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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Little Family History...


I was down in West Virginia last weekend attending a little family reunion. (Great place to meet chicks!) Kidding! Anyway I went looking for the headstone of the Wigal that we can trace back the farthest, the immortal Philip Wigal. Lo and behold we came across this cemetery. Kind of a strange feeling to see your name on a bone yard.

Nonetheless, a few years ago this stone was placed in honor of ol' Philip. No one knows for sure where he is actually buried.

Phil might have been a brave Continental soldier in his day, but that isn't what he was best known for. After the Revolutionary War he was a corn farmer in western Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County I think. To get his crops to the eastern markets before they spoiled he along with other area corn farmers had to convert the crops to a form that would last during the long trip over rough pioneer roads. To wit, Corn Liquor or Whiskey. Now the new Government in Washington UNDER President Washington needed to raise money to help pay for the debts incurred during the recent unpleasantness. So the Congress imposed a tax on whiskey. Well, the local boys weren't too big on the idea of paying for that by themselves, so they had themselves what is known as the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. So far as I can tell it wasn't much of a rebellion. But there was enough nonsense going on that the government sent about 12,500 troops out to western PA to put it down. And for the only time in US history a sitting President (another guy named George)led troops in a combat-type situation.

In the end good old Philip and another guy were captured, tried and convicted of treason and sentenced to be hung. Which would have put a real dent in my life story. Fortunately for me and all the other Wigals Washington, the president, pardoned Phil and we were free to populate the earth, as it were. Afterwards Phil lit out for western Virginia (now West Virginia). By the way, I once read that Philip was considered by his neighbors as "simple." Wonder what they meant by that?

After taking the picture of Philip's stone I noticed this other head stone nearby. Pretty unusual I'd say, especially given both his wives were named Catherine.

Years go by. Along comes my Great-Great-Grandfather, John Maltimore Wigal.

They had some great names back then. It's seems John was what they used to call a woods colt. In other words someone slipped one past John's mother's goalie. The name Beckwith has been mentioned. Sure would have been easier to deal with THAT last name than Wigal, which no one can ever spell nor pronounce. Nonetheless, John was my Civil War relative. He and his brother enlisted in the 20th Virginia Cavalry, CSA. No famous battles, unless you count The Battle of Droop Mountain Virginia (now WVA). It was the last Civil War battle fought on what is now WVA.

That was the last of the semi-famous Wigals. Still waiting for another noted Wigal.

2 comments:

Hani said...

Wow, I love this kind of historical family narrative.

Inspirations & Irritations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.