Lately, I’ve been writing a few articles to go along with the weekly suggested themes of the 52 Ancestors Challenge. It’s what got me started with this blog in January 2014* during Amy Johnson Crow’s first year of the challenge.
I couldn’t think of what to write on this week’s theme of adventure. All that came to mind were danger and travels. It seemed like there should be more to it than that. So, being the good daughter of a former Latin and English teacher who taught me much about English (with a tad of Latin thown in for good measure and which I don’t remember), I looked up the word.
While a 40 day move via covered wagon with a train of families may sound like an adventure, as far as I’m concerned one would only do this if motivated to avoid something. Leaving the home you have known your entire life because you have to does not sound like an adventure to me. An example of this are my ancestors Thomas and Rachel (JOHNSON) JOHNSON who, as members of the Society of Friends, left their home in North Carolina and moved to Indiana to escape persecution and to get away from “the trouble over slavery that was brewing at the time.” Another example is William and Catherine (SHANAHAN) COTTER whom I wrote about recently, and who sailed from Ireland to New York during the Great Famine.
Let’s look at how “adventure” is defined on Lexico. We can see that it is more than danger and travels.
1 An unusual and exciting or daring experience.
1.1 [mass noun] Excitement associated with danger or the taking of risks.
1.2 A reckless or potentially hazardous action or enterprise.
1.3 archaic A commercial venture.
1 dated Engage in daring or risky activity.
1.1 [with object] Put (one’s money or life) at risk.
Ah, several more possibilities! And because we are talking about history, even the archaic and dated definitions apply.
An Unusual and Exciting or Daring Experience
When I think of this definition of “adventure,” it seems that only things engaged in by choice apply. Ancestors Henry Bascom and Amanda Melvina (KING) WILSON‘s elopment on horseback from Decatur County, Indiana, to Ohio to get married is a good example. What an exciting experience that must have been for the young couple!
Excitement Associated with Danger or the Taking of Risks
I need a refresher course on the motivation behind my ancestor Rudolph VIRKLER’s emigration from Le Havre, France, to what is now Lewis County, New York.
Rev. Rudolph Virkler was born in Alsace-Lorraine and died in New Bremen, New York. He married Anna Breckbeil ca. 1814 in Alsace-Lorraine. They emigrated to New Bremen, New York.
Was it for religion? Land? More to be revealed on this one.
Rudolph was a Mennonite preacher in France and after coming to America, he left the Amish Mennonites to form a new church that believed in, among other things, baptism by immersion. Their denomination is called by many names: the Evangelical Baptist Church, Apostolic Christian Church, New Amish or the Virkler Church.
Source: Laura Farney, Julius Farney, Julia Karcher, Genealogies of three large families of Lewis County, New York : reminiscences, sketches of history, births, deaths, marriages, occupations, religious and political views, memoirs, educational advantages, addresses, etc., of the Farney family 1795-1988, the Rev. Rudolph Virkler family 1792-1988, the Zehr family 1798-1988, 2 vols. (Interlaken, New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989).
A Reckless or Potentially Hazardous Action or Enterprise
My ancestors by the surname of COON and variation who settled in what is now Marion County, West Virginia, in the late 18th century certainly engaged in this type of adventure. There has been some study about their settlement, but I haven’t seen writing on why they moved into such dangerous country. I wrote a little about the settlement here.
A Commercial Venture
Ancestor John JUDGE of Knox County, Ohio, in 1830, sold to John DRAKE, his Ohio adventure of 100 acres for $400, making a $100 profit off of the principle. An article about John JUDGE is in progress.
Engage in Daring or Risky Activity
Certainly John Marion RENFRO’s activities qualify as daring and risky, as well as being hurtful to people on the receiving end of his decisions. You can read about him here and here.
Put (One’s Money or Life) at Risk
This is a similar meaning of the word as “commercial adventure,” only in verb rather than noun form. My ancestor Isaac WILSON of Sussex County, Delaware, adventured seven pounds and ten shillings on the purchase of land near Georgetown in April 1797.
I have so many more ancestors to research (as do we all). I certainly hope I live a long time! And I hope that out there, my descendants and cousins will appreciate and carry on the work. Thank you for reading.
*Has it really been almost six years?