Uncle Dave's book

Saturday, August 30, 2014

52 Ancestors #35: Reverend Robert Breck, Renowned Minister

   Robert Breck was a sort of rock star of his day.  He was a famous Congregational Minister. He was born on 7 December 1682 at Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts. His father was Captain John Breck and his mother was Susanna Clapp. His father was a selectman of Dorchester and known as a very "ingenious and worthy man." Robert had 3 brothers and five sisters.  His father died in  February 1691 when Robert was only eight years old.

   Robert was a scholar.  He graduated from Harvard College in 1700 at the age of eighteen. Four years later, in 1704, he was ordained as a Minister ("obtained license to preach"), first preaching at Newton. Long Island, New York. But he no doubt wished to return to Massachusetts so that in Oct 1704 he was ordained in Marlborough, Massachusetts and became the second minister at the First congregational church of Marlborough.  He served there for 26 years until his death on 26 Jan 1731, aged 48. hundreds flocked to his funeral and three different addresses were given all of which were published and can be read today. In those days, a Minister's sermon was published and widely read.  Robert published two, an election sermon, 1728, and a "Sacramental Sermon" entitled, "The danger of Falling away after a Profession", also 1728.

   Robert Breck was known for being proficient in Hebrew and Greek.  It was said that he often read aloud to his family at breakfast from the Bible in the original Hebrew or Greek. Imagine the younger children sitting through that! Although he probably had a great delivery and translated for them as he went. He married Elizabeth Wainwright and they had six children, five girls and one son.  His son, Robert Breck, became a Minister as well.

   He was held in such high regard by his parishioners and townspeople that when he lay gravely ill a day of fasting and prayer was observed in his church with special reference to his case.  Several ministers in the area  were on hand to conduct the service. 

   After his death, the Boston Weekly Journal, on 18 Jan 1731, wrote of him:

     "As to his learning, there were few of his standing that even his equals; he was a master of the learned languages...His attainments in Philosophy, and especially in Mathematics, were above the common rate, in the study thereof, whenever he met any thing difficult or perplexed, his genius and close application son overcame it. He was well versed in History both civil and ecclesiastical, especially of our nation. His religion was vital and undisguised.  Pride, hypocrisy and affectation were his aver and covetousness was what he was a stranger to. His temper was grave and thoughtful, and, yet cheerful at times, especially with friends and acquaintances, and his conversation entertaining and agreeable.  In his conduct he was prudent and careful of his character, both a Minister and a Christian; rather sparing of speech, and more inclined to hear and learn from others.

   "His house was open to strangers, and his heart to his friends, and he took great delight in entertaining...and treated them with good manners. He was a lover of good government and good order, and, would express himself with warmth against that Leveling spirit which too much prevails." He was much missed by his family and friends and the people of Marlborough and neighboring towns. Many boys were named after him in years to come.  The name Breck was often spelled Brick so one may find either Robert Breck or Robert Brick. In our family, Robert Brick Hudson is named after him by his mother, Susannah Brigham Hudson.  She was a great granddaughter of Robert Breck. And 245 years after him, his sixth great grandson, John Marshall Peterson, followed in his footsteps and graduated from Harvard Business School in 1945.

   To end I want to repeat one line from the Boston Weekly Journal which is a nice tribute to him: "His house is open to strangers and his heart to his friends."

    As a note about the pictures.  I could find no picture of Robert Breck.  This is a picture of Increase Mather who was also a Congregational Minister in Massachusetts around the same time as Robert. In fact, he graduated from Harvard eight years before Robert. In the painting he is shown with several books which is how Robert would have often been found also. The original Harvard buildings that Robert attended burned down in 1764, however the Harvard Yard is the same spot as when Robert attended.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

52 Ancestors # 34: John Mallgren, Stone Mason from Ryda to St. Peter

     John Mallgren, was my mother-in-law, Eloise Knock,'s maternal grandfather.  She never knew him but she was very proud of her Swedish heritage. The name Mallgren or Mellgren (I've found it spelled both ways in the Swedish records) means middle branch. It was possibly a soldier name, I have only gone back to about 1718 on this line so I don't know for sure. In the Swedish records, though, John is known as Johan Jonasson or even, Jonsson. However, Mallgren was his family name and he himself used it as such.

    John was born 24 Mar 1841 with the name Johannes, baptized 25 Mar 1841, to Jonas Andersson (Mellgren but the Church baptism record omits this name) and Greta Andersdotter in the parish of Ryda, Skaraborg, Sweden. This is north east of Goteborg.  His father is listed as Jonas Andersson Mellgren as a torpare or crofter in the Household Examination Record of 1841-1850. Johannes had four older sisters at that time. In his marriage record, John is listed as a farmhand. On 30 Dec 1868, John married Maja Stina Andersdotter.  She was the daughter of the town soldier, Anders Larsson Ryd (Ryd is his soldier name taken from the name of the town, Ryda).

     The period of 1867-1869 was one of famine in Sweden, thus not long after they married John and Maja Stina decided to go to America. The Swedish emigration records show they left in April 1869.  I have not yet found them for certain on a passenger list but they arrived in New York City in 1869. According to John's obituary they went straight to St. Peter, Nicollet, Minnesota and they appear there in the 1870 Census. Their first child, daughter, Augusta, was born there in September so Maja Stina was pregnant when they traveled to America.  Perhaps her pregnancy was part of the impetus for the move.

     Once in America, the family prospered.  John was a stone mason by trade, which profession he learned before he left Sweden.  He helped construct many of the buildings in St. Peter.  He was very active in his church, the Swedish Lutheran Church, holding several positions there over the years. He also was  an alderman for the city for awhile. He and Mary (as she was called in the Censuses) had seven children: Augusta, William, Anna, Hannah, Franz, Esther and Hulda.

    On 10 Feb 1911, after a two year lingering illness, John Mallgren died at his home in st. Peter. He was almost 70 years old. He had an attack of pleurisy (essentially pneumonia) from which he never fully recovered and it led to further complications and a lack of resistance to other diseases from which he died. Three obituaries were published in three St. Peter's papers for him.  The Free Press(11 Feb 1911) called him, "a good citizen, a kind and indulgent father and a generous neighbor." The Herald on 17 Feb 1911 said he was "a model neighbor, a kind husband and a thoughtful father." And the Tribune said on 15 Feb 1911 that John was "a good, honest, industrious citizen and neighbor."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors # 33: James Duncan, Mason and Homestead Farmer

     James Duncan was born in Omagh, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, on 17 Mar 1816. (St. Patrick's Day!).  He was the son of Stuart Duncan and Margaret. Stuart was a "merchant (who) pursued his calling in different portions of Great Britain" according to "History of the Upper Mississippi Valley" by Newton  Horace Winchell, pub 1881. I think we would have called this a "traveling salesman". His father died when James was still an infant, leaving two small boys and a widow.  James' mother married again, Robert Watson, in 1826 and they had a son, Robert, born 1827. James' brother, Stuart, married Catherine Hamilton while James took her sister, Margaret as his wife.  In 1833, not yet married, James and Margaret emigrated to America. He left from Liverpool and arrived on the ship Washington at New York City on 15 Jun 1833. Margaret left from Belfast and arrived about 2 weeks later on 28 Jun 1833. They were married in New York City.

     According to the History earlier mentioned James was trained as a shoemaker in Ireland but when he came to the U.S. he learned the "trade of plasterer and stone and brick mason". He is called a mason in the New York City Directories of 1837, 1840 and 1841 and in all U.S. Censuses he is listed in. Meeting with reverses he went to Monticello and eventually Forrestburgh, Sullivan County, New York.  According to the History above, he arrived there with less than ten dollars in his pocket but he worked at his trade and by 1849 he was able to purchase a mill and some land. By that time he also had five daughters! I have often thought how happy he must have been in 1851 when George Washington Duncan, his son, was born! And he named him after the Father of his adopted country, suggesting he was grateful for the opportunities he had had here.

     The family remained in Forrestburgh until 1862 when the Homestead Act was enacted by Congress. This made it possible for any adult male to claim 160 acres of land from the government. So the family moved West, first stopping in Hastings, Minnesota but finally settling in Grove, Stearns, Minnesota in 1864. James fulfilled the requirements of the Act and was given his patent on18 Aug 1871. He lived here with his family until some time after his wife died in 1885 and he was recorded as living with his son-in-law and daughter, John and Catherine Dobbs in 1895. I have some photos of his house at a later date( 1930's) and on the back his granddaughter wrote "the house of the broken heart". I have not been able to find out exactly what this refers to but I believe that it references his grief at the loss of his wife and also his daughter, Mary, who died in 1898.

     James lived the last four or five years of his life with his daughter, Catherine, which was not without some strife.  In his will he says, "All of my household furniture in my room...I bequeath to Cathrine Dobbs...provided that no extra charge be made for my care or keeping over and above the amount that I pay per week  for my care and keeping...". James died on 8 Aug 1899. His obituary says he was survived by 56 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren! In his will James left $500 to James Jerome Duncan, the son of his only surviving son, George W. Duncan. He left $25 to each of his grandsons who were named James after him ( James Graham, James Duncan Kells, James Dobbs and James Carlton.) and $10 to each of his granddaughters who were named Margaret for his wife( Margaret Graham, Margaret Kells and Margaret Corbett). To each of the other children of George W. he left $5.  TO each of the children of Lydia Corbett (his daughter) he left $3.33. To his four surviving daughters he left $10 each. All of his household he left to his daughter, Catherine and her daughter, Mary. He asked that a monument be erected to him and his wife over their graves. All else went to his son who he named his executor.

     The inventory of his estate lists his farm which he had sold to his son who is still paying the note, value $1200, his bedding and bed, heating stove, one bureau and three chairs, $25.00, one suit of clothes, $1.00, and one promissory note by his son for $125 plus interest, $155.64. Total of $1381.64.

     The monument was erected and is in the Oakland Cemetery in Sauk Centre today. His obituary ends with the following:
   "James Duncan was a man of marked personality--a Scotchman with that rugged integrity and devotion to truth and probity which is characteristic of that people.Honorable in all his dealings, sincere in every word and act, he detested shams, cant and hypocrisy.  He had a keen sense of justice, and all his dealings were based on the principle of measure for measure. He was of a kindly and cheerful nature, devoted to his family and respected and esteemed by all.

     "He maintained his rigor to a remarkable degree until very recently and it was not more than a fortnight since he was walking our streets--slowly it is true, yet, firmly, with a word for all his friends and acquaintances.  He rounded out an active and useful life conscious at the end that as he had dealt justly and lived uprightly, so, in faith, his future shall be with the God in whom he trusted."


52 Ancestors #32: Margaret Hamilton

     Margaret Hamilton was my mother's great grandmother. My mother was named Margaret Kells after her father's sister, Margaret Hamilton Kells Key. She, obviously, was named after her grandmother, Margaret Hamilton. I named my daughter, Devin Margaret, the Margaret being for my mother.  So both my mother and my daughter were named, indirectly, for Margaret Hamilton. Three of her daughters named a daughter Margaret, in fact.

     Margaret Hamilton was born on 1 Jan 1817 in Omagh, Tyrone, Ireland, now Northern Ireland. She was the daughter of Archibald Hamilton, mother's name unknown. I have found one reference to an Archibald Hamilton, farmer, of Kingarrow, Tyrone. Kingarrow borders Omagh.  This is a bankruptcy notice from 1824. It may suggest a reason for the move to America. At any rate, I know nothing about Margaret's early life. We know that her sister, Catherine, married Stuart Duncan possibly before June 1836 and that Margaret married Stuart's brother, James. I have a copy of the passenger list for Margaret's trip to America.  She left from Belfast on the ship Herald and arrived in New York City on 28 Jun 1833.  James left from Liverpool on the ship Washington and he arrived 15 Jun 1833. I don't know why they went separately but it appears they planned their trips to coincide. Perhaps James went first to get a bit settled and she followed.

      The only data about their marriage is that they were married in New York City. Their first child known is recorded as born in 1837 so it was assumed they were married about 1836.  However, I suspect they were married earlier, likely shortly they arrived in America. I think they had a son who died early so is not on the 1850 Census and not recorded in family history. But James Duncan is recorded in the New York City Directory in 1837, 1840 and 1841,  He us listed as a mason and is living at 132 W. Sixteenth in 1840 and 1841. This is in the 16th Ward of New York City. In the 1840 Census we find "James Dunkin" in the Sixteenth Ward with 11 male under 5, 1 male 20-29, 1 female under 5 and 1 female 20-29. The female under 5 would be their daughter Catherine born 1837 so  3 years at the time of the Census. So the male under 5 could've been born before Catherine, say 1835 after June so he would've been under 5 still or after Catherine such as 1839. A son in 1835 would make sense if they had married in 1833 or early 1834. I just reread James obituary and it says they had 12 children, there were five boys who died young! So I think they married in 1833!

     The family moved to Forrestburgh, Sullivan, New York where James prospered.  Here Margaret Jane, Louisa Jane, Lydia, Isabella, Mary and George Washington were born.  In 1862, they moved to Hastings, Minnesota and in 1864, they homesteaded at Grove in Stearns County. James received his homestead patent on 18 Aug 1871.  This is where she lived the rest of her life. She died on 5 Sep 1885 of  stomach cancer.  Her obituary from the Sauk Centre 19 Sep 1885 says, "She was a woman universally beloved by her acquaintances for her rare christian virtues."  This is what her husband, James, had engraved on her gravestone:"We have lived together in life/ In death we are not parted/ Erected by James Duncan in memory of his beloved wife, Margaret."

Monday, August 11, 2014

52 Ancestors #31: Elizabeth Peterson, my Aunt Betty

     Elizabeth Peterson was born Frances Elizabeth Peterson on 23 Jul 1920 in Fort Worth, Texas.  She was named Elizabeth for her mother, Elizabeth Hudson and her great grandmother, Elizabeth Buck. I don't know where the Frances came from, though. Her father was Walter L. Peterson, at the time a Physical Education Director with the YMCA. The family moved to Detroit and from there to Chicago where Walter entered McCormick Seminary to become a Minister. So Betty (as she was called by the family) would've seen her father follow his conscience and her mother work hard to support his choice. A pattern she followed in her own life. The Seminary happened during the Depression and Betty was sent for a year to live with her mother's parents in Fort Worth which she was not happy about. She graduated from High School in Bessemer, Michigan and earned her tuition for college by living with families and cleaning their homes.

     Around 1941, she attended a Christian Peace and Justice Conference and met David Dellinger. The two recognized their shared commitment to peace and social justice and soon were engaged to be married. Her father married them in his church in Seattle on 4 Feb 1942. After the wedding they hitchhiked across country to live in a Christian Community in Newark, New Jersey. I find it quite remarkable that she was willing to do that. In 1943 Dave was convicted of draft evasion due to his pacifist convictions and sentenced to three years in a Maximum security prison.  Betty was pregnant with their first child who was born 2 Jan 1944. He was named Evan Patchen, the Patchen being for their friend, the poet, Kenneth Patchen. He has been known as Patchen for his entire life as far as I know. Can you imagine your first child being born while your husband is in jail not for any crime but for a personal belief?

    Sometime in here she converted to Catholicism, I don't know if Dave did as well or not. They had four more children, Raymond, Natasha, Daniel and Michelle. They lived in a pacifist community in rural New Jersey where they published and printed Liberation magazine. Elizabeth worked, went to school and raised her family.  She taught on an Emergency certificate while completing her Bachelor's Degree in Education. While on the farm she baked bread, raised chickens, cows and pigs and tended a vegetable garden. She also cleaned people's houses and sold her bread to raise money for the children's music lessons.

     In the 60's her husband was very active in the anti-war movement, culminating in his being one of the famous Chicago 7 in 1968. It must have been very stressful to have watch your husband in court and see your young daughters screaming at the judge and being carried out of court by the marshals.

     In the 70's they moved to Brooklyn, New York. Elizabeth got involved in the Women's Liberation movement.  She insisted on being Elizabeth not Betty (this was hard for her family to do, we'd been calling her Betty all her life!). She went back to her maiden name, Peterson, and didn't want to be known as Dellinger any more.  She moved into her own apartment in the same building that Dave lived in. This is really all I know, told to me by my father and mother but it seems like a pivotal time in her life. She also got her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as a social worker and consultant.

    In 1981, she and Dave moved to Peacham, Vermont. This was a quieter life although they both gave talks around the country.  She worked as a teacher and volunteered for Hospice and sang in the Church choir. In 1982' she visited me in San Francisco and met my daughter.  In 1985' her brother Jack died and she, her brother Wally and my sister and I all were together for his Memorial Service. In 1988' her son Raymond died in Berkeley and she and Dave visited me after the Memorial Service. These visits were all special to me because she was such a lovely person it just made you happy to be with her.

    In his last years Dave battled Alzheimers and that was hard on her.  He died in 2004. My sister, children and I attended his Memorial Service in New York City and were able to spend some time with Elizabeth. She reminded me a great deal of her mother, my grandmother. She was warm, fun, and alive, and very very sweet! She said she was thinking of writing her autobiography, to tell her side of the story. I really hoped she would because it would've been well worth reading! However, she died (with "beauty and grace" according to the Caledonian Record) on 17 Sep 2009 at the age of 89. Near the end of her life she joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Oneonta, New York.  This would've made her brother, Jack, and his ex-wife, Margaret (my parents)very happy!

     Here is what the Caledonian Record said about her in the obituary they published on 23 Sept 2009:

"Elizabeth wanted to be remembered as a worker for peace and justice, a caretaker for others, and who considered every human being her sister and brother...Her strength, vitality, beauty, courage, generosity and commitment to social justice and peace among many other things, will stay in our hearts, minds and actions forever."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

52 Ancestors # 30: David Dellinger, Pacifist, Activist, Chicago 7 member and my Uncle Dave

     My Uncle Dave was famous for being a Pacifist, an Activist and one of the Chicago 7. You can read quite a bit about him and his life including his autobiography, "From Yale to Jail". However, this blog post is about him as a member of my family and thus, much more subjective.

     David Raymond Dellinger was born 22 Aug 1915 in Wakefield, Massachusetts. (I recall seeing that Raymond was his middle name because I recognized it as the name he gave his second son and as his father's name.  However, I can't find any document which has the name as his middle name right now. I'm including it as I remember seeing it but it could be wrong.) He was the son of Raymond Pennington Dellinger and Marie Elizabeth Fiske. His father was a prominent Republican lawyer, a friend of Calvin Coolidge and a member of the Masons in Wakefield. One of his obituaries calls David "a child of patrician privilege". His father was born in North Carolina and came from a long line of men of that state, starting with Johannes P. Dellinger who immigrated there from Wurttemburg, Germany in 1750. His ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and three of his grandfather's older brothers fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. An interesting lineage for one who dedicated his life to anti-war causes.

     David was an outstanding long distance runner and high school athlete and enrolled in Yale in 1933. It was the height and he was embarrassed by the elitism there.  He spent his vacations traveling as a hobo which he considered on the job training. He graduated Yale Phi Beta Kappa and won a scholarship to Oxford University.  He attended there and then returned to Yale for graduate study and thence to Union Theological Seminary to study for the ministry. On his way to Oxford he went to Spain and drove an ambulance behind Loyalist lines, he also toured Germany under Hitler. His personal commitment to non-violence came during his time at Yale.  The story is that during an after-football game melee he hit a young man and knocked him unconscious. He pledged that "he would never hit anyone again and forswore all violence"(New York Times Obituary 2004/05/27). So the scene was set for his career as a pacifist.

     In 1940 as WW II was beginning in Europe, the U.S. ordered men to register for the draft.  Dave with seven other seminary students refused.  This is even though they were assured that they would receive ministerial deferments. The eight men were expelled from the seminary and Dave was tried for draft evasion, convicted and sent to Danbury prison for a year.

     Not long after his release he met Frances Elizabeth ("Betty") Peterson at a Christian "Peace and Justice Conference". According to Elizabeth it was love at first sight. They shared a life commitment to work for social justice and they were married by her father, Presbyterian Minister, Walter L. Peterson at his church in Seattle, Washington on 4 Feb 1942. My father, her brother Jack, and mother signed their marriage certificate. After the wedding they hitch-hiked cross country to live in a Christian Community in Newark, New Jersey. That is pretty radical for a honeymoon!

     In 1943, with America at war, David again refused to report for pre-induction physical. He was arrested, convicted and sent to Lewisburg, a maximum security prison.  Elizabeth was pregnant with their first child, Evan Patchen, who was born 2 Jan 1944. He was released three years later and continued to protest, against the bomb, against the Korean War and eventually against the War in Vietnam. In the late 40's to early 50's he was part of a radical commune in New Jersey where he published the magazine Liberation. I remember my father visiting there and saying that his sister was living without modern conveniences and working hard there. They had four more children born in 46, 49, 52 and 56.

     In 1967, I was going to Antioch College which was full of people against the War.  That summer I went to my Grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary. My Uncle Dave and his family were there. He was charming and everyone loved him (except my father who said he disagreed with his politics and the way he had made his sister's life unnecessarily hard). In October 1967 I went to a major peace march called in Washington, D.C. I was standing in a crowd of thousands of young people to listen to speakers.  Suddenly the speaker was my Uncle, Dave Dellinger. I  was a little surprised, the charming Uncle I had met was telling the crowd to burn their draft cards and march on the Pentagon. I marched to the Pentagon and there met my cousin Raymond who was a marshal, controlling the crowd.

     In 1968, Dave was one of the organizers of the protests outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. As is well known this turned into armed battles in the streets. Dave and six others were arrested and charged with "conspiring to start riots". They became known as the"Chicago Seven". All were young except Dave. There was a famous point in the trial whee he was being silenced by the Judge and his daughters (my cousins Tasha and Michelle) screamed "Leave my Daddy alone". The Marshals then started to carry them out of the courtroom at which point Dave broke free, sprang through the crowd and put himself between the Marshals and his daughters. You can read all about this trial elsewhere, suffice it to say, it was shocking to the family. However, for years whenever anyone from the 60's found out that he was my uncle they were always impressed!

     After this he continued to publish magazines, write. lecture and carry on protests. He went to China, North Vietnam and Czechoslovakia. In the 70's he moved to Peacham, Vermont and wrote several books, taught and lectured. At the age of 85 he hitchhiked to Quebec to participate in the protest against the North American Free Trade Agreement. He died in Vermont on 25 May 2004.

     As a note, in 1988 Dave and Elizabeth came to the Bay Area for the funeral of their son, Raymond, who had died of cancer.  They came to visit at the Church of Scientology in San Francisco where I worked as a Minister. As we talked Dave mentioned that they had met L. Ron Hubbard when they were living in New Jersey around 1950 and they had a copy of Dianetics, his book. I think he said that he had autographed it for them. But they hadn't read the book. Mr. Hubbard has said that you can't disseminate to someone with a solution and Dave had one, a political solution.

     On October 23, 2004, a memorial service was held for Dave at St. John the Divine in New York City. My sister and I and my two children attended. There were over 1000 people there (top estimate was 1500) with such people as Pete Seeger, Ossie Davis and Tom Hayden speaking as well as many family and friends. It was very moving and Pete Seeger led us in singing We Shall Overcome. My children were surprised that I knew all the words but I still remembered them. We saw the family many of whom we had never or only rarely met. Dave was famous in his public life, in his private life he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle.

     In his biography, The Life and Times of a Non Violent Revolutionary, by Andrew E. Hunt, he quotes Dave as answering the question "What would you like to be remembered for?" as saying "...I would like my children to feel they were glad I was their father. I would like some people to remember me for having taught them...that the things that seem to separate us from our fellows are nothing compared to the things that unite us with all humanity. I would like if anything to think that maybe somebody learned that from me, because to the best of my ability I refused to be a star or a hero."