Archive for March, 2012

My Irish ancestry

My Irish ancestry
Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I wanted to talk about my Irish ancestry today, given the holiday that we here in America celebrate our Irish heritage with parades and bar crawls. For most of my life, I never knew I was Irish. I was well aware of my English and German lineage growing up but anyone who could have told me about being Irish was long dead by the time I entered the world. As I began doing my genealogy in my 20s, I discovered, much to my surprise, that I am Irish and French in equal parts to being English and German. Not only am I Irish and French but my lineage directly descends from some of the most illustrious families in those countries.

You see, I am a member of the ancient and royal O’Neill clan in Ireland.

It goes like this. My mother’s parents were Samuel Jewett and Lois Heald. Lois Heald’s parents were Normand Heald and Esther Newell. Esther Newell’s parents were Benjamin Newell and Nellie Rulon. Benjamin Newell’s parents were Thomas Newell and Sarah Jane Mock. Thomas Newell’s parents were Thomas Newell Sr. and Rosannah McIlheny.

Now we get into the Irish people.

Thomas Newell’s maternal side looks like this.

Rosannah McIlheny’s parents were Felix McIlheny (spelling varies as McIlheny or McElhiny) and Jane Orr. Although Jane was born in Massachusetts, Felix was born in Fermanagh, Derry County, Ireland, in 1755. He immigrated to the American Colonies as a child – Pennsylvania, I think – and enlisted in the Revolutionary War at Hopewell, Pennsylvania, in 1775. He was a Corporal in the 6th Pennsylvania Battalion, serving under Captain David Grier, who was under Colonel William Irvine. At the battle of Three Rivers on June 8, 1776, he was captured and held prisoner in Quebec, where he was later paroled from military service on August 9, 1776. A year later, he married Jane and settled in Virginia to have a bunch of babies. Pension application paperwork in 1818 shows that he was living in Kentucky. Soon he moved again to Ohio to be near his daughter and requested that his pension be paid there. He died in Ohio in 1841. It appears that his grandfather, Robert, came from Scotland to Ireland in the 1600s but I haven’t been able to trace the genealogy beyond him.

I think Felix’s mother, Agnes Crawford, was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1719-ish but that means she would have had to go to Ireland in order for Felix to have been born there. Something about that doesn’t strike me as correct but if Felix came from Crawfords on his maternal side, they were Irish as well. It may be as simple as Agnes’ birthplace being recorded incorrectly because everything else matches. Her father was William Crawford of Donegal, Ireland.

Thomas Newell’s paternal side looks like this.

Thomas Newell Sr. was born in 1779 and his parents were Robert N. Newell of Ireland and Christina Williams of Germany (?). He was from Westmorland, Pennsylvania, but married Rosannah McIlheny (as seen above) in Kentucky in 1803. The family states that he was a soldier in the War of 1812 but I haven’t been able to search for documentation yet. After the war, he settled in Ohio and had a brood of children, eventually dying there in 1824.

Robert N. Newell came from Down, Ireland, and he was born in 1749. He came to America at 16 and settled in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, in 1776. He was a weaver by trade and a Presbyterian.

This is where things get a little hairy. The family tree takes an abrupt shift here and says Robert N. Newell’s father was Hugh O’Neall, born in Shanes Castle, Ireland, in 1698. It is said that Hugh came to the American Colonies on a British Navy vessel and jumped ship in Christina, Deleware, and changed the spelling of his name in this country. Allegedly he married Anne Cox and had numerous children. Hugh claimed to have come from the O’Neill clan of Shanes Castle in Ireland, which was a very ancient and royal Irish family. He was third in line to inherit and decided to go to America instead. There are several sources to cite this as correct but it is disputed by other people. I don’t have access to records that could prove or disprove Hugh’s claims. If there were concrete records, it wouldn’t be disputed. We just don’t know for sure. My theory is that “Newell” is a corrupted version of “O’Neall” and that’s how the name changed. They sound similar.

Whether or not I actually am an O’Neill (I think I am), we know for certain that I am a McIlheny and Crawford, which are Irish families.

Now let’s go have a drink.

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Ghosts 101

Ghosts 101
Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

Paranormal activity is not just limited to a ghost going bump in the night. The truth is there are many different types of hauntings that the average person does not understand. I decided to put this basic blog together as an introduction to paranormal phenomena in hopes of clearing up the misconceptions out there for everyone. Knowledge is power and the more you understand about the unseen world, the less likely you are to fear it.

The words people use to describe a haunting have become varied and numerous over the years, including ghosts, spirits, entities, spooks, souls, apparitions, and manifestations. These terms are not as interchangeable as people tend to think, however. What leaves the body when we die is the soul, sometimes called the consciousness as well. The soul is who we are. It’s our personality, our essence, everything we are within the body, and the body is simply the vehicle used to move through this particular lifetime. You are your soul and your soul is you. The body is just a shell. When your body dies and your soul leaves it, the living may still sense your presence. At that point, the word to describe you becomes either ghost, entity, spook or spirit. Those words are interchangeable, although I personally prefer spirit or entity because they don’t quite have the cartoonish connotation that comes with ghost or spook. Spirit is the most universal word to describe the consciousness that exists outside of the body in a haunting situation, while entity is a word that covers any type of paranormal consciousness, especially if you’re not sure about the cause.

An apparition is defined as “an unusual or unexpected sight” and “a ghostly figure”, meaning it’s only appropriate to use that word when you physically see a spirit. Example: “I saw a full-bodied apparition.” That means you physically saw a fully formed figure of a spirit. It’s not correct to say, “I felt the apparition,” or, “I sensed the apparition,” because you would be saying you felt or sensed a visual experience. You either saw an apparition or you felt or sensed a spirit but not both. Along those lines, manifestation is derived from the verb to manifest, meaning “to make evident by showing or displaying”. This word can be used with any of the six (yes, six) senses when a spirit is present. Example: “I saw/felt/smelled/heard/tasted/sensed the manifestation of a spirit.”

As you can see, getting the basic vocabulary correct will be very helpful in describing spirit activity. It’s important to develop continuity in the field so that we are all on the same page and there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications.

In general, spirits can really be divided into two main groups: human and inhuman. A human spirit is a spirit of someone who has previously lived within a human body, while an inhuman spirit is a spirit of something that has never been human and never will be human. Inhuman spirits include demons, angels, sprites, faeries, elementals, etc.

Most people mistake demons for angry human spirits when there are distinct things to consider. Demons are much, much stronger than any human spirit could be, and they are capable of diabolical confusion, oppression and possession. Diabolical confusion is when a person is made confused, foggy and emotionally drained by a demon at a location. Demonic oppression is when a demon literally oppresses people in a location, making them feel depression, influence in doing bad things, etc., which is not unlike diabolical confusion but much worse. Demonic possession is when a demon will literally take over a human body and the human no longer has control over their actions, which will turn violent with knowledge they should not have and languages they have never spoken. It should be made perfectly clear that true demon activity is very, very rare. Angry human spirits can mimic some of the behavior but are not as dangerous and they are easier to cleanse. The demon idea should only be considered after every other possible explanation has been explored.

Most people often call human spirits angels as well, which is not correct. Angels, like demons, are their own species of spiritual entity and they have never been nor will ever be human. People often say, “So-and-so has gone on to be a guardian angel,” but that’s not entirely correct. Yes, spirits of our loved ones do watch over us from time to time but they are not guardian angels. They’re just spirits. There are many, many different types of angels in a hierarchy in the afterlife (or heaven if you prefer that word) and they all have different functions. So remember there is a distinct difference between a human spirit and an angel.

Human and inhuman spirits can then be divided into two categories each: residual or intelligent. To say that someone is experiencing a residual haunting means it’s an imprint of energy on the atmosphere replaying itself over and over again. There is no actual spirit present with residual hauntings – the phenomena is simply caused by repeating cycles of energy left there from a traumatic or important event in the location’s history. Think of a video loop playing over and over again. The people in the video aren’t actually there repeating their actions but the imprint of their images or sounds are still there. It’s an energy problem, not a spirit problem, and residual energy can be imprinted from both human events and inhuman events of good or bad nature. On the flip side, an intelligent haunting is what people typically think of when they think of the paranormal – a human or inhuman spirit that cannot or will not leave a location. Intelligent spirits will interact with other spirits or living people around them. Many of them will respond to provocation.

Being classified as earthbound or visitation will determine whether the intelligent spirit can come and go at will. Earthbound spirits are those who have not moved into the afterlife. They are stuck, for lack of a better word, here in the physical world by choice or because they don’t know they’re dead. When a spirit chooses to stay, it’s usually because they’re afraid of what they’ll find in the afterlife (if they’ve done wrong, for example), they don’t want to leave loved ones behind, or they feel they have unfinished business that needs to be completed before they can go. When a spirit does not choose to stay, it’s usually because they don’t know they’ve died. This most often occurs when death occurs suddenly (in war, for example), or when the body dies in an extreme state of confusion (drug overdoses, for example). There are a lot of reasons why spirits become earthbound and there are a lot of unique exceptions to rules that mean it should be examined on a case by case basis. A spirit making a visitation, however, is a spirit that has moved on to the afterlife but occasionally returns to look in on loved ones or visit places that held meaning in their lives. Visitations to loved ones most often happen in the dream state when our minds are most able to receive such information.

I hope all of this helps you get started in your understanding of the unseen world.

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John Wilkes Booth bobbleheads removed from Gettysburg shop

John Wilkes Booth bobbleheads removed from Gettysburg shop
Posted by Jessica Jewett 3 Comments »

I read an article in the Huffington Post this morning that talked about how a museum shop in Gettysburg was selling a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead but suddenly removed the product from their shelves. No specific reason was given for the removal of the bobblehead but one can only imaging the reason. The Booth bobblehead was displayed in a box designed to look like Ford’s Theater and Booth himself is holding a derringer in his hand.

Here’s my beef with the situation. Every other major Civil War figure, including my former husband, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, has been made into a lucrative junk toy industry in Gettysburg and elsewhere (but it’s especially bad in Gettysburg). You can buy bobbleheads of Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S Grant, Joshua L. Chamberlain, etc. There is no difference in the level of disrespect no matter who the bobblehead is meant to portray. The Civil War in most of the major tourist locations is a booming commercialized machine. I once counted and Joshua L. Chamberlain’s face is used to sell 37 different kinds of junk, from dolls, to clocks, to tote bags, to beer, to cigars, to Legos.

So basically if people are going to moan about a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead, then every other piece of junk sold to trivialize and disrespect that period of American history needs to be pulled from the shelves too. If every other Civil War figure is a bobblehead, then John Wilkes Booth should be too. He was a major figure in the outcome of the war no matter his personal views, mental illnesses, alcoholism, etc. Commercialized junk is universal. There was a doll sold about twenty years ago in Harper’s Ferry that depicted John Brown hanging from the gallows. Really, and people might be offended by a simple bobblehhead?

We cannot pick and choose what parts of the war should be made into commercialized junk and which should not. John Wilkes Booth was not the only racist with extremist views by far. Lincoln himself was quite the racist. All of the men used to sell products today were killers. They all killed men. Many of them were slave owners, alcoholics, and so forth. I am not defending what John Wilkes Booth did by any means, but I am saying that if we’re going to go down the road of commercializing a terrible period of history, then all of the key players should be included. It’s not up to the 21st century American to rewrite or whitewash history. Either make all of it available to the people or remove all of it from the store shelves. Picking and choosing who stays and who goes is giving the 21st century American the power to erase parts of our history because those parts might be politically incorrect now or uncomfortable to consider.

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