Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Great Great Grandfather

I've written elsewhere about the journey of my father's father's family from Russia to the United States. Here's a little bit about my father's mother's family. It's the most "American" branch of the family: unlike the immigrant Volga-Germans, German-Germans, Irish, and secret Jews comprising the rest of my ancestors, the Scott wing seems to have come to these shores before there was an actual United States. I was recently sent a box of old photos from my grandmother's estate--she's been gone a long time but these were floating around somewhere--and included is this amazing photo of my great great grandfather William W. Scott, of Vicksburg, Michigan. He's shown in his Union Army uniform in 1865. I don't have a lot of documentation of any of my family roots, but I know at least that William Scott was born in Indiana in 1844, and died in 1918. He was married to Maria Decker, and among his children was my grandmother Dorothy's father, Clinton R. Scott, a dentist in Marcellus, Michigan (who married Dora Kimble--sometimes spelled Kimball), born in 1868.

It's amazing to see this young man of 20 or 21, just before starting his family, perhaps on discharge from service in the cataclysm of the Civil War.

Here's another photo, undated, but apparently in some sort of parade in the 1910s. On the back is pencilled in "Dr. W. W. Scott".

The Scotts had lots of children. I'm sure my distant cousins are legion. I don't know when they settled in that part of Michigan: but my father was born there and my grandmother didn't leave there until the 1950s. My grandmother herself was one of many siblings: I met her oldest sister Ruth once, the beloved daughter of the family who died in the late 1960s or early 1970s, in a nursing home in California. The photos of the Scott children in the early 1900s show pampered middle-class children in tree-lined small town idle. My great aunt Frances Scott, gramma's sister, was a photographer--and more-or-less out lesbian--in Mill Valley, California from the 1950s through her passing in the 1980s. It makes me wonder, given this family blessing, what it would have been like to be gay in William W. Scott's generation: was it always a suppressed and hidden inner struggle, or were there blue-coated brothers in some former secret army of lovers?

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