“Memory is an easy dupe, and tradition a careless story-teller.” – Introduction to my family genealogy.
Families that fought together in the Revolutionary War, in many cases, had to fight against each other in the American Civil War. Some families even had relatives fighting on both sides. All wars are horrific. All civil wars have a way of being more so, at least in terms of senseless slaughter and socio-economic destruction. Our Civil War and all other wars were meant to be if, like me, you believe that this World’s woeful tale was predestined by God according to His Divine purpose. That is not to say that man, all of us, is not accountable for the horror.
My patriarchal family were French Huguenot refugees who fled to Germany and finally to the American Colony. John Jacob Mickley, in genealogy:”We have, however, authentic information that our ancestor, John Jacob Mickley, was born in Europe, in the year 1697 ; that he came to America in the ship Hope, of London, from Rotterdam, Holland, arriving in Philadelphia, August 28th, 1733. He was married in this country to Elizabeth Barbara, daughter of Ulrich Burkhalter, and settled in Whitehall Township, Northampton,
My Great-x-?-Grandfather helped save the many bells of Philadelphia—including the State House Bell (now known as the Liberty Bell)—from capture by the British forces. John Jacob Mickley, in fact, took the 2000lb bell in his own Conestoga wagon, filled with manure, according to family genealogy and historic documents. Most records indicate that the wagon broke down near Bethlehem and was transferred to another wagon to be taken to Allentown.
The memorial tablet is mounted to the fence in front of the Zion’s Reformed United Church of Christ in Allentown. It was in an early version of this church that the Liberty Bell was hidden. The tablet is inscribed:
In Commemoration Of The Saving Of The
From The British, September 1777
Erected to The Memory Of
John Jacob Mickley
CommissaryOf Issues, And Member Of The General
Committe From Whitehall Township
Northampton County, Pennsylvania
Who Under Cover Of Darkness, And With His Farm Team
Hauled The Liberty Bell From Independence Hall
Philadelphia, Through British Lines To Bethlehem
Where The Wagon Broke Down, September 23, 1777.
The Bell Was Then Transferred To Frederick Leiser’s
Wagon, And Brought To Allentown, September 24, 1777.
It Was Placed Beneath The Floor Of Zion‘s Reformed
Church, Where It Remained Secreted For Nearly A Year
The Tablet Is Placed By The Order Of The Assembly Of The
Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania, June 2, 1907. Under The
Auspices Of The Pennsylvania Daughters Of The American
Revolution. Erected October 15, 1908
My ancestors on my father’s side populated many towns and regions of Pennsylvania and Ohio. My mother’s people were, eventually, mostly from southern states. As with most American families, it’s complicated.
Two families whose histories I have perused, Mickleys and Trezevants, both French Huguenot refugees, are a good case in point. Whereas my father’s name and people spread across Pennsylvania and the East North Central region, the Trezevants grew and prospered in the Carolinas, Tennessee, and other southern states. Were the two families antagonists in the Civil War? I would like to find out if they did, because I intend to write an historical fiction novel involving these Huguenot-American patriotic clans.
My point today is that all Americans who fought in the Civil War were patriots who loved their country. But the economical and political animosities became hatred and so inflamed a nation that a war between former friends and allies was inevitable, a war which cost a young country dearly in blood and treasure. The war ended, officially, on May 9. 1865. Healing wounds required much longer than the four years it took for the industrialized North to defeat the agricultural South. But, for most people the wounds have long since healed. Sadly, for some, spirits of hatred never let go of their hearts and souls.
Still, how could a country become so divided again, today?
Back then, the “sides” had different notions regarding representation, because the northern states were more heavily populated than the south. The very issue of states’ rights was hotly disputed. Some southern states believed that the abolitionists were willfully inciting violence. The institution of slavery was the big issue at the time. However, only 25% of all southerners owned slaves Slavery in America: back in the headlines – The Conversation . Texas decried the lack of military support from the federal government. And, there were numerous disagreements with taxation, unfair economic policies, and a host of procedural and regulatory edicts.
What are the issues today? Confederate statues and monuments? Flags? Building and street names? Last names of an Asian-American ESPN sportscaster and others? My middle name is Lee for a reason—my mother’s side of my lineage. I was born and raised in the south. (Yeah, many would not now consider Florida to be a “southern” state. Too damned many Yankees.) Nonetheless, no one in my ancestry has ever owned slaves, as far as I know—neither my Pennsylvania forefathers, nor my maternal Georgia-Florida stock. My so-called White privilege has been awfully ambivalent. But none of that should matter.
The only thing which should matter is that suddenly—in 2017, for some strange reason—neo-Nazis protestors are clashing violently with “Antifa” protestors who want to tear down statues everywhere. In my opinion, with or without a Game Day Program, it’s hard to tell the fascists from anarchists and socialists. Neither side is interested in my opinion. Actually, neither side is interested in peace. One group wants to go back in time. The other wants to destroy all records of Time.
I think that the United States of America, a nation founded by Divine Providence and with a blueprint for liberty and justice for all, deserves to be loved and defended. We should respect and celebrate our on-going journey. My oldest son, a USMC staff sergeant, has deployed to Iraq once, and Afghanistan three times. Is President Donald Trump sending our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to Afghanistan to—in the words of Fox News’ Juan Williams—deflect from a comment about Charlottesville, Virginia? What sane and reasonable person could make such a statement?
I’ll conclude my comments, today, with two more. Civil wars, in the name of strong or stupid reasons, noble or evil, never turn out well for either side. But, like my ancestors, I will fight if I have to.