Cyneweard, and his friends Godric, Aelfwine, Godgivu , Aethelred, and Deorwine.

William and his Norman crowd brought their refined, wine-drinking names with them, and the not-so-sore-losing conquerees soon discovered that they liked both the culture and the names of the conquorers better.buy me a boat lyrics

That’s why your neighbors are probably William instead of Wigberht, John instead of Eoforhild, or Susan instead of Swidhun.

It’s also the reason there are, statistically, 60 Michaels to every Hector, and 57 Johns to every Stuart.

Because the pool of popular children’s names shrank after the Norman invasion.

Instead of the Anglo-Saxon baby name book that would have been hundreds of pages long, parents would have had more of a pamphlet to go through now.

To put it another way, if you went out to meet a group of ten friends in England in about 1300, the group would have, statistically, two Johns, two Matildas, at least one William and Isabella, and either a Thomas, Bartholomew, Cecilia, or Catherine for the others.

Naming became so uncreative in England, in fact, that there were sometimes several children with the same names in one family.

buy Lyrica canadaLike a family noted in the History of Parish Registers, which reads:

“One John Barker had three sons named John Barker, and two daughters named Margaret Barker.”

I just hope they didn’t all look alike too.

It got confusing real fast. Thus the surname became a thing.

For a while, last names kept to the knitting. If you read King Edward IV’s accounting books from 1480, you would see IOUs made out to:

John Poyntmaker, for pointing of xl. Dozen points of silk pointed with agelettes of laton.

To a laborer called Rychard Gardyner working in the gardyne.

To Alice Shapster for making and washing xxiiii. Sherts, and xxiiii. Stomachers.

But they started running into a problem of duplicates, so someone got smart and extended the roster of names by adding “son” (in whatever appropriate language) to the ends of given names.

PeacockThen someone else started in on adjectives, like Short, Little, Red, or White.

Then they started putting their creative muscle into it and got Longfellow, Blackbeard, Stern, and Peacock (“vanity, vanity, all is vanity”).

You probably don’t know anyone named “Crooked Nose,” but maybe you know a Cameron, which is Gaelic for the same.

And you probably don’t know an “Ugly Head,” but I bet you know its Gaelic version, Kennedy.

You probably do know what the name Williamson means. But I bet you didn’t know that William is German for Desire Helmet.

It’s fun to play ancestral name detective, though it can be frustrating. But if you’re hitting brick walls that you need to find a way around, put on your deerstalker hat and think like Sherlock. You might be surprised at how well it works.

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My seventh great grandmother was Fear Brewster, daughter of Elder William Brewster of Mayflower fame. Puritan girl.GIF

Fear’s siblings were named Love, Wrestling, Patience, and Jonathan.

Jonathan was apparently named before the Brewsters got their hands on the Geneva Bible, which became the primary Bible translation used by the Puritans (and Shakespeare).

For some reason the Puritans decided it would be a good idea to tag their children by the Bible’s translated names. This is why More-Fruit and Hate-Evil were trendy names in the 1600s.

Where did these names come from, you ask? Why, from the back pages of the Geneva Bible, where there was a handy list of names that appear in the Old Testament, along with their English translations.

I presume that Mr. and Mrs. Brewster then did what so many others did in naming their baby Puritans. They turned to the back of their Bible and ran down the list. Puritan charcoal drawing

They could have named their beautiful baby girl, Eschew-Evil, as a fellow Puritan did. But they decided their precious dumpling would be better named, “Fear.”

It was a totally appropriate name. Really.

Not because she was a devilish newborn, though.

In fact, it really had nothing at all to do with the child that would carry this advertisement for her whole life.

The commonly told story of how Fear got her name is that she was born during a time when the Puritans were holding secret religious meetings in Nottinghamshire, England.

Since the Puritan faith was essentially outlawed by English law, its practitioners could be arrested and tried if found out.

Thus, Fear got her name from her parents’ anxiety over getting busted by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Kind of a bummer moniker, if you ask me.Pretty Puritan.GIF

Fear’s brother, Wrestling, didn’t have it quite so bad.

Wrestling is a translation of Jabbok, and does not come with the ominous presumptions that Fear does.

In comparison to either of those, though, Patience and Love had it easy.

As a matter of fact, all four of them had it easy compared to their fellow Puritan children, More-Fruit, Faint-Not, or, horribly, No-Merit or Sorry-for-Sin.

Or, for that matter, my mother, Ruth, whose name translates to Drunk, according to “Hitchcock’s New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible.” She does like the little hot toddy now and then, come to think of it, even at 93.

But Drunk? I think not. (And besides, the Hebrew translation means “Friend,” which is much preferable as a name, I think.)

If you’re having a baby, and think it would be neat to have a Biblical name that’s translated from its original language, here are a few suggestions, from Professor Hitchcock’s 1869 list:

Dust (Ophrah)
Perfection (Salma)
Little (Paul)
Sheep (Rachel)
Asked of God (Samuel)Elizabeth Freake
No Glory (Ichabod)
Trouble (Jabez)
Building Me (Bunni)
Confession (Judith)
Gift of God (Nathaniel)
The Father’s Joy (Abigail)
Dunghill (Dimonah)
Rebellion (Miriam)
Iniquity of Trouble (Beth-aven)
Devoted to Destruction (Hermon)
A Dog, or A Crow, or A Basket (Caleb)
Who Becomes Bitter (Martha)
House of Affliction (Bethany)
Father of a Great Multitude (Abraham)
Mountain of Strength (Aaron)

You can find Hitchcock’s Biblical Names and their Meanings buy Lyrica pills.Salem Puritan.GIF The list is a 58-page searchable pdf with many hundreds of names.

Or, there’s a more conveniently searchable list, along with more detailed information on name origins, buy Lyrica canada pharmacy.

Take a minute to scan it and maybe you’ll find your perfect baby name.

I don’t recommend Fear, though.

My seventh great-grandmother Fear Brewster Allerton died early.

Possibly of fright.

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I’ve never embraced my Scotch-Irish ancestry.

In the first place, my mother always emphasized that the word is “Scots,” not “Scotch.” I’m prettyturnbull-s-whiskey-of-hawick-scotland sure it’s because she disliked Scotch’s association with whiskey. And she never hyphenated “Scots” with the “Irish” part.  To her, our ancestors were purely Scottish, and the fact that they passed through Ireland for a generation or two was of negligible consequence. Irish meant Catholic to Presbyterian her, and we assuredly were not Catholic, thank you very much, and here you can see where comes all the trouble in the Isles of England.

But the main reason I never embraced the Scots-Irish is because any time that designation is mentioned it seems to be preceded by “The Fighting.” I don’t find that embraceable. A certain segment of Scots-Irish Americans, led lately by former Secretary of the Navy, Jim Webb, likes to proudly point to the Scots-Irish propensity to, as he says, mistrust government and bear and use arms. order Lyrica samplesHe even wrote a book called, “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.”

If the Scots-Irish are so damn testy, where are all of Scotland’s wars? Huh?

Webb and his cohorts say the Scots-Irish have “a propensity” to mistrust government and bear and use arms. All “a propensity” means is “a prejudice.” A propensity to mistrust means that however a person decides to act, the decision is already weighted toward mistrust; the deck is stacked against trust. Completely objective people do not have “a propensity” to believe a certain way, no matter what the evidence says.

order Lyrica online ukNow, don’t go all political on me. There’s no political subtext meant here. Honestly, if Webb and others are right, I’m glad the Scots-Irish were around to save our butts in the Revolutionary War. (But then, if three quarters of the Rebel Army was Scots-Irish, as he points out, how do you explain the South losing the Civil War? …Just askin’.)

You know, it takes (at least) two sides to make a war. Nearly all Scotland’s wars were fought with the English, but we don’t go around calling them, “The Fighting English,” do we?

A little background might help here.

Lyrica order formWhen the Scottish people began their several hundred year migration to America, they had just spent 700 years battling the English. No kidding. 700 years! Finally, in the early 1700s, Scotland’s James I became king and unified Great Britain. James decided to stock Ireland with Protestants from Scotland, and the Scots were only too happy to oblige because they were just coming out of a decade-long famine and hoped for better lives elsewhere. Their new lands were in Northern Ireland, where they were immediately seen as the enemy by the Catholics opposed to their religion and infringement on Ireland’s lands.

So far we’ve tallied 700 years of war, a ten-year famine, and now 150 or so years of strife within Northern Ireland. But there’s more.

mail order LyricaThe American Colonies were prospering, but they had problems with the Natives. (And the Natives had problems with them!) Natives kept attacking the towns and settlements, and the situation was particularly bad in those parts of the Colonies that bordered the frontier. So the secretary of state of Pennsylvania thought up a clever solution. He would create a human buffer between his colony’s towns and the frontier. And who better to be border buffers than the fighting Scots-Irish. So he offered free land to lure immigrants, who were already eager to get out of Ireland.woman-weeping-outside-a-log-cabin-in-ruins

Those poor Scots-Irish. An entire people suffering from “soldier’s heart,” a sort of constant anxiety first described in Civil War veterans. They couldn’t catch a break.

People become conditioned to their environments. Said a different way, your environment can make you a different person. If they had just come out of 860 years of peace instead of war, maybe Jim Webb’s book would be called “The Peace-Loving Scots-Irish.”

new order lyricsMy mother’s mostly-Scottish family is rural Virginia, though by what evidence I’ve seen so far they came by way of Jamestown, not by the well-traveled Scots-Irish route via Pennsylvania and down through the Ohio Valley. The character of my mother’s family is gentle, communal, earthy, peace-loving, home-loving, and not particularly religious or political.

Since getting interested in genealogy I’ve come to better embrace my one quarter Scots-Irishness. I can move beyond media-friendly monikers like “Born Fighting.” ernie-cselko-frontier-reflectionsI can see now that it’s not about the fighting. It’s about the courage. They didn’t move into Ireland to fight. They didn’t sail to America to fight.

Labels like “The Fighting Scots-Irish” emphasize a certain kind of courage at the expense of other kinds. Like the courage to cross a border, even a sea, to better their lives. Like the courage to walk into the wilderness and carve out a place to call their own. That doesn’t take aggression. They didn’t move forward by way of slaughter or hacking down forests. They moved forward by facing the unknown with a powerful strength of character and purpose. To carve a place in the wilderness and make it their own, after being chased around and out of for a couple centuries. “Leave us be!” could have been their moniker.

Leave us be! To live our lives in peace and community, we’ve crossed the Irish Sea, and then the Atlantic Ocean. We were lured by King James, who planted us as Presbyterian seeds in Ireland, and then by American colonists who sent us to the hinterlands and planted us a buffer between them and the Natives. Conflict precedes us, it does not follow us. You think us fighters, but we are not. Leave us in peace and we stay in peace!

john-faed-evangeline-and-gabrielNow here we are further cementing the fate of these people by popularizing the fighting image, lauding them as heroes for sending their boys to fight our shared wars. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be proud of them, because we should. But we shouldn’t make it seem expected of them because they’ve got fighting in their blood and that’s always been their role.

I’m embracing the one quarter of my blood that is Scots-Irish. These are most assuredly people of strength and courage, and I like that. Of course, there’s also the music, but that’s another story for another time.

May the best ye’ve ever seen
Be the warst ye’ll ever see.
May the moose ne’er lea’ yer aumrie
Wi’ a tear-drap in his e’e.
May ye aye keep hail an’ hertie
Till ye’re auld eneuch tae dee.
May ye aye be jist as happy
As we wiss ye noo tae be.

 

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Searching for your ancestors teaches you a lot.

When you start to see past the organizational structures of genealogy, past the dates and towns and who begat whoms, you find small truths that touch your heart, or hidden stories that teach you the character of a person, or even a time.

You see your ancestors’ births and deaths fit into eras, and those eras fit into historical circumstances, and historical circumstances fit into your deepening thoughts about our world.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the children.purchase generic LyricaIn 17th, 18th and 19th century America even the most protected of them lived in a world of upheaval. A world of uncertainty and impermanence. I have some ancestors who were married two, three, and four times; not because they kept finding fatal flaws in their partners, but because their spouses kept dying. Dying and leaving both spouse and children behind. In those rougher eras, nearly a quarter of all children lost at least one parent before the age of five.

It was just as common, more common in fact, to lose a child. Up till 1900, twenty percent of children died before they reached five. My mother’s mother lost two babies. My father’s mother also lost two babies. After researching a number of my family lines back a half dozen or more generations, I stopped naming the early deaths entirely. If the child did not live to adulthood, he did not make it onto my tree. If a spouse didn’t contribute to my blood line, I didn’t list them. That even goes for my mother’s two lost siblings, and my father’s two sisters who died before he was born, a week apart.

buy generic Lyrica india Priscilla was six and Elizabeth was six months. Because the gravediggers were on strike, my grandfather dug the graves himself. My grandmother expressed sorrow for the rest of her life. I have the girls’ photos, and they are beautiful babies, clearly adored and pampered by their parents. My sister displays Priscilla’s photo on her vanity dresser. I have the baby’s silver drinking cup inscribed, “Priscilla.”

But their names are not on my family tree. I had to draw the line at children who made it to adulthood, and who grew the tree. The fruit that fell before maturing had to be left off. I don’t have room for everyone. I don’t feel good about leaving them off. I would like to honor the unfortunate babes with their rightful place in the family history, but a blessing of peace has to suffice in place of a leaf on my already overpopulated tree.

I am not the only one. In some families, the only record of a lost infant is a gap in the succession of children’s birth dates. There is no other sign; no birth certificate, no death certificate, no photo or marker. In 17th century America a normal family lost at least one child. The parents themselves were gone early, the mother at 39, her husband at 48.

What did all this death and loss and attachment and then replacement do to the children who remained? If I am unsettled because I cannot honor those lost early as members of the family tree, how could those who remained living even bear the morning sun?

purchase Lyrica in canada Did the children learn to live with nonattachment, considering one adult guardian as good as another? Did they consider blood siblings as just another child like any other that came and went in their lives? Did they grow up to love less than we do today? Or did they grow up to love more, because they learned that strangers can come together to be a family?

Because family structure up until the 1900s was wildly different from what we think of as a normal family today.   In earlier centuries, families were elastic. They took in orphans. They took in the elderly and the destitute. Even poorer families might expand the dinner table with servants and apprentices. Families grew and shrank as needs and circumstances changed. Grandparents died, and were moved onto the table in the parlor, where family gathered and paid their respects.

buy Lyrica medicineParents died, and life went on. Children died, and parents mourned, but they acknowledged the cycle of birth and life and death. How could they not? The cycle of life was condensed. It swirled faster, and was often made mean by war or disease. Children were not the central concern of these families. Survival was.

If a parent died and left his or her spouse with too many children to care for alone, the surviving parent often parceled the children out to family, friends, and even orphanages. A poor widowed mother might give her child to another family to raise in exchange for some compensation, like money, or a cow. When the mother became more settled she could try to buy back her child.

buy Lyrica 300 mg online ukIn 1620, London dealt with their street children by rounding them up and sending them to the Colonies as indentured servants. They were made to work for their masters for years to buy their freedom. More than half the English immigrants to the Southern colonies were indentured servants. Their average age was 15, and some were as young as six. A six year old servant might be nine or ten by the end of her indenture. What then? Who took in that child? Many of them, like the boy above, photographed in 1888 by Alfred Stigleitz, spent their entire childhood in the workhouse, living the meanest of lives.

When my mother in law’s mother, shown below, died in childbirth in about 1920, she left her grocer husband with nine children that he couldn’t both care for and work. Six went to family members, but three had to be put to the orphanage until their father found and married a new mother for them. The children never did take to the stepmother, nor she to them. They found solace, refuge, and support from each other. That closeness lasted the rest of their lives.purchase Lyrica onlineLoss is not everpresent for us today as it was just 114 years ago. Spouses are fairly assured to live till old age. Children are fairly assured to outlive their parents. You can be reasonably sure that when your wife or husband goes out for food they will not be mauled by a bear. War will not decimate your neighborhood. Your child will not die of small pox.

As we lose less, do we love more? Do we feel more secure in giving our love? I think the answer is yes. We are less guarded, less numb from loss already, less likely to withhold love from feeling the terrible, core-shattering pain of loss of a previous love.

If this is true, perhaps as life becomes more secure, as medicine and technology better control life’s hazards, will we as a culture love more? It’s a nice thought. Teach your children well.

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My mother is 93 and still of good mind. She grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but plenty of her ancestors were from up in the “hollers.” I like to visit her just before she goes to sleep at night. She snuggles in under the covers, and I curl up next to her. My dog, Pixie, then jumps up on the bed and noses in between us to fall asleep. Then Mom and I talk about things that interest her. Anything but world affairs, anyway; she’s horrified by what she sees on the news. Like most of us, she dislikes war and strife, but she sometimes worries herself sick about “what’s happening to the world.” I don’t want to send her off to sleep with those thoughts, so I save that conversation for mornings.

She likes to talk about girlish things sometimes. Like the little black slippers her father bought her, or the teacher she had all through grammar school. We like to giggle too, over stories of old boyfriends or funny things that happened in school.

And now and then she’ll remember some old superstition she heard as a child. One little boy at her school looked up in sky one morning when there was a sprinkling of rain, saw that the sun was shining through the clouds and, eyes wide, proclaimed, “It’s rainin’ and the sun is shinin,’ someone’s gonna die ‘afore the sun goes down.” She’s told me that one many times, putting on her best Blue Ridge mountain accent, and it always makes her smile. (Me too.)

The other evening she remembered one I hadn’t heard before:

“Wash your face at the dawn of day
in the field on the first nine days of May
and your freckles will go away.”

She said her sister made her go along to perform this ritual as as a young teen. “But it didn’t work,” she said, “I told her it wouldn’t.”

I like those old superstitions, and I know lots of readers like them too. So now and then I’ll collect a few and send them your way.

In honor of my mother’s delight at talking about girly things, here are some girly superstitions:

If your cornbread is rough, your husband’s face will be rough.

To brush your hair after dark will bring sorrow.

If a butterfly lands on you, you will get a new sweetheart.

To make yourself think clearly, put a ring or bracelet on your head.

If you eat burnt bread, your hair will become curly.

If a part of the hem of your skirt is turned up, and you spit on it, you will have a joyful day.

There’s often a shred of logic in superstitions: If you wet a crease you can then “iron” it with your hand over a flat surface. If you want to focus your attention (think clearly), any little trick that you believe will work, will probably help some. And if your cornbread is rough, you certainly won’t get the most handsome cornbread-lovin’ man in the village.

I love superstitions. They’re amusing, perplexing, and often dark and frightening. Their origins are so far from our lives today that we can hardly imagine how they came to be. I know there’s a lot of behavior shaping (“If your cornbread is rough….”) There’s also a lot of fear of the unknown, and a lot of blind hope from people who may otherwise have very little reason for hope.

It’s common to think that belief in superstition if a consequence of ignorance. While that is no doubt true in some cases, I don’t think it’s primarily ignorance that makes people believe in superstition. I believe it’s powerlessness. If you have no money, no education, no suitors, you can at least have hope, and superstitions give concreteness of a sort to hope.

I have loads of superstitions collected in a folder in the back of my file cabinet. I’ve written them down as I’ve heard them, from books, movies, people in different parts of the country, and my mother. I want to share them with you, and so every now and then I’ll do a Superstition Day.

If you have any superstitions you’d like me to add to my lists on Superstition Days, please send them along to me.

May your cornbread always be smooth!

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It’s time for a break from our John Fitch series. File this under strange facts….

The Mayflower wasn’t heading for Plymouth Rock back in 1620. It was heading for Jamestown, Virginia.

where to buy Pregabalin onlineIt might never have landed at Plymouth at all if they hadn’t been running short on beer.

With a dozen more barrels of beer on board, the thirsty pilgrims could have made it down to Jamestown, where breweries were in full brew mode and the colonial party was in full swing.

As it was, the Mayflower’s daily ration of a gallon of beer per man, woman, and child seriously dented the ship’s supply, and Captain Jones was worried he’d have a dry and dangerous voyage home with his crew.

Thus the pilgrims suffered the indignity not just of landing far from bullseye, but of being unceremoniously dropped off on aorder Pregabalin rock with no beer at all too.

I don’t know if the Mayflower was 620 miles off course because they’d been wantonly indulging on more than their fair share of beer.

But that gallon a day ration could account for why they sidled up to a rock at Plymouth that morning, instead of coming ashore a safe distance from objects that could put holes in wooden hulls. But I’m just guessing now.

Captain Jones fairly pushed the Pilgrims off board, roughly enough so Willorder Pregabalin onlineiam Bradford complained that they were hastened ashore and made to drink water, that the seamen might have the more beer.”

Bradford sounds a bit snippy to me, and I can see why he and his fellow shipmate, my capitalist seventh great-grandfather Isaac Allerton, didn’t remain friends. Allerton gets the sticky end of the wicket in history books, just short of being called a capitalist pig, but I say that’s because he didn’t commit every personal slight of Bradford’s to paper and posterity, as ole’ bossy breeches Bradford did.

But that’s a different story, for a different time. Right now we’re talking beer. It’s America’s Beverage, and it was right from the get-go.

Plenty of words have been traded on whether or not dry beer barrels really and truly led to the Mayflower pulling over at Plymouth and throwing our Pilgrim ancestors to the curb.

But let me ask yorder Pregabalin online ukou, is there a different way to interpret Bradford’s quote?

Or this one, that, “we could not now take time for further search, our victuals being pretty much spent, especially our beer.”

Putting the controversy to bed right now, I’ll say this:

The best that the naysayers can naysay is that the Pilgrims were not pushed to set up shop at Plymouth only because the ship was low on beer.

That’s good enough for me, and I won’t say anything more about it. Except that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Colonial America was consumed by beer.

Such as:

  • The Roanoke colonists of purchase PregabalinVirginia wasted no time building a brewery, and less than two years after pounding the settlement’s first stake, they were passing around the corn ale. The only problem was that it tasted horrible, so they advertised in London for a real brewmeister who could make tolerably good beer.
  • About the same time, the Dutch settled an island the Natives called Manhattan, changing its name to New Amsterdam. They too set about right away to build a brewery. Things went so rollickingly well there that in 1614 the first baby of New Amsterdam’s was born at the brewery.
  • And it could only get better. By 1660 New Amsterdam had a population of around 3,000, and 26 breweries and taverns. That’s a pretty significant per capita presence, at 115 population per imbibery. You can see a very cool interactive digital map of New Amsterdam, including the locations of all 20 of its taverns, at http://www.ekamper.net/gr-misc.htm.buy Pregabalin cheap uk
  • Jan Steen, a Dutch artist, lived in New Amsterdam. That is his painting at right, titled, “Ordinary Life in New Amsterdam.” Need I say more?
  • We don’t have the supply logs for the Mayflower, but we do have them for the Arabella, the ship that brought Governor Winthrop to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. For its trip over, the Arabella carried 42 tons of beer and 14 tons of water. Four times as much beer as water. That’s a mighty bit of imbibing.

But before you jump to the conclusion that our fair nation was conceived on a bender, it’s prudent to understand the state of water in England.buy generic Pregabalin

Simply put, it was wretched. It tasted of every rotten scrap and unmentionable that was thrown or poured into the nation-island’s waterways.

And worse, it harbored every disease that could be borne by those lethal liquids.

England in the 17th and 18th centuries was a petri dish of plague, influenza, typhus, cholera, malaria, smallpox, syphilis, diphtheria, hepatitis, dysentery, and who knows what else.

Other than boiling water to purify it, which is inconvenient on, say, a wooden ship or a day hike, purification by alcoholification was the 18th century’s only common alternative.

To quench thirst, beer or strong cidebuy Pregabalin onliner was consumed at every meal, and even given to babies.

Colonial workers were known to strike for beer and wine too.

Workmen demanded a quotient of liquor every day on top of their wages, or they refused to work. Such daily rations were especially the thing of New Amsterdam.

A Dutch visitor to Connecticut in 1639 wrote that, “These English live soberly, drinking but three times at a meal, and when a man drinks to drunkenness, they tie him to a post and whip him as they do thieves in Holland.”buy Pregabalin online uk

During the Revolutionary War both the British soldiers and our Continental Army were guaranteed a healthy daily ration of beer, which makes it a wonder anyone knew whose side they were on or what they were fighting over.

Even the war’s major strategies were calculated over a pint or four.

Thankfully, their British counterparts were just as likely to do the same.

But since beer-making grains were in short supply during the war, soldiers were probably not getting a daily ration of beer.

It was more likely a daily ration of some inebriating liquid of somewhere around a six percent alcohol content. That would generally mean spruce beer or hard cider. Even sassafras and pumpkin were used in a pinch.buy Pregabalin powder

It was probably only the officers and politicians who could get their mugs filled with real barley-hops beer.

George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Sam Adams in particular were well known for their love of spirits and beer.

My seventh great-grandfather, Isaac Allerton the Mayflower passenger, didn’t live to see the American colonies freed from British rule. But he did build a reasonable fortune with his small fleet of ships, trading goods between  England and its colonies in America and the Caribbean. Including beer, of course.

Perhaps we’re not the only nation whose very founding was fueled by beer. But I kind of think we might be. Because as it turns out, beer is as American as…beer.

Here’s to you!

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My Mother’s Special Drawer

My mother had her own drawer as a child.

With a family ofViolet green swallow.GIF 12 in a four-bedroom farmhouse that’s all she could get, one drawer.

But she didn’t feel deprived, she felt special.

The way she put it was, “My mother gave me my own drawer.”

She doesn’t know if her brothers or sisters had their own drawers, because, “I just thought about my drawer, not theirs.”

It was the Depression, and theirs was one of the fortunate families. They had their farm, and Mom’s father had a good job with the Norfolk & Western Railroad. Doll 1912.GIF

They had abundant food and some income to buy new shoes and little combs, maybe a doll at Christmas, and to go to the fair once a year and get other occasional small luxuries that gladden a child’s heart.

In the afternoons after school, with her homework done and still too early for supper, she liked to open her drawer and look at her special things.

There was a small, doll-sized tea set, and sometimes she had teDoll tea set 3.GIFa parties for her doll on the downstairs parlor windowsill.

There was a doll’s comb, and sometimes she sat on the edge of her bed and quietly combed the pretty hair on her precious doll with the bisque head.

Brown thrasher.GIFBut what she loved best of all were her bird cards. She had a whole stack of them and she liked to take them out, spread them on her bed, and look at them.

She examined each of the birds, their colors, the fineness of their feathers, the tilt of their heads, the way they perched so lightly on a twig.

Then she turned the cards over and read what they said on the other side.

She read about the brown thrasher, that, “On beautiful May mornings he is seen and heard singing his clear, rollicking, joyous, and variable song, while perched on the topmost branches of tree or bush.” Dickcissal.GIFSuch vibrant, lyrical language!

She read that the dickcissel’s “unmusical song, which is given with great earnestness, resembles the syllables, ‘dick dick chee chee chee chee,’ and from this the bird’s name is derived.”

And that the crested flycatcher’s territory “is pugnaciously guarded by the male, who brooks no intrusion by any other bird.”

But mostly she looked at the delightful pictures. Each of them was drawn with great skill in vivid colors and detail exacting enough to show the bird’s features, but artistically enough to be a creative representation of the bird in its environment.

She handled them gently, always carefully restacking them and putting them back into the drawer, precisely in the near-right corner, squared to the two drawer sides.

Bird and bee.GIFHer mother gave them to her, only her, and she got a new card every time  her mother came home from the store with a new box of Arm & Hammer baking soda. They came one to a box.

Sometimes after looking at her bird cards she liked to go to the windowsill of her upstairs bedroom and watch for the real kind.

Her home was at the edge of land where the rolling green valley of Shenandoah meets the dense forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She could look out past heBlue tailed sylph and crimson topaz.GIFr mother’s locust tree, west across the long sloped field where Stony Run Creek flows from Grindstone Mountain, and beyond that to far distance where Bearfence Mountain sits at the peak of the Blue Ridge Mountain range.

I don’t know if she knew how privileged she was to grow up in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

But she did recognize and treasure the beauty and everything that environment gave her.

Off in the field she could see vivid blue buntings perched precipitously on swaying twigs.

And grosbeaks with their bright red chests. Towhees were harder to see, blending Eastern bluebird.GIFwith the field grass and bushes until they flew from their hiding place.

Pretty bluebirds sometimes nested in the locust, and in summer the robins always seemed to be hop-hop-hopping along.

Sometimes she tried to catch them. “If you put salt on its tail,” her mother told her, “you can catch it.”

She tried sneaking up close. She tried tossing salt from as far as she could throw.

She tried dropping it on them from up in the peach tree, where she sat quietly until one got near enough.Black and white warbler.GIF

But nothing worked. She only realized years later that what her mother meant was that if she could sneak close enough to shake a sprinkling of salt on the bird’s tail, she was close enough to grab it.

No matter. The bird cards were just as amazing as the birds themselves.

They were painted by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, considered by some as history’s greatest portraitist of birds.

He did 90 paintings for Arm & Hammer’s chromolithographed bird cards.Great horned owl.GIF Today the originals are among the  collections of Cornell University.

Some say the cards were so popular that they helped create the Victorian era bird watching phenomenon, when dapper men and dainty ladies alike took to hill and vale to catch a prized view of rare and colorful birds.

Arm & Hammer added mottoes to the cards: “For the good of all, do not destroy the birds.”

It was already too late for the passenger pigeon.

What had been a bird so plentiful that flocks would darken the sky, became Passenger pigeon, last one.GIFextinct when Martha, the last one, died on September 1, 1914.

Now conservationists were afraid for other birds as well.

The birdwatching craze included watching for bird feathers on ladies’ hats, the more gloriBird of Paradise hat.GIFously spectacular the plumes, the better.

Some hats even sported entire stuffed birds. More than 95 percent of Florida’s shore birds were killed by plume hunters.

Two women objected. They started a group they called the Audubon Society, and waged a nationwide campaign to stop the feathers for fashion craze.

Thanks toSpoonbill.GIF them, and to conservationist president Theodore Roosevelt, an act of Congress was passed to stop the slaughter.

My mother was spared knowing any of that. She just loved her birds. And her bird cards.

I don’t know when she stacked theSummer tanager.GIFm in the near-right corner of her drawer for the last time.

They were still in there when she placed her high school diploma in the drawer.

And when she went off to Washington D.C. to work as a shop girl at Garfinkle’s department store.

The drawer became someone else’s, and the cards disappeared sometime over the years.

But my mother never lost hePatio July 10 2011 020r love of birds, and today, at age 93, she sits in the patio and watches yellow finches cover the finch feeding bags.

When her children call, she always tells them how her birds are doing, and whether the mallards have visited the swimming pool.

She doesn’t have any bird cards, but she remembers them, the favorite of all the special things she kept in the drawer that was her own.

The End.Crested titmouse.GIF

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