This is a very personal post and will be atypical of my usual blogging regimen but I decided to share with family and friends and anyone else who might have an interest. For some reason my thoughts often turn to this very subject on Thanksgiving holidays, both present and past. It’s near the top of my list of things to be thankful for and my list is a long one.
I’ll be forever grateful for the nomadic tendencies of my Dudley ancestors and I’ll explain why at the conclusion of this post. First a little history,
Image copyright Jim Dudley, used by permission
The Dudley clan is English and several of my direct paternal ancestors were among the Baron’s Dudley of Dudley Castle in the town of Dudley, West Midlands, England. One of those Dudleys was John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who was beheaded for his attempt to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England. This image of part of the castle was taken by my cousin Jim Dudley several years ago. There’s not a lot left of the castle itself – some of it was destroyed by order of Parliament in 1646 and some destroyed by fire in 1750. But what is left provides some visible evidence of the historic roots of my family.
My great (x8) grandfather was Governor Thomas Dudley (1576-1653). Thomas was a Puritan who because of religious persecution in England sailed with his family to the new world in 1630. He was second in command of 11 ships and about 700 puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He and Simon Bradstreet were chief founders of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Thomas was governor of Massachusetts four times. He was a founder of Harvard College and as governor signed its charter in 1650. He had 8 children and I am descended through his son, Reverend Samuel Dudley.
Thomas was a nomad (by my definition at least) and is the reason my family is in North America.
Most of the Dudley’s lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont for the next several generations. Among them was my great great grandfather Oliver Hunt Dudley who was living in Boston in the early 1830’s when he and his family were converted by early Mormon missionaries. They almost immediately moved to Nauvoo, Illinois to be with Joseph Smith and most of the rest of the Mormons but due to persecution and mob violence they left Illinois when Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered at the Carthage Jail and eventually followed Brigham Young to Utah in 1850. Another nomadic Dudley.
Oliver’s son, Joseph Smith Dudley (1851-1928), was my great grandfather. Apparently due to a tragic killing (more about that event here if you have the interest) Joseph traded his Utah farm for one in Hillspring, Alberta, Canada and moved his family there in about 1912. Yep, another Dudley nomad.
Joseph’s son, Devere Snow Dudley, was my grandfather. During his life DeVere lived throughout much of the west including (and in chronological order) Utah, Alberta, Montana, Colorado, Washington State and California. Here he is on the left, with his brother Joe on a river trip in Colorado in about 1920. DeVere and Joe were devoted brothers though they were very different from each other. My mother told me that in this photo DeVere has a bottle of whiskey in his hand while Joe has a Bible in his vest pocket. My father Wayne was born in Colorado this same year.
Are you beginning to see the nomadic trend with the Dudley’s?
This is my dad, Wayne. The photo was taken in 1944 as he was about to ship overseas to take part in the invasion of Okinawa toward the end of World War ll (dad was a radioman and operated a flame thrower). While I was growing up we lived in Cut Bank, Montana, Escondido and Poway California and Grant’s Pass, Oregon. The nomadic trend continues.
Which leads me to, well… me. As an adult I have been significantly less nomadic than my ancestors and from my early 20’s have lived my entire life in Utah. Here I’m on a bird photography trip a couple of years ago at the base of Utah’s Oquirrh Mountains.
Ok, here’s the point of all this. I’m a westerner at heart – I can’t say that strongly enough. I love, crave, the wide open spaces of the American West. I’m a bit of a loner and don’t like crowds (that is likely an understatement). I spend enormous amounts of time camping, exploring and photographing in the western wilds. In me I swear it’s something innate. I’d be like a fish out of water if I didn’t have convenient access to such wild and open places. If Thomas hadn’t emigrated to the New World and if Oliver hadn’t moved to Utah I’d likely be living in England or somewhere back east. That’s just not for me. If Joseph hadn’t moved to Alberta my dad would never have met my mother. And the list goes on…
My mind often wanders to these vagaries of circumstance and makes me thankful that things turned out the way they did. And I always have those thoughts on Thanksgiving especially. I have many, many things to be thankful for but the nomadic lifestyle chosen by my Dudley ancestors is near the top of that list.
So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope that all of you have at least as many things to be thankful for as I do.
Note: It goes without saying that the Dudley women played a huge role in the journey of my family but as any family history buff will likely understand I know much more about the males than I do the females, thus the paternal focus of this post.