Meet the Blackwells

I actually know quite a bit about my father’s family, the Blackwells, as well as the various branches that are not Blackwells. I have been able to trace most of the early ancestors in the usual places (Ancestry, Mormons, etc.), and aside for a couple of gaps, I’m pretty sure about the tree I have uploaded to this site. In addition to the genealogy data, my father wrote several books about the family, and about his growing up. I will use this material in blog posts from him.

The earliest Blackwell I can find in the US was a Roger Blackwell who was born in Gloucestershire, England, and who immigrated to Virginia as an indentured servant in 1636. There are notes of his traveling to Holland in 1638 to see his brother, so it is possible that he was related to religious non-conformists, but that is speculation. In the direct line, there were several Blackwells who served in the Army in Virginia, including a John Blackwell who served in the American Revolution.  John was also known as Pastor John, and he founded the Green Creek Baptist Church (pictured to the right) which still exists. His son George H. Blackwell served in the War of 1812. His regiment did fight in Indiana, and it is possible that this is how the family first left the South. George settled near Ripley, Indiana, where the family I have data on was located. George H’s son, James Hawkins Blackwell, was born in 1816 in Indiana. His son, Richard Deacon, is my great grandfather.

Richard Deacon joined the Union Army in 1864, and is the subject of a blog post later on. His wife, Mary Frances, was a descendant of an Edward Doty, who was a servant of one of the families that came to Plymouth on the Mayflower. And of course, there are numerous other branches that merged to produce Richard Deacon, including Hawkins, Harrell, Crump, Downing, and Travers. My grandfather married a Paisley, and following her family back takes my ancestry from Paisley, Scotland, through Ireland, and then to the US in about 1730. So English, Scots, and Scotch-Irish all the way back as far as I can trace.

Richard Deacon (pictured below, upper right, shown with his father James, second from right below) had several children, one of whom, Virgil, was my grandfather. I will profile him more completely in his own blog post (written of course by my father!). And then there’s my father, Richard Quentin. Richard, known to all as “Q”, was born in 1918 to Virgil and Ina Laverne Paisley. Q grew up in Douglass, Kansas, and was raised by his grandmother, Mary Frances (Doty), due to Ina’s early death. You will have lots of opportunities to meet Q as I draw upon his various books. Long story short, he served in the Navy in WWII, got his PhD in Chemistry from Northwestern, lived and worked abroad, and then finished his career with the NIH in Bethesda, MD. He and his second wife, Boon Nam, moved to Little Rock for her career, and then returned to Maryland, where he died in 2005.

I will continue to leverage the life of one particular ancestor, Richard Deacon Blackwell, the Civil War soldier. He was a close contemporary of JG Uren (profiled in other posts). I think of JG as emblematic of a specific time and setting – upwardly mobile middle class Englishmen from the 19th century who had links to the Empire. Richard Deacon was born in a frontier village in Indiana, was shaped by his time in the Army, moved west in a covered wagon to post-war Kansas, served for years as the town Marshall in his new home, and lived long enough to see the transition from frontier to the Progressive era and World War I. His children grew up in the America that we think we know from Westerns and other “mythical” sources. His son Virgil worked as a roughneck in during the 1920s all over the Midwest. And his grandson Q, got an advanced degree, which he leveraged into a very interesting career in academe, abroad, and finishing with the National Institutes of Health.

Quentin’s first post is about Richard Deacon. My source material for this and all posts by Quentin will be the books he wrote for his family and friends after he retired. As you will see, he was an engaging writer with an eye for people, places, and especially for good food. The blog postings will be excerpts, but I will also post copies of the original materials. These will include the following books:

– When Memory Keeps Us Company – A Small Town Boy Looks Back

– My Family – Kinfolk by Blood and Marriage

– Around the World in Eighty Ways

– Golden Memories of Special Days

And off we go!

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