All I Know

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Month: April 2019

Potpourri

What were you wearing?

I actually posted earlier in the week but felt I owed my readers more, so here goes.

The Question

At this time of the year, the school where I work mounts a display or show called “What She Wore.” It never fails to stop me in my tracks as I walk through our Commons. Pinned to the wall are various outfits, jeans and t-shirts, pretty dresses, shorts with sweatshirts, bathing suits. Beside each outfit is a written account of the outfit in the actual words of the subject who wore that outfit, because, for some strange reason, that’s a question that is always asked of a rape victim: “What were you wearing?”

I will admit, I’ve seen some pretty inappropriate outfits, but I don’t recall any that would indicate a woman (or a man) should be attacked and damaged in the many ways that rape can destroy a victim. Experts tell us that the act of rape is often more about control than about sex. If that’s the case why do we care so much about what a victim was wearing?

It may be that the question is more relevant in the case of what we call date rape, but I have a difficult time imagining that any woman (or man) dresses to invite abuse. And I also believe that most rapists don’t even see their victims as people…only as vulnerable “others” to be overpowered.

Investigation

I’ve been struggling to learn who and why visitors to my website are…well, visiting my site. I write because I want to write, but I have to admit, it means a lot and is encouraging to know that people read because they want to read — what I write.

Recently I installed a new “helper” to help me see more about my visitors. Don’t worry, it doesn’t track you individually, I still don’t know your names or anything about you other than generally where you come from and the pages you view.

Here’s where you come from — China. Apparently, the majority of my visitors are from (in this order): China, the US, and Alaska. Yes, I know Alaska is the US, but it shows up differently on the map I’m shown, so I list it.

I hope I know who my Alaskan visitor is (here’s to you, Nina) and I’m comfortable with the US visitors probably being friends and family, but I’m a little confused about the China visitors.

There’s a little more information in the report I get, and that is that my security software has rebuffed some 900 malicious login attempts and 24 spam comments.

I’m thinking those are all coming from China. I read the news. I just can’t figure out why I’m such a target.

Or if those login attempts and spams are NOT coming from China, the country, how do I have so many fans in China?

It’s a mystery.

And Finally:

Just read a lengthy article on the study of reading comprehension that found students learned better from printed text than electronic.

To quote the article: “Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performances tended to suffer.”

Another observation: “It would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading simply because they prefer it.”

Now, I’m not going to go into all the details here, but I thought it was interesting that while you can read online text faster, you comprehend actual printed material much better. (Thanks to Barbara H. who posted it for me to find.)

If you want to read the entire article, it is on the businessinsider.com website and is written by Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer. You can find it at printed text vs. digital

So, what I want to say here is…if you have trouble understanding what I’m writing, you might want to print this out and read it slowly.

Just sayin’.

 

Review

Early map of the 1700s.

Let’s review my story.

We have William Edward Collings who may or may not have come to America from Germany with five brothers named Crist in 1738.

If we take Nicolaus Crist’s journal as absolute truth, it would appear that William Edward was born and raised in Germany; however, the records we can find indicate that William Edward Collings was born in the colony known as Pennsylvania, the son of Zebulon Collings, also born in Pennsylvania.

By many accounts we have seen, Zebulon may have been the son of Anthony Andrew Collings of Cornwall, England. On the other hand, some reports of Anthony Andrew Collings do NOT show a son named Zebulon.

Am I English or German? My DNA says I am both, but the ratio is about 50% English/Wales/Northwestern Europe and only 16% Germanic Europe. Since I know I’m of German descent from my Nicholas ancestors, that would seem to indicate that it’s more likely the Collings were English.

Having doubts about the Crist version of how my family came to America, I tend to have better confidence in the remainder of the journal account of the friendship between the Crist family and the Collings family due to records of the intermarriage of the two.

I also know that court records and other official papers have the Collings and Crist families living as neighbors in more than one location. It’s also clear that they moved westward and through time together.

One official record in 1747 documents the registration of William Edward and his wife Anne (who was born Elizabeth Anne Elston), as members of the Scotch Plains Baptist Church. This church was founded in August of 1747 in the Province of East New Jersey “under the dominion of the King of Great Britain.”

Wherever he was born and however he came to be in America, William Edward’s son William Elston Collings may or may not have traveled to Kentucky as a part of the Low Dutch Settlement…which some accounts report wasn’t actually Dutch, but German and for the most part were early Quakers who branched off into the Shakers who founded Pleasant Hill, KY.

On the other hand, some accounts say the Low Dutch Settlement Company was most assuredly descendants of early immigrants from Holland. I’m still working on that side road.

William and his wife were members of an early Baptist church, but the community of Scotch Plains was a settlement founded in the late 1600s by a group of Scottish Quakers. Scotch Plains is approximately 15 miles northwest of the bay and town of Perth Amboy where many travelers to the New World landed in the 1600s

So are my Collings ancestors English or German, Baptist or Quaker?

I can find no further record of their lives in that area until they petitioned the Scotch Plains Baptist Church for a letter of Dismissal due to their move to Virginia.

Moving to Virginia would seem a simple matter, but that state had many boundary changes over the early years of its existence. Their move could have taken them into what we now know as Maryland or Virginia or Pennsylvania.

When settlers first came to America, they were just happy to leave the rocking ships and therefore settled on any dry land up and down the east coast of North America. Settlers in the area known as Virginia were hampered in any westward movement by the Appalachian Mountains which formed a formidable barrier to a class of people who merely wanted to claim some land, plant some crops and settle down near the ocean that could carry any commercial goods back and forth between European markets.

For over 100 years, the population of the country living along the Eastern seaboard grew and prospered. Settlements grew into towns, towns into cities.

In the mid to late 1700s, a decision to move to Virginia, meant moving farther inland, and “Virginia” could have been any location as far north as the southwest part of the state of present-day Pennsylvania or as far south as the border between the current states of Virginia and North Carolina.

I’ve found records of my family in a county called Yahogania, named for a river that branched off the Monongalia River and flowed south below present-day Pittsburgh. Claimed by Virginia, the county of Yahogania was located in an area long disputed between Virginia and Pennsylvania.

In the 1780s, when the boundary disputes were settled by extending a line that came to be known as the Mason-Dixion line, Yahohania County was dissolved into three other counties in the newly formed “official” states of Pennsylvania and Virginia which later became West Virginia.

It may have been the uncertainty over boundaries and allegiances to states that triggered my ancestors to act on the lure of the Kentucky territory. Or it may have been the possibility of land grants due to war service. Or it may have been the desire to see new lands and experience new situations. Or it may have been the memory of the fertile lands that the men of the family had seen during their time in the West with George Rogers Clark.

Whatever the reason, the Collings, the Crist, the Biggs, the Richey families along with several others made the fateful decision to pack up all their worldly goods and venture into the newly opened territory of Kentucky.

There were two paths taken into the Kentucky territory by those early pioneers, the Wilderness Road and the Ohio River.

The Wilderness Road was originally a narrow footpath, an Indian hunting trail that led through the mountains via the Cumberland Gap. As more and more travelers sought to travel this path, it was gradually widened to accommodate wagon travel, but the way west over this road was long, over 700 miles, and hard.

Those who did not relish this challenging route chose to build or buy flatboats and travel down the Ohio River. This route also had difficulties and dangers but was quicker and perhaps a little more comfortable.

I can’t be sure, but I believe my family came to Kentucky by way of the Ohio River. I have no proof of this, but I do know that William Elston Collings and two or more of his brothers had traveled to Kentucky with George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War. I imagine they knew and rejected the conditions and hazards of a 700-mile journey, on foot, on a path so narrow they could only walk single file.

I also know that while George Rogers Clark was dealing with the English, the Spanish and the Indians in the years of the Revolutionary War, he came to appreciate the rivers and the ability to move his men and supplies from place to place quickly and with less physical effort.

For these reasons and the lessons they had learned during their time in the territory, I feel that the men in my family decided on the river route to their family into this new territory.

Just Wondering…

Random thoughts today…

I love to read Wired Magazine, but because I like to read it cover to cover and because I want to really digest some of the articles, I run a little behind on my reading. I currently have about 10 months of Wired Magazine on my “to read” stack.

I just finished an article in the March 2018 issue about Amazon’s attempts to train their Alexa to “chat” with people.

I have so many thoughts on that article and that goal, but first I also need to describe a Facebook video that appeared on my feed immediately after reading that article.

A little quirky habit of mine that allows me to sneak on to Facebook from time to time at work is that I watch most Facebook videos with no sound which can be pretty funny at times. So keep in mind, I watched this video with no narrative.

This video that I watched was a split screen video. On the left side of the screen, someone was demonstrating how to solve the math problem: 35 x 12. She began by breaking the problem down into components such as 30 + 5 x 10 + 2 and went on to illustrate how that worked by drawing boxes and diagrams and arrows and creating at least 5 other problems.

In the meantime, on the right side of the screen (see what they did there…the “right” side?), someone quickly did the math the “old” way then made a pot of coffee.

While Other Side person was still drawing boxes and explaining how to turn this math problem into many problems, Right Side person (probably someone about my age) solved the problem, went to the coffee maker, measured out water and coffee, hit the brew button, waited on the machine, poured a cup and was happily having their morning fix while Other Side person finally wrapped up all the little problems created from the original problems and happily produced the same answer Right Side person had calculated several minutes before the coffee was ready.

I do understand the new way of doing the math that has developed over the years is to help students learn to break down a problem into all its components to be able to explain that problem to a computer thus “train” the computer by programming it to solve the problem in logical steps.

I understand that.

But wait…keep that video in mind and turn with me to my rant about teaching machines to “chat” with us.

Amazon has determined that we want our machines to do more for us than turn on the lights and play music and select books for us. Amazon has decided that we want to be able to carry on a conversation with the machine, just a casual chat like we would have with a friend.

The article talks about dumping all kinds of information into Alexa’s machine mind, giving her(?) access to even more information and training her to access that information randomly to keep a conversation going for at least 20 minutes.
And they are almost there. In the admittedly one-year-old article I read, Amazon held a competition in which three groups won a total of over a million dollars in prizes to reward their ability to create a program that could allow a machine to talk to a human for nearly 20 minutes.

Stay with me for just one more leg of this rant.

Consider this…in a world where Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone has made a dramatic comeback on TV, in a world where a simple math problem can take a page of paper and 10 minutes to solve, in a world where machines can casually chat with us for 20 minutes…in that world, are we training computers to think like people, or are computers teaching us to think like machines?

Just wondering.

All About the Land Part 2

Early map of the 1700s.

In 1768, after tough negotiations, the Cherokee Indians and the British government finalized the Treaty of Hard Labor to establish a western boundary beyond which the Indians had full rights and the American settlers had none.

The Treaty of Hard Labor relinquished the rights of the Cherokee to most of the territory we now know as West Virginia. The Indians would own the land west of the Ohio River and white settlers (and land speculators) would be able to claim, sell and improve the wilderness in nearly the entire area we now know as West Virginia.

A month later a different set of British negotiators met with the Iroquois and finalized the Treaty of Fort Stanwix which set a different boundary pushing the Indian lands farther west, leaving them the areas that later became Kentucky and Tennessee as their “forever hunting grounds.”

While these treaties opened vast areas of new territory for settlement, government officials had actually given to the Indians territory that early land speculators such as Jacob Hite thought they had already purchased from individual Indian tribes.

You will remember that Jacob Hite, upon learning that his land purchase was voided faced losing everything he owned to settle his debts. He responded by packing up his household goods, slaves and livestock and fleeing to the disputed land he felt he owned.

The British treaties that set these boundaries also set the stage for legal battles with men whose names have become synonymous with Revolutionary patriotism. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, in particular, had been seeking to purchase land in the area now ceded to the Cherokee Indians. And of course, Jacob Hite was nearly destroyed financially by the treaties and the British insistence that settlers abide by the new boundaries.

The British had their motives. If they could establish certain boundaries to the satisfaction of the Indians, settlers could safely and legally move into new lands and the British would not be called upon to protect those settlers from the Indians who would happily hunt and live in the land further west.

That was the plan, anyway. There were two problems with that plan: 1) no words on paper could stem the flow of those early pioneers who were hungry to claim land of their own, and 2) the entrepreneurs seeking to claim and then sell the land had no intention of letting the British thwart their dreams of wealth.

Jefferson, Washington and every member of the Virginia House of Burgesses felt that the British were imposing impossible limits on the economic growth of their state and, more importantly, on their wealthy citizens. They petitioned the British to revoke the treaties and to allow the state (or colony) of Virginia to annex the areas further west including what we now call Kentucky.

The friction between Indians and settlers, and between British and Americans truly began to smolder towards an explosive situation with the signing of these two treaties.

Freedom from British oppression was something every citizen could get behind, but make no mistake, controlling the land and thus the economy was the spark that triggered the American Revolution.

So, knowing all this, why did my ancestors move from their homes in western Pennsylvania to the Indians beloved hunting grounds in Kentucky?

Because they could. Following the Revolutionary War, the British treaties were no longer valid and American speculators could now officially seek ownership of the Indian land. Individual settlers in small groups could begin to claim the land a few hundred acres at a time. They could move from the smothering rules and regulations that told them what they could and could not do and into the wilderness where they were their own law and government.

Last week when I wrote about the legal problems of Jacob Hite, I thought I was just trying to set the stage for you to understand some of the economic struggles leading up to the Revolutionary War.

This week, I found that Jacob Hite’s story directly relates to my own story. I keep forgetting what a small world that world was!

Hite’s sister, Elizabeth, married a man named John Paul Froman of New Jersey and sometime before 1780, the Froman family moved to that rugged Kentucky territory that Jacob Hite wished to claim. The Froman family established a “station” or small community near Cox’s Creek in the area of the salt licks south of present-day Louisville.

This was the area that Jacob Hite had purchased from the Cherokee.
This was the area where Jacob Hite fled to avoid authorities in Virginia who had attempted to seize his personal property.

And in 1778, George Crist, writing in the Crist family journal, wrote “Me and Nicholas and Henry want to explore the land in Kaintuck that Daniel Boone keeps talking of. He says there is thousands of acres of land waiting to be claimed. Plenty of wild game and wild horses and that the land will grow anything. The Indians are worse there but we think with enough men it will be safe enough.”

We know that Henry did travel to Kentucky several times and experienced at least one adventure as his group was attacked by Indians, an attack he barely survived.

Based on the stories Henry brought back about the rich lands of Kentucky, and the stories of Danial Boone who was actively encouraging settlers, George finally wrote in 1783: “Me, Henry, Nicholas and William and our families and Besy’s parents and their families along with many more it’s about three hundred in all are going to leave in two days to go to Kaintuck.”

William in that passage would be William Elston Collings and the “others” would be his parents and brothers and their families, and that’s how my ancestors began their journey west, settling first in the area of Kentucky known as Froman’s Creek or Froman’s Station near the land of Jacob Hite.

Later, I’ll tell you what it took to make that journey.

Sidebar

No genealogy today. Just rambles, or as I like to say, freestylin’.  Instead of thinking about those long-ago ancestors, this is a week of remembering actual people in my life. Yesterday was Mom’s birthday and last week my favorite aunt’s. They’re both gone now, and I miss them.

We tend to downplay our own lives. Whenever I mention keeping a journal listeners complain that their lives just aren’t worth writing about. I found my teenage diary this week while cleaning out some boxes, and sat down to read what my young self had experienced.

Nothing.

On what must have been about 80% of the days, I wrote: “Nothing happened today.” As I thought back over those years, I remembered the days I didn’t write about.

I didn’t write about learning to drive in the Murphy’s old 1948 Oldsmobile, a tank of a car. With my older cousin directing me and my younger cousins in the back seat we roamed country roads and I learned the rules of the road and yes, several times learned what NOT to do.

I didn’t write about one night when my teenage boyfriend thought it would be cool to drive through the high water on Boatman Road. I was pretty sure it was a bad idea (actually, I was terrified).

We probably hadn’t driven more than 10 feet into the flood when the car stalled. The silence after the car died in which I could hear the water lapping on the door beside me still haunts my dreams. Thankfully, the engine re-started at the turn of the key and Steve wisely and carefully backed out of the water.

I didn’t write about the summer night I stood on a hill and saw a huge field completely covered with what must have been millions of lightning bugs. I still remember thinking to myself, “I will remember this always.”

I did mention that my baby sister was rushed to the hospital, but I didn’t write about how scared and responsible I felt as I oversaw the household and my siblings for nearly a week while Mom was gone with her.

Church family and friends brought food and one night I sat a cherry pie on top of our oil heating stove. It cooked. No one would touch the dark brown mess that resulted, but being the responsible temporary adult, I felt I had to eat it. It’s what Mom would have done.

I didn’t write any of that stuff.

I wrote that Becky liked Kenny and Susan like Sam and I liked Steve, and I wrote that “Nothing happened today.”

But it did. Life happened.

That’s what I should have written.

 

 

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