Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day 2011

Thanks to an online July 4th promotional event  at and the good offices of my distant cousin Howard Mitchell in Illinois, a far more assiduous genealogist than I shall ever be, I received from him this weekend a document concerning my original American ancestor, Rudolph Hines.

The document below shows that Rudolph emigrated from Prussia in 1733 and ultimately wound up on a frontier settlement in the Ohio Territory, where he died in 1823. He had a daughter named Mary Hines, who married John Mitchell, the son of my patrilinear ancestor from Scotland,  who appeared on these shores in 1782.

Of enduring importance is the fact that Rudolph Hines, born Rudolf Heintz, fought in the Brandywine-Germantown campaigns of 1777,  rendering him not only obnoxious to British forces similarly engaged, but significant also to a number of his own descendants (who by this time number in the hundreds: families were of course huge in those days), and especially to those seeking admission to the exclusive “Sons of the American  Revolution” organization. Thus for example an application from a distant relative named Sherman Strong, who applied for entry on July 12, 1880:

Clicking embiggens.

All of this quite delights me. Even though I share I think only 1/128th of Rudolph’s genetic material, I am convinced that this documentary evidence explains why I majored in German at Boston University, and subsequently spent a total of 13 years living in Germany, preferring Berlin above all other places and Prussia’s Glory above other German military marches.

But despite my demonstrable eligibility, I shall not seek acceptance in the Sons of the American Revolution, which I suppose is as close as we get to hereditary aristocracy in this country. Perhaps such attitudes may have induced Rudolph to leave Germany and fight for American independence in the first place. Anyway, the circumstances of my life require that I view myself as the son of a thoroughly different revolution than the one envisioned and eternally memorialized by the Sons or the Daughters of the American Revolution.


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