Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pratt/Woodruff History

Thus far with my genealogy/family history Emails I have concentrated on our common Pratt/Bartram ancestors' stories, and given time I can come up with many more. But now I would like to widen my scope to include some of the progenitors of the Woodruffs of the same generations who were involved in the same parade of American history as the Pratts.

Example: On the Mayflower when it arrived at Plymouth in 1620 in addition to Pratt ancestor Degory Priest; there were two Woodruff ancestors, Thomas Rogers and his son Joseph. Thomas died in the first sickness that winter as did Degory. They are buried in the same cemetery. Joseph Rogers was at Plymouth when Phineas Pratt ran in from Wessagusertt in 1623 and when Miles Standish brought in the head of the Indian Wituwaumet and placed it on the stockade as a warning to other Indians (Phineas Pratt III Sept 6 2008).

Another example: The Sherman family (in Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the 1630's) and the Skinner family (immigrants to Boston in 1638) are double ancestors. Both the Pratts and the Woodruffs are descended from them.

A third example: Pratt ancestors Abraham Gould, Ebenezer Bartram, and Asa Pratt served in the Revolutionary War; as did Woodruff ancestor Philosebius Woodruff.

When our Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors came from Holland and England in the 1620's and 1630's they brought a number of things the Indians already here did not really need; such as European diseases, gunpowder, land hunger, booze and bibles. However, it is not as if they had arrived at some innocent Native American Garden-of-Eden. Smallpox caught from French explorers or Portuguese fishermen or Dutch traders had already devastated some tribes and depopulated some areas, and although some Indians such as Massassoit and his tribe were friendly and helpful, the general Indian culture involved much intertribal jealousy and conflict. They were also big on torture of captives, red or white.

Deadly conflict between encroaching whites and the Indians they were displacing began in Virginia before our earliest immigrant ancestors arrived at Cape Cod Bay and was still going on when Newton R. Woodruff was running for the Michigan Legislature and Wilmer Pratt was getting into the barrel-making business in Riverside. Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn was in 1876 and the massacre at Wounded Knee was in 1890.

The first of the wars between the settlers and the Indians in New England was the Pequot War in 1637. Some of our ancestors participated in that war.

NEXT: The Pequot War.

Emailed Nov. 14

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