Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Knowing Your Roots

             Home again! To quote Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home!” To which Isaura and I would say, Amen!

Despite the obvious reasons for wanting to be home (your own bed, familiarity with your own stuff, grandchildren, friends, etc.) one of the primary reasons I was anxious to get home was to get to work on my family tree. This all began innocently enough last fall . . .

I was invited to speak to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in Turlock which turned out to be a delightful experience. The ladies were anxious for me to have my granddaughters join the DAR so they might be eligible for scholarships to college. However, in order to be eligible for these scholarships you have to prove that one of your relatives had served in the American Revolution. I admitted to the ladies that I did not know of any family members having served that far back. The Civil War? Yes! But I had no knowledge of any family serving in the Revolutionary War.

I shared this information with my daughters, Laura and Jenny, which was immediately seized upon by Laura. She jumped in with both feet, as it were, signing up on Ancestry.com. Before we knew it, Laura’s research had borne much fruit. She managed to trace as far back as 1693 to a Major Philip Rootes (born in Virginia) who served in the English militia in America. He died in 1756. And yes, the spelling of the last name is different than mine. Major Philip Rootes had a son, Captain John Reade Rootes (1735-1798), who, interestingly, was assigned as the personal attorney for General George Washington throughout the Revolutionary War! Who’d a thunk it?

So the question of having a family member serve during the American Revolution has been satisfied. But wait! There’s more!

Captain John Rootes had a son, Lieutenant Philip Reade Roots. Did you catch that? The last name was changed! Why? We don’t know. However, it was not uncommon for these new Americans to change the spelling of their names even though they defeated the vaunted British Redcoats. You will remember that the British came back again to try and even the score in the War of 1812. Making some separation from British connections was considered by some as a prudent move at the time. That’s pure speculation, as I have not been able to substantiate this through my research.

Now here’s one of those Twilight Zone moments. I mentioned above that our family member who served in the American Revolution was Captain John Reade Rootes. He held the rank of captain in the colonial army. He was also a lawyer by vocation. He was also assigned as the personal attorney for General Washington. I know that’s really cool, but here’s what’s so fun about this. My brother, John Christopher Roots, is a retired Marine colonel. He is also a lawyer (retired) by vocation. And he also served in the White House during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations. Whoa! That’s just a little bit weird.

There’s so much more that I’ve discovered! For instance, Major Philip Rootes married Mildred Reade. She is the granddaughter of George Reade who was born in Hampshire, England in 1608. George became the acting governor of Virginia in 1640. But check out this next paragraph, taken straight from documents I researched.

“In 1641 George Reade married Elizabeth Martiau, daughter of Nicholas Martiau, one of Virginia’s early settlers and a skilled engineer of French origin, who had first come to Virginia in 1620 as a representative of Henry, the fifth Earl of Huntington. Their daughter, Mildred Reade married Augustine Warner of Warner Hall, and the daughter of this marriage, Mildred Warner, married Lawrence Washington, the grandfather of George Washington.”

Nicholas Martiau was a captain in the French Army, having been born in France in 1591. He was also a Huguenot. After arriving in Virginia in 1620, he became responsible for developing the area called Yorktown, earning him the moniker, “The Father of Yorktown.”

So, as you no doubt have discerned, I am presently engrossed in researching my Roots. And now that I’m retired, I plan to spend a lot more time digging into my ancestral past.

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