All I Know

Welcome to my world

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Past to Present

A small cemetery near Shepherdsville, Ky. brought my past forward just a bit. This must have seemed a restful spot to my ancestors. Photo by Dixie Carter.

At times, when reading about my ancestors and their world, I almost feel as if I have gone back in time. It’s easy to get lost in the history, the mystery, the discovery.

Of course, I know that we can’t go back, that the past is the past, but I found out this week that the past can sometimes come forward to you in unexpected ways.

This week we took a little road trip to the part of the country where our ancestors lived before they came to Indiana. We visited history museums and libraries, walked the banks of the Salt River, admiring the hills and the countryside.

More importantly, though, we randomly met some people, who in some way came to us because of our past and thus in some way made it come alive for us.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know the family line I am currently working on is the Collings family. Before they came to Indiana, they lived in Nelson County, Kentucky. At the time they lived there, in the 1790s, Nelson County consisted of approximately the eastern half of what we now know as the state of Kentucky. Over the years it has been divided into several smaller counties, Bullitt, Spencer, Jefferson, Nelson, to name a few.

My research has revealed that a thriving industry and community called Brashear’s Station (sometimes called Froman’s Station or the Salt River Garrison) grew up near present-day Shepherdsville, Kentucky, now Bullitt County.

Stations were small fortified areas that sprung up all around the area where early families settled, providing protection from Indians.

Our Colling’s ancestors have been listed among the early settlers near Brashear’s Station, and their name is listed on the historical marker that marks the spot of the settlement.

In the directions we found directing us to the spot to see the marker, our map also revealed a small cemetery named Collings Cemetery. Of course, we had to drive there, too.

GPS directed us down highway 44E, then off onto a paved county road, then off onto a gravel road, then onto what appeared to be a country lane with 5 or 6 mailboxes on a post.

Winding our way down the lane, we joked about finding the cemetery in someone’s back yard or off in a field, under a tree guarded by a mad bull, but finally we rounded a curve in the lane to see an attractive farmhouse to the right, far off the road, and next to the road, in the shade of a big tree, a peaceful little plot with about 6 or 7 stones.

Fenced off from a pasture and easily accessible to us, the plot was well tended and neat, with a pleasant view of the countryside. You could tell this was probably a spot much favored by the family who had chosen it as a resting place for their loved ones.

As we tried to decipher the names on the stones, most if not all of them very discolored but clearly bearing the name Collings, we saw a man leave the house and walk down the driveway toward us.

In the shade of an old tree, we explained to him our connection to the cemetery and why we were here. He told us when he bought the property, the graves and plot were in sad shape, the weedy and overgrown with broken and discolored stones. Over the years of his ownership, he had put fencing up, cemented what stones he could fix, taken down the weeds and encouraged the grassy, pasture surface.

We told him of our family, how they had come to Kentucky attracted by the opening up of the territory and the adventure, then moved on to Indiana, only to suffer from a devastating loss by Indian attack. From the dates on the stones, the people buried here were the ancestors that stayed.

The dates displayed seemed to be in the 1860s, which was about 50 years after the departure of our line of Collings.  Still, the names were familiar to us, having shown up in our research, probably as sons, daughters, nephews of the ancestors we met during our research.

As we talked, we discovered that Bryan B. is a middle school counselor who has taught history. He was very interested to hear what we knew about our ancestors, where they came from, where they went. He said he had often wondered about them as he worked on cleaning up their final resting place.

It also turned out, that he knew and was a former co-worker of a friend of ours from Scottsburg, Indiana, Reba J.

It never ceases to amaze me what a small, small world this is.

I was so happy to talk with Bryan and to thank him on behalf of my family and my ancestors for taking care of this place.

Over 150 years ago, my family walked these hills and fields. They lived, loved, and died here, or they went out from here to new lives in other places, but this spot is where they suffered loss and where they chose to bury their dead.

Bryan’s respect for this place and these remains, without even knowing who was buried here, struck me as such a kind and generous gesture.

Whenever the world seems like a hard and unfriendly place, I hope I remember the kindness of Bryan B. and how he brought my family’s past forward for me.

This Journey

What do you think of when you hear the word “journey?” Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

journey   a noun    jour·​ney | \ ˈjər-nē  \     plural journeys

1 : something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another

2 : an act or instance of traveling from one place to another : TRIP

Journey is not a word we use often, and I think that’s because a journey is more serious, more monumental than a trip or even travel. A trip is routine…a trip to the store, a trip to the doctor, etc. A journey is something we plan for and anticipate, something more calculated and purposeful.

A journey involves more serious consideration. How long will it take, what do I need to bring along, how difficult will this journey be, do I dare subject my family either by preparing them for my absence or by taking them along?

I don’t think the vast majority of people undertake a journey lightly. Journeys are usually something we consider necessary.

I’ve been thinking a lot about journeys while I do my family research. Everyone I know in my life is here because of a journey someone took years ago to reach this country, a country of freedom and opportunity. For the most part, those journeys were dangerous and difficult and involved leaving an entire existence behind to create a new future.

I seriously doubt any of those long-ago travelers just jumped on a tiny ship thinking, “What a lark this will be. When I arrive, all my troubles will be solved.”

I’m pretty sure they knew, or at least suspected, some of the dangers they were facing. I’m also pretty sure they looked at the lives they were living and the futures they were facing and made a hard decision that that sort of life was not what they wanted for themselves or their families.

Of course, there were always those few, a small percentage, who came because they heard the streets were paved with gold, or because they thought their past misdeeds would not follow them or because they thought this was a fertile new ground for lawless activities.

But that was not the majority. The majority was us, or rather those ancestors that paved the way for us. Those who survived the journey. We live in cities built by those survivors; we hold jobs at occupations that became possible because they came and created businesses or grew food and other crops or provided services necessary in the new country.

We are because they were, because they wanted a better life for their children, and because they took the risks, they journeyed, and they survived.

Why do we now assume that anyone who undertakes a similar journey today has not considered the risks? How can we forget that we are the children of immigrants who fled poverty and starvation and tyranny and injustice? All of us; each and every one.

Happy Fourth of July.

What I Love

I know that I’ve become annoying about my new favorite pastime, genealogy. It’s fascinating to me, and I wish I’d gotten hooked 20 years ago because in the years I have left I can never investigate, solve or even know, all the mysteries of my family.

Recently, frustrated with one family line that keeps running me headfirst into walls, I just started flipping through what is called my ThruLines on the website of Ancestry.com. As I understand it, people at Ancestry.com or the software they have devised, or some magic I can’t understand is triangulating information from other family trees to introduce me to potential ancestors I may not yet know about.

I very quickly met a maternal ancestor who had lived in the same community several of my paternal ancestors inhabited. Both sets of ancestors lived near each other in the 1750s, long before my mom and dad met and married in Indiana in the 1940s. It seems this was a very small world in the 1700s.

I met a potential ancestor (James Barrett) who was a farmer in Ontario, Canada. He was born there, lived there, and died there. I did not know I had family in Canada, and I do not know how they came to be the family I know in Indiana.

I met another potential ancestor (Arabrella Bailey) who was born in Maryland in 1707 but died in France at the age of 35. How and why did she go the opposite direction from all my other ancestors to end up in Europe? And even more puzzling, she is reported to have died on the very same day that her husband died…back in Maryland! There must be an amazing story there or some serious dating errors that need to be corrected.

There’s also a man named Nathaniel Burdine with the word “slaveowner” attached to his name. He was born in 1738 in Virginia and died in Tennessee in 1823. In that time and those locations, I have no reason to doubt he was a slaveowner, but why was his ownership so significant that he is listed in his family tree as Nathaniel Burdine Slaveowner? The same designation was given his son, Ezekiel Burdine, a title that was apparently as important as his other title, Reverend. I need to look into that, too.

And there is Elsbeth von Ochsner born in 1707 in Switzerland. She seems to be the Immigrant in that particular line of my mother’s ancestry, yet the dates are very confusing. She is shown as arriving in North Carolina in 1738…yet giving birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1739 and a son, Jacob, in 1740, both in Switzerland. Finally, daughter Anna was listed as being born in 1742 in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Either Elsbeth was a brave, two-way traveler (remember this was the 1700’s) or someone somewhere has made a grave error.

These are just a few of the mysteries I dug up in a couple of hours of flipping through possible ancestors that somehow link to my own. You see why I can’t stop looking?

I am planning a trip this summer to one of the areas where I know my ancestors lived before coming to Indiana. I don’t know what I’ll find there or even who I might find, and I’m not even sure what I hope to find. It might be enough to just walk along the river bank where I think they walked, to see the area where they worked the salt lick I know they worked.

I certainly don’t miss the irony of being able to reach the area in less than two hours by driving an interstate highway on a route that took them days to walk as they sought a new future in a new land that would ultimately cost them almost more than they could bear.

Public Announcement

Just a “public service announcement” this week, a note for anyone wanting to register or comment on my site.

I appreciate my readers, people who have come here from Facebook or who actually know my website and visit regularly, but lately I’ve experienced a rash of unknowns attempting to register as “users.” All these so far have proven to be (at best) unsavory characters.

Just know this, if you make a comment on my site, you are required to supply your email address. Never fear. Your email address will NOT appear on my site and it will never be used for bulk mailing or anything other than for me to personally communicate with you if a reply to your comment is required.  Usually I will reply to your comment on the site, not via email.

All comments are reviewed by me and approved before they appear on the site (without your contact information). This is not done to weed out criticism (if you don’t like what I write, bring it on!), but to avoid spam and junk.

Should you wish to Register on the site (which allows you to be notified by email when new posts are published), you must also provide a legitimate email and your request is reviewed before being accepted.

It would be best to first comment or email me to let me know you will be registering. If I don’t recognize the registering email, I usually delete it, but I will check you out if I believe you are legal and righteous. If you are who you say you are, I welcome you with open arms!

I appreciate the comments that I have received on my blog and by personal email, and I hope you continue to visit, read and enjoy my site.

Thanks.

The Immigrant

Thousands of immigrants braved the dangerous ocean journey to America. Many of us are descended from people who thought the possibility of a better life was worth the risk of the journey. We’re here because they took the first step.

In genealogy, the first family descendant who left the home country to seek fortune in America is called “the immigrant.”

I’ve finally located the “immigrant” of my Collings branch of the family, the guy who left England and endured the 6 to 14-week ocean journey to make a place for him (and eventually, well…me) in the New World sometime around 1700. His name was Anthony Andrew Collings, and he brought with him his wife, Jane or Jaine.

Anthony was born in Cornwall, England in 1678. Jane has been a little more challenging to track down, and I’m still unsure of her maiden name. It might have been Lancelott, or it might have been Spence. Other reports claim that he was married twice, first to Jane Spence, then to Jane Lancelott. Either scenario leads me down different paths. Because of this uncertainty, I’m not sure what year or where he and Jane were married, but I believe Anthony’s son Zebulon (my ancestor) was born in 1706 in Frederick, Pennsylvania.

In 1712, there are some reports of a daughter Winifred being born in Westmoreland, Virginia. There is also some information about a daughter Elizabeth born in 1712 in Westmoreland, Virginia. That would seem to indicate that Anthony, a twin himself, had twin daughters.

Anthony and Jane at some point moved to Charles County, Maryland where they owned property and lived until their deaths, Anthony in 1754, at age 76.

I don’t know why Anthony came to America, but I have some thoughts and theories (of course I do). There were many reasons people took such a challenging journey, but I think there were probably three main reasons:

  1. The primary goal, of course, the one we all heard in history class in school, was freedom of religion. Major religious conflicts raged throughout the countries of Europe and the British Isles during the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. People were desperate to escape persecution and to be able to worship as they wished.
  2.  Another reason was a desire to become landowners and create wealth and security for their family. There were complicated rules for the disbursement of English property upon the death of the owners and titles passed to first sons. Second, third, fourth sons and so on, made do with what they could when fathers died. In America, they could, by hard work and clever trading, become prosperous and successful.
  3. For many, though, the allure of the New World was the adventure. These are the immigrants who just could not be satisfied with the limitations they suffered in their homelands. These were the immigrants who traveled to the new world at any cost, then pushed the boundaries of the country westward.

No one can know for sure why any one particular immigrant came, but I’d like to think that I have figured out Anthony Andrew Collings. He was not the first son of Sir Roger and Elizabeth Collings; he was not the second or third son. He and his twin brother, Roger, were the fourth and fifth sons.

I think that young Anthony Collings, sensing there was little future for himself in England, decided to travel to America to build his own legacy.

Anthony started his American adventure in Westmoreland Co. in the Colony of Virginia, then for some reason moved to Charles Co., in the Colony of Maryland where he lived out his life.

Anthony Collings returned to England, probably around 1715 returning to America in 1716 when he is listed as a passenger on a ship arriving from England. It’s possible this trip had something to do with a disputed inheritance concerning his grandmother, which is an interesting side story, but I find no official records to support that.

I did find, however, that in 1717, one Anthony Collings purchased 100 acres of a 320-acre plantation called Partner’s Content, for the price of “2500# tobacco.” I can’t help but wonder if Anthony returned from his trip to England with enough money to buy this land and start his life as a plantation owner and man of some esteem in his community.

In those early days of our country, property was described on deeds and in legal paperwork by the names of the neighboring plantations and their owners. Several pieces of property in early Maryland records are listed as bordering on or bounded by the property of Anthony Collings. He was also listed in various wills as creditor, appraiser and “test.” which I took to mean that he attested to the signatures of the witnesses of those wills, possibly individuals who could only sign their name with a “mark” or X.

I also found records of his paying for land and other goods with various amounts of tobacco, which was the main crop of those early plantations. The Maryland Tax Roll of 1733 lists him as owning 1 taxable property in “Durham Parish, Upper Part.”

I believe Durham Parish was in Maryland at that time, but one of the fun little tricks of genealogy that I have discovered is that our ancestors may not have moved around in America as often as we thought. It was actually the state, county, and other boundaries that were fluid.

The states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina all disputed boundaries and claimed land that was or was not theirs well into the late 1700s. The same town could one year be in one state, the next year in another. Sometimes these changes would be accompanied by a county name change, or the familiar county name might show up in a different state at a later date.

Interesting sidebar fact: these disputes continued until two men were sent to survey the disputed areas and established a line from which all future claims could be decided. The names of those men were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and the property line they surveyed, known as the Mason-Dixon Line, played an essential part in the history of our country for many years.

I want to briefly return to the above three reasons immigrants chose to come to America. Strangely, while these immigrants were firm in their determination, second-generation Americans seemed to gravitate to the third category…adventurers.

The newly minted citizens who came seeking religious freedom did establish communities dedicated to their religious beliefs, but many of their children became dissatisfied with the rules and regulations…and began pushing the boundaries of our country westward.

Those men who came to America to obtain land or become merchants and shop owners, ambitions that were never available to them in the Old Country, were often successful and became influential citizens. Their children, though, were reluctant to be tied down by the responsibilities of those same plantations and shops…so they traveled westward to seek their own fortunes.

And the children of the adventurers who simply came to the New World to see what they could see? They kept looking and they, too, pushed west.

My family was no different. That second generation, the children of Anthony Andrew and Jane Collings moved west.

The story continues.

 

Large Arch

Moore was inspired by Stonehenge and the shoulders of a man, but sometimes the Arch appears to be marching across the plaza.

In the early 1970’s the Henry Moore sculpture Large Arch was installed in front of the Bartholomew Co. Public Library.

At the time, I fancied myself a poet. I sat on the steps of the library one day and just watched the public as they came to see and experience the new addition to the Columbus art scene.

This past Sunday I went down to visit the Arch and sit in the sun and as I did so, I remembered the poem. When I got home, I dug it out and read it and decided it wasn’t too bad…thought I’d share it and some photos I took.

 

the Arch 

Massive at all angles.

Sun warm stronglydown on me and on

the Arch as we(he and I—theArchandi)

watch the People(little ant beings)

comeandhurriedlygo

pausing to lOOK at him

But taking most of them no time to see

because time it takes to see and any

time taken they resent. Somemostly

Sl o wl y t o touch the surprising warm green of him

children t o u c h him—reaching o u t

Sl   o   wl y t o touch the surprising

warm green of him

and those who t o u c h him seehim.

But so many neverdoneversee

By nevertouching neverknow

Just Some Words

Words

Not feeling especially inspired this week, but I feel I owe myself to keep writing, so I gathered together some quotes and thoughts on words.

I love words, their meanings, their twisted logic. If you think about language and just how far we have come from the prehistoric grunts of our ancestors, you should be amazed at the number of words and meanings we have developed to attempt to communicate.

And yet so often we fail. Maybe we forget that words are just words without meaning and context to go with them. I started thinking about this the other day when I was watching a news clip about a project that brought criminal offenders and victims face to face.

Victims of crimes are often full of hate and the need for revenge, while criminals are often remorseless and defiant. Yet in many cases, with the proper preparation, bringing the two together to talk out the issues of why a crime occurred and/or how the crime has affected both parties, a sort of calm acceptance can take place.

It is the combination of words, physical presence and eye contact that equals communication. Let’s try to remember that.

Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the fun side of words. Hope you enjoy the following “facts” about words and language. If you do and let me know, maybe I’ll find some more fun facts!

Fun with Words

It took the editors of the first “Oxford English Dictionary” five years to reach the word “ant.”

Umchina, a Korean term meaning “mom’s friend’s son,” is used to describe a person who’s better at everything than you are.

Editor Bennett Cerf challenged Dr. Seuss to write a book using no more than 50 different words. The result? “Green Eggs and Ham.”

The Scots have a word for that panicky hesitation you get when you can’t remember someone’s name: tartle.

Tsundoku is the act of acquiring books or other reading materials and not reading them.

The term “lawn mullet” means having a neatly manicured front yard and an unmowed mess in the back.

Many years ago, “jay” was slang for “foolish person.” So when a pedestrian ignored street signs, he was a “jaywalker.”

In 1974, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis published a paper titled “The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’.” It contained a total of zero words.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.

Javier Santana writes:

In Spanish, French and Italian, “decisions” are something you “take” like a train that leads you somewhere new, whereas in English you “make” them like little pieces of your own creation. But in German you “meet” them, like friends.

Aren’t languages beautiful?

Yes, they are.

The Black Tulip

The Black Tulip – You know who you are Tom C.!

 Mother’s Day is coming up so I thought I would tell you a story that includes my mom.

Mom loved flowers. With five kids and a husband who insisted on driving his mower fast and straight, never around anything, flowers were something she always fought to save. She didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the yard, so she planted flowers that could fend for themselves; lilies of the valley, crocus, daffodils, tulips, all plants that could bloom, die down and come back the next year.

For a couple of years she favored tulips. Somehow she acquired a bulb for a black tulip, and she babied that plant like a sixth child. It took a couple of years for it to really kick in, but finally one spring day, a bloom bud appeared.

She walked out every day to check the progress, pulled the weeds around it and probably even talked to it. She was so filled with anticipation of the opening of the black tulip. Her red tulips and her yellow tulips were lovely. She had some frilly tulips and some she called parrot tulips, but the black tulip…that was going to be a wonder.

I happened to be in the kitchen with Mom the day Tommy our next door neighbor kid, came to the back door. Mom welcomed him casually as she did all the neighborhood kids and then, a half second later she realized that in his grubby little hands, he was holding up to her the entire plant that was her precious black tulip.

“I brought you a flower,” he said proudly.

The bloom had opened overnight, and young Tommy had picked it just for her, along with leaves, roots and, for good measure, some surrounding soil.

He looked a little like a TV commercial for laundry detergent as he presented his gift. My mother took a brief moment, finally smiled, reached to receive her prize and said, “Why, thank you, Tommy, what a very special tulip this is.”

That doomed black tulip had pride of place in a vase on our dining table for the couple of days that cut flowers can survive, then it was no more.

Mom appeared to be unflappable through five kids and all their neighborhood cohorts, but we couldn’t have been easy. In spite of worn bare base paths in the front yard, jars of tadpoles on the back porch, broken windows, and the sometimes frightening screams of children playing kick the can in the dark, she always liked and welcomed the neighborhood kids and was especially proud of the adults our neighborhood produced.

Eventually she became an excellent gardener with a yard that looked like a city park, but as far as I know, she never again had a black tulip.

Tom grew to be a talented musician and actor and a devoted family man, and he brought his wife and kids to visit her a couple of years before she died. She was thrilled by that visit…to think that when he came such a distance to see his family, he thought to drop in on her.

That was the kind of person she was to her kids and the neighborhood kids and to everyone who knew her…a person to be remembered.

I just miss her.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all…the moms who have been and who will be, and to the daughters and sons and friends who love you.

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.

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