Monday, July 22, 2013

The Gathering

This painting (circa 1872) by John Gast called American Progress, is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Here Columbia, a personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers, stringing telegraph wire as she sweeps west; she holds a school book. The different stages of economic activity of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the changing forms of transportation.

There seems to have been a great gathering of the old regulars here lately. It feels good. Fred has been over here lately trying to "Stick a fork in me" for being a dead blog. Hummmpphh!

I have often said that I've heard at least five versions of every old history story. What I've learned from that is to always keep an open mind and not presume to judge what really happened, or who was at fault. I fully realize that many opinions often shape history more that fact. Those that need to understand what I'm talking about need look no further that what is happening in the Trevon Martin / George Zimmerman case. Everybody is willing to have an opinion. Most are based on their heritage or experience, very few are based on facts, simply because many facts are not readily apparent. It would be nice to know what happened. I want to have a strong opinion, but I know that the only thing that I know for sure is that I simply don't know all of the facts. I'm not even going to render an opinion on the jury's decision. The only thing that I'm fairly sure of is that they came to the best decision that they could have with the very limited base in solid facts. I'm assuming that they had a "reasonable doubt".

Those that presume to judge history, on their even more limited base of facts, are only exposing how foolish that they can be. Again, I eagerly want to sort it all out and place a definitive claim that I really know what happened. I don't, neither do you. I do know that a lot of Indian people were brutally killed, poisoned, hung, beaten, burned, stolen from,and run off. Sadly, I also know that many white men were brutally killed, poisoned, hung, beaten, burned, stolen from, and run off. Life was not easy in the mid to late 1800s.

Many of my ancestors killed Indian people, but many of my ancestors were very instrumental in saving the lives of the remaining Indians. Do I carry any Burdon of guilt, or do I carry any joy of helping save the Indian people? No, the only thing that I carry is an incredible burdon of having deep history in this little South Fork of the Eel canyon that I love. Many, with very little knowledge, like to wave the finger of shame and blame. They only show how foolishly naive that they are.

The white man and the Indian "Buried the Hatchet" long ago, back in the late 1800s. We agreed to get over it as best we could. Granted, it was a tenuous truce, but it was a truce. We have moved to become great friends today. The Indian people are revered for their heritage and knowledge, and Indian people nowadays are proud to be Indians. Many non-Indian people try to emulate them. I'm happy with that. I hope that everybody could be happy that we get along. Indeed many of my greatest friends are Indian, and many of my family members are Indian. I'm good with that...

If you want to dig up history, I often remember how upset I was the Attila the Hun killed and drove my family out of Europe, then we were driven away from England though economic and religious persecution. We came to the United States to start a new life. Unfortunately we were out-bullied in new England to the point that we had to find a new place to live. The U. S. Government said "Go West Young Man, we will take care of you"

"Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles." "That," I said, "is very frank advice, but it is medicine easier given than taken. It is a wide country, but I do not know just where to go." "It is all room away from the pavements. (Horace Greeley)

We went west to find our fortune in the Golden State. The gold fields proved to be brutal, rife with disease and dishonor. The U.S. Government seems to have lied, just when we needed them most, they left to fight a war on slavery. We had to move on. We found a little valley on the South Fork of the Eel. We discovered that there was no longer any place to run away from our problems or persecution. We drove our stake and decided we owed it to posterity to survive. Some of us even made it!

Now, we have some of our old regulars checking in. Spyrock has always interested me because I'm am inherently drawn to story tellers. Spy's story has been a story of great discovery. I have seen his story morph with the more that he learns about his own history. One of the reasons that I find him to be so interesting is that he has had family members killed by Indians, and, his family has killed Indians. His family and those same Indians have married each other. He is a descendant. He can judge and sort out what happened in history with out having to place blame and guilt. That fog of uncertainty does not apply to him. He only seeks truth, which anybody that studies history knows, is damn hard to find.

Judge not, lest thee be judged.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Mathew (Bible)

Even though I am not much of a "believer" I have found some great wisdom in the Bible.



spyrock said...

thanks for the compliment of being called a story teller. i've met a couple of distant relatives with the exact same name as mine and they both have an excuse why they don't know much about their family history. i tried to tell them that the ancestors came to me and want me to find out about their story.
the thing is, it's not just one family. all these different strands of ancestry are showing up and each has a story. so i'm learning about my viking side, my celtic side, my scotch irish side, my irish catholic side, my norman side, my german side, my alsace side, my vandal side, my roman side, my american indian side, my american pioneer side and so on and so on. each of these strands twists together to make the human i am becoming and so i no longer identify with only my current lifetime. i identify with many lifetimes some of them lived long ago and when i look at the world through these eyes of an elder. (sorry about using the title of your cousins book) but i think penny sees it the same way. i'm always happy to welcome the ones that show up and the stories that turn up and if i can connect them to the here and now, then i feel the ancestors smile in my heart.

Ross Sherburn said...

My Grandfather came from Vermont to Round Valley area about 1895.My Grandmother came from Coulee city Washington to Woodland,Ca. about the same time. They got together and married in 1898.
My question has always been,what drew these people to this area?
Now my son has moved to eastern Washington pretty close to where my Grandmother was from!

Jim Baker said...

Good to have you and your musings back Ernie. Greetings from Trinidad. I've circled back to my ancestors' original County roots near Big Lagoon and Crannell. Great-grandfather Paulsen jumped ship in Trinidad in 1883 and proceeded to do his part in the propagation of little Paulsens and Bakers throughout the area. Too late for the "Indian War" period that your ancestors were in the middle of, but just in time for the redwood logging boom times, so I guess I could bear some family guilt as well in the eyes of some who came later, if I chose to do so. As you and I have discussed, one had to be in the shoes (or corks) of our ancestors to really judge them for their actions.

Ross Sherburn said...

No "corks" in the Crummy............

Ernie Branscomb said...

I've been thinking about "what drew these people to this area?" In a lot of cases it was what drove people away from where they were. Humanity seems to seek it's own level like water in a pond.

Most people don't like the intrusion of newcomers with different ideas and cultures, and they move to places that they think will be better than tolerating them. Unfortunately they become the newcomers wherever they move to.

Human beings are never really satisfied wherever they are. There is always the illusion that things will be better somewhere else. Most often it's not.

Once you decide that "this is home and nobody is going to crowd me out" you become much more tolerant of the cultures that used to offend your sensibilities.

Maybe some people move because they are looking for a better life and they actually find it. Myself? I hate to step out of what I know best. This is "home" for me. I have even began to like some of the newcomers, and they seem to tolerate me, They must see that I'm not going anywhere no matter how hard they push.

Has anybody out there found a better life by moving?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jim Baker
It's good to hear from you. I miss our "deeply intelligent"

Watch out for tidal waves! How high did that wave get in 1700?

"When the sky thunders seek low ground. When the ground thunders seek high ground" Old Indian tidal wave warning

Ernie Branscomb said...

Back to Jim, I accidentally posted before I was through. The legends say that if you can look down on Trinidad Head. you are safely high enough.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Olmanriver and Spy are talking about a second bloody run massacre in Dos Rios 1872

go to this link