As I have researched my family, I am fascinated how everyone else’s ancestors are always Civil War heroes, kings of France or the person who strapped themselves to a ship’s rudder and held their breath for two months to get to the New World. Everyone except me.
My ancestors were pretty plain. Oh, my ancestors were soldiers in the Civil War, and I have a line to some Scottish baron of something, and a couple of noted criminals showed up (I will keep them to myself), but my research came up pretty lame in the search for the strange or famous. I was getting discouraged. Why wasn’t Abe Lincoln my great-great grandfather? Why was everyone else descended from William the Conqueror? How come I got the dirt farmers and peasants?
Then my family search went back to the American Revolution and, according to the Internet stories, I hit the jackpot. I discovered where the Smiths met the Lindleys. This is my mom’s line. Here were the heroes and famous folks.
Just after the Revolution David Smith married Rebeca Lindley, the daughter of James Lindley. Sounds undramatic so far, right? It became more interesting when I learned that David Smith was a recognized member of the American Army and Rebeca Lindley’s dad (my 6th great grandfather) was a “Tory”, a British Loyalist. Smith was not militia, he was regular army. And, Lindley was not just any British Loyalist. Unlike many of the Tories who were loyal to the Crown, he showed his loyalty and acted on it. He was such a Tory that at the end of the War, the government of South Carolina executed him. Of all the hundreds of loyalists, South Carolina executed only thirteen. My gramps was one of the chosen because he had waged war against the revolutionaries and killed many.
What is the big deal you wonder? Well, the big deal is this: David Smith and Rebeca Lindley were seeing each other (or whatever they called it then) during the Revolution. You have to wonder, as I did, why one of the leaders of the Loyalists would allow a soldier of the revolutionaries to date his daughter. No way, I thought. There is no way this happened. The dates must be off or the people are not right. Something needs to explain this because there is no way that two guys who want to kill each would other settle their differences each evening while David sits in James’ parlor with his daughter munching on tea and crumpets. This is not a Mel Gibson movie, this is real life.
Needing an answer I went to the Internet ancestry sources. After weeks of research I concluded that the dates were correct and people were correct. But, I had no answer for how this could have happened. I developed my own theories. They may not have actually “dated” during the Revolution but met shortly afterwords. They may have secretly married and not recorded it, then married again after the war. Rebeca may have left home and lived somewhere else to keep David away from her father. None of these were anything but guesses.
Then, I discovered the answer on the Internet. I read one account that alleged to be documented that explained it all. In a well crafted statement, even longer than this article, I read the detailed explanation that was so obvious I don’t understand how I missed it. Ready? Here you go: “Captain” David Smith lived in a crawl space under the Lindley’s house during the war. Simple. Complete. Totally stupid.
First, the Internet truth machine made him a captain. I saw no evidence of this rank anywhere else. But, if you are going to have a soldier relative and William the Conqueror is not available, make him a captain.
Second, how does anyone believe that during the Revolution a “Captain” of the revolutionary army lived underneath the home of one of the new country’s greatest enemies without that enemy knowing? Month-after-month in the dirt and dampness (not to mention the snakes) of South Carolina, lived David Smith to be close to the love of his life. And, Lindley didn’t know. Was Lindley on one hand a brilliant and treacherous enemy of America and on the other the village idiot? Did Captain Smith not get cold in the winter? Did he break into the kitchen every night or did his girlfriend slip him three meals a day without any knowledge of the rest of the household? And what about the snakes and other nocturnal creatures. Oh yeah, when did the Captain fight the war? Did he hide the army in the barn?
You can believe whatever you want, but I advise you not to believe this one. There is a truthful explanation; it may be discovered or it may not be. No matter how David Smith and Rebeca Lindley met there is also a story about divided loyalties to different nations. My relatives my not have been the king of France and there may never be a statute to any of them, but the Smiths and the Lindleys appear to have been people who stood and fought for what they believed and that is enough for me.