Meet My Family

Welcome to my family blog! What I hope to do here is to bring people in my family to life, so that the materials and memories that I have accumulated will not be lost. Fortunately, several people in my family also hoped to do the same, so I have a big stack of things to start with. I started this project 20 years ago, and in that time the available tools and data sources have improved enormously, allowing me to fill in around the family anecdotes with data collected by other family historians. Recently I have spent a lot of time checking and correcting some of the earlier data, so the genealogy shown here is an honest best effort to avoid some of the speculative links you see in various histories. But, no guarantees!

The graphic above shows the basic terrain. My mother’s family came from Cornwall, via Canada. Most of my father’s family’s branches have been in this country since the 17th century, and come from all over England, Scotland, and Ireland. There is an over-riding narrative that I will tell, as I attempt to compare both branches during a specific time¬† – the period from 1830 or so to the first World War. I have always been fascinated by the Victorian generation in England, as well as the pioneers in this country. As you will see, two generations of my English ancestors went abroad in various capacities as representatives of the Empire. My great great grandfather John George (JG) Uren will represent this generation in England, born in 1834, and dying in 1909. In this country, my great grandfather Richard Deacon Blackwell, born in 1846 and living until 1919, was the son of pioneers and homesteaders in Indiana, fought for the Union in the Civil War, and then homesteaded himself in Kansas, becoming the town Marshall in Douglass, Kansas.

These close contemporaries could not have been more different, and yet I see similar strengths and drives, that I think are also representative of this period. I also enjoy thinking about the arc of their lives, so much more adventurous than mine. I like to think that their strengths are still buried (deeply?) somewhere in me. And I try not to think too much of the darker sides of the efforts that both of them assisted in.

The first set of postings will set the stage in England, then follow JG from Falmouth, to school and then around Cornwall, to Constantinople, then to Penzance and the Scilly Islands, and finally back to Falmouth. After looking at his children and grandchildren, I will shift gears to this country. After a quick look at the three generations of Blackwells that moved from England to Virginia, then through the Cumberland gap to Kentucky and Indiana, I’ll focus on Richard Deacon Blackwell as he went from young soldier, to homesteader, to town Marshall.

Just a note about my sources. My father, Richard Quentin Blackwell, wrote several books about the family and also about his own life growing up in Kansas, and as a scientist working in the Far East. I will post several of these books, and will draw on them frequently. My mother’s family was documented by several generations, including JG himself (a published author), and my own grandfather, another John George, my great great grandmother Ellen Banfield, and my own mother Anne. Where necessary, I have filled in the genealogical material from the usual sources (Family Search, Ancestry, etc.) as well as many, many Google searches.

So, off we go!


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