The History of Our History Duane Esarey Raleigh, NC 2010 Esarey Family 100th Annual Reunion Download a versionof this paper www.esarey.us/reunion/2010_lectures.htm
The history of the family. The history of the history of a family What does this mean? What is the Esarey Family? How does it fit in “history”?
Most of us think of our family history within the concept of a patrilineal “line,” even when our connection to the line is matrilineal.
John & Hester Essery siblings 1st cousins 2nd cousins One aspect of keeping track of pure genetic descent is that it gets very complex in a few generations because it comes to encompass an entire community, so that the notion of this as a “family” becomes an always expanding inclusive concept.
In the “Esarey family” we are guided in our concept of whom our relatives are and our place in history by a very specific document. This degree of record keeping – an account of total descent - a detailed FABRIC/WEB of relatedness - is rare. Where did it come from? And what concept of connectedness does it represent? It is situated in a particular history… an intertwining ofour history and American history
This is a valuable document - the result of a LOT of work – a half-century of work, in fact.
“The History of our History” So how did we get this unique record – what are the origins of this idea and this effort – this substantial historical genealogical account of ourselves, with its initial setting starting two centuries ago?
Imagine American history as an archaeologist might see it… Consider that the period between 1780 and 1860 was a single lifetime... It wasn’t a real long time.
Furthermore, we tend to think of the pioneer story as a few intrepid families going into an essentially empty wilderness… But in the 1790s and 1810s a virtual flood of people was poised – held back - waiting in Kentucky to flow across the Ohio River.
The Indian claims were extinguished rapidly between 1795 and 1830s. Indian removal was between 1820 and 1840. In about 40 years, from 1787 to about 1830 this land filled VERY rapidly. From an archaeologist’s perspective this is a complete population replacement in less than a generation – no time at all.
And in just three more decades the entire face of the landscape changed. So, in one lifetime there was total transformation. So what was the effect of this rapid change on its participants and their descendants?
While fully acknowledging that, I want to make a slightly different point, suggesting the speed with which this change swept across the continent created a uniquely American historical perspective – a self-conscious sense of history. “Manifest Destiny” The idea of the “beginning” of history… Logan Esarey’s pioneer histories emphasized character and triumph – what had been achieved by extraordinary effort and dint of unique national spirit.
The idea of having an Esarey family history began in the late 18th century during a time of “people’s histories” - relatively short timelines.
We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Esarey family’s participation in a massive/rapid change that appeared to roll across this continent as if it was inevitable because it was so powerful. It was in the first 50 years after this flood of settlement that this fabric I’m describing was established – this interweaving of families and places – within local histories that were writ somewhat larger than life.
No issue: Jack, Felix, & Jonathon, Jr. The Esarey/Esry surname in this fabric… ? ? ? Primary sources of today’s Esarey/Esry patrilineal name lines
Logan M. Esarey’s 1910 Reunion opening lecture “The History of the Esarey’s”
Logan M. Esarey’s 1910 Reunion lecture “The History of the Esarey’s”
Jacob Esarey line So, as of 1910, the outline of Logan’s 1935 history was well underway – with three major Esarey/Esry surname lineages delineated, but “the fabric” was not yet detailed… Isaiah Horton Esry line Jesse Clark Esarey line
Documentation of the “fabric” would come later, and with considerable effort, spanning the next 65 years…
So after the 1910 Reunion the Esarey records were gathered at the home of Jonathon Davis “Squire” Esarey Branchville, Ind. January 30, 1914 ...all our books, Bible, the family record… all our large pictures burned… All of the Esarey records burned. That never can be replaced…
Myra Esarey, ca. 1920s daughter of Logan and Laura Esarey Myra was already deeply involved in the Esarey family history by 1935.
1949 Myra’s first major work “Jonathan Davis Esarey (1-3-6-4) in 1910 collected information for a History of the Esarey family and had it ready for the printer when his house burned in Branchville and the records were destroyed. Twenty years later Logan Esarey took up the trail. There is now only one copy of his History. It too could be completely destroyed by one fire. It was Logan Esarey’s intent, when he started this, to make of it a beautiful volume including photographs, maps, etc. The cost of the book as he wanted it was prohibitive. This mimeographed copy of the records is merely an effort to preserve the information he so patiently collected by distributing copies to descendants who are interested, with the hope that not all the copies would ever be destroyed simultaneously. We are well aware that there may be many mistakes and much that is incomplete. We sincerely hope you will look over the records for your branch of the family immediately and let us have your corrections and additions. “ Signatures of Myra Esarey Evans Laura Pearson Esarey
Myra continued and greatly expanded the work begun by her father during his lifetime, writing thousands of letters to relatives to get and confirm her data. In 1968, after nearly 20 more years of intensive work, Myra issued the 1069 page-long primary edition of "Logan Esarey: His Ancestors and Their Descendants.“ Finally the 60-year-old dream of researching and safely distributing the Esarey Family History was achieved.
Then, at nearly 70 years of age Myra launched immediately into the next stage – a 2 volume set. In 1975 she finished Volume II of "Logan Esarey: His Ancestors and Their Descendants..“ Distribution was limited and only a few of us have ever seen these two volumes. This volume's focus was on Logan Esarey's mother Barbara Ewing (1840-1907). Once again, a progenitor, John Ewing (born 1660), was identified and family history brought forward. This volume thus cross-cuts and includes Esarey descendants from Logan's parents forward.
Comparing all these sources, we can now address some image issues. In 1968 this photo was labeled as both Jonathon Davis Esarey 1783-1828 (p. 89a) and John Essery 1744-1858 (p. 159a & 182a). In the 1975 volume the same photo was labeled three times as Jonathan Davis Esarey. In any case, thismustbe Jonathon Davis Esarey because John Essery died in 1828 - before the first photograph of a person was ever made (1839) or photos became widespread among the public (early 1850s). Jonathon Davis Esarey died in 1858. This is almost certainly a photograph of him made in the 1850s. As part of the same confusion, the 1968 volume twice listed this man as Jonathon Davis Esarey, but also as THE SON OF THE MAN IN THE PREVIOUS PHOTO (p. 159a and 182a).
We have photos of only three of Jonathon’ nine sons The only photo we are sure we have of Jonathon Davis Esarey’s son Jesse Clark Esarey is derived from a tintype. It appears to be a man in his early middle age. Jesse was born in 1817 so he was about 40 when personal photos became common. But this still leaves a substantial period before his death in 1869. Why isn’t there another photo?
Accordingly, we suggest that…. this is Jesse Clark Esarey in the late 1860s when he was well over 50 years old. this is Jesse Clark Esarey when he 40 or younger. &
The reunion’s recent years… 1960 1993 2000
completed this year… “There the story rested until 2002 when Steve Emmanuels, of Lemoore, California published a series of letters entitled The Rhoads-Esrey letters: 1846-1873. Steve Emmanuels obtained copies of Rhoads-Esrey letters from descendants of Earl Rhoads, descendants of Jonathan Esrey (1831-1904), and other sources in California, amassing a sample of 19 letters. Only five of the letters in Emmanuels 2002 collection duplicate those found in Myra Esarey Evans’ 1968 volume! The two sources together present us with 30 letters showing one family's part of this momentous history.”
Also currently underway… Working with Patsy Van Kesteren, we wed John Clark Esarey’s personal Civil War era letters to his day log on Sherman’s March to the Sea. We also will add personal letters of Jacob Esarey and the Benham Family Civil War letter. Additionally, Patsy provided several of the original John Clark Esarey letters for scanning.
Finally, what I consider the most important leap forward since 1968. During the last year, Patsy Van Kesteren and I have put together a plan to preserve and widely distribute Myra’s work and her research files. As of the last month all four family histories are now available for free download… These same histories are on the 250 CDs we have created for the 2010 reunion.
1968 The Esarey family histories will never be lost again.
Its been 100 years since the first Esarey Reunion … and the beginning of a dream to assemble and protect the Esarey History. Thanks to technology and organization, we are not losing ground – we are gaining!