Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Claim Your Ancestor #23: From Mr. Carman to a Sicilian Orphan


Florence Fordham was born and married in England during a time of great religious turmoil. 

I'm pretty sure she was Catholic because her name is Fordham and Fordham is a Catholic University, but that could be a leap. 

Another reason I think she's Catholic because she and her husband Mr. Carman came to the Dutch colony of New York before the colony was under the British flag.

Perhaps her family was fleeing economic and social persecution in an England where one day the Catholics were up, the next they were down. 

Perhaps he was a great businessman, coming to an international trade center to get rich. 

It's hard to say whether his plan was to get rich and stay or get rich and go back, but if he was Catholic he had a good reason to stay in America, especially in tolerant, prosperous and diverse pre-Revolutionary New York. 

Over the next 100 years her sons and grandsons leave Queens, NY and move to Cape May, New Jersey. 

Florence's great-granddaughter Phebe Carman marries into the LaRue clan who hail from colonial New York and Pennsylvania, showing me that if they are not Catholic they are also most certainly not Puritans and actually they could be Jewish or French or both.

I think Mary Mollie LaRue, Florence Fordham's 4 Great-granddaughter officially broke with Catholicism when she married Puritan-descended Hayden English in the frontier town of Hardin, Kentucky.  

Usually persecution holds a group together; for example - treat all the Irish-Catholics the same and they will stick together and be proud of their heritage (hence the in-your-face St. Patrick;s Day Parades).

At the same time that parts of my family were moving South and a little bit West, a huge evangelical millenialist burst of religiosity burned Jesus into hearts across America. Called The Second Great Awakening, this movement injected fervor into older sects and gave birth to utopian communities, abolitionism, Mormonism, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

I think these prayer meetings, camp meetings, come-to-Jesus and eat casserole social meetings, allowed people Mary Mollie to let go of the Catholicism that caused her ancestors so much persecution and instead she joined an American movement.  American pioneers were filled with independence yet often tolerated little diversity. Ask Joseph Smith. 

50 years after Mary Mollie dies, her great-granddaughter seems to bring Catholicism back into the family marries Achilles Soldani, the orphaned son of Sicilian immigrants who was sent out on the orphan train and was living in Avoyelles Parrish.  

But I could be wrong. I should keep looking for more clues.