Saturday, August 8, 2009

An unlikely comparison

I thought I would do something a little different for this blog, so here we are. I thought I would compare an ancestor(s) to a famous person who lived at the same time, approximately, and the daily "This Day in History" item on my blog provided me a famous person, Frances II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Francis Joseph Charles, his full name, known as Frances II (Frances I of Austria), Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia, was born February 12, 1768, in Florence and died in Vienna March 2, 1835.

Now, from my family I chose three, (1) Asahel (a great-great-great-great-grandfather), born March 23, 1729, in Simsbury, Connecticut, died July 22, 1809, in Norfolk, Connecticut. (2) One of his 13 children, Joseph, born July 23, 1753, Norfolk, Conn., died August 10, 1804, Austinburg, Ohio, and (3) James, one of Joseph's ten children, born 5 May 1794, Norfolk, Conn., died in 1858, Manti, Utah.

All, as far as I could determine, had a happy childhood, inlcuding Francis II, but his was strictly contolled and regimented by his uncle, the Emperor Joseph, and his father, Leopold II, who became Emperor upon the death of Joseph. When Francis I took over, he took Austria into the French Revolution (1789-99) and did nothing to help his aunt, Marie Antoinette, get out of the mess she was in. All told, he fought against France four times, the final one being on the side of the victors. He was the last of the Holy Roman Emperors.

Asahel fought in the American Revolution as a Lieutenant and Captain, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence (1776) and freedom from the British Empire. Joseph, his son, left his hometown of Norfolk and was one of the first settlers of Austinburg, Ohio (1801), but died a short three years later while assisting some travelers across a river in his canoe, having suffered a heart attack, I presume. And Joseph's son, James, left Austinburg sometime in the 1840's, I guess, or late 1830's, and got a job as a farmer, being hired by the Indian Agent for the Pawnees in Nebraska to teach the Indians farming. In 1847, the Brigham Young party having been kicked out of Nauvoo, Illinois, for being Mormon, took James in as a Captain of 10 wagons on the famous trek to the Salt Lake valley, and he ended up among the first to settle in the town of Manti, Utah.

Anyway, while the term of the last Holy Roman Emperor was coming to an end, he died in 1835, James was growing dissatisfied with his life in Ohio and decided to move on West. Or, being a good Presbyterian, he took a job as an assistant of some sort to a Reverend who was assigned to the Pawnee and Oto Indians. James went West and became a member of the Latter Day Saints church.

I don't know what became of the descendants of Francis II, but I guess I could find out, if only I had enough time. I have enough trouble trying to keep up with my own relatives, and while Francis I was living in castles and luxury, my choices were living in log cabins and wooden houses. Not to worry though, my choices were living in a place where they could make their own minds up about what they did or where they lived, whereas poor Francis I was stuck in a world of pressures and unseen forces telling him all the time what to do next.

That was a pretty weak comparison, but maybe I can do better next time within a limited amount of space.

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