I Know Who I Am
Several miles from where I grew up, and about the same distance from where I now live, there is a flow of water beside State Route 83 known as Butler’s Spring. It’s a couple of miles north of Holmesville and most of my life, if you looked real close (and quick) as you drove by, you could notice a small white cross a few feet up the hill from the spring. Today, you’ll see a plaque.
On May 30, 1782, a group of soldiers from Crawford’s Expedition Against Sandusky camped there. One of them took sick and died. Twenty one year old Philip Smith helped dig the grave with his tomahawk. The other soldiers used their tomahawks to build a coffin from barrel staves [puncheons].
Four days later they fought in the ill-fated Battle of Sandusky, where they were routed by the Indians when the British showed up from Detroit to reinforce them. Philip Smith ran for his life. He was shot in the elbow in a shootout with an Indian and was lost without food, horse or weapon for over a week while he tried to find his way back home. He made it safely to Mingo Bottom (Steubenville) ten days later. Colonel Crawford was captured and tortured to death as revenge for the massacre of the innocent Moravian Indians, which had taken place just two months before in the village of Gnadenhutten.
The reason I mention this bit of local history is because in my recent genealogy search I discovered that Philip, the grave digger, is my fourth great-grandfather! He fought with Colonel Crawford! He knew Simon Girty! He was a pioneer settler of Ohio!*
I have known about that spring and the legend of a soldier buried there since I was a boy, and now I learn that I have a family connection to the soldier who died there 234 years ago, five miles from where I was born! A connection to history!
My family doesn’t seem to care about family history. When I visited the village of Königsbach, in Baden, Germany, where great-great-grandfather, Adam Schmid was born, I brought home a book of the village and Schmid relatives to show my Dad. He yawned. The rest of the family showed similar excitement. I’m guessing that a good percentage of you who are reading this are asking the same question my family seems to ask about genealogy: “So what?!”
I ask that myself: Why am I so anxious to find out who my ancestors were? Who cares? What difference does is make? I can answer you in three words: “I don’t know.” But I remember the feeling I got the first time I gazed at the gravestone of my great-great grandparents. “I am somebody.” “I came from somewhere.” “I belong.” Did those feelings have validity? I just know that’s what I felt.
Reverend Alvin Kanagy once preached on genealogy and made this statement: “The people who know who they are, where they came from, and where they belong, are usually the most stable citizens in any given community.” Right now I’m feeling real stable.
Of course, the important thing is not who you are and where you came from, but Whose you are and where you are going. I plan to stop at the battle memorial the next time I go through Upper Sandusky, where great-grandpa got routed by the Delaware, Wyandot and Shawnee. I have been to great-great grandpa Adam’s home town in Germany. I will continue to be curious about my ancestors and see what I can learn.
But more than that, I am a child of the King. And if you want to check out my genealogy there, look at Matthew 1:1-16. Verse 17 doesn’t say it, but that where I fit in: “...Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is the Christ.” [and is a brother (and Savior) of John Schmid. That’s my Brother! (and Savior). God is my Father. I am somebody! Talk about stable!
“…command certain men not to… devote themselves to… endless genealogies.” I Tim. I:4 (Mine aren’t endless) *
From An Historical Account of the Expedition Against Sandusky in 1782 by C.W. Butterfield, 1873 pp.86, 126, 166, 168
I once sang a country song in a prison chapel called, “Rosemary’s Granddaughter.”
The New Testament begins with a genealogy. There are several long genealogy lists throughout scripture. I got curious about my blood line (genealogy) at around 40 years of age, even though Paul urged Timothy to command certain men not to “devote themselves to endless genealogies. These promote controversies…”
My excuse is that my study is not endless and I don’t think I’m causing controversies. Interestingly, the cabin of Lydia’s sixth great-grandfather, Jacob Hochstetler, was attacked in 1757, and even though the Indians shot at them and set fire to their cabin to flush them out, Jacob refused to allow his expert marksman sons to use their guns. “We don’t shoot at a man.”
Mrs. Hochstetler was killed and Jacob and his son were taken captive. There’s more to the story, but I find it fascinating that my ancestors fought the Indians; Lydia’s ancestors refuse to take up arms even though it cost them their lives.