Myths & Legends
It seems that every family has some legendary or mythic story about their ancestors; some story that has been handed down through the generations such as "our surname was something else before it was changed by an official at Ellis Island" or "my brother was left on our door-step by a wandering band of Alabama-Coushatta Indians and we adopted him". When I started researching my family history, I brought with me only a handful of these types of stories. It was not until after I really got deep into researching my ancestors that I came to learn of other family stories that no one in my family had heard before. I list below the legends that I grew up with and the ones that I later learned with references to the pages where they are discussed in this book.
The legends that I grew up with:
- On my mother's side, we are descendants of John Knox the Scottish Reformer (see John Knox? John Not!).
- My great grandfather, James Monroe Dobbs, Sr., was the US Ambassador to Chile. Actually, he was the consul-general to Valparaiso, Chile during the Cleveland administration (see International Man of Mystery).
- My great grandmother, Helen Spiegel, was born in Berlin and that she and James Monroe Dobbs, Sr. were married in Mexico City. Actually, her mother was from Bavaria, her father from Saxony, and she was born in Dallas, Texas. (see It Was New York City, Not Mexico City).
- My father's Irish ancestors came over during (because of) the Potato Famine (1848/49). Actually they came over a few years before the famine began, settling first in Canada and then migrating to Minnesota before the Civil War (see The Bannon Family and The O'Malley Family).
- Richard Bannon (gg-grandfather) owned a plantation in Mississippi. He left the country during the Civil War. When he returned, he tried to work the plantation by himself, but lost the plantation because he could not pay the taxes owed on the land. This is a very mixed up legend that I heard from my maternal grandmother and that is mainly false. Yet I do know where parts of it may have come from. The Bannon's never lived in Mississippi; they lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Richard Bannon did make a visit to Ireland during the Civil War. His wife's father owned a "plantation" in Northern Ireland. After Richard died, his widow did almost lose her house due to tax problems (see great Aunt Rose's letter). It was my maternal grandfather's family who owned a plantation in Georgia (not Mississippi), but that is a different family (see The Dobbs Family).
The legends that I have picked up from others after starting my research:
- The Dobbs of Georgia are descendents of one Fortunatus Dobbs, a brother (cousin, nephew) of Arthur Dobbs, 18th C. Royal Governor of North Carolina. The legend goes on to say that Fortunatus Dobbs came from Carrick Fergus the site of the ancient Dobbs castle in Ireland. (see The Dobbs Family)
- John McMullan (5th great grandfather) was the tailor who made General Washington's uniform. (See John McMullan)
- Evan Protheroe (purported 6th great grandfather) was a descendant of the Great Lord of Blancuck of West South Wales. The Lord of Blancuck was known as Cadivor, who lived at the old seat of the Prothro family, Dolwilym Castle. (see The Prothro Family and also Evan Protheroe)
- It seems that two [Gaume] brothers were importers of spices, etc., but in the mast of the sailboat they had a hollow spot where they smuggled jewels without paying tax. Just before they were to come into port, they got word that the law was going to apprehend them so they sailed to America. Nothing more to say about this legend except that it originated from an elderly Gaume cousin in a letter that she wrote to one of her nephews back in the early 1970's and no one knows what if any truth there is to it. (see My French Connection)
In researching my family history, did I find any links to royalty? (perhaps, see The Pickering Project) Did I find any infamous or scandalous characters? You will have to wait to find that out. For the most part, I found ordinary people leading lives of quiet desperation. I say "ordinary" - meaning they were ordinary for times in which they lived and they certainly did live in interesting times.