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My Connection to America’s First Spies

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.

Cool, huh?

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.

Here are links to previous posts with more about my Rose line, and about the Crockett connection.

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.

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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Rose

 

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Peggy, 12, Stowaway to America

In 1743 Margaret, who was called Peggy, was born. She would marry Nathaniel Bivens and become my 6x great-grandmother.

I don’t know much about her yet, not even her last name for sure. Could be Tyler, could be Taylor, but I found several accounts that say she stowed away to America at age 12. What a brave little girl.

By all accounts it seems her mother died and her father was getting married again. One report said she had family in America, another said she had family “going” to America. Maybe she was able to stowaway with the relatives who were going to America so she wasn’t entirely on her own.

Several reports say she was born in Holland and she sailed from London, likely landing in Philadelphia or another nearby port because a few years later, about 1759, she married Nathaniel Bivens of Pennsylvania.

Family legend says they moved from Franklin County, Pennsylvania to Anson County, North Carolina sometime during or just after the Revolutionary War years. Nathaniel and Peggy had ten children. Their son John, born in 1760, was my 5x great-grandfather. He grew up and married Jemima Crockett, Davy’s cousin. I have that John Bivens was born in North Carolina, but if that was the case the family would have moved to North Carolina many years before the revolution which started in 1776. Another report says the family moved to North Carolina in 1773, which means John was born in Pennsylvania. Many strings to untangle when teasing out the family history.

But in my book the hero of this story is Peggy, the little girl who stowed away to America. I hope I can find out more about her. Was she running away from something, or, like so many other folks seeking adventure in a new place? I’ll keep looking and if I find anything else I’ll let you know.

Here’s the direct line from me to Peggy.

Jan Miller Stratton
Darlene Rose James W. Miller
Thomas Edwin Rose Lela Scott
William Thomas Rose Bessie Belew
Mittie Bryant John Henry Rose
Elizabeth Bivens Levi Thomas Cochran
John Bivens Jemima Crockett
Peggy Tyler
Nathaniel Bivens
 
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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Rose

 

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John and Mittie Rose

My grandpa Thomas Ed Rose had blue eyes. His dad, Thomas Will Rose also had blue eyes. And based on this picture it looks like his dad, John Henry Rose also had blue eyes.

This is the John Henry Rose family, circa 1892. John was born in 1860 and Mittie was born in 1863. The kids are Ora Pearl, born in 1883, and Thomas William born in 1885. Their third child, John Wesley, was born in 1887. He died when he was four, about 1891. This was taken after he died and based on the apparent ages of his siblings it looks like this was taken not long after he died.

John and Mittie Rose Family

I love that little smile on Will’s face. He was my great grandpa and I remember he always had a twinkle in his eye and that little boy smile seems just right.

John and Mittie are buried in the Lexington Cemetery and I’ve seen their slate gray granite headstone many times. Just recently I came across a little story written by their youngest child, Melva, who was born in 1907. Suddenly they became real people to me, not just names etched in stone.

So here it is. A family biography about John and Mittie Rose written by their daughter Melva Rose Duffield who died in 1999.

ROSE-BRYANT

John Henry Rose, the third child of David and Mary Lucinda Wright Rose, was born April 4, 1860 in Shelby County, Texas, where Lucinda’s parents, Harden and Hepsebeth* Wright, lived. They moved immediately to Van Zandt County where David’s parents, William and Elizabeth, lived. John’s older sister was Mary Etta and his brother was William Thomas. Sometime about 1863, they moved to Johnson County where two more daughters were born, Margaret J. and Sarah A.E.

Mary Lucinda died about 1868 leaving David with five small children. He married Martha Anne Conley, a girl of sixteen. Coping with five children and soon having another was very hard for her and an active eight year old was too difficult to handle. John often went with his father, who was a teaming contractor. They hauled some of the logs which were used to pave the first streets in Ft. Worth. When John was fourteen, he left home to be on his own, working for other people on farms and ranches. He worked in Van Zandt, Bosque and other counties, but by 1890 he was back in Johnson County working for Mrs. Martha Russell, a widow.

Sallie Bryant was the third child of William Jefferson and Margaret Josephine Cochran Bryant. She was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 18, 1864, while her father was in a prison hospital in the North**. She had an older sister named Leni L. and a brother, William E.

When the war was over and Jeff returned home, he wanted to add the name Ida to Sallie because a nurse named Ida Lake had been very kind to him in the hospital.

Times were very hard after the war and Jeff was not well. He bought a mill from his father-in-law, Levi T. Cochran in Marshall County, Tennessee, and operated it for several years. It was both a grist and lumber mill. During this time, five more children were born: Robert Wesley 1866, Mary Francis 1867, Bootie 1869, Samuel Davis 1871 and Maxey B. 1874.

By this time, many friends and relatives were moving to Texas and Jeff and Maggie decided to go along. They found fertile land at Blossom Prairie about nine miles east of Paris, Texas in Lamar County. Clearing the land for cultivation was very hard and Jeff was not strong. The boys were not large enough for much help. Another child was born July 17, 1878 and died August 3, 1878. Jeff died September 10, 1878. Both were buried at Blossom Prairie. Maggie could not manage the farm with all the children so she moved to Johnson County to be near her sister, Eliza E. Cummings (Mrs. J.C.) and family who had come to Johnson County earlier.

One day, in early 1882, while he was looking for a stray animal, John went to the home of Mrs. Margaret J. Bryant. Her daughter, Sallie (nicknamed Mittie), answered his call at the door. After a brief conversation, he asked if she were married. She wasn’t and he asked to call on her. Love blossomed and they were married Easter Sunday April 4, 1882.***

John had a horse and saddle, but no buggy. He borrowed a buggy and they went to get married. The horse was frightened by some­thing beside the road and ran away under a fallen tree. The buggy was broken but they were miraculously spared.

They farmed in Johnson County until about 1892. Three children were born there: Ora Pearl 1883, William Thomas 1885, John Wesley 1887. John Wesley died in 1891 with spinal meningitis.

The family moved soon to Ardmore, Indian Territory. Two more children were born there. Dollie 1896 and Ollie Bessie 1899. Outlaws were very active and they were far from schools so they decided to move to Lexington, Cleveland County, where Melva Lucille was born in 1907. In 1910, they moved to Comanche County, Oklahoma, but were nearly wiped out by a drought. They moved back to Lexington where they lived until John retired. They moved to Norman so Melva could finish high school and college. Mittie died in 1931 and John died in 1936. Both are buried in Lexington Cemetery.

Melva married John B. Duffield in 1931 and moved to Texas, first to Longview, Gregg County, then to Three Rivers, Live Oak County and last to Houston, Harris County.

Wesley Bryant married Rhettie Franks November 19, 1893 and lived in Johnson County near Alvarado until he died in July 1931. Rhettie died in 1942. Both are buried in Buel Cemetery.

Some of the Bryants and Cummings lines are still living in Johnson County.

 by Melva Rose Duffield

*Hepsebeth was Lucinda’s step-mother. Her mother, Mary Nail, died when Mary Lucinda was 5.
**During the Civil War, William Jefferson Bryant was a Confederate. ***Easter Sunday was April 9 in 1882 and online records indicate they married on April 9.

Thanks to Don Rose for putting this story online so I could find it. He descends from James Rose, a younger brother of my 3x great-grandfather David Rose. I found it on his Rose family tree on Ancestry.com.

I am all about context when exploring my family tree and I couldn’t help researching the details of the story. I learned a lot about Mittie’s father’s Civil War experience and imprisonment. I also followed the Rose family back to Buncombe County, NC at the same time my Scott family was there during and following the Revolutionary War. The families took different routes to Oklahoma, but connected for good when my grandparents Ed Rose and Lela Scott met and married.

More about all that in future posts.

Any cousins out there who have stories or memories to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Jan

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Rose

 

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