Sunday, March 06, 2005

Let's Remember the Alamo, Today

Happy Remember The Alamo Day, fellow Texans

I have four lines of ancestry that touch on Texas history on this day. Three of them are White. One of them thought of themselves as White, but because of their dark skin color, found themselves without even the most basic of human rights. I mention this because Southerners do not own up to their racist history. This is a story about a White family that was accused of having a racially tainted past. This is the experience of my Ashworth ancestors. Let this day be remembered in history as the day that White Texans started screwing people of Colorl. It was on a day close to this, cousins, that Texas arbitrarily decided we were no longer White. So, just for the record, cousins. Those of you who think Bush is born again and special, he represents today the same philosophy that called you "niggers" in 1836.

Here's what I wrote at my other site, Dancing with Myself:

Thanks to my new blogger friend, Bowietreks for reminding me that today is the anniversary of the Mexican victory over the Texians in San Antonio which is forever remembered as the Battle for the Alamo. My great-great-grandpa, Adna Samuel Droddy, almost wasn't my gggrandpa. [To help you keep my many ancestors straight, so to speak, A.S. is my mother's father's grandfather.] On this day in 1836, he and his company of men under the command of Capt. James Chessher were camped out on the banks of the Guadalupe River enroute to join the forces at the Alamo. I know this because after the courthouse in Newton County burned in 1852 or 53, they had to recreate the title transfer of this huge amount of land. To quote the deed: "...being at the time encamped near the town of Victoria on the Guadalupe river in said republic, did then and there for the sum of six hundred dollars to me in hand paid by Wm S.Keaghey a brother soldier and member of said company,..." WTF? Nobody had that much money. They were on their way to sure death, doing what young men do in situations like that. They were drinking and playing poker. GGGrandpappy lost that hand.

My Ashworth ancestors were not welcome to serve in the Texas militia. When the Texians declared their independence, my Ashworth ancestors went to the front of the lines, only to be told that they were now considered Black by the Texians who were for the most part Southerners. One of my ancestors insisted on hiring someone to go in his stead, even if they wouldn't accept him because of their decision to consider him NOT White. Gipson Perkins, his cousin whom William paid to go in his stead, was also a person of color. Even as they rewarded us with humiliation, we continued to support them.

Other members of the family donated money and materiel to the Texians in their revolution against Mexico. The Texians repaid them by immediately negating all of the promised rewards because promises made to people of color didn't mean anything.

We never accepted their designation of us as Free Blacks. We denied we had any Black ancestry. We fought and killed people who suggested otherwise. We even served in the Confederate Army. Not all of us. The branch from which I descend avoided the Civil War completely. This is an aside, but another of my branches, the Droddys, were deserters and Jay Hawkers. I am very proud of them. They were poor whites in Rapides Parish. They and another branch of my family, the Willises, were not enthusiastic in their support of the Confederacy and did everything they could to not participate.

Anyways, back to Texas. Do you know that to this day, Texas continues to use the one-drop rule against my family when they tell their story? If you search Ashworth Family in Texas, you'll come across a site that says that Moses, a White man, and his four free Black sons, came to Texas around 1830 and became wealthy. We have offered to engage them in a discussion as to the nature of the Ashworth family's racial make-up, but they didn't need the facts in 1836 and they're not interested in them now.

Is this a good story, though, or what? If anyone knows Steven Spielberg and can get me ten minutes to pitch this story, I know it'll be a blockbuster movie. Mr. Spielberg, have your people call my people and let's do lunch. Ten minutes is all I ask, and I'll pay for lunch.

Anyway, thanks to Bowietrek for giving me an excuse to talk about my people. My maternal grandmother was an Ashworth, as were both of her parents. My goal in life is to annoy the people at the University of Texas enough to get them to reconsider and acknowledge their own complicity in their racist history. Tall order? Perhaps, but I've got time.

Another branch of my family, the Hortons and Bullocks (my paternal grandmother's maternal people) were big time early Texas revolutionaries. My gggggrandfather, Col. James Whitis Bullock, challenged the Mexican garrison at Nacogdoches demanding that they declare for the Mexican Constitution of 1824. His brother-in-law, Alexander Horton my ggggreat uncle, was Houston's aide-de-camp. That just goes to show my affinity for Sam Houston has historical routes. We also share two names, and just as Sam Houston always referred to himself in the third person, I do as well, annoying more than a couple of close friends.

Anyways (Piggy's favorite word), the Texans won the war because the Mexicans were both stupid and corrupt. When they finally threatened to get their shit together 9 years later, the United States stepped in and whipped their sorry asses, humiliating them in a way that annoys them even to this day. I had a group of Mexican queens attempt to give me grief about this one holiday and I stopped them cold and told them that Mexico was a piece of shit Republic then just as it is today, and that hispanic culture did not lose in that war, just their corrupt political structure. Today the second largest Spanish speaking city in the world is Los Angeles. San Jose, California is probably third. The Southwest is as hispanic today as it was 160 years ago, and continues to be more brown and more Spanish speaking with each new day. We are not, thank god in heaven, Mexicans. If we think the rich have it good at the expense of the poor here, check out Mexico.

Happy Remember the Alamo Day, my dear fellow Texans. Look back on your history and remember what low-lifes you were. Then. And now.

(Go Longhorns.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Visiting West Virginia

I did manage to take half a dozen or so pictures.
Here's my two sisters and my mother. Michelle is on the left, Dorothy in the middle, and Gwen on the right. This is the monument dedicated to what now is considered to be the first battle of the American Revolution where Col. Andrew Lewis and about 1,000 colornists, mostly Virginians living on the edge of the wilderness, fought the Shawnees and allied tribes led by the great Shawnee chief, Cornstalk. The battle is considered a victory by the Americans because Cornstalk misread the colonists troop movement as reinforcements and broke off the engagement, retreating across the Ohio. My great-great-great-grandfather, William Droddy, is supposed to have operated a ferry across the Ohio River here around 1800. (Thank you, professor Bridges.)

Mother Dorothy is in the center, flanked on the left by m. Hudson Holley and on the right by G.R. Luhring.

Here's a photo of me, just in case you're curious as to what I look like this week.

Here's a picture of our spirit guide. His name is Mothman. Apparently, he's quite a legend in Pt. Pleasant, WV.
Looking more closely at my mom, you can see that she got an involuntary nose job while visiting in Charleston, WV. She stepped on a piece of loose concrete on a sidewalk, fell and busted her nose. We spent 6 hours in the emergency room Thursday night. Fortunately for her, the surgeon on duty at the emergency room is one of West Virginia's leading cosmetic surgeons. Show us your nose, mom.

We drove down from Pittsburgh on WV Route 7 which snakes along the Ohio River. There were still plenty of fall colors, although the storm earlier in the week diminished the display somewhat. West Virginians we met were charming and hospitable. We didn't meet any hillbillies, to our disapointment. Everyone we met looked just like us and talked just like us. I guess you might say we found some of our roots.
I want to thank the staff at the West Virginia State Archives there at the State Capital in Charleston. They patiently showed us how to make the best use of our time there. With their help, we were able to re-create the community in which William Droddy and his wife, Ruth Ellison, lived for almost 25 years in the late 1700s.
Bye, bye, Mothman.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Telling the Story

West Virginia

We had a very successful trip. First of all, what a beautiful state. We flew into Pittsburgh, PA, rented a car, and drove to Charleston, the capitol of WV.
We drove to Wheeling, the first capitol of WV and then down state highway 2 which snakes along the Ohio River towards Pt. Pleasant, WV. Pt. Pleasant is where the Great Kanawha River (as opposed to the Little Kanawha River) empties into the Ohio River. We didn’t get as far as Pt. Pleasant on the way down, turning instead to the interstate highway at Parkersburg. We were anxious to get to Charleston before the State Archives closed. We made it.

The next two days were mostly spent at the archives checking land records, court records, miscellaneous lists, all dating the period between 1774 and 1810. We strongly suspect our great-great-great-grandparents, Ruth Ellison and William Droddy lived in Kanawha County during this time. We know that he was appointed as one of the first coroners of that county, and his brother-in-law, Capt. John Morris, was sheriff. John Morris was married to William’s sister, Margaret Droddy.

William and Margaret, along with their brothers Thomas and Ezekiel, were apparently abandoned by their parents, Elizabeth and Daniel Droddy about 1759 or 1760. The exact details of this are lost in time. What we do know is that Daniel was adjudicated a garnishee in 1758 or 59, and that he and Elizabeth left Virginia, taking with them their youngest son, Daniel II. Thomas, William and Ezekil were bound out. Thomas, who was about 14 at the time, and William, aged 4, maybe 5, were bound out to Robert Douglas. Ezekiel who was just a baby, was bound out to someone else. We haven’t found the court orders regarding Margaret yet, but we suspect someone was appointed her guardian. Those early Virginians were sticklers for legal details. In the order book which noted Daniel and Ezekiel’s disposition, the boys are referred to as orphans.

We don’t know the details of their upbringing. There is a notation in a civil suit many years later that suggests Robert Douglas moved to another county. We’re still looking for clues there.

Margaret, Ezekiel and William appear again in the late 1770s. Margaret married John Morris, a son of William Morris. The only detail to that is a comment by an earlier researcher who said that the Droddy lands bordered the Morris lands. William and Ezekiel are both listed as members of Capt. John Morris’s militia company, with a notation that they were living at the Morris stockade and raising a crop near there on their own land.

The Morrises all fought at the Battle of Pt. Pleasant in 1774. There is no record of any Droddys serving in that battle, so they may not have yet moved to the Kanawha valley. Margaret and John were married in 1778. By 1781, William and Ezekiel are being shown as part of John Morris’s militia company. By 1787, William has met and married Ruth Ellison, a daughter of James Ellison of Greenbriar County. James Ellison was a fairly successful farmer. We can find no further record of Ezekiel, leaving us to speculate that he may have been killed in one of the many skirmishes with Indians during this period. There were several periods of intense fighting between the Americans and the Shawnees not ending until the death of Tecumseh in 1814.

We heard that William operated a ferry across the Ohio at Pt. Pleasant, but we found nothing to confirm or support this theory. By 1820, William and a wife had made it to St. Charles, Missouri where he died in 1824. I say “a wife” because we do not know if this is our g-g-g-grandmother, Ruth Ellison, or not. There is another record of a William Droddy marrying in Illinois. We cannot determine whether this William Droddy is our g-g-g-grandfather or his son named William. We do know that son William spent time in Illinois because two of his children were born in Illinois.

William’s father, Daniel, is presumed to have died prior to 1798. That year William gave a power of attorney to Allyn Prier (Alan Pryor) with instructions for Pryor to do whatever was necessary to claim land belonging to Daniel near Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia. In the power of attorney, William refers to himself as a legal heir of Daniel.

We have no knowledge of William’s feelings towards his father and mother who abandoned him and his siblings in Virginia. I would note that the name Daniel is not found in any of William’s children’s descendants, while it appears frequently among the family that Daniel took to South Carolina.

Another note of distinction between the family left behind and the family taken. William spelled his name D-R-O-D-D-Y. In South Carolina, the name is spelled D-R-A-W-D-Y.

My grandfather, Joseph William Droddy, told my cousin Charles that his people came from Ireland on a banana boat. Every family legend generally has a kernel of truth.

My Droddys continued the family’s western migration, ending up in Texas in the early 1830s. By 1836, William was dead, but his sons, John, William and Adney, along with several of their sons, were in Texas. I believe they floated down the Mississippi as far as Louisiana. Maybe on a flat-bottomed boat. They all grew up on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. At least one of the brothers operated a ferry across the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana.