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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring break genealogy adventures with the family

A few weeks back was my kid’s spring break.  We decided to do a long weekend in Williamsburg,
Virginia instead of taking a whole week off and traveling.  Way too much to do around here to be gone that long, which of course the boys hated since I made them clean and icky stuff like that.

We did the usual touristy stuff that we hadn’t done in a couple of years.  Wondered about Colonial Williamsburg and had a picture taken with the boys in stocks.  It was an instant favorite of ours and Facebook.  We also went to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in which I almost lost the boys to the gun and sword collections. There was also a day spent wandering around the Yorktown Victory Center plus watching the musket and mortar demonstrations.  Loud booms are always a plus with my family.

My highlight of the trip was dragging the family to meet a distant cousin from my mother’s Drake family line.  She and her husband live in Williamsburg.  We had a lovely evening talking and getting to know each other over snacks and wine.  It was a great time and I have to say she is one fascinating lady.  We share my 6th great grandfather, James Drake.  In this blog I have written several posts about him and his son Tarleton, my 5th great grandfather. 

What's even more fascinating for me is the that my mother and I are direct line maternal descendants of Tarleton’s wife Mary.  The fact I have been able to piece this line back is, as many of you know, amazing.  The line goes: Me, my mom, my grandmother, Ila Sanders, Mary Ellen Wildman, Mary Frances Moberly, Delilah Drake, and Mary Unknown.  Last week my mother’s mDNA test came in.  I haven’t been able to look at them yet and it is killing me.  Maybe this will help figure out a piece of the puzzle as to who Mary was.

While that is all fascinating and stuff, there was another little adventure we went on thanks to my Drake Cousin.  She gave us directions to the parish church where James and his Siblings were baptized.  It is still there and still functioning.  How could I pass up a trip to see it?

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in New Kent, Virginia was amazing.  We arrived after services on a Sunday so we were unable to tour the inside, but I am not above peering through windows to see what I can see.  The church has an amazing history and has the honor of being the church that George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis were married in (the first, first family).

Of course, when I went out to read about the church I did some digging around the website, and much to my glee I found their colonial records are on line.  Yes, I did a happy dance! My Drake Cousin did say that while some of the children from James's parents, William and Sarah are listed, there are a few known children missing.  James is unfortunately one of them.  However, it appears to be due to the fact that the Parish Register was not kept as well up to date as it should have been for a number of years, and there are large holes.  His birth time frame falls into one of these holes.

We spent quite a lot of time wandering around the grounds and looking at the cemetery.  No family was buried there, that am aware of, but there were some very interesting stones.  I and my husband both find looking at gravestones fascinating, and we were not disappointed.

One that was a modern tech and old world charm learning moment was the stone of Willliam Langborn.  Below is the inscription from the stone:

to the Memory of
William Langborn
Son of Robert
And Mary Langborn
Of Fetter Lane London
Born the 21st of October 1723
And died the 19th of March 1766
Also Francis Dandridge
Langborn, Son of William
and Susanna Langborn
Born the 9th of March 1760
and died the 3rd of September 1760

I could not believe all of the genealogical information I found on this stone.  If he was my ancestor I would have felt like I hit the jackpot.

My husband found this grave first, and to be honest when I saw him with his phone out I assumed he was checking email or doing something for work.  However, next thing I know he is calling us all over.  He began reading the stone to our boys and then stopped when he came to the street in London this gentleman had been born on.  Hubby produced his phone and showed them the map with this street on it.  You should have seen their eyes as they digested this information; that his man had come from there all the way over to where we were standing.  Once again, never underestimate the power of mobile technology.  One other element caught my attention on the stone, and that was a crest.  If you don’t know, I love heraldic display of all types and find it fascinating. Currently I am tracking it down to see if it was his family crest, his and his wife's marshaled together, or if it is a civic type crest.  

Finally there was one other stone that stood out, and that was for Calvin Hooker Goddard.  His tombstone caught me from across the yard as it was one of the largest there and on the back I saw a large coat of arms as well as the words “Order of the Crown of Italy.”  Wow, I just had to find what that was all about.  This man, simply put, was amazing.  In fact, after reading the back of the stone and doing some Googling I couldn't believe I was standing there reading about the man who is the father of firearms identification.  If you don’t know who he was, please take a moment to read about his fascinating life and his contributions to forensic technology.  Oh, and his work on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which is by far the most important thing according to my kids.

The inscription reads on the front:
Calvin Hooker Goddard
Colonel, United States Army
Oct. 30, 1891 - Feb. 22, 1955

Son of

Capt. Henry Perkins and Lida Whitman Goddard
of Norwich, Conn.

His Beloved Wife
Eliza Cunningham Harrison
Jan. 25, 1888 - Sept. 24, 1960

The inscription reads on the back: 
Legion of Merit 
Expert Marksman

Crest (my research indicates: heraldic grenade for the ordinance corps, 
crossed pistols for military police, caduceus for medical corps, 
and the quill with parchment for writing.)

Order of the 
Crown of Italy

He held three commissions in the United States Army
In the ordnance corps. the military police corps and 
the medical corps and served in each with distinction.

"He was an historian and a prolific writer."

with vision and imagination, he developed firearm 
identification and pioneered in scientific criminology 
thus serving his country and his fellowman well
and for all time.


  1. You are a persuasive and creative person, getting your whole family interested in genealogy in this trip. Starting with the "loud booms," I'm reading between the lines that your husband and your boys found things that probably fascinated them. The distant cousin led you to the church where George Washington was married! Then the guy born in London on Fetter Street! Then the father of firearms identification!

    I'll bet they will be interested to go on more genealogical trips with you now. It sounds like a lot of fun to me.

    1. It helps that my whole family loves history. Of course having the information about our family under my belt helps to bring educational opportunities alive. While they may complain sometimes, I think they usually end up having a good time. Goodness knows they always talk about it for days afterwards!