Sunday, January 20, 2008

You Just can't make this stuff up!

So there I was, on my day off last week, researching and reading newspaper articles on The Brooklyn Eagle On-line, trying to find anything about James Gilmour and his actions at First Bull Run. James fought for the Union, whether intentionally or not, to free the slaves and emancipate the Blacks.

While I did find a brief mention of his reported death at the Battle of Fair Oaks, I didn't find anything relating to his heroic actions at Bull Run.

I did however come across a series of interesting articles about a black man named "Robert Gilmore". My ancestor spelled his last name "Gilmour", same first name of Robert.

It seems that this Robert Gilmore was arrested for "Skylarking". My 1917 Funky Wagon-wheel dictionary defines "Skylarking" as: "being engaged in a bit of fun and frolicking." For this reason an Officer by the name of Redmond Joyce shot him in the back, while he was leaving the Tenth Precinct Station House without permission.

It seems Robert Gilmore was a communicant of the Fleet Street Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. The following is an excerpt from the article:

Officer Joyce was later convicted of shooting Robert Gilmore and there are a number of news articles culminating in the eventual suicide of officer Joyce a year of so later.

It was at this moment that my phone rang: Mom was calling to say that in a stack of old papers she had found my Great Grandfather James Alexander Gilmour's Certificate of Marriage. He was the son of Robert Gilmour. I got in the car and went right over!

This is a copy of what she found:

My Great Grandparents were married at the Cumberland Street Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day 1888. 120 years ago this year! This must be where I get my sense of the Romantic I guess. I asked Dawn if she would marry me this Christmas. She's not going for it though. (...Yet...)

Notice please the name "Cumberland".... Interesting in that the Glebe House in Killaloo was located in the perish of "Lower Cumber"....

Right underneath this document was my father's Baptismal Certificate:

Now the interesting thing to me about this certificate is that he was Baptized in the Methodist Episcopal Church. And, in the neighborhood that my Mom grew up in, the Methodists hated the Catholics, and the Catholics hated the Methodists. So much so that when I decided to convert from Roman Catholic to Methodist, and then follow the path to becoming a Methodist Pastor some years ago (I must clarify here, that as most of you are aware, I eventfully chose Certified Lay Youth Ministry rather than becoming an Ordained Pastor.) Mom was not at all happy about it. Over the ensuing years we have come to an understanding. Christ and his teaching, the following of his teachings, and living a Christ centered life is what we are about. We are one in the body of Christ and his teachings. I have raised my children in the church and when we look back on our heritage our ancestors were Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Methodist Episcopal, Roman Catholic. Christians; by what ever name you choose.

(I couldn't help noticing the irony that Dad was in fact Baptized as a Methodist, before the split between the Methodists and the Episcopalians....)


Along with these other documents and some tin types which I will get to later (Mom keeps pulling rabbits out of the hat like this and there are more to come I assure you....) there was this tightly rolled photo with my father's handwriting on it that says: "Pollock Family of South Africa, Brother of Mary Pollock Gilmour".

I'll let this video show you the rest:

"Mary Pollock's Brother In South Africa."

Remember how I said that James Gilmour was:
whether intentionally or not, fighting for the Union to free the slaves and emancipate the Blacks? On one side of the Ocean, one side of the family was trying to emancipate them, on the other side well.... They may have been in the picture, (25 or 30 ft. away of course.) but they were there to show the world of their success and wealth, not just good composition in the photograph by the photographer....

This is all I know about The Pollocks of South Africa, and until the other day I didn't even know that they existed at all. I suppose I should have known. These issues would have divided many families at the time. Issues of religion and race have done so from the beginning of time.

Yeah, but, I still believe that we are all " in the body of Christ." I think thats what this little excursion
on my day off was telling me anyway. I believe in the reconciliation of differences as well as the celebration of differences. Skeletons are simply what remains of what has gone before. The trick is, to build anew on the foundations left behind to us. Hopefully we will eventually build it right. And build it with LOVE!

You just can't make this stuff up!



Remember those Sympathy books
that you sign at the funeral home
when someone dies?

Well, apparently we have a stack of them....

This is beginning to remind me of Mary Poppins's Carpet Bag!!!