What to say about my Southern Roots

I’m a Babb, and my line of Babbs moved down the East Coast from Virginia into South Carolina and then into Georgia in the early 1800’s. I can’t do anything about that.

The land my ancestors moved onto in Georgia was essentially stolen from the Cherokee, and there’s no good way to sugar-coat that. They didn’t steal it, but it was stolen so that white families could exploit it. I don’t know at this point who the family’s land in South Carolina was taken from, but it was good land and I’m pretty sure someone was already on it.

Then there’s the whole mish-mash of states rights, stavery, and the Civil War. It’s 2015 as I write this, and in 2015 – especially after that monster shot nine people after sitting with them at a prayer meeting – it’s all about white supremacy. Of course, the entire history of European colonialism has been about white supremacy, and states rights were an issue at the Constitutional convention, but we put on our blinders now and behave as though it’s all about white and black.

Here’s the thing: at least four of my 2nd great-uncles served the Confederacy, most with the 53rd Georgia Infantry. They served at Gettysburg, and Richmond and Appomattox, and three of them did not return from the war. One, a medic I believe, was captured outside of Atlanta and briefly held as a POW. I respect their service and their sacrifice.

The flag they served under isn’t mine, but it was theirs. The fact of its subsequent adoption by hate groups shouldn’t reflect on their service any more than the adoption of the svastika by the Nazis in the 20th century should reflect on ancient Sanskrit culture.

Hereditary Diseases and their fallout

I found my maternal grandfather’s Shellback Certificate this morning – re-found it, actually – and started reflecting on his life and his family’s. One earns or earned a Shellback Certificate by crossing the Equator upon the sea and being initiated into the Realm of Neptunus Rex, but I understand that this initiation, too, has fallen out of favor these days. Anyway, he was a sailor 64 years before I was and before air conditioning and most other creature comforts I enjoyed, and he was doomed to die of Huntington’s Disease. I don’t know whether or not he knew that.

His father and his father’s father had both died by the time Lawrence enlisted in 1901, both in state lunatic asylums (Iowa and Indiana respectively) because no one knew what else to make of Huntington’s. By virtue of his service, my grandfather would eventually die in Hines VA Hospital near Chicago.

His mother and father both appear in the 1880 federal census in Story County, Iowa, in June. In July, his mother stood up for her sister’s wedding in Kearney, Nebraska, and he was born there in December. Within two years, his mother would remarry and he would be adopted by his step-father.

For years I assumed that his father, Jacob, must have accompanied his wife to the wedding, but I haven’t found his track since June, 1880. Did Jacob leave her in Nebraska or did she leave him in Iowa? Did they know yet that Jacob had inherited the HD gene?

In my grandfather’s life, at what point did he and my grandmother learn that he had inherited the gene? I remember in early conversations with my mother that she had very little idea of how HD worked. She thought maybe it only affected males, and maybe it skipped generations. There was no test for it.

What must life have been like for “Shaky” Jake in fin de siècle Iowa? When he was admitted to the state hospital there was a reference to some time in or with the Army, but I’ve found no record. So far his hospital record is about all that I have. I don’t have even that for his father, Jacob Senior, in Indianapolis in 1854.

Can you imagine your ancestors’ lives?