by: Treelines Team
Supermodel Cindy Crawford was born in small-town Illinois. Blessed to have known all four great-grandmothers and two great-grandfathers, she always knew her family came from Minnesota, but nothing before they became "midwestern, potato-eating people." "Being American is great, but we all came from somewhere, and I don't have any of that."
Within moments of joining Ancestry.com, Cindy learns that her great-great-grandfather, Louis Hemingway, was born in New Hampshire. Off to New England she goes!
At the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Cindy learns two pieces of information.
The first is that she is, indeed, related to Ernest Hemingway. She's his eighth cousin, twice removed.
The second is that her family genealogy traces back to a well-known New England family, the Trowbridges. There is a whole book written about them! The first of this line to arrive is her ten times great-grandfather Thomas, who settled in the New Haven Colony between 1633-1636.
To view this enormous family tree at once, click and drag up the handle at the top-center of the Treelines.
The voyage of the Mayflower in 1620 had kicked off the "Great Migration," a twenty-year period of Puritan immigration to the colonies. They came to establish a "more pure" church than the one they left in England. They were also fleeing a brutal tyrant, Charles I, who oppressed them. The New Haven colony Thomas joined was founded by those who wanted a colony event stricter than the original Massachusetts Bay colony.
He came over with his wife and three children. Cindy's nine-time great-grandfather, James, was born after they arrived.
But by 1641 Thomas was back in his hometown of Taunton, England and married to another woman!
Court documents in the Yale University Library hint at the fate of the family left behind in New Haven. We can guess that Thomas' wife died between 1636-1641, and as there were no single women in the New World (people had immigrated in family groups), he had to return to England to find a new wife. Around the time of his wedding in England, court documents in New Haven show that he was in debt and not paying taxes. Three years later, his children were placed in foster homes -- it was clear he had disappeared.
Why didn't he return to his family?
The answer lies in the English Civil War, the culmination of years of increased friction between Charles I and the parliament, which broke out months after Thomas' second marriage. For a Puritan like Trowbridge living in Taunton, a major center of resistance to the king, this must have seemed like an opportunity.
This time he didn't flee. He stayed and fought.
Thomas became a captain in the army, one of the key people defending the castle at Taunton.
By October 1644 Taunton was the last parliamentarian hold out in the county. Royalist forces cut off the town and besieged it for seven months. Within the castle there was only enough food & gunpowder for three months, but somehow the town resisted. Eventually the Royalist forces had to withdraw to join another battle elsewhere.
It took two more years for the war to end. The battle at Taunton was not decisive, but it was one which led to the Parliamentarians' victory.
Did Thomas really "abandon" his family? It was not unusual for families to be divided at that time. Letters and shipping were disrupted during the war.
And after the siege at Taunton ended, Thomas left the castle to find most of the houses burned and and the people near starvation. As he led the town during the war, so too might it have come naturally for him to stay and rebuild. Records in 1651 attest that he petitioned for pensions of behalf of soldiers wounded under his command.
When the war ended, the country people who beheld Thomas and his fellow defenders "[looked] upon them as giants rather than men."
But it turns out that there are far greater "giants" in Cindy's tree... an earl of England, counts and dukes in continental Europe, and a king of Italy... leading back to Charlemagne himself more than thirty generations before Thomas!
What an origin for Cindy's "midwestern farm people!"
"You listen differently [to history] when it's related to you."