M is for Maritime Crimes- Piracy!

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Piracy was America’s first encounter with organized crime. The golden age of piracy was from mid-1600 to the early 1700’s and flourished in the areas of the West Indies and colonial America.

The economy of Europe’s superpowers suffered greatly because of piracy but it was viewed differently in the New World. The Navigation Acts of the 1600’s were passed to strengthen England by restricting her colonies from commerce with other European nations. This had the effect of creating a black market, opening the door to maritime crimes.

Colonial merchants felt burdened with the prospect of paying exorbitant prices for English goods and also desired access to a wider variety of goods smuggled into the colonies from other nations.

Local colonial economies benefited from dealing with pirates or privateers. Many harbors exacted a per man fee for a pirate vessel to dock, and their local economies were bolstered as the crew came ashore to purchase foods, gunpowder, supplies and alcohol from local merchants. Pirates enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity as they strolled down the streets of New England.

Some historians believe that pirates, working with colonial officials, helped England hold onto the American colonies. Spain gave up some of its American empire just to get pirating of its cargo ships to stop. Indian and black slaves who were greatly oppressed by the Spanish in the Caribbean gave pirates inside information on where to dock ships and find supplies. Those who fled plantations were welcomed to join the crew on pirate ships.

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William Kidd, one of the most notorious pirates, started out as a privateer and was hired by European sovereign nations to attack foreign ships. History views him as more of a privateer who worked on behalf of the English until he went rogue on his final trip. Kidd and his crew attacked the Quadegh Merchant, a large Armenian ship carrying vast amounts gold, silk, spices, and other riches. With that ill-fated action, Kidd found himself on the wrong side with the British government. An influential minister was part owner of the cargo. When news about Kidd’s attack reached the minister, he complained to the East India Company. Kidd was brought from Boston to London and hanged in 1701. As a warning to other pirates, his body was covered in pitch and hung in a cage for twenty years for all sailors to see along the River Thames.

L is for Lists of Criminal Acts

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Yes, there were crimes during the Puritan era, but weren’t the Puritans a group of virtuous people with only noble qualities? The original colonists certainly intended to live saintly lives as they left England in 1630 with noble concepts. They envisioned their immigrants would be an example of righteous living for the rest of the world. The governor, John Winthrop, clearly articulated their purpose: “We shall be as a city upon a hill; the eyes of all people are upon us.”  

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Travel Back to Your Roots- now on Amazon!

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Travel Back to Your Roots has just been released on Amazon.com. My goal in writing this book was to inspire others who wish to research their European immigrant ancestors and hopefully discover cousins back in the old country.

Travel Back to Your Roots is for beginning genealogists and those who may not know how to make the jump over the pond to research parish and village or town records in Europe. The reader will learn how to first find the necessary US census, church, and immigration records before tackling those in European churches and archives.

One chapter on immigration will give the reader insight into the reasons for immigration and details the Ellis Island experience to better understand our ancestors’ bravery and the struggles they encountered.

I’m optimistic you will have success in your research and therefore have chapters to explain how to find living descendants in Europe and then how to contact them. The reader will also learn how to plan a budget-friendly ancestral heritage trip.

Finally, another chapter explains how to self-publish beautiful and professional family history books and genealogies at no cost using Create Space. Check out my Amazon site to see examples of these types of books.

Starting genealogy just four years ago, I been able to go back to the 1700’s in the European records with seven out of eight of our immigrant ancestors (Polish, Swedish, and German.) I also found three groups of cousins in Poland and Sweden and was enthusiastically welcomed to visit them in 2014 and 2016. They all exemplified the saying “A Guest in the House is God in the House.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1541099982/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483640445&sr=8-2&keywords=donna+gawell

Please ask questions!

K is for Keeping the Wrong Kind of Company

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Woe to those unwise Puritans who hung out with the wrong crowd. Community leaders had little patience for dissent and were apt to punish any behavior they considered deviant. The church and civil authorities were pretty much the same group of people, and they placed a high premium on religious and social conformity.

Authorities meted out punishments for what they considered undesirable social behavior, including swearing, drunkenness, idleness, gambling, flirting, and gossiping. Drinking was permissible, but excessive alcohol use was a punishable crime

Other punishable crimes included failure to attend church, outspoken criticism of church authority figures, and desecration of the Sabbath. The Puritans considered non-normative sexual practices ranging from extramarital relations and sodomy to bestiality as sinful, criminal, and deserving of swift punishment.

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J is for Judges of the Salem Witchcraft Trials

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It is in our human nature to blame others for our own troubles, and the Puritans in New England were no different.  Numerous problems beset the Massachusetts Colony, and the community sought to uncover the cause of their plight. The contemporary thinking was that  God was angry with the Puritans and had sent Satan to test their faith.

God did indeed test the Puritans’ beliefs and convictions. The disastrous wars with the Native populations and the “Papist” French had taken their toll, not only with mounting causalities but also economic decline. Extreme weather, crop failure, increased taxes and inflation combined with an unstable government and uncertainty with a new governor.

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I is for Indentured Servants

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   Ancestry from the Great Migration Period in America is one that many family researchers seek to claim.  This period includes the time between the Pilgrim’s landing in Plymouth to about 1640.  In reality, about 80% of the total immigration from Great Britain and the continent prior to the Revolutionary War were indentured servants.

     Indentured servants could be sold during their indenture and were in about the same situation as a slave except they would be released after the agreed upon time, usually 5-7 years. Even this could be extended if the servant violated a term of their contract.  For example, if a woman became pregnant, extra time would be added to her contract.  Criminal behavior or running away had the same consequence.

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H is for Heresy

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     The use of governmental powers to protect their faith was perhaps the most import   concern for the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The men and women who founded this colony believed that theirs was one true faith, one true way to worship, and that it was possible to determine the path of truth.

     With honorable and holy intentions, the Puritans held that it was the church’s duty to persuade those who held erroneous views and warn them of the spiritual and physical dangers the heretic would suffer if they publicly persisted. As a last resort, the heretic would be expelled from the spiritual society by excommunication.

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