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The Rest of the Story: The Ancestors of Sarah May Paddock Otstott

The Rest of the Story: The Ancestors of Sarah May Paddock Otstott

 

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Dan and Sarah 1929

 

When Sarah May Paddock Otstott sat down at a typewriter in 1985 to write her memoir, You Asked For It, it is doubtful she had any idea the intriguing and utterly delightful trip her eldest grandchild would take many years later. In the first few pages of her book, Sarah sketched out a family tree through her great-grandparents and, in one branch of the tree, her great-great-grandfather. She knew nothing of the Internet; no one did at that time. Almost 25 years later, armed with the book and a desire to answer the age-old question, "Where do I come from", I began a journey. There, living through time in documents, wills, books and the Internet just waiting to be remembered, was Sarah's clan -- an interesting cast of characters: a heretic burned at the stake; a colonial property owner with some acreage now known as Capitol Hill in Washington; some duchesses; some countesses; a prominent Roman Catholic family in England welcomed at court; rebels both here and across the pond; a Lord Chancellor of Ireland; organizers of plots to dethrone kings and queens; the first governor of the Isle of Man; a lot of knights - several of them Templars; a few surgeons; countless kings; a ship captain; step-grandmother(s) to the first president; a ruthless, blood-thirsty, murderous queen; several conquerors; many saints; the subject of a Broadway musical; a few Holy Roman Emperors; Shakespearean characters and a Jesuit priest.

This all started while researching the paternal side of my grandfather's family the week of July 4th, 2009. I have always been fascinated by the name DuShane and planned to use it as the middle name for my daughter. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. The History of the Otstot(t) Family in America indicates the name goes back many generations to Hannah DuShane. She married Daniel Otstot (family member #121 in the book). In my research I found that her parents were Benjamin and Susanna Walraven DuShane of Paris, France. They migrated around 1795 or 1796 to York, Pennsylvania. I had the years and, in the case of the Otstot(t) family, the actual date of migration, for all my grandparents or their ancestors, except for Sarah. I realized several days later I might have the tool to discover this information in the form of the family trees in her memoires. Little did I know the family trees would deliver more than I imagined.

As I researched these people, I wondered if any of their stories crept down through the centuries. Sarah's note at the top of the family tree diagram indicates the Paddocks were Scottish and they married "English Ladies." One of these English ladies came with quite a pedigree. My maternal grandfather told me his family story and history. At her 90th birthday, my maternal great aunt told my mother stories as well. I knew my great-grandfather rode with Pancho Villa. My grandfather always said we were Spanish, in his Ricky Ricardo accent. We were told we were descendents of an Aztec princess. My mother learned our ancestors were Jewish and driven out of Spain during the Inquisition. Did Sarah hear the one about the president's step-grandmother or the story of the ancestral uncle who escaped from the Tower of London?

I have observed in my research a propensity for our ancestors to live far beyond the life expectancy during their time. I found that Henry K (Bud) Kapell, who authored the book Paddock/Norton Families Genealogy (May 2007) made a similar observation in his forward: "Keep in mind that each of us share only a portion of our ancestry and that this genealogy is only a small fraction of your own total genealogy. While we each share only a portion of our common ancestry, I believe that connection is significant. We share some of our attitudes and outlooks on life which are passed on from parents to children as well as our gene stock. Both make us what we are. Much of our makeup is dictated by the 24 chromosomes made up of over 20,000 genes which make up our genome. Statistically, we share 1/8 of that genome with first cousins, 1/32 with second cousins, 1/128 with third cousins and so on. We are connected. As you look at this record, note that the Paddocks had very large families with almost all children living to adulthood, generation after generation. They passed something on to all of us that worked well to survive and thrive."

I used a website called Rootsweb.ancestry.com. It is simple to search for a name. I tried several and had amazing luck. The names are linked to parents, spouses and children. Dates of birth, marriage, death and, in some cases, will execution and probate, are found on the ancestor's page. Sometimes there is a brief history of the person and the transcription of the will. I started with the Paddocks, Vinalls, Bowers and had the greatest luck with the Horners. I have always been interested in the Tudor Dynasty and read as much as I can, especially about Elizabeth I. The more I read through the links for my ancestral grandparents, the more intrigued I became. Unfolding before my eyes were names I recognized from my reading. I called my father almost daily and regaled him with tales from our history. I made the decision to document my research.

In my research I have found that our ancestry may not be as unusual as I thought when I first began the process. Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Research Scholar of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), states, ". . . probably sixty percent or more of the American people are descended from kings". ("Comments on Royal Descent", published in Ancestry 18:6 [Nov/Dec 2000], p. 18). He explains this premise saying, "Such descent, shared by a majority of Americans with a sizable quantity of colonial ancestry, is usually derived through roughly 350 royally descended immigrants of the 17th and 18th centuries who have been well studied by various American scholars." We are descended from at least one of those royally connected colonists who came to the New World in 1638 to stake a claim in the Colony of Maryland. Of course, once the royal connection is made, many other royal connections are found since royalty usually married royalty or at least nobles and landed gentry. Their children married the nobles and landed gentry; their children became the bureaucrats and professionals; and their children became the middle-class.

I made research trips to the historical societies in Marshall County, Indiana, Westmoreland County, Virginia, and Pickaway County, Ohio. I spent countless hours in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I used many websites in my research: the Rootsweb.com site mentioned above as well as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and a Google site with scanned books dating back centuries, as well as many others. I bought and read the book written by one of our more interesting ancestors, Father John Gerard, a Jesuit priest from the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

The story begins with Sarah's grandparents and go back in time. I will stay with the grandparent line (great grandparent, great-great grandparent, great-great-great grandparent, etc.) and only veer off course when an interesting and unique historical figure presents. As is usually the case throughout history, documentation of the female lineage tends to end, while information on the men continues.

The origin of information is documented and all references are listed. I felt a great responsibility to rely on well-researched and first-hand information as opposed to blogs or information posted by non-professionals. In a few cases, I have used information posted on Rootsweb.com (primarily non-professionals), but this has been indicated in the references and the information, while probably accurate, should be considered a possibility

I have also included many Wikipedia.com profiles to help you in remembering, or finding out for the first time, about someone interesting in our ancestry. I entered the more than 2100 names in Wikipedia and was delighted to learn there is so much history in our family tree. I am aware that Wikipedia is publicly written and may not be entirely accurate in some cases; however, I have put faith in the human collective with regard to this information. It may be a springboard for you to do some of your own research into these amazing people.

It is my hope that you enjoy reading this information as much as I enjoyed finding it. This has truly been a pleasure and one that has made me giddy at a time when I needed some giddy-ness in my life. Here is The Rest of the Story courtesy of my great-great-great grandmother, Margaret Leazenby.

Of note to Dan III (Dad): Your great (X 25) grandfather, Alfonso II, King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona and Provence (1157-1195) provided the first land grant to the Cistercian monks on the banks of the Ebro River in the Aragon region, which would become the site of the first Cistercian monastery in this region. Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda was founded in the year 1202 and utilized some of the first hydrological technology in the region for harnessing water power and river diversion for the purpose of building central heating. It is in your DNA!

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Chuck Paddock for the copy of Robert Curfman's book, The Paddock Genealogy, and the wonderful photographs of ancestors I never knew, but who now feel alive in my mind and heart.

Thank you to my uncle, David Otstott, for the unbound copy of You Asked For It by Sarah May Paddock Otstott. Now that it is scanned, it will be available to the generations who come after us. I am also supplying the various historical societies I visited and the Family Historical Library in Salt Lake City with a copy on CD so others may use it for their research for many years to come.

Thank you to my dear friend, Lara Hanson, for helping me create this website and for being my extra set of eyes in London. She made it her mission to look for ancestral artifacts for me to photograph in the British Museum. She listened to my stories with genuine interest and was present when we found the sign on the side of the Tower of London documenting the escape of Uncle Father John Gerard. She was witness to my utter astonishment and inability to catch my breath when we found it, as I had just been telling her the story of his escape as we walked along the Thames. She was inspired to begin her own family research and we recently discovered we are 32nd cousins!

Thank you very much Daddy, for listening to me as I spoke breathlessly with great animation about every new discovery in our family history. You took each one of those phone calls (usually several in one evening) with equal excitement and encouragement. I love you.

Thank you to my grandmother, Sarah May Paddock Otstott, for providing me the tools for this adventure. I have felt you with me through it all and I hope you have enjoyed the journey, too.

And, finally, thank you to my ancestors. I have such a deep love and respect for you all, now that I know you. I will continue to bring your stories and your lives to light for your descendants.

Love to you all,

Dana

 

 

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