Thursday, December 14, 2006

Family Secrets

My branch of the Hendricks family was – I should say is – a family of secrets. Part of this came from being gold miners and politicians – “always lie about what gold you found” – “Don’t tell your neighbor” – Marry into a family to extract their secrets but tell none of your own”. I could go on forever. These were prevalent attitudes in the California gold fields and the Halls of Congress in the latter half of the 19th Century. From what I wrote yesterday and posted today, I feel there may have been other agendas at work. This reminds me to look at my pas (Hendricks Family History) with passion but not unbridled excitement; with hope but not predetermined expectations; with the thrill of discovery and to let the facts fall as they may and then get excited about the find!

I just got through reading an online article at the American Jewish History Society titled “Guide to the Hendricks – Tobias Business Correspondence, undated, 1802 – 1889. This documents the metal business of Uriah Hendricks. The copper rolling mill was located in Soho, Essex County, New Jersey. Since the article relates directly to the business it does not expand upon the family that did not actively participate in the family business. The name Washington as a first name shows up in the article. It is interesting to note that in the footnotes it references “Subject names to access: Judah, David, Pollack, Edward.

It is interesting in that the name Pollack is integrally connected with the Hendricks family. The descendants of Abraham Hendricks and Ann Jamison (my line) have names and marriages to the Pollack family. One of William Chalmers Hendricks, my Great-Grandfather, close brothers was named Thomas Pollack Hendricks. I’d say there is a very strong family connection between the Pollacks and Hendricks.

The online biographies of both William Hendricks, first governor of Indiana and Thomas Andrews Hendricks, VP/Grover Cleveland (William Chalmers Uncle William and first cousin T.A.) reference their ancestry back to the State of New Jersey. Now let’s consider their more immediate ancestors – Williams father and TA’s grandfather – Abraham Hendricks married Ann Jamison in the Fairview Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland County, PA. All of their children were born in that community. I go back to the point made yesterday – why did TA tell the Congressional Record he didn’t know who his grandparents were? What scared him so much that divulging that information may have convince him that it would be political suicide?

While studying information about the Hendricks family, I read the synopsis of the Democrat National Convention:

Thomas' career as a politician in Indiana started before it became a State. He married Eliza Morgan 25 Sep 1845. They had one child, Morgan, three years later, who died before reaching adulthood. Thomas was a very popular political figure in Indiana. He was a congressional representative and then Senator for the young State. His political career spanned through the Civil War and ended with his death 25 Nov 1885, the same year he was inaugurated 21st Vice President of the United States of America. His influence on presidential politics started in earnest in 1868, at the first Democratic convention he was nominated for the presidency. He ran unsuccessfully as Samuel Tilden's running mate in the scandal-ridden election of 1868.

The Democrats arrived in Chicago, Illinois on July 8, 1884, shortly after the Republicans nominated James G. Blaine. One of the most prominent presences was that of the legions of Tammany Hall, some 600 strong, led by Boss John Kelly. It was no secret that he brought his army with the intent to stop the nomination of his long-time political foe, Grover Cleveland. Kelly stated that he would be damned if the party was going to nominate a man who openly scorned the traditional spoils system and was unreservedly dedicated to reform politics at every level. Most of the Tammany hordes were not delegates to the convention, but minions come to sow seeds of discontent and discord. The convention chairman, Manning, arranged to have Cleveland supporters occupy the prestigious front row of seats. He also packed the gallery with anti-Tammany people.

Grover Cleveland stayed above the fray about to happen by not attending the convention, as was customary. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first Democratic nominee to accept his party's nomination in person. In Cleveland's case, he was still a political unknown to party regulars outside of the influence of Albany New York; a word portrait written by a sympathetic paper was given credence by the convention generals.

John Kelly and his followers tried to delay the nominating process of the convention with the hopes of eroding Cleveland's strength. They went so far as to try to get New York released from the instructions imposed upon the delegation by the State convention in Syracuse. This motion was soundly defeated. With that out of the way, Cleveland's friend, Dan Lockwood, put Cleveland's name in nomination. Wisconsin's political general, Edward Stuyvesant Bragg, seconded the nomination and gave the party its rallying cry "They love Cleveland for his character, but they love him also for the enemies he made."

The first ballot left Cleveland short of the two-thirds majority 547 votes he needed for nomination. He amassed 392 votes, the rest going to Bayard of Delaware, Allen Thurman, former House Speaker Samuel Randall of Pennsylvania, Indiana Congressman Joseph E McDonald, and a smattering of favorite sons. Late the night of the first ballot, John Kelly covertly organized a stampede for his friend, Governor Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana. He conspired with the Sergeant-at-Arms to pack the gallery of the next mornings session with men pledged to cry "Hendricks for President" and then have the popular Hoosier appear on the convention floor. Thomas, during his congressional terms in both houses of Congress, was a constant critic of every previous major policy and had been nominated for President at every convention since 1868, except that of 1872. In addition, Thomas was an advocate for machine politics

Chairman Manning learned of the conspiracy and sent his lieutenants to warn every anti-Tammany delegate at the convention. When Thomas walked onto the convention floor, the galleries exploded with shouts and applause; the main convention floor remained quiet. Thus, "The Hendricks Boom" went bust and the influence of Boss Kelly and the Tammany minions waned.

On the second ballot, Cleveland still failed to attain the required two-thirds majority vote, even after Randall and McDonald withdrew. McDonald, being from Indiana, swung his support to Thomas A. Over the vocal disapproval of the Tammany Delegates; all of New York's 72 votes were cast for Cleveland. Though his vote was short, Cleveland was formidable and nearly all of the delegates tripped over each other to switch their vote after the roll call was ended and before the official announcement of the second ballot was made official. The revised vote total gave Cleveland 683 votes, 136 more than was needed. Part of Gov. Bragg's famous line "We love him for the enemies he has made" became the party's slogan for the election of 1884. The ever popular, Thomas A. Hendricks was nominated for Vice President by acclamation.

The main issue of the 1884 National Election was that of integrity and Blaine failed miserably in that department. Hurt by the defeat at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Boss John Kelly threw his support behind Ben Butler and the Greenback Party. He supported The New York Sun's editorial stance, which demanded that Cleveland drop out of the race. Thomas A. Hendricks brought Kelly back into the fold. Thomas, a personal friend of Boss Kelly, convinced him of the political facts of life as it concerned national politics.

Upon his election as Vice-President of the United States, Thomas was asked to provide an autobiography for the Congressional Record. The information provided was starkly deplete of any generations prior to his father. He stated that his father was of unknown origins. Therefore, the conversion to his wife's Presbyterian beliefs left Grandpa Abraham strikingly absent from Thomas' life and ancestry. This absence of previous history led many researchers astray, and left family descendants with the daunting task of, not only making the family connections, but also documenting them.

On a visit to Indiana, ten months after his inauguration, Thomas died of unknown causes. Family stories recount it as hard living. If his cousin, William Chalmers is any measure, he was accustomed to excessive use of spirits. Nevertheless, Thomas Andrews Hendricks remains an icon of Indiana politics.

As you can see they nominated Grover Cleveland and selected TA as VP candidate. It is obvious that TA had very close ties to the big New York City political machine – Tammany Hall. Why did TA associate himself with a big city machine? Why did he pick New York over Chicago? What is that connection?

It has been suggested that our lineage is Scandinavian. I guess I need to ask – what does that mean? The Iberian and European Jewish communities spread across to countries that only persecuted in loss of privilege and not loss of life. They also assimilated into those societies. They became token Christians and intermarried with the populace. The photographs and portraits of the descendants of Abraham Hendricks and Ann Jamison do not show the typical features of typical Scandinavian from the 17th & 18th Centuries. The Spanish Inquisition began on Friday the 13th of October 1307 when the French monarchy with the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church sought to annihilate the Knights Templar. The Spanish Church used it to rid their society of any unwanted elements, such as the Sephardic Jewish population from Spain and Portugal. Unlike the English, the Netherlands, and other northern countries the Spanish preferred the punishment used for heretics, burning at the stake. Therefore, it is not surprising that certain genetic markers will show up in other cultures. We need to remember that DNA genetic markers are like any other tool in genealogy and not a definitive answer to all the questions. It will lead us in a general direction. It is up to the genealogist to get the documented proof of who, what and when.

I love this hunt; the suppositions of what may have been, what may be, and then the excitement of being able to prove the who, what, where and when. I like following that slim lead to its ultimate conclusion until such time as I’m proven to be on the wrong path. One thing I’ve found about the search for ancestors is that at best it’s a bumpy road. It took me ten years to find the Senior Abraham Hendricks, due to the family secrecy surrounding him. Once I found that little crack in the armor, I pursued the find like a wolf on scent.

The kink in the armor was when I ran across a census for Westmoreland County with two Abrahams in it of different ages. Then I found that they were members of the same church. They had to be related. I knew my 2nd great-grandfather was Abraham “Abram”. I knew he came out of Western Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County specifically. I knew he was married in the Fairview Presbyterian Church. Then two Mrs. Abraham Hendricks were mentioned as different people in one of the session records. One thing broke, then another. Like dominoes, they kept falling until I hit the next wall.

I hurtled the next wall and began a trip that until recently had led me down the wrong path. I’ve now retreated from that path and I am currently exploring several others. The one that I am currently checking out in more detail is the one where the male children have predominantly Old Testament names.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Family History and the Oral Tradition

I’m going to preface this treatise with a little about my background. First of all, my mother was a person of many prejudices. She insisted that I go to a small, private school in the Midwest that didn’t over-emphasize religion. I graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa with a BA in English (declared) and American Studies (non-declared). I had minors in U.S. History, Linguistics and Social Anthropology. My major emphasis in my declared major was Cyclical Romances and the Oral Tradition. One cannot research one without covering the other thoroughly. In order to understand the language of the documents and why certain groups reacted in the way they did, I had to immerse myself in linguistics and Social Anthropology. My mother a high school history teacher instilled the love of history and so I took every course I could find that involved U.S. History. I am now, since our discussions began in the last 30 days, finding a practical application for all that training. What follows at times may seem rambling, but I wrote this out long hand as my mind raced across all the data I have received in the last few days regarding the Hendricks Family.

George Hammon Hendricks, my father, was raised by his maternal grandparents; as that is what families did when the child’s mother died within the first year of infancy. My father’s mother died when he was seven months old. As such, he had limited contact with his paternal relatives. His father, Scott Springer Hendricks, abdicated his role as participating father because he was a self-centered individual. He was all about show and lacked a certain substance. He lived the life of a playboy and Bohemian. This is a story unto itself and not for digression in this work.

George never met his paternal grandfather, William Chalmers Hendricks. Therefore, his entire Hendricks Family history came from his grandmother Elizabeth Susan “Lizzie” (Glass) Hendricks, his aunt Winona Elizabeth Hendricks (never married) and the bits and pieces thrown at him by his father, usually at the most inopportune moments.; for example when he was ready to embark on a cruiser for his tour in the Pacific Theater of WWII. He wanted to spend the time with his wife in Seattle (the family is from northern California) and guess who shows up wanting to discuss family.

My mother, Beatrice (NMI) (Brundage) Hendricks was a sponge when it cam to historical details. She was a voracious reader of any book that came within arms length. Again, she was a person with a great many prejudices. Surprisingly, during the era (Post Depression) when Anti-Semitic views and attitudes were prevalent, she did not follow suit. Yes, even during that era Anti-Semitic feelings ran high in the United States. We did not enter WWII to get the Jews released from the concentration camps. To digress for just a moment; throughout history Jews were relegated to Ghettos and periodically the European governments sanctioned pogroms against them since the convening of the Council of Nicea. That being said, why would a person of such strong prejudices not go along with the crowd? Why would she tell us growing up; “Never marry a Catholic”? There was a certain undercurrent that distrusted any belief coming out of Roman Christianity.

Our mother insisted that we know that we know our family history. It was repeated often. And, in her inimitable way would test our memory. WE had to know our grandparents names and hometowns. We had to know their (grandparents) brothers and sisters names and the names of their children. We, also, need to know their origins that were know to our parents

Both Bea and George repeated as far back as I can remember that the Hendricks Family came to the Colonies with the Huguenots, that was mentioned as given fact (or so they led us to believe). My father often wondered aloud; “I wouldn’t doubt that we are descended from Sephardic Jews.” As I got older with no concrete facts to pin these suspicions on, I drifted from that oral family history.

Historically man’s greatest stories and our greatest fairy tales were passed down from generation to generation, orally. Finally monks took those tales and wrote them down and add their own version. One thing to remember about the oral histories is that the teller would add their own parts and beliefs. Damn! I should have recognized this earlier! ! ! All I can say is that I got caught up in life earning a living, raising children, enjoying grandchildren and then maturing during an age that debunked tradition and traditional values. I have since learned there is a wealth and value in traditions that is not monetary and give off a sense of worth.
As Hendricks historians, it is our responsibility to get our story straight. Here are a few ground rules that we should never ignore. The first male born was usually named after the paternal grandfather. The first female born was usually named after the maternal grandmother. The rest of the children were named after the father’s family (aunts, uncles, great-grandparents and other ancestors). This tradition continued through the U.S. Civil War during which families were divided and the modern era of Industrial Revolution came to forceful heads on the bloody battlefields across the eastern United States against the primarily Agrarian Society that existed before.

The early part of the twentieth century had the strong carry-over attitudes that promulgated Anti-Semitism. It was heightened to the point where family histories were not necessarily written down on any form except for Synagogue records. It is, therefore, understandable why family histories were given orally and with sever understatement. My mother was at her best as a teacher. She was much better at teaching other’s children than she was at teaching her own. When she and my father pondered the question of coming over with the Huguenot immigration from Europe, they were probably passing on family history in the form of questions. My family has always been very secretive and masters at understatement.

My sister’s God parents (in an Episcopal baptism) were Jewish. I remember attending numerous Bar mitzvahs and other Jewish ceremonies for family friends when I was young and throughout my high school years. This now makes me wonder if this was a round about way to stay in touch with our roots and to pass on a family secret. We did not attend church growing up, at least past the time I was in the second grade. So far my two sisters and I have been in a religious conundrum. Each of us has been trying to find where we belong.
The online and e-mail discussions we’ve been having over the last month or so are now beginning to make a whole lot more sense. This is also in keeping with what I’ve learned over the years. Thomas Andrews Hendricks, first Senator from the State of Indiana, was requested to submit a biography to the U.S. Senate. He left off the manes of his paternal grandparents. When asked why the omission he replied that he didn’t know who they were. So if our forefathers were Jewish and immigrated for religious reasons, the marriage of my third great-grandfather, Abraham, to the daughter of very strict Scot Presbyterian would have caused a huge schism in the family. And now, the State of Indiana in the biographies of Gov. William and Thomas Andrews, VP show the Hendricks line coming out of the State of New Jersey. This was not a part of the biographies a few years ago. This make a whole lot more sense than a schism opening because a Quaker married a Presbyterian.
I am now convinced that, we are not of the line of Albertus Hendrickson. I am of the belief that now we are going to find our lines through another strain of the Hendricks’. When my oldest sister was in Amsterdam a number of years ago, she was asked about the name – especially the last three letters. Apparently, this has some significance. It is assumed that there must have been a Hendricks of some importance in Amsterdam at one time.

I appreciate all of you allowing me to let my mind meander through all the oral family history that I grew up with. I’m sure my sisters will be more than happy to add their two cents worth to this discussion.