New England Trip

The trip was originally planned for my 50th birthday back in 2019. Not only did I turn 50, but I had just finished all my courses for my 2nd Associates. I felt I needed to celebrate graduating with a 4.0 after working full time and college full time while also going through a divorce and a significant job change. I should note that is why I fell into a deep depressive burnout which was exacerbated by the pandemic. But I digress. I never went on the trip because my bank account told me no.

I’d been sitting here unemployed since mid-January. I wasn’t actually sitting as I finished and started a lot of projects. I decluttered, I cleaned, I cussed a blue streak every time I worked on cleaning out the shed. I knew when my kids and all the pets started annoying me that I needed a break, and so I planned and executed last minute the trip I originally planned over 2 years ago.

The original plan was to travel to Stamford, CT where my 8th great grandfather Rev John Bishop is buried. He was the first of the Bishops to come to the colonies. His burial site is unknown, but it is in Stamford along with his 2 wives. The original memorial made by his sons was replaced in 1865 by one made by a great grandson and sits in the cemetery behind St Andrew’s Episcopal in Stamford.

Rev. John Bishop came to Stamford from Massachusetts Bay in 1644 and officiated as minister of the congregational church in this place to the time of his death 1694
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

I had decided since I was that far north, I might as well make a trek through the remaining northeastern states I’ve never been to. Thanks to genealogy research, I knew 8th great grandfather Rev John first settled in Taunton, MA. I used that as a stop on my northeast circuit traveling from Stamford to Taunton through Rhode Island, stopping in RI long enough to pee. (This won’t be the last reference to bathroom stops.)

Taunton, MA

From Taunton, MA, I traveled through Boston (and downtown Boston thanks to Google rerouting me around traffic) up to Kittery, ME.

Fort McClary State Historical Site, Kittery, ME

From there I drove in the rain to Hillsboro, NH to stop at President Franklin Pierce’s Homestead. I ended up in Hillsboro town center where I lost signal to my phone and hence my gps and panicked. Thank GOD I can memorize maps and knew where to backtrack to so I could at least continue to Vermont. (I did make it to Pierce’s place before dark though it was closed.)

Pierce Homestead, Hillsboro, NH

I managed to finally get signal as it got dark and got guided in the pouring rain to eventually arrive at a rest stop just south of Brattlesboro, VT 10 min before it closed. I was in Vermont just long enough to pee.

Rest stop just south of Brattlesboro, VT

On my way home I stopped in Pluckemin, NJ where my 6th great Eoff grandparents are buried. Hans’ grave is either unmarked or eroded beyond reading (as most of the stones are), but Maria’s headstone is partially readable. They were the first Eoffs (German Öff) to come to the colonies. I went to the wrong cemetery first, though there are Eoffs buried there as well.

Pluckemin Presbyterian Church Cemetery, NJ

I did a drive-by through Philadelphia by the Liberty Bell before heading home without going through DC again. I took no pictures, but I did check in to the Liberty Bell on Facebook as I sat at a red light.

With the rundown of the trip out of the way, 3 days of all day driving gave me a lot of time to think. Granted, I got caught up on my podcasts and listened to 2.5 audiobooks, but my mind wanders. There were a couple of things I kept mulling over.

1. I have undergone a great deal of change in my lifetime. Granted this is how life works, but when you grow up in religious and cultural fundamentalism, any changes in your way of thinking could be the slippery slope to backsliding or hell or worse, ostracization for no longer conforming to whatever the dominant culture mandates for inclusion.

Anyway, old me would never have just gone on that kind of trip spur of the moment and by myself. Old me certainly wouldn’t have admired the beauty of New England even in the dead of winter and pouring rain and fog. But also, old me would have been afraid of ending up in “the bad part of town” and would have been paying extra attention to the “feriners” (pronounce it like I spelled it) who “want to kill us because we are free and Christian.” (I’m still a bit angry that I fell for the right-wing propaganda and held it as truth for so long.) Lots of change.

2. I am extremely privileged to be able to trace my family ancestry back to Europe through multiple branches. I have visited every place the Bishops settled since leaving England AND was able to visit the village of Cattistock where Rev John was baptized and his parents are buried when I was stationed in the UK. I’ve visited most of the places the Eoffs settled after coming from Germany. I can also trace back the Hills, the Polks, the Vanhooks, and I think the Allens. That’s privilege. Almost all were colonists. Many of my colonist ancestors were slave holders which throws in a big old batch of conflicted feelings. That is not a legacy I can take pride in, but it is one to which I am still heir nonetheless. I believe American slavery was an evil practice. Period.

Yet I carry perpetrator DNA. Both sides.

I know I am not responsible for the actions of my forebears. Lord knows I’ve dealt with carrying other’s sins as if I was responsible for theirs enough in therapy over my dad. However, to refuse to acknowledge it for the evil it was, or to excuse it away as being a “product of their time,” is to support it after the fact. It was just as evil then as it is today because it required dehumanization of a group of people made in the same image of God as the slaveholders. That dehumanization required Christians reject the reconciling work of Jesus. The refusal to rectify the wrong done is also to reject the reconciling work of Jesus. I am just one person, but I refuse to excuse away the evil of my ancestors because I have my “get out of Hell free card.” Because as I once heard from a Black Baptist pastor (and I’m paraphrasing), if your heart and life doesn’t change after believing Jesus, you haven’t really believed.

Starting over – again

Long story short, my blog got hosed up because I didn’t pay attention to an email from my hosting service.

I have backups, but I don’t like doing IT work for free. Heck, I don’t even like doing it for money anymore.

So I might end up restoring 10+ years of posts, or I might not. But in the meantime, I am replacing the default Hello World post.