Monday, October 20, 2008

Politics and My Ancestors ...

For the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, I am supposed to write about my ancestors and their connections with politics, either through beliefs, as politicians or as members of a political movement or party. I have written briefly before about a couple of my ancestors' political beliefs, but I still do not know very much about what they might have believed.

Last year, I wrote an article on my ancestor, Benjamin Oswalt and his son, John, and their political beliefs in relation to the 1856 Presidential election. In past elections, Benjamin and John had apparently voted for the Whig party, and it appears that as the Whig party collapsed, they switched their political alliance to the Know-Nothings and then to the Democratic Party. Obviously, I do not know how long they might have allied themselves with the Know-Nothings. From the newspaper article, it appears as though it was a temporary alliance in a previous election. Of course, that was what my ancestor in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. I have no idea, if his son, Adam (my ancestor), was a member of the Whig Party. In fact, I do not know anything about Adam's political beliefs. The closest I have come so far is finding out that he was part of the G.A.R. when he lived in Rockford, Illinois, as I wrote in a previous Carnival of Genealogy entry.

As for my Detwiler ancestors, I do not know as much about their political beliefs as I do for my Oswalt ancestors. The only possible political belief that I have been able to uncover is that John Detwiler (my ancestor's older brother) was a member and officeholder of Park Township Saint Joseph County, Michigan's Grange Party, and I found out about that membership through reading about it in L. H. Everts & co.,'s History of St. Joseph county, Michigan (published in 1877). (For some more information on the grange movement, the articles here and here are a start.) Again, this is for the son and brother of my ancestors. I have no idea what John's father, Jacob, believed, as of the writing of this article.

For my Stout ancestors, I also have the same problem. The closest information of a possible political belief comes from my ancestor's brother, Reuben Stout. According to his biography in the Chapman Brother's Portrait and Biographical Album of St. Joseph County, Michigan (printed in Chicago in 1889), Reuben was a member of the Democratic Party. As for his younger brother, who is my ancestor, I have no idea what his political leanings were. I wonder, though, if they shared same political philosophy.

As for my Householder ancestors, I just have a suggestion as to what it might be. I believe the father of Barbara Householder, Jacob Detwiler's first wife, was John Householder; however, my only evidence for that connection at the moment is the 1850 U.S Census of Walker Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania where John Householder is living with Jacob and Barbara Detwiler's family, and the biography of a nephew that lists her as one of John's three children. (The biography is of John F. Householder in J. M. Runk's Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of the Juniata Valley, comprising the Counties of Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, and Perry Pennsylvania. The book was published in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 1897.) That biography states that her father was a Democrat, but my main problem, outside of an incorrect death year for him, is that I do not have any other primary source documents connecting Barbara to John Householder except for the 1850 census. (Of course, if anyone can help me strengthen this connection that would be greatly appreciated.)

As for my other ancestors in America, I do not know what their political beliefs were, especially when it comes to my German ancestors who came to the U. S. in the late-1800s and early 1900s. And then there is my possible ancestor, Christoph Friedrich Cotta who had a role in the French Revolution, in trying to spread it to the German states, but I am not going to say anything further about him as his beliefs would need a separate post to cover. As for my British ancestors, I have no idea what their political beliefs were or when they would have been able to vote (outside of the fact that women in Britain were given the right to vote in 1918). Until I am to do research into their political beliefs, I will not know. I hope, though, as I continue to do research on my family that I will be able to uncover more information about them, especially in relation to what their political beliefs were.

No comments: