by Jess Nevins
This is the third in a series of articles derived from a diary, found in Angleton, Texas, detailing a previously-unknown set of relations to the Wold Newton Family. The home site for these articles is the Wold Newton Home Page.
America’s past contains any number of legendary figures, from the Paladin to the Lone Ranger. And some attention has been paid to these figures, as witness Dr. D. Power’s article in the Journal of Meteoric Studies. But to date little attention has been paid to several curious figures whose feats, though notable, have sadly been forgotten. Thanks to the indefatigable MN and his never-ending research, I’m now able to bring you information on them and to show that the family tree of some prominent 20th century members of the Wold Newton Family actually stretches back two centuries and more....
Part 3: "Reach For Yuh
Genealogical Charts, Stranger!"
An Extraordinary Family of the Wold West
(MN appends a note to the sheaf of papers he scribbled his findings on: “This was a mental kidney stone.”)
Although the common conception of America’s “Old West” is that it begins sometime after the Civil War and ends sometime before 1890, the truth is that the Old West of America’s imagination is greatly at odds with the historical reality of America’s frontier during the decades before, during and after its Civil War. The history of America’s frontier during those decades is far more complex than is commonly understood. But no land begins as a cipher; all places have long histories, even if only in the geographic sense. America did not begin with the Old West, and the history of its frontier extends far beyond the locales of its West and the latter half of the 19th century. And like the land, some members of the extended Wold Newton Family who are commonly associated with America’s Old West have family histories that long precede the decades of the Old West. In fact, a number of figures have a common predecessor, as this article will show.
It should be noted, at the beginning,
that what MN writes contradicts or substantially alters much that was previously
written. However, MN believes (and I agree) that his contradictions are
not only factually supported but borne out by logic, and that those authors
whose work he contradicts or alters were mistaken or misinformed.
After Solomon’s death the ten tribes of the north seceded from Israel, so that Israel was two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah, in the south, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the kingdom of Samaria, in the north, with Shechem as its capital. In the year 3038, or 722 BCE in the Christian reckoning, Sargon II conquered the kingdom of Samaria and led the Jews of the ten tribes into exile and slavery.
Now, what happened to the ten tribes is not known for sure. The Talmud says several things on this. Some scholars say that the ten tribes were assimilated into the people among whom they were exiled, and so lost their identity and faith. Other scholars, including the prophet Ezekiel, say that men and women of the ten tribes survived and joined with the people of Judah during the Babylonian exile.
Among the traditions of the B----- family1 is that they are descended from the family of Amnon, first-born of David’s sons. During the Babylonian exile the B----- family became merchants along the Red Sea. By the 12th century they were active as far north as France and England, owning their own ships and trading “divers goods” with “goyim and paynim.” In the winter of 1192 the oldest son of the B----- family, Isaac, was making for Marseilles with a ship fully laden when he encountered a vicious winter storm. Isaac was forced to jettison his cargo to ensure that the ship reached safe harbor. Once in Marseilles he was forced to sell the ship to survive, leaving Isaac and his daughter Rebecca with barely enough money to survive. For the next year they made their way across France and into England, plying their trade. Once in England they were befriended by Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a knight, Crusader, and supporter of King Richard the Lionhearted. Sir Wilfred and Rebecca were quite taken with each other, but societal pressures led Sir Wilfred to marry the Lady Rowena (a direct descendant of Alfred the Great). Isaac and the heart-broken Rebecca left England, traveling to Grenada, where Aaron, Isaac’s younger brother, was viewed with favor by Mohammed Boabdil, the King of Grenada.
This is well known, for Sir Wilfred's biographer described this in his 19th century biography of Sir Wilfred's life. However, what is not so well known is what happened after the wedding of Rowena and Sir Wilfred. Rowena's virtue and righteousness became, in the language of the time, "o'erweening," and after endless arguments and fights Sir Wilfred's will was broken (as sometimes happens in marriages), leaving him a willow before her the gusts of will, to be blown this way and that as she wished. Fortunately for Sir Wilfred, Rowena developed consumption in 1201 and died, thus freeing him to go in search of Rebecca. Rowena, before she died, had demanded that he should never marry a "Jewess."2 Sir Wilfred had acceded to this demand. Sir Wilfred found Rebecca in France, and the biography which relates this tale says that she converted to Christianity and accompanied him to England, where they lived out their days, happily ever aftering.
However, the archives of the B------ family tell a different story. Rebecca, they say, would never convert, not with the relative ease described in the popular biography. Indeed, she was offered the opportunity earlier, in 1194, and refused, reportedly saying, “No, lady, that may not be. I may not change the faith of my fathers like a garment unsuited to the climate in which I seek to dwell, and unhappy, lady, I will not be. He, to whom I dedicate my future life, will be my comforter, if I do His will." It would have been unthinkable for a strong-willed Jewish woman to convert, in 1194, to Christianity solely for the sake of marriage. It would have meant turning her back on thousands of years of tradition and abandoning her family, to move to a land where she would never be truly accepted and which in 1201 already had a tradition of anti-Semitism. The blood libel was common in the 12th century, and by 1201 there had already been four notable massacres of Jews: in 1146 the Jews of Norwich had been accused of torturing a boy in imitation of the sufferings of Christ; in 1160 the Jews of Gloucester faced the same charge; in 1181 a child named Robert was supposedly sacrificed for Passover at Bury St. Edwards; and in 1192 a child was supposedly crucified in Winchester. In each case the local Jews were blamed and attacked, tortured, raped and killed.
Yet Rebecca did move back to England, and lived with Sir Wilfred in his fief of Ivanhoe3 for the rest of their days together. What prompted her to move, in the face of sure familial disapproval?
Simply this: it was Sir Wilfred who converted. He was no longer the strong-willed warrior of his early days; marriage to Rowena had put paid to that. He was now a mature, modest man more interested in a happy marriage than in winning glory at feats of arms. Such a person would convert if it meant being in love.
However, they could not be Jews in England, not during the those years. So they pretended to be Christians while secretly remaining practicing Jews, becoming marranos and passing the faith of Rebecca’s fathers on to their children. This their children did as well, down through the decades and centuries, successfully carrying out one of the greatest deceptions in English history.
The next member of the B----- clan to draw notice was Alleyne Edricson. The child of Edgar the Franklin, Alleyne was educated at “Cambrig” before adventuring with the famous Sir Nigel Loring in France in 1348. Afterwards he served faithfully and well under the second Richard and the fourth Henry, winning the honor of the Garter, spending many years at Windsor, and winning acclaim from all who knew him. No one, not even Sir Nigel, suspected that he was actually Jewish, although his rash statement, in an English inn, that he was more comfortable speaking Hebrew than French was surely a giveaway.
One very prominent member of the B----- family, whose faith was always well- hidden beneath several layers of outrageous statements and behavior, was "Lord Flash Heart," the notorious adventurer and intimate of Queen Elizabeth. (The image on the right is a photo of Brigader General F. Heart, Lord Heart's descendant. The photo was taken during World War One, when Brigadier General served at the front lines and on various missions behind enemy lines) Lord Heart, whose real name was Gavriel B-----, was extremely active in the war against Spain, taking up arms in the Netherlands to aid the Dutch in their revolt against King Phillip II of Spain. Heart was also active with the English fleet during the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Finding life in England too dull during the Twelve Years Truce, he moved to the Netherlands with his wife and settled there, raising a great crop of children and becoming active with the Dutch East India Company. His brother Adam Heart (Bechor B-----) stayed behind in England and bought into the shipping industry. We will pick up the story of the Hearts later.
The B-----s in England continued to prosper. They watched with interest as the English, becoming aware of the New World, sought in the 1570s to find the Northwest Passage to China. Efforts to colonize the new lands began in 1584, with Sir Walter Raleigh’s trip to Virginia, but colonies were not successfully founded until Jamestown, in 1607, and Plymouth, in 1620.
Or so the history books tell us. The B----- archives, however, tell a different story.
The history books say that English efforts to found colonies before 1607 were unsuccessful, and that the first successful colony was in Jamestown, Virginia. They are incorrect. According to the history books, the 1607 colony in Maine was abandoned in 1608. The accounts of the B----- family have evidence to contradict this.
In May of 1607 two ships unloaded settlers at the mouth of the Kennebec River. 28 of those settlers were Jews (enough for a minyan), near and distant cousins and marranos all. They were led by "John and Mary Simpson," aka Rabbi David Rottstein (1577-1651) and Erica Rottstein (1579-1653), of the London Rottsteins (a 14th century offshoot of the B----- clan). These settlers, like their fellow English in Virginia, were not Puritans, but ordinary Englishmen. They tried to make the best of their situation, hunting and farming unfamiliar lands and attempting with only limited success to befriend the Penobscots, the dominant local tribe. However, when the ships arrived in Maine the following spring and took the other settlers away, the Jews did not go with them, instead sneaking into the woods and eluding searchers.
What happened after that can only be guessed, but from the available evidence the Jews of Maine, led by the Rottsteins, managed to survive and bear children, slowly moving to the south, some becoming farmers and others taking up various trades. The second generation married other Jews of the colony and some also married Penobscots and converted them to Judaism. The unbroken presence of Jews and B----- descendants in Maine since then shows this.
However, the family's luck began to change, starting in 1643. Exactly what occurred then is unknown, and the B----- archives contain only a passing reference to "Ye Blafphemy of the Waterf." But MN's interview with the eldest B----- brother revealed an oral tradition in the B----- family. Apparently Shlomo Simpson (1610-1675), the youngest son of Rabbi Rottstein, ventured too far south in search of game, perhaps following the course of the Manuxet River in search of good fishing grounds, and was present when what later became Innsmouth, Massachusetts was discovered and founded. The folklore of the B----- family has it that Shlomo stayed in the area, along the beach, after sunset, and saw something that he should not have seen, some sight that Mankind itself should never see. This apparently drove Shlomo mad, or at least partially so, and after this event he kept himself apart from the other B-----s and married a woman from the Arkham tribe.4 Shlomo raised his children in a faith of his own, a bastardization of Judaism and the local faith, and so for the purposes of this article the Simpsons will be considered a separate branch of the B----- family.
In 1675 the Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts were finally provoked beyond reason by the persistent proselytizing of John Eliot among the Cape Cod Indians; the Wampanoags saw Eliot’s actions as an attack on their power. Philip, the eldest son of Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, contacted the chiefs of the other native peoples, from what later became Maine to Connecticut, and began a series of border attacks on white settlements in what became known as King Philip’s War (1675-1676). These actions later expanded to become full-fledged attacks on white holdings in Deerfield. White counter-attacks on the stronghold of the Narragansetts, near Kingston, Rhode Island, inflicted heavy losses on the Narragansetts’ side, and after the deaths of Chief Canonchet of the Narragansetts, in April 1676, and King Philip, in August 1676, the war was ended.
This war has been adequately covered in the history books. One aspect of it which has not usually received a great deal of attention has been the role of the Mohican people in the war. They allied with the English and fought against the Pokanokets, the Narragansetts, and the Wampanoags. It is recorded in the contemporary accounts and diaries that two figures in particular stood out in the battles, being extremely active in the running battles and night-time fights along the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coast. These two men were Peter Simpson, commonly called “Single Eye,” and Assawomset, a Mohican.
Simpson (1650-1699?) was the son of Shlomo, and inherited more than his name. Shlomo (according to the folklore of the B----- family) gained a violent, even sadistic streak after the Innsmouth event. He also gained a genetic deformity, a warping of the facial structure around the eyes. This led to the right eye being customarily dilated, with the orbital bone around the right eye being widened much further than normal.
Simpson’s activities during the war reflected his warped nature; he was more savage than the natives he fought against.5 The B----- tradition says that it was Assawomset who restrained many of Simpson’s more evil impulses, and that after the war Assawomset parted from Simpson, having discharged his debt to Simpson (reportedly saving his life after Simpson saved his, years before) and returned to the Mohican lands. Assawomset was the eldest son of the Sagamore or “chief” of the Mohicans, and on his father’s death succeeded him as the Sagamore of the Mohicans. Assawomset’s son was Unamis, the “Turtle,” who was the Lenape or “chief of chiefs” of the Mohicans, during the declining years of the Mohican people. Unamis’ eldest son was Chingachgook, the so-called “last of the Mohicans,” who gained some fame for his activities with his sons Uncas and Natty Bumppo against the French during the King George’s War (1743-1748). (The image on the right is an artist's representation of Natty Bumppo finding Chingachgook's grave, many years later)
Simpson continued his life of warfare,
fighting for the Mohicans in their war against the Wampanoags in the Assabet
Valley in Massachusetts. The Assabet valley, at its northeastern tip, is
not far from modern day Arkham. Simpson seems to have visited not just
Arkham but also Innsmouth and to have fished in the Miskatonic on more
than one occasion. The effects of these acts on him and his genes can only
be imagined. He finally disappears from the historical record in 1699.
His children left Massachusetts for points west sometime around the turn
of the 18th century. We will return to their story later.
The B-----s, meanwhile, continued to prosper, having survived King Philip's War in good fashion and expanded farther to the south and west. In 1702 Rabbi Rottstein's eighth great-grandson, Daniel (1681-1703), was hunting along the Hudson River when he made the acquaintance of Malaeska, a Mohican. They quickly fell in love and married, living a happy life in the Catskill Mountains. She bore him a son, "Richard" (1702-1720), but the boy was barely a year old when Daniel, known to his Christian friends in New York as "Danforth," was attacked and mortally wounded by a group of Iroquois. Malaeska found him as he lay dying. He had not yet converted her, putting this off because of his love for her,6 and it was only when she found him, fatally wounded, that he urged her to go to the local Jewish settlement and find "Martha Fellows," a friend of Daniel's family, and to convert to his faith there.
Unfortunately for Malaeska, Daniel’s death was only the first of several sadnesses for her. Daniel’s father, “Jonathan Reede” (aka Rabbi Abraham Rottstein (1655-1743)), refused to acknowledge Malaeska’s claim to “Richard,” and she was forced to relinquish the boy to the “Reedes.” She then returned to her clan of Mohicans, but they condemned her to death for her dalliance with and marriage to Daniel/Danforth. She was given into the care of Nomoo, a Sagamore of the Mohicans, with the understanding that he would put her to death. He was an old suitor of hers, however, and instead first urged her to flee, offering supplies and a canoe, and then, on hearing that she wished to die, proposed marriage to her. Her response, according to B----- legend, was “He (meaning Daniel–Jess) is yonder, in the great hunting-ground, waiting for Malaeska to come. Could she go blushing from another chief’s wigwam?” Malaeska then threw herself into the river and drowned.
Richard grew up and became involved with Rachel S----------, but before they were to be married was killed in a night attack by a group of Iroquois in 1720. Rachel was already pregnant by him, however, and gave birth to their son, Mark, in 1719. Rachel and Mark, along with Rachel’s new husband, “David Morgan” (his real name is unknown), moved north and east, to New Hampshire. Mark married Esther (last name unknown) in 1755, and she bore him a son, “Eugene” (actually Seth), to whom we will return presently.
Back in England, meanwhile, Adam Heart’s descendant, Benjamin “Hart”7, did not follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, but began adventuring, perhaps deliberately in imitation of his great-great-great-great-grand-uncle Flash or perhaps from some genetic wanderlust. (Benjamin’s younger brother Richard seems to have been inspired by Benjamin’s actions, for he also began adventuring, coming to a sorry end but gaining much fame and notoriety meanwhile as “Dick Turpin.”8) Benjamin was active as a privateer and adventurer in the war against Spain (1739-1748) and in the war with France (1756-1763). He served alongside Robert Clive in the seizure of Arcot in 1751, aided Watson and Clive in the retaking of Calcutta and liberation of the infamous "Black Hole" in 1757, and helped take Pondicherry from the French in 1761.
Hart sold his share of the booty and treasure and bought himself a fast and well-armed brig. He hired a crew of men who he’d served with and trusted, and set out for Africa, to do some “treasure-hunting.” It was in Cairo that he encountered the noted explorer the Baronet Sir Wade Jermyn. The two hit it off immediately, and when Jermyn mentioned that he was going in search of the fabled “city of the white apes” in Congo, Hart instantly volunteered his services.
The two reached the mouth of the Congo River in late 1763 and forged up the river, accompanied by Hart’s crew and certain local guides. They reached the Oubang River and then made for the northwest, apparently following the course of the Sangha River. After two weeks of hacking their way through dense jungle they began to come under constant attack by the Kongo, Teke, Sanga, Twa, and N’bangu peoples, who felt that Jermyn and Hart were going into areas they had no business venturing into. Hart and Jermyn pressed on and persevered despite losing half the party, eventually finding a ruined city of great antiquity, consisting of strange, crumbling buildings of a peculiar grey stone.
At this point Hart’s diary (read by MN in the B----- family archives) grows vague. He simply says that, guided by some impulse he could not explain, he refused to enter the city, but instead camped on its outskirts. Jermyn ventured farther, insisting on exploring what he called the “treasure-vaults and...catacombs.” Something occurred that night that split the party. Hart saw something he would not commit to paper, something that caused him to flee the city at daybreak. Hart returned home and concealed himself in his room in the family estate. He refused all contact with other members of his family and hung himself a month later, dying without issue. Jermyn, for his part, returned home with a strange wife and stranger child. In 1764 he wrote his now-infamous book Observation on the Several Parts of Africa, notable for the lack of credit or acknowledgment given to Benjamin Hart.9 In 1765 he was committed to the madhouse at Huntingdon.
In 1779, in a suburb of London, Deborah “Frances” Reade fell in love with Charles Ross. Ross was a poor but honest soldier, handsome and good-natured despite his humble beginnings. Reade was the daughter of the Reades of London, the direct descendants of the Rottsteins who birthed Rebbe David almost two hundred years before. Deborah was beautiful and very desirable, but her parents forbade her to have anything to do with Ross, who was a soldier and a goy besides. This simply spurred her onward. Unfortunately, the regiment that Ross belonged to was ordered to Canada to aid the English troops in the campaign in New York State.
Ross was able to see Deborah one last time before he left, and the pair swore eternal fidelity to each other. Deborah promised that if he could not return to her, she would go to him, and together make a home in America. On being told that her family expected her to marry an older man, she began scheming, and within the week was dressed as a man, had shorn her hair, and booked passage, under the name “Frank Reade,” on a merchant vessel bound for Quebec.
After a number of adventures she was united with Charles, and the pair married. Their union did not last long, unfortunately. During the war he had been poisoned, and she had sucked the poison from his wound. This partially poisoned her, and she began to decline in health almost immediately. They lived together for four years in Johnstown, New York, but when her condition could no longer be hidden from Charles, she was forced to tell him why she was dying, and the news broke his heart; he fell into a faint and died without recovering consciousness. She returned to her family in London and obtained their forgiveness, finally dying in 1783. She was survived by two sons, Abraham and Tobias. We will return to them.
“Eugene Morgan,” actually Seth Morgan, the son of Rachel S---------- and Daniel Rottstein, took part in the war against the British, as any good American did at the time. He left his sweetheart Mary Haverland behind to do so. Seth fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and was reported to have been killed in the battle. He was actually only wounded, but Haverland was told that “Eugene” had been killed. She soon married another man, a deserter from the American cause. Seth meanwhile recovered and returned to service, acting as a scout for Colonel Ethan Allen. While at war he learned of Mary’s marriage, and after the Revolution, when he’d built a crude home in southern New Hampshire, he investigated, posing as “Seth Jones,” the “daown-East scout from New Hampshire.” Seth saved the lives of Mary, her brother Alfred, and Alfred’s daughter Ina, fighting off several Mohawk attacks, and after an extended adventure through western New York in 1785 was reunited with Mary and married her.
Unfortunately, Seth had in large part the B----- wanderlust, and was the second notable example of what will quickly become a sadly-familiar pattern. Put simply, Seth was incapable of staying in one place or with one woman for very long, and while he was not as infamously unreliable a husband as Lord Flash Heart or Seth’s descendant, “Deadwood Dick,” it was not through lack of trying. Seth had a son, Solomon, by Mary, but left them in 1787 and moved north. While carrying out a mission for the American military in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1780 he’d had a brief dalliance with Amy Slick, the daughter of a local businessman. She’d born two sons from this match, Samuel and Nathan. Seth apparently thought, after leaving Mary Haverland, that he would visit Amy and see how his sons were growing. Unfortunately he did not anticipate the reception Amy’s father gave him, and he was arrested and thrown in jail. Further investigations have failed to turn up any evidence of his whereabouts after that.
Seth’s son Sam grew up to be a figure of no small renown in Nova Scotia. Sam Slick quickly became beloved by all who knew him, and grew up to become a detective and adventurer in Nova Scotia, an attaché to England, a fisheries agent in Nova Scotia, and finally a well-respected judge and Nova Scotian institution, dying in 1860.
Next: The 19th Century
1This family is still extant, with living members in Toronto, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and Maine. MN spoke with the eldest brother and gained access to the family archives for this article, but only on condition that they not be fully identified.
2This demand is somewhat curious, as Sir Wilfred was already married to Rowena and a divorce would never be granted to Sir Wilfred unless it could be shown that Rowena was unfaithful to him–and Sir Wilfred, at this time extremely henpecked, would never make the request for a divorce. However, even in Sir Wilfred’s biography evidence can be found of Rowena’s insecurity with regard to Jessica, an insecurity which events bore out.
3 The exact location of “Ivanhoe” is not known. However, a reasonable supposition is that modern “Ivinghoe” is a corruption of the original “Ivanhoe.” Ivinghoe is located near Dunstable, in Bedfordshire.
4This group of natives was not a true “tribe,” consisting of a separate ethnic group, in the way that the Penobscots and the Narragansets were, but rather was made up of renegades from other native peoples who banded together in parts of Massachusetts, specifically the Arkham-Innsmouth area, for religious reasons.
5It might be said in his defense that the death of his father at the beginning of the war gave him greater incentive to kill the enemy than many of the whites and natives who fought in the war. In 1675 a large band of Pokanokets, Narragansetts, and Wampanoags warriors made a special trip into Innsmouth and Arkham, intent on slaughtering as many of the “Arkham” tribe as they could find. From contemporary accounts it seems that they viewed the faith of the “Arkhams” and of Shlomo Simpson as the local equivalent of devil worship, and so used the war as a pretext to wipe out the “Arkhams.” They did not succeed in this, but they did find Shlomo Simpson and subject him to unusually cruel tortures before finally killing him.
6 This is atypical behavior, needless to say. Usually conversion is required before the marriage will be made official. But Daniel/Danforth seems to have been accustomed to living the rough-and-ready life of the frontier and so had dispensed with most of the customs of Judaism, retaining its spirit but not its particulars.
7 It is not clear when the shift in name took place, although signs point to a renaming during the reign of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector (1653-1658).
8 A further, more detailed account of the life and times of Dick Turpin, along with his friends the Blue Dwarf, Claude Duval, Tom King, and“Sixteen-String Jack” Rann, will be given in an upcoming article, “The Knights of the Road.”
9 MN writes from London that the Royal Anthropological Institute, caretakers of the Jermyn papers following the unfortunate fire at Jermyn House in August 1913, scoffed at the idea of Sir Wade being accompanied by anyone on his trek through the Congo. However, the Institute has flatly refused to admit the existence of the unfortunate Arthur Jermyn, direct and last descendant of Sir Wade, and, all things being considered, the B----- archives are to be considered more reliable than the Institute’s.
In the Beginning
The 19th Century
Appendices and Bibliography