I checked all the registered historical facts and I was shocked into shame to discover …
You’d be amazed what you can find out about your family online now. These days, a good deal of genealogical research is just a mouse click away, whereas in yesteryear, you’d have to troll through dusty census records, amble through cemeteries checking out gravestones, or — God forbid — talk to your grandparents. Thanks to sites such as Rootsweb.com, I’ve been able to trace a couple of lines on my mother’s side back 16 generations.
My family tree almost underwent a weird grafting only one generation back; my parents split at the same time as the couple across the road did, and my dad later married the woman and my mom lived common-law with her ex-husband for a while, so if they’d made it official, I’d have had a double stepbrother and a double stepsister. But last night marked the first time in which my clicking on Rootsweb’s hypertext links led me around in a circle, which led to the realization that two of my ancestors had the same grandparents, making them first cousins. Ew, I thought. Consanguinity. Until then, I’d thought that the worst thing I’d turn up was that my ancestor Hugh Crowder, who arrived in Virginia in 1619, owned a few Irishmen. But I was about to run into something that would make the kissing cousins look positively wholesome by comparison.
Here’s the shocking note that I found moments later about my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather
Thomas Roode was executed 18 Oct 1672 Norwich, CT for incest with his daughter, Sarah who bore a son, George. Trumbull Colonial Record II, page 184. He and his daughter, Sarah, pleaded guilty to the charge of incest. He was executed on 18 Oct 1672 and his daughter severly whipped, “that others may heare and feare.” The child, George Rood, was raised by Lt. THomas Leffingwell, referred to as uncle, which may mean that Thomas’ wife, Sarah, may have been a Leffingwell. No proof has been found.
Mr. Robert Rood Buell, a noted Genealogist of the Rood family, whose notes on the family are contained in 13 uncataloged boxes in the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in Toledo, Ohio, wrote to the editor in October of 1967 with the following comments: “Yes, I do know why Thomas (1) Rood died by hanging at Say Brook and have read (laboriously) all the testimony in the original court files. He has the dubious distinction of being the only Colonist in N. America executed for incest. His dau. Sarah (also=his second wife, by whom son (gdson) George) was apparently taken under the wing of Dr. George Bushnell of New London who looked after her until her death…….Incest in Colonial New England was NOT uncommon but isn’t found in the published books.”
Let’s say that again: I’m descended from the only colonist in North America to be caught and executed for incest. Thankfully, he’s only my eight-times-great-grandfather and not also my seven-times-great-grandfather; I’m not a product of the issue of that relationship, being descended from a different son. Still, yuck. What a horrible distinction. Hear and fear.
At least I can take solace in a couple of things. First, there’s this note: “Thomas was on excellent terms with the Indians and his early land acquisitions were from the Sachem Squanto. He was held in high regard by them since several of their sacred places were on his property.” It’s good to know he was tight with Squanto. I can’t see this being the famous Squanto who helped the Pilgrims, as he died two or three years before Rood was born, so it must be a different Squanto, but any Squanto is a good one, in my books.
And second, I know Rood was the real surname of the late, great heel wrestler “Ravishing” Rick Rude, which raises the dizzying possibility that I may in fact have a distant genealogical link to the Heenan Family. That’s such an exciting thought that if I had a webcam, I’d be flicking it on right now and telling all you fat, out-of-shape, internet sweathogs to keep the noise down while I took my robe off and showed all the ladies what a real man is supposed to look like.
Filed under: Uncategorized | 14 Comments