When speaking of 'Cousin Doris,' I sensed unusual affection in my father's voice. Herself a graduate of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (returned for 1940 graduate degree), Doris Eleanor (Haradon) Walton (1914-2005) offered home-cooked meals when my father in 1938 drew up, under age, for his own study at the Stillwater, Oklahoma campus.
I visited Doris after my father's 1977 death. I appreciated family lore, but the genealogy bug had not yet bitten: I felt the teeniest bit burdened when she bestowed index to her family history research upon me. She had obviously gone to some expense in photocopying. I saw the hundred pages were typed, and professionally organized, while she poured over it with me ... almost as a co-conspirator.
All else I perceived in advance of meeting Doris (related in an aunt's hushed voice) was that she'd been adopted into the childless family of my paternal grandmother's brother and his wife. Looking back, by then surmising the challenge of establishing parentage when Doris began investigation, I imagined subverted animus motivated her family history research. I but gradually appreciated what a labor of love it might have been, to compile and organize data trove obtained by U.S. mail and in-person visits to non-digitized collections. I had no idea that, in retirement from academia, she'd become recognized as a professional genealogist. Had travelled to England in search of my ancestry.
In the moment of document transfer, Doris – mother of two grown sons – did manage to awaken imagination. She ably conveyed her heartbreak ... at not being able to make link to a revolution-era sea captain named Haradon. I distinctly recall hearing he had returned to sea following derring-do on patriots' behalf, remaining a privateer/pirate following conflict. Never to reappear.
I have not posted to Hard Honesty for some time. I thought I was composing an entry in late 2021. After assembling fifty pages on John Perkins, Jr. (1609-1686), I – to my consternation – realized I was compiling another long-form historical nonfiction text. Source documents were too plentiful ... too often veered into personal disclosure ... not to attend to them formally. I set blogging aside.
Perkins appeared in 1917 index of ascendants for members of the Massachusetts Society of Colonial Dames. I resolved to research Dame ‘Mrs. G. E. Gage’ who claimed 'my' Perkins as an ancestor. Sophie West (Hayes, Dana) Gage (1846-1935) also had entry in an 1895 Lineage Book for Daughters of the American Revolution … where appeared “Gr.-granddaughter of Richard Perkins Bridge” and “Richard Perkins Bridge was surgeon's mate on the “Tyrannicide,” commanded by Capt. Jonathan Haraden.”
The sea captain Cousin Doris had planted in my memory!
This happenstance reminded me Eric Jay Dolin had animated my purchase of his book Rebels At Sea, Privateering in the American Revolution ... after hearing his C-SPAN contribution to History on the Open Sea (one hour).
Dolin's text had not risen to the top of my reading pile. I had dim recall of his reference to Captain Haraden, that it had fit Cousin Doris' storytelling of twenty-five years ago: that Haradon had seized (and then fought from) a progression of ever-larger British warships.
I withdrew from Perkins research, plucked Rebels from unread cache, and within moments found that – not only did Haraden's exploits run eight pages in it – Dolin opened Introduction with intimate word picture of him! (Miniature watercolor on ivory from Peabody Essex Museum, right.)
Plot spoiler: Jonathan Haraden (1744 - 1803) did not leave spouse mourning on widow's walk above Massachusetts Bay manse. Per Dolin, he died of consumption at Salem. Further, I was frustrated to find no ancestral relationship in preceding centuries between Yeoman John Perkins and Dr. Richard Perkins Bridge (1756-1797).
Doris in 1934 married William Heritage Walton (1913-1981). One can sense 'Tage' Walton's future as architect in hand-drafted 1943 birth announcement ... sent via Victory-Mail to my father. While the U.S. 39th Infantry Regiment was being repulsed in fierce contest for Troina, Sicily. I have no idea how my father took the cheerful news from home, how soon following "high casualties" it caught up with him. Whether Hardesty received the comparatively pristine document while convalescing in a London hospital.
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