I love a good spy story. And if you put it in a historically accurate context, all the better. So I’m looking forward to the new AMC series Turn, which starts tonight. It’s tagged The story of America’s first spies.
When I saw the first promos a few months ago I had to find out if it was based on real events or if it was historical fiction. Turns out it’s based on real events, and The Culper Ring, as the group was called, had a part in winning the American Revolution. The spy ring was organized by Benjamin Tallmadge, who became George Washington’s chief intelligence officer.
The name Tallmadge sounded familiar so I did some exploring through my very rudimentary family history and turned up Thomas Talmadge Sr., possibly my 12th great-grandfather. He was born in England in 1595, and died in New Netherland (later renamed New York) in 1653.
My “research” was more like a quick glance, but it seems Benjamin Tallmadge, the revolutionary war spy, also descended from Thomas Talmadge Sr. Note the name Talmadge is spelled differently in different places at different times. Pretty tricky when looking for records about these guys.
Thomas Talmadge, Sr. brought his family from England to New Netherland maybe about 1633. Among his family members were sons Thomas Talmadge Jr., 1617-1691—possibly my 11th great-grandfather—and Robert Talmadge, 1622-1662, Benjamin Tallmadge’s 3rd great grandfather.
So it could be the story of America’s first spies is also the story of a long-lost cousin. Makes watching it all the more interesting.
As for my Talmadge immigrant line, it goes like this:
- Thomas Talmadge Jr., 1617–1691 >
- Nathaniel Talmadge, 1643–1716 >
- John Talmadge, 1678–1764 >
- Elizabeth Talmadge, 1703–1772 >
- Elizabeth Hedges, 1731–1778 >
- Robert T Crockett, 1755–1835 >
- Jemima Crockett, 1763–1853 >
- Elizabeth Bivens, 1803–1873 >
- Maggie Cochran, 1838–1915 >
- Mittie Bryant, 1864–1931 >
- Will Rose—my great grandpa—1885–1972 >
- Ed Rose, my grandpa, 1909–1985 >
- my mom,
- then me.
Coincidentally, Turn, is based on Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring a book written by Alexander Rose. I wonder if he’s another long-lost cousin.