Happiness in the small things

I reckon it among my felicities, " Franklin told his Scottish friend Kames, "That I can set my own razor and shave myself perfectly well, in which I have a daily pleasure, and avoid the uneasiness one is otherwise obliged to suffer sometimes from dull razors and the dirty fingers or bad breath of a slovenly barber."

The naked philosopher [a reference to BF's penchant for 'air baths'] pondered matters large and small, among them why shaving himself was such a pleasure. Franklin and Kames had been comparing notes on true happiness; Franklin summarized for them both: "I have long been of an opinion similar to that you express, and think happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life."



The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands, p. 411-2

Genealogy as a microcosm of history

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG has written an article of which the opening paragraph so aptly describes what I love about genealogy that I'm copying it here:

Modern genealogy—appropriately done—is history in microcosm. Our
research projects study “up close and personal” small slices of the
past. We pluck individuals from the nameless masses that historians
paint with a broad brush. We learn their names. We follow them from birth to
death. We see the actual effect upon human lives of the grand world events that
historians write about—wars, economic depressions, plagues, politics, and perse-
cutions. We see how one humble person and his or her neighbors can reshape a
community, a state, or a country. Then we repeat the process, generation by gen-

This was originally published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), Volume 91, pp. 260-77 and is available for download.

Living on the Frontier of Pennsylvania


Path Valley, in Cumberland County, May 18th, 1778

To the Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania:

The Humble Petition of the subscribers, the Inhabitants of the above mentioned Valley, Humbly Sheweth:

That we, your Petitioners, Labour under the Greatest anxiety posseble at this present time, for our Malitia has received orders for four Classes to be in readiness to march Immediately to Camp. The Indians (or rather the tories) is Murdering our neighbours close by us, no futher off than Bedford, and what active men is of use here is Entirely Defenceless, for want of arms and amunition. We earnestly request and beg, that the worthy Council may take our Distressed Circumstances under their wise Consideration, and Contribute to our assistance by sending us some quantity of Rifled guns and amunition. Likewise to order our Malitia back against the Indians, for nothing appears to us more probable than if our men is marched to Camp our Women and Children will fall a sacrifice to Savage Cruel Barbarity. As there was of Late a Number of wicked tories Joined in a combination, and went to Conduct the Indians Down to Murder the whigs (as they call us) here, but was Disappointed by a Supernatural Cause. Some of said party is taken, the rest is sculking in the mountains, and thought to be the Murderers of these people Near Bedford, and their Leaders is not taken as yet. They will bring the Indians on us if in their power. What moves us to supplicate for rifles is, because m'skets is of very little use in the woods against Indians. We hope a sensible feeling of our gloomy aspect, and the safety and security of our distressed Country and Interests, will move you to grant, with all possible speed, our Humble requests; and your petitioners shall, as in Duty bound, Ever pray, &c.

This, our petition, we Commit to our very Trusty friends Capt. Noah Abraham and James Elder, in whome we very mutch Confide.

Noah Abraham, Capt.,                            James Hall,

Archibald Elliot, 1 leut.,                          Neal Judge,

Samuel Walker, 2 Leut.,                          William McCibbins,

Thomas Morton, Ensine,                         Charl. Gibson,

Rev. Samuel Dougal,                               James Mountgomory,

John Noble,                                              Samuel Mears, Sen'r,

Joseph Noble,                                           Samuel Mears, Jun'r,

Francis Eliot,                                            John Noble, Jun'r,

Patrick Davis,                                           William McClellan,

Henderson Hervy,                                     James McClellan,

William McClelan,                                   W'm Elder Ens'n,

Robert McConnell,                                   John Wallace,

William Elliot,                                           Robert Futhey,

John Campbell,                                         Samuel Futhy,

John Monow,                                             Charles Gibson,

Henry Hoghanbry,                                     Elijah Sackett,

Wm. Clark,                                                Azariah Sackett,

Patrick Murphy,                                         Edward Kelley,

James Fegan,                                             William Richardson

Daniel McMullan,                                      And'w Miller

Eneas McMullen,                                       James Fegan,

Thom's Ackers, Capt.,                                David Elder,

David Anderson, Lt.,                                  David Elder, Junior, [out of sequence]

Richard Coulter, Lt.,                                   John Elder        [out of sequence]

Benjamin Walker,                                        Jas. Wallace [out of sequence]

Alexander Walker,                                     Philip Hutchinson,

Hugh McCurdy,                                         William Campbell,

William Fear,

Timothy Conner, In Elizabeth Town, has Ten Rifles taken from none Sociators.

Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Volume III, Papers Relating to the War of the Revolution, 1778


The American Revolution

If you're studying the American Revolution, the book The American Revolution: The global struggle for national independence by Brendan Morrissey is a great resource. It has  newly-created maps showing lines of battle and troop movements, old contemporary maps, and copies of famous paintings of the historic figures involved in the conflict. Not to mention the narrative year by year through the war.  One reviewer at Amazon critiques some of Morrissey's interpretations, but using a variety of sources helps to counteract that.

After having done US history with my kids so many times and also having read a lot on my own, I  feel like I'm starting to have a command of the flow of US history.

We're also using a new set from the Teaching Company: American Revolution with Professor Allen Guelzo.  Guelzo is my favorite. He's at his finest explaining philosophical concepts (The American Mind is my favorite), but he also does a good job explaining less ethereal things like actions and events.


Clarion County, Pennsylvania Research

After having a wonderful day with the Marsches yesterday, I left their house this morning and headed for Clarion, Pennsylvania. My Lee ancestors: father Addison, and children including my great-grandfather Ira Lee moved from Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, sometime after 1876 (record of a deed in Huntingdon) and before 1880 (census in Clarion County). I know that my great-grandfather Ira Lee is buried in Kane, McKean County, PA, where my dad was born, but I didn't know what had happened to Addison. Today I found out. I was in the courthouse reading orphans' court records and found guardianship papers where guardians were requested for the children because Addison had been killed in a boiler explosion in the previous month of December 1880, and there was insurance money to be managed. Because I had that information, I knew when to look for possible newspaper accounts and went over to the library where old newspapers on microfilm are available. A transcription of the newspaper article follows. The newspaper is dated 16 December 1880 and is the Clarion Democrat. The left margin of this particular edition appears to have been damaged prior to microfilming so the first few letters of each line may not be correct if I guessed wrong. (warning-- the contents may be too graphic for young children)

[Hor or Ter]rible Boiler Explosion at Curllsville -- One Man Instantly Killed.
[O]n Friday morning, the 10th inst., about 7 1/2
[A]M., the boiler in Turney's flour mill, at Curllsville,
exploded with terrific force, instantly
[kill]ing Mr. Ad. H. Lee, the miller. He was
[cru]shed against the stone wall in front of the
???ler, literally crushing him to a jelly. His
[he]ad was split open, his brains dashed out, and
[hi]s face scalded and driven so full of ashes and
[??]uler, as to be almost beyond recognition.
The entire south side, or nearly one-half of the mill,
[is a] complete wreck, except the roof. The stone
[wa]lls are blown out and shattered, timbers two
??? square broken and splintered, floors torn up,
?? So far as is known the accident was caused
[by] the water being too low in the boiler. The
[re]mains of Mr. Lee were taken charge of by
[Cur]llville Lodge, I.O.O.F., of which he was a
[m]ember, and were consigned to the tomb in the
[M]ethodist cemetery at Curllsville, on Sunday,
?th inst. They were escorted by Millville
[Lo]dge, I.O.O.F., 30 members present; A.O.
?, W., No 176 of Rimmersburg, of which he was
[al]so a member, 35 members; and Sligo Lodge,
[N]o. 387, I.O.O.F., 20 members, followed by
? loaded vehicles, besides horsemen and a large
[n]umber on foot. He was aged 44 years, and
[le]aves a wife and 4 children to mourn their loss.
???? be with him. It is said that a highly in-
[te]lligent christian gentleman, upon viewing the
???ling, blackened, mangled remains of Ad.
[Lee] before they were scarcely cold, said, "There
is no use making any fuss with him. Sew him
[up] in a sack and bury him," thus denying the
??? mangled wreck of humanity the privilege
???ing prepared by tender hands and loving
[h]earts christian burial. When the shadow
[of] the dark angel's wing shadows this gentle
[m]an in eternal night, may God in his mercy not
[de]ny to him tender hands and loving hearts to
[pr]epare him for the tomb.

More Articles ...