The Year 1868
Last week my genealogical research took me back to my second paternal great-grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling. I already knew that Larl married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Tapp in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but when I looked more closely I found that their wedding took place just one week before Christmas 1868–that was the Christmas day when our 17th President, President Andrew Johnson, granted unconditional pardons for all persons involved in the Southern rebellion (Civil War). And just ten months earlier on February 24, 1868, he was impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate tried the case in a trial that lasted from March to May 1868. In the end, the Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson by a margin of 35 guilty to 19 not guilty – one vote short of the two-thirds needed to convict him for breaching the Tenure of Office Act by removing Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, from his cabinet.
It was also only about four years earlier in May 1864 in Spotsylvania, Virginia, on land known as the Wilderness Field, where Sarah’s mother, “The Widow Tapp,” lived with her family when the “Battle of the Wilderness,” (Grant vs Lee) was fought, killing more than 50,000 men. This battle became known as “The Crossroads of the Civil War.”
In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine cones lay – the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan;
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged-
But the year and the Man were gone.
Herman Melville – (from “The Armies of the Wilderness”)
The remains of the carnage were still visible in the Wilderness years after the battle. Photo by Geroge Bell circa 1866. Courtesy LOC
Despite their country’s severe turmoil, near the end of 1868, Larl (30) and Bettie (25) started their lives together. He was from the ancient English aristocratic Bolling family and Bettie’s paternal lineage revealed she was Native American. Somewhat unimaginable for me, when at a time, brothers were fighting brothers over the issues of slavery and the rights of people of color!
An on-demand book (Wicocomico Indian Nation of the Powhatan Empire – the Tapp Family Native American Heritage) that I am ordering traces the Native American Taptico/Tapp lineage back seven generations to 1678. My own research has taken me back to my ninth great-grandfather, Machywap Thomas Taptico (1630-1689) and tribes that lived along the Chesapeake Bay, the Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers in the states of Maryland and Virginia. Machywap was the last Chief of the Chicacoan Tribe before it was merged with Wicocomico Tribes in Virginia in 1655-56. He was selected as Chief of these merged tribes by the English because they thought he was a friend to them and could be easily managed. And, according to the Wicocomico Indian Nation, the English’s selection of Machywap didn’t sit well with the Wicocomico and when threats on his life became serious, the English had to provide him protection from his own tribesmen.
And the irony within all of these periods of time, the stories about power, rights, and freedom–the discussion, confusion, and hypocrisy still remain–not only within North America but throughout the world. Add to all of these facts that archeological studies spanning hundreds of years still indicate that the first people who arrived in North America were Paleoindians and that their presence dates back about 14,000 years–No, it wasn’t Amerigo Vespucci, Columbus, or the puritans that arrived here first and settled the Americas–rather it was indigenous natives. You can look it up for yourself, archaeologists call this period of North American history Paleoindian, meaning ancient Indian. So this story became much more than one of a young bi-racial couple surviving during the American Civil War era and the legacies they left us. Thus, this story is far from over…