It has been about fifteen years since I compiled these family records, and I am now having at last a look at them, with the recollection of having found considerable entertainment in the doing of it.
|My first cousin
Mary Alden, old enough to be my grandmother, was an experienced
genealogist, and published a number of articles from time to time on
Langford ancestry. She tried to interest my mother in it, and
sent her many items of family history, but Mother merely put them in
her files and showed no particular interest. Cousin Mary finally
turned to me and frequently urged me to turn my attention to the
genealogy business. But I felt no interest, and she finally gave
us all up. We just wouldn't jell. Langford ancestry had not
the slightest appeal for Mother, my two brothers, and myself.
death in October 1931, my two brothers found cousin Mary's
correspondence intact, also other letters and notes concerning her
Robertson family. They decided to send it all to me to see if I
could make anything out of it, as neither one of thrm felt like
tackling the job. So I looked it all over rather indifferently at
first, then with growing interest, as I began to scent mystery of some
sort. I always had a good nose for novelty, and I began to
deteect a bit of it in our family history.
Robertson was owner and editor of the St. Paul democratic
newspaper. I found a clipping from it that told of his mother's
death and who her parents were. It gave the place of his birth
and other items bearing on his ancestry. Then I found a letter
sent to his widow after his death. They were from his relatives
living in Ontario. Their records did not jibe with my
grandfather's. He was a politician, U.S. Marshall, mayor of St.
Paul, and Colonel of Militia. I judged that he chose to pose as
an American, and not as a Scot born elsewhere. So I began a
search for his true ancestry.
|At the same time I
found a strange quirk in Langford ancestry. This concerned my
great grandfather George Langford I ancestry. It had Cousin Mary
Alden stumped. She published quite a bit about it, making one
guess after another but getting nowhere. I wrote to my brother
Nathaniel about all this, and he began to get interested. I went
to the Newberry Library frequently and passed on to him the many items
I found there which concerned our Langford and Robertson ancestries.
|George Jr. [my
father - GL III, ed.] became interested in his mother Sydney Holmes
ancestry, and we often went to the Newberry Library together. A
great many of the family histories published were compilations of the
many descendants of some one man, a first colonist of 1626-1650
vintage. We were not interested in that angle. Our
researches were directed toward our ancestors in the female as well as
in the male line.
gradually that much of what we were looking for could not be found in
genealogical books. Wills; local birth, marriage and death
records; deeds; family letters; gravestones in cemeteries; and other
records giving names and dates, became our main sources of
information. Our correct Langford ancestry was finally settled by
one of our correspondents, Mr Ives, who visited North Kingston, Rhode
Island, and found that a published record had been miscopied from the
original. And to make things more difficult, our ancestor
Holderby [also Holdebee and Holderbee in my grandfather's records - GL
III] of Rhode Island changed his name to Northrup [also Northup - GL
|In tracing my
grandfather Alexander Robertson's line through his father William and
grandfather Alexander, I began a correspondence with the Secretary of
Robertsons of Struan clan, who were seeking data on my grandfather's
ancestry. The chiefs of clans were sort of kings, and so their
ancestral records were well kept. The Jacobite faction with
which I corresponded suspected that my grandfather Alexander Robertson
might have been the rightful heir. The Jacobites supported the
Stewarts in opposition to the English, and our Robertsons were finally
suppressed after the disastrous Battle Of Culloden in 1746. Much
of the Robertson records were suppressed by the English heralds, as I
learned from our correspondence with the Earl of _________.
However, I found what I was looking for. Being a Clan Chief had
become only a social distinction. My brother Nathaniel and I were
voted into the Clan Donnachadh as descendants of the 10th Chief and
received invitations each year and accounts of the annual
celebrations. Donnachadh, meaning Clan of Duncan
1st Chief, was the Scot name for Clan Robertson of Struan.
|The third problem
be unravelled was the ancestry of my grandfather Alexander Robertson's
mother Lilias Mackintosh. My grandfather's published account gave
her father as Alexander Mackintosh, a surgeon in Edinburgh. We
found that he was Daniel Mackintosh, a minister in Gairloch. We
got on the trail of his wife and found that she was descended from the
chiefs of Clan Mackenzie of Kintail. I was quite sure of this
until I took a shot in the dark and wrote to the mayor of Reidsville,
Tatnall County, Georgia, asking for information. The letter was
answered by Mrs. Howard Strifling and settled the whole thing 100
percent. All of this I explained in my records. From then
on it was a case of recording ancetors by the wholesale lot from Scot
and English records, as most of them were kings, chiefs, and nobles
whose ancestries were available.
|So we finished our
job pot-hunting for the easy ones. "Americans of Royal Descent"
sounds fine, but almost any descendant of an American colonist can be
one if he can trace his family line. The hard part is tracing his
line to that colonist, and harder still to trace it back into Great
Britain. We found that many of these so-called royal ancestries
were incorrect. Establishing such lines correctly is generally a
very difficult job requiring a lot of research.
|As requested by my
wife Sydney Holmes, I undertook to hunt for our ancestors in
common. We were far apart: I, originating in Scot and New England
ancestors, generally broke and fleeing from political or religious
persecution; she, descended from wealthy ancestors, founding estates
and plantations in Virginia.
discovered that Edward II King of England 1312-1377 wqs our latest
common ancestor. Her line went back through Massey, Withers,
Pickett, Cooke, etc. to Lionel, Duke of Clarence 1338-1368.
|My line went back
through Robertson, Mackenzie, Stewart and Beaufort to John of Gaunt,
Duke of Lancaster 1340-1389.
|Lionel and John
were brothers, sons of Edward III, King of England.
|There were some
other angles to this genalogy business.
|One of my father's
old letters told of his being involved with his partner Joseph Marshall
in an iron-making venture near Denver, Colorado. He seemed to
disapprove of it. He was running an iron foundry and machine shop
at Black Hawk, a part of Central, Colorado. The iron he needed,
had to be hauled across the plains by wagon from St. Joseph,
Missouri. I learned from other sources that iron-making was tried
out at Marshall. Some of the iron used in my father's foundry to
cast a cannon for use in the Civil War.
|In 1933 [1932 in
other accounts by GL, Sr. - GL III], my brother Nathaniel and I. with
our wives, drove by auto to Denver. My wife and I visited Charles
Hanington. He, his two brothers, and their parents were our old
Denver friends. I had not been to Denver since we left there in
and I drove to Marshall and called upon the oldest settler, Mr.
Brierly. He was son of my father's coal mine foreman. My
father took me to see the mine when I was six years old. I dimly
remembered the visit. Mr. Brierly told me that there had been an
iron-making furnace near Marshall, but he could not remember just where.
|Being familiar with
iron-making in the old days, I looked for a source of water to supply
power, and the high ground for charging; and finally, traces of stone
furnace foundations. This led me to a family's back yard. I
had a spade with me, and they permitted me to dig. I had to guess
where the molten metal outlet was and where the casting floor might
have been. But when I had dug four feet down, I struck bars of
pig iron. I took them back with me to Denver, and the Historical
Society made quite a fuss over them: the first iron made west of the
Mississippi River. They kept one of the bars. I sent
another to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.
|Next year 1934, my
brother Nathaniel and I drove to Utica, New York, my father's
home. His grandfather George Langford I had taken some part in
the first iron-making west of the Hudson River.
|We located the
furnace near Westmoreland which was not far from the farm of my
grandfather George Langford II. The big wooden water wheel was
still there. As at Marshall, Colorado, iron-making in an
unfavorable environment was a colossal task but probably not much worse
than transporting iron over rough trails through hostile Indian contry.
|Not far from the
old furnace we spotted a small cemetary on the crest of a hill.
It was about thirty feet square, knee deep with grass and weeds.
There were four headstone slabs in a row marking the graves my father's
George Langford I
His wife Abigail Elliott
His wife Mary Tirrell II
|The two men were
American Revolutionary War veterans. We called the D.A.R.'s
attention to this, and they promised to give the small cemetary better
|I recently added
some ancestors at the end of Book No.6, coming from the research of G.
Andrew Moriarty, dean of American genealogists. Until then 800
A.D. was considered the limit of authentic ancestry, royal or
otherwise. That was going too far back for reliable proof.
Moriarty carried some ancestries back to about 400 A.D. Because
of his prestige and careful methods of research, these records are
accepted as probabilities. [I have no trace of this book - GL
|The six books are
my originals. The Newberry Library of Chicago has copies of
them. They sent photopring digests of them to ten of our contry's
leading libraries. [I only have the two reproduced here - GL III.]