Saturday, October 24, 2009

It Would Have Been An Interesting Dinner Conversation

My wife, Ellen's great-grandfather Gilbert Wellington Faulkner (1856-1932) was the son of Francis Dwight Faulkner (1811-1872) and Ellen Kimmerly (1821-1896) - a true blending of families that have histories that seem diametrically opposed. Let me explain.

Ellen Kimmerly's grandfather, Andrew Kimmerly, was a United Empire Loyalist - essentially someone who by royal decree was recognized for their sacrifices and loyalty in remaining true to the British crown during the American Revolutionary War. There has always been some prestige attached to this designation in Canada as the decree extended to direct descendants who to this day (as long as satisfactory evidence is provided) can bear the initials 'U.E.' after their surname. My wife's Faulkner connection, on the other hand, is strongly linked quite directly to the American Revolutionaries.

The Faulkner family from which my wife Ellen is descended were well established through many generations in the Andover, Methuen, and Haverhill pre-American Revoltion area of Massachusetts and so would certainly have been in the caught up in the events of that time. Of particular interest to me is the connection of the Faulkner family to the famous Paul Revere ride.

Through the 1770's, tensions were running high between the colonists and the British government, leading to protest incidents such as the Boston Tea Party in 1773. In 1775, British troops were stationed in Boston and it is thought that they had plans to arrest revolutionary leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams. On the night of April 18, 1775 the British troops began their move to Lexington where Hancock and Adams were located. Paul Revere set out on his ride, made famous by the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1861 poem, and traveled through Somerville, Medford and Arlington warning patriots along the way of the troop movement. After arriving in Lexington, Revere sent Dr. Samuel Prescott to deliver the message in Concord and then Acton. Dr. Prescott's destination in Acton was the home of Major Francis Faulkner, Ellen's second cousin, six times removed. Francis Faulkner is said to have fired three warning shots into the air as an alarm signal to assemble the local militia. The Faulkner home in Acton (pictured above left) had been purchased in 1733 by my wife Ellen's first cousin, seven times removed, Ammi Ruhamah Faulkner, the father of Francis.

As we approach the American Thanksgiving holiday, having recently celebrated the same event in Canada, how interesting would have been to have both branches of the family sit down to dinner together, loyalists and revolutionaries. I'm certain the dinner discussions would have been fascinating!

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