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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Valentine's Tale

One of my family names is Valentine. I didn't know this when I started out in research, but was able to discover it along way. Unable to do much with that line, I set it aside, until a wonderful cousin happened on an old website of mine and saw the name. He offered up years of his research to me, taking my Valentines back two more very important generations, and skipping over the ocean to Ireland.

My cousin, Thad Taylor, most generously shared his research with me, and has also made it available online. You can read all of this in much greater detail on his website, and I give him full credit for all you read here.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I want to tell you about my ancestor, Barnabas Valentine. He was born in 1757, and lived with his family in northern Ireland. The family business was weaving and bleaching linen, and as a youngster Barnabas had the job of making spools for the linen. He would take a little boat out and collect elder branches to make the spools.

Click here for a Linen Bleaching Green, courtesy of the National Library of Ireland on Flickr

Large-scale bleaching green from the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum

One day when Barnabas was 14, he took a friend with him to collect materials. They were enticed onto a large ship to take a look around. Of course they wanted to see it, and before they realized it, had been kidnapped.  I don't know if the sailors wanted the boys for labor on board, or more likely to sell as indentured servants in America.

The story goes that Barnabas' friend didn't survive the journey. Being healthy and strong, Barnabas persevered and was able to jump overboard when he sighted land. He seems to have indentured himself to a minister, and at age 20 he joined the army to fight in the American Revolution. He was involved in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Paoli, and several smaller skirmishes.

He lived for several years in Pennsylvania, then moved to Ohio in 1819. Barnabas Valentine died July 14th, 1831 at the age of 74.  He was the father of ten children; great-grandfather of Thomas Hilyard, my Civil War ancestor; and my fifth great-grandfather.

There is, of course, so much more to his story. I just wanted to share with you how one of my bloodlines arrived here in America and made up a part of me.

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