"Wider and wider they spread, expanding..."

Town founders, places I haven't been, ancestors who were "bridesmaids" to history.... This post conflates (and at one point refutes) these motifs seen perhaps too often in this blog. It takes place primarily in Connecticut ("place I haven't been"--check!), but begins in England (check!).

From The History of Guilford, Connecticut, from its first settlement in 1639 by Ralph Dunning Smith:
William Seward came originally from Bristol, England, and settled first in New Haven, and, while residing there he was married to Miss Grace Norton of Guilford, April 2, 1651. He soon removed to Guilford and took the oath of fidelity there May 4, 1654. He appears to have been a tanner, a man of considerable property and eminence in the town. For a long time he was captain of the guard in Guilford….
He was also a paternal tenth great-grandfather of mine, and although an early inhabitant of Guilford, was not one of the founders of that town ("bridesmaid"--check!), although his father-in-law, Thomas Norton (15 Sep 1609 - 16 May 1648), and sons' grandfather-in-law, Francis Bushnell (1580 - 13 Oct 1646), were. The apostrophe is correct: three of the Seward sons married three of the Bushnell daughters. (For completists: one brother never married, another was killed by a horse).
The Seward son that concerns me is Caleb Seward, a ninth great-grandfather. Born in Guilford, it was there he married Lydia Bushnell (Nov 1661 - 24 Aug 1753) when he was twenty-four, in a service officiated by Mr Andrew Leete, who was not a minister, but rather son of another of Guilford's founders, William Leete, Governor of the Colony of New Haven (1661- 1665) and later, Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1676 until his death in 1683.
Perhaps tired of being surrounded by nothing but town founders and their descendants, at age thirty-six Caleb headed off to an area near the Coginchaug River known as "The Great Swamp," that was used as a hunting ground for the native Mattabesset people. He built a log house, brought his wife and six children, and thereby founded the town of Durham.

From Fowler:
The early inhabitants of Durham were enterprising and energetic. In the year 1698, when Caleb Seward of Guilford, the first pioneer of the unbroken wilderness, moved into his loghouse in the south part of Cogenchaug [sic], he might have climbed to the mountain top on the southern border, and have looked northwardly, as Moses looked from Pisgah upon Canaan, upon hills rising into mountain ranges on the east and on the west part of the landscape, and between them upon that long swamp, Coginchaug, and the small stream working its sluggish way though it; but he would have seen very little like a land of promise…. Think of that unbroken pathless wilderness, the abode of the wolf and the panther on the hills, a possession of the “bittern and the pools of water” in the swamps, guarded by rattlesnakes and copperhead.
They must have been men of enterprise and energy, men of bold hearts and strong hands, who could undertake the task of planting their institutions, domestic and religious, social and civil on this forbidding ground. But they performed their tasks nobly and well.
A few pages on, we learn more about Caleb Seward:
...Caleb Seward has the claim, as the first inhabitant of Durham.... After he removed to Durham, he had Ephraim, Aug. 6th, 1700, the first white born child of Durham, and Ebenezer the second white child born June 7th, 1703. He was the first Town Clerk; was a man in whom confidence was universally reposed. He was a representative of the Town fifteen sessions of the Legislature.
First inhabitant, first Town Clerk.... "Bridesmaid" no more!
"Here lieth Mr Caleb Seeward
 Who died Aug ye 2d, 1728
 in ye 63 year of his Age,
 Being ye First Inhabitant of Durham"

(Note both his surname and age at death are incorrect.)

1 Noadiah Seward (22 Aug 1697 - 1744) married Hannah Smith (22 Sep 1703 - 23 Apr 1769), daughter of Simon Smith (1658 - 15 Apr 1746) and Elizabeth Alice Wells (1672 - 8 Jul 1742)), on 19 October 1721, in Durham, Connecticut.

2 Lydia Seward (17 Jan 1722 - 6 Dec 1811) married Stephen Hickock (17 Jul 1714 - 1768), son of Stephen Hickox (12 Apr 1684 - 19 Apr 1726) and Ruth Gaylord (1686 - 1727), in 1742, in Granville, Massachusetts.

3 Stephen Hickock (30 Jun 1749 - 9 Sep 1836) married Rebecca Robinson (8 May 1748 - 8 Oct 1807), daughter of John Robinson (bef 1732 - ?) and Rebecca LKU (?), about 1770.

4 Hannah Hickock (abt 1785 - 24 Aug 1809) married Williams Davenport (12 Nov 1782 - 4 Dec 1830), son of Eliphalet Davenport (14 Oct 1750 - 17 Dec 1835) and Elizabeth Williams (31 Mar 1757 - 5 Jun 1841), on 20 Dec 1803 in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

5 Stephen Addison Davenport (20 Nov 1806 - Nov 1850) married Alma Holmes Doty (9 Oct 1814 - 10 Aug 1879), daughter of Stephen S Doty (24 Jun 1791 - 21 Oct 1870) and Polly Holmes (1788 - aft 1860), in August 1835 in Madison, New York.

6 Henrietta Davenport (Jan 1836 - May 1904) married Charles Swarts (12 Feb 1835 - 8 Jun 1909), son of John Swarts and Mary McDonald, in Wisconsin, in 1859.

7 Ella Swarts (1862 - Apr 1899) was born and lived her entire life in Minnesota. She married Charles A Burnett (Feb 1856 - 17 Jan 1930), son of Nathaniel S Burnett and Rachel Elizabeth Squire, in Scott County, Minnesota, September 1879.

8 Alfred Nathaniel Burnett (19 Aug 1883 - 31 Jul 1959) married Jennie Arleta Eaton (14 Mar 1891 - 15 Apr 1979), daughter of Dor Henry Eaton and Anna B A Miller, in Minnesota, in 1909.

9 Leroy Stanley Burnett (31 Aug 1910 - 11 May 1980) married Hazel Lucille Erickson (6 Sep 1910 - 6 May 2002), daughter of Erick Albert Erickson and Johanna Maria Svard, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 21 June 1933.

10 [Living] Burnett married Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010), daughter of Dana Earl Brown and Myrna Margaret Severin, in Long Beach, California, on 4 March 1961.

11 Your humble blogger.

"the blab of the pave..."

Road trips are in my blood--perhaps literally. Whether I got it from my roaming forebears like paternal fourth great-grandfather Stephen Addison Davenport, who after moving to the newly-formed state of Wisconsin, next headed to California with the Gold Rush; or from more recent relations like my maternal grandfather, Dana Earl Brown, who drove to Hollywood from Minnesota in 1931 just for kicks, it must be in my genes somehow.

Family vacations were part of my childhood. Growing up, my family was mostly west coast, even before I was born: mom's side in California, dad's side in Washington state. We would visit my grandparents outside of Seattle almost every summer; Thanksgivings often meant a long weekend in the Bay Area with cousins. I saw a lot of Pacific Coast Highway from the window of the station wagon.

Once we took a family driving trip to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Caverns, then and now.

Later, while living briefly in Ohio, we went to Washington D C, Omaha, and Atlanta once each.

Even then, I wrote trip journals and sent postcards. The Nebraska trip journal, modestly titled Bob Burnett's "Around the Cornbelt [sic] in Six Whole Days," A Humorous Dialogue Based on a True Incident in the Month of August 1973, was printed in a "Special Limited Edition, Illustrated by the Author." It was full of droll observations such as "Very beautiful countryside (if you like corn and soybean)" and "Soon right before we saw Nebraska we saw many signs for a SCENIC VIEW: it was a hill!" A bit of juvenalia, no doubt, but I am pleased to see that even as a child I knew my way around a parenthetical aside and proper colon usage. I was a little more terse, if no less snarky in an (untitled) log of a trip to Northern California from my high school years: "Nondescript. Hot. Flat. Dull."

As an adult, my love of Road Trips has only deepened. One of my favorite vacations was a solo road trip through The South, hitting everything from Walt Disney World ("First Time Visitor") to New Orleans (for Mardi Gras) to the Great Smokey Mountains which were, in fact, all covered with snow. There was no real itinerary, aside from a few "tent poles:" visiting my friend Erik, who was attending North Carolina's Wake Forest University; the Boll Weevil Monument in Alabama.... Each night, in some quaint motel or other, I would peruse my AAA maps and guidebooks to create a theoretical route for the following day, although those often fell by the wayside as I would follow whatever whims and byways crossed my path.

Since then, I have found that trip planning can be beneficial, providing useful context and background, and preventing mishaps. Although as Dwight D Eisenhower, best remembered--I believe--as the founder of the Interstate Highway system, once remarked, regarding warfare: "before a battle begins, planning is everything; once it has started, planning is nothing." Road trips are the same. 

The ne plus ultra of my Road Trip planning was in 2003. Rather than one lengthy trip, we decided to explore California; every nook and cranny, mission, monument, and more. As I wrote in our trip recap-cum-holiday card that year: 

Two native-born sons with one awfully big mission: To See California. All of it. In one year.... And see it we did. Every mission--all 21 of 'em--from San Diego to Sonoma. What we don't know about adobe isn't worth knowing.

We visited every National Park, Monument, and Historic Site. From the well-known (Yosemite) to the obscure (who had ever heard of Pinnacles?), from untouched nature to the WW2 Homefront & Manzanar Memorials, we saw birthplaces, cemeteries, volcanoes, lighthouses, and more.

We even visited as many tourist traps as Stephen would allow. This too is California. Or so Robert said.... From the Trees of Mystery to the Winchester Mystery House, we saw the biggest, smallest, oldest, oddest, and--frankly--tackiest the Golden State has to offer, and we have the snowglobes, bumper stickers, and commemorative spoons to prove it. It seems only appropriate for this state of superlatives.

And superlative it is. We visited the highest (Mt Whitney) and lowest (Death Valley) points in the contiguous United States on the same day. We saw sagebrush, sailboats, salmon, sand dunes, sequoias, snow, steam trains, the Steinbeck Center, Sunset magazine's HQ, surf... and that was just "S."

We sought out--and found--the geographical center of California, as well as the cardinal points. We rode on everything from interstate super-highways to dirt roads and rabbit paths. We even accidentally wandered into Nevada and Oregon, albeit on two different trips; the no-doubt well-intentioned people at Rand-McNally have some explaining to do. We even spotted a few bits of land not in the sight of a new subdivision or Future Home of Wal-Mart ®, alas.

We saw everything from ice caves to outlet malls; attended a movie premiere, farmers' markets, and the Ramona Pageant; celebrated Earth Day in San Luis Obispo, Easter at Hearst Castle, and Disneyland's forty-eighth birthday.

We discovered (Eureka!) that Stephen will go into a swimming pool; you can swelter in San Francisco and freeze in the Mojave Desert; and that Maisie loves leftover hash browns from Black Bear Diner (convenient locations throughout central and northern California) more than any other food. Most importantly, we discovered that even after fifteen outings, thirty-plus roles of film, and over ten thousand miles of road, we have barely begun to see it all... but what a great beginning. California, here we come!

On the right is "Command Central." We hung a large map with pins, strings, note cards, and the like over the fireplace.
This was about partway through the year, with accumulated souvenirs.

That was followed by our more expansive "Rushmore Road Trip" in 2005, which took us through ten states and forty-eight hundred miles en route to that famous memorial.

Don't you brand your trips with logos and such?
Highlights of the trip included Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah, Glacier, Yosemite, Wind Cave, and Badlands Nat'l Parks, Devil's Tower and Dinosaur Nat'l Monuments, and more. Of course, it wasn't all hiking and history; we also enjoyed the Cody Night Rodeo, Wall Drug, and Carhenge (a Nebraska must-see).
That year's card. The message: Hope Your Holidays are Monumental.

In 2008, after buying a home in Ohio, perhaps needless to say we drove out, in part because we were taking Maisie and Rosie along. We saw a lot more of the country, and had many adventures and mishaps, including a wild turkey going through our windshield in Kansas. We have made three driving trips back to California since then; once along Route 66, another time, after picking up our Airstream, we dodged blizzards and had a planned six-day round-trip turn into nine.

Leaving sunny California, and in snowy Somewhere Else.

We did get to see the scenic Natchez Trace, however, and a great deal of the Mexican border in our quest to avoid further snow.


Other Road Trips we've taken from here include a recent jaunt to New York City (to see living relatives), excursions to Murrells Inlet N C (likewise) and Kansas City, and two trips to Washington D C.

Now, if you are a follower of this blog (and if you're not, why not? It's easy....), you might remember that most of my family stories here have been about Minnesota and Wisconsin, or North Dakota, and several New England states, in particular Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. And if you've been following this post (and its handy visual aids), you'll notice that I have not mentioned trips to--or even through--any of the above-mentioned states.

There are plans--of course!--to remedy that, including a Boston-based trip for next summer that will take in Cape Cod, Plimouth Plantation, Londonderry N H and the like. I have also been sketching out a Great Lakes trip tentatively titled "On the Trail of Frederick D Ketchum," [snappy subtitle TBD) tracing his life; and have another, as yet vague trek in mind to include Minnesota and Wisconsin, a sort of genealogical double-feature, since many of Stephen's ancestors lived there as well.

This year? We're going to Disney World! But we'll be driving.