Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Grandfather John Rogers--Not a Red-Headed Irishman Who Could Not Talk Plain

If you can't trust a 90 year old great aunt, whom can you trust? Her father, she said, was a red-headed Irishman who could not talk plain. Oh, so he was fresh off the boat with a brogue that baffled the folks in the Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory in the 90s. Cousins revealed that he muttered before meals but that he was saying the Lord's Prayer in Choctaw. But wait: when is the last time an Irishman disembarked at Ft Smith? Mystery. Many tries. Then the "Duh" moment. Rodgers? The power of a "d." And the miracle of his having an older brother in his household in 1900, a brother with a name less common than John and William. The brother did the trick, along with Great Grandpa's saying his parents were born in Tennessee. Not Derry and not Down but Tennessee. Illiterate, but he knew where his parents were born, right? The brother's name led to G G Grandpa John Rogers born in Tennessee around 1824 and living in Perry Tennessee in 1850. Living with Annie (born in Tennessee from parents the same) and small children including the brother who was in the Choctaw Nation in 1900 but not Great Grandpa, born in 1861, we learn from the censuses. But why were Emily (10) and Nancy Cagle (40) living in the household? And why was 10 year old George Bandy living with John and Annie? And why, in 1860, after the move to Arkansas, was George Bandy (21) still living with them. And is this the George W. Bandy (right age) who enlisted in nearby Ft Smith in 1863 and never came home again?

Was Annie a Bandy? Dempsey and Elizaeth Bandy were the right age to have been the parents of Annie and young George, and they were in the Perry 1840 census and then not in the 1850. Could they have died and left Annie to care for young George? What other Bandy couples died in Perry before 1840?

So, aunt who lived in three centuries but not very long in two of them, what was true in what you said? Red-headed I believe because you, looking as if you were Indian on the Buffalo nickel, absolutely full-blood Choctaw and Cherokee, to all appearances, had red hair as a child and a red-headed father. Irishman? Nah. He probably heard that he was Scotch-Irish but did not know what the term meant and mumbled it down to "Irish." Those Tennessee Rodgerses were Scotch-Irish like most of the other inhabitants there.

So that's where we stop--with the older John Rogers born in Tennessee around 1824. He was in Arkansas in 1860 but of course by 1870 he had disappeared. Think jayhawkers, bushwhackers, guerrillas, border ruffians, and Yankee and Confederate troops. How many Southern men left no trace! Think of G Grandpa Roger's wife's grandfather, shot to death as he tried to cross a river in Arkansas.

Anna or Anne or Annie is still intriguing. Will a Bandy step forward with an explanation for young George's being part of the household from his childhood until the start of the War? Was Annie a Bandy?

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