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Entries in New Jersey (13)


Blue Highways: Salem, New Jersey

Unfolding the Map

What is in a place name, especially those that evoke other places?  I am of the opinion that place names often help us keep alive those other places that we came from or identify with.  As William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) swings through Salem, New Jersey we'll see how this little town inspired the names of possibly three other Salems in the United States.  To see the source of this inspiration, please be inspired to visit the map.  The red oak leaf, at right, comes from New Jersey's official state tree.

Book Quote

"Salem, a colonial town to the west, was abundant with old buildings and homes that would be museums most anywhere else in the country, but here they were just more declining houses, even though many stood when the men of Salem sent beef to Valley Forge to help save Washington's troops from starvation.  The town is the birthplace of Zadock Street, a restless fellow who left New Jersey in 1803 to make his way into the new western territory.  As he went, he and his sons founded towns in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, and named them all Salem; in Ohio, his Salem sprouted North Salem, West Salem, South Salem, Lower Salem, and Salem Center.  Americans can be thankful that Zadock Street was not born in Freidberger or Quonochontaug."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 12

Downtown Salem, New Jersey. Photo by Tim Kiser, and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Salem, New Jersey

I've had a couple of posts about town and city names, and LHM has succeeded in piquing my interest in a little mystery.  Why would a man named Zadock Street, of Salem, New Jersey spread out west with his sons and name all the towns they founded Salem?  What is it about the name Salem that was so important to these men?

First things first.  How many towns and cities and places are named Salem.  One source, Wikipedia, lists 25.  Another source, on Yahoo, lists 32.  Clearly people had reasons for naming towns Salem.  From what I've gathered online, Salem is a derivation of shalom and salaam, the Hebrew and Arabic words for peace.  Salem was mentioned as a place in the Old Testament, and became part of the name of Jerusalem, founded by King David of the kingdom of Israel.  Jerusalem means "foundation of peace."

Therefore, we can see that the most likely spread of the name Salem came with the spread of religion throughout the country.  Indeed, one source who uses the same quote by LHM above, looks into the story of the towns named Salem and of Zadock Street and wonders if LHM's story is true.  The writer points out that Zadock was one of King David's priests, thus cementing the connection between Zadock Street and religion.  The writer looks at the founding of Salems in Ohio, Indiana and Iowa that LHM says were established by Zadock Street and his sons and finds the evidence less than compelling.  Those Salems were founded by Quakers, the writer claims.  The writer says that there is no evidence that Zadock Street had anything to do with their founding, and there is no compelling evidence that Zadock Street or his sons were Quakers.

Thankfully, the internet can sometimes help clear up mysteries.  Wikipedia's entry states that one of the founders of Salem, Ohio was Zadock Street and an historic home in the city was owned by John Street, Zadock's son, and was the northernmost Ohio stop on the Underground Railroad.  The city of Salem in Indiana appears to have nothing to do with Zadock Street, but there are two other areas called Salem in the state, both census-designated places, that may have had something to do with Zadock Street.  And while I could not associate Salem, Iowa with Zadock Street or his sons, the town was founded by Quakers and was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.

What accounts for so many towns named Salem, then?  In the case of the Zadock Street and his sons, it may have been that religion plays a part in their propagation of the Salem name, but I think that there is a greater likelihood that the connection to their original home of Salem, New Jersey played a bigger part.  In a sense, we all have that attachment to home.  I cannot see the name Fort Bragg, even if the name is attached to Fort Bragg, North Carolina rather than my hometown of Fort Bragg, California, without getting pictures and images in my mind of all of the scenes I used to inhabit as a child.  The United States, as a country that was settled primarily by immigrants, would have been an alien place.  Names that evoked the familiar would have been important to people, comforting them with memories of places known in the midst of all the unknowns.

I did a post awhile back where I examined why there were so many towns, throughout the Southwest, called a variant of El Dorado.  In that case, Spanish conquistadors looking for gold, the proverbial El Dorado, left that name all over the region.  That was a case of wishful thinking.  However, in many cases it seems that people named towns and cities after that which gave them comfort and something that evoked memories of the places from whence they came.  I surmise that if you closely into town names, they've either been named for someone, or after something left behind.

Place names are a very simple part of a complex process.  No matter how adventurous or how exploratory we are, or how much we push the boundaries of our experience, we seem to need that touchstone to what we were and where we've been.  Two of the most poignant examples of this comes from our explorations into space.  The first example occurred when astronauts first left the safety of our atmosphere and went into space.  The poetic descriptions of the seeming fragility of our world when viewed from space indicated just how much "home" means to us when we look back at it.  As Alfred Worden wrote:

Quietly, like a night bird, floating, soaring, wingless
We glide from shore to shore, curving and falling
but not quite touching;
Earth: a distant memory seen in an instant of repose,
crescent shaped, ethereal, beautiful,
I wonder which part is home, but I know it doesn't matter . . .
the bond is there in my mind and memory;
Earth: a small, bubbly balloon hanging delicately
in the nothingness of space.

The other example came from even farther out in space, when the Voyager probe, close to leaving our solar system, trained its cameras back on Earth which hung like a small speck of dust in the vastness of space.  Carl Sagan said: 

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future

A sense of home, of belonging and of origin, is important.  It is an indelible part of our identity and it provides us with comfort.  As such, it is natural that we take a piece of that which is important with us, and make it a part of any place we go.

Musical Interlude

I couldn't have picked a better song to illustrate my point than Joe Diffie's Home.  This was a nice discovery, since country music is not a genre that I dip into regularly, but I'm often surprised when I do.

If you want to know more about Salem

Discover Salem County: Salem Salem County News
Salem County Chamber of Commerce
Salem, New Jersey
Visit Salem County
Wikipedia: Salem

Next up: Leipsic, Delaware


Littourati News: Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy

As we do our virtual tour through New York, New Jersey and Delaware with William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, I want to urge you to remember the people in those states who are being victimized by Hurricane Sandy even as I write this post.  This "superstorm" is causing, in the words of some, incalcuable damage up and down the Northeastern coast.

If you wish to help those in need, please consider making a donation.  The Red Cross is taking donations.  This is from their website:

"Donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013."

You can also help by donating blood to the Red Cross for relief services.

Thank you for reading Littourati, and for helping those in need!

Michael Hess


Blue Highways: Hancock's Bridge, New Jersey

Unfolding the Map

When do we have bad luck, or good luck?  Or is there luck at all?  As William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) writes about the ill-timing and bad luck of Judge William Hancock during the Revolutionary War, I will reflect on my feelings about bad luck.  Hopefully, you won't feel that you came across this post by way of bad luck, but if you want to feel lucky and find the spot where all this occurs, please take a risk and look at the map. Why the horse at right?  It's New Jersey's state animal.

Book Quote

"Judge William Hancock, wealthy and influential, had no luck at all in his last year.  In 1734 at Hancock's Bridge, a few miles northwest of Greenwich, he built a grand house that he later had to flee from when militiamen took over south Jersey.  On the night of March 20, 1778, as Tories regained the area, the Loyalist judge elected to slip back; he didn't know that nearly a hundred revolutionists were bivouacked in his house.  They captured him.  Hancock probably would have been safe in the hands of his enemies had two hundred green-coated Loyalists not decided to retake the place that same night.  They surprised the patriots in their sleep and bayoneted them even as the men begged for quarter.  In the dark mayhem, Hancock's confederates killed him too.  The house still stands, a monument to the judge's ill timing."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 12

Hancock House, mentioned by William Least Heat-Moon in Blue Highways, in Hancock's Bridge, New Jersey. Photo by Smallbones and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Hancock's Bridge, New Jersey

When is something truly bad luck?  When is it a random occurrence that strikes one?  What role does choice play in our bad luck?  Or, is luck just luck and there is no good or bad about it?

I remember the stories I was told as a child.  Don't let a black cat cross your path or it will lead to bad luck.  Don't walk under ladders.  Don't let a pole pass between you and someone else.  Don't break a mirror or open an umbrella indoors.  Step on a crack, break your mother's back.  If you did any of these things, then you would be hit with a flood of bad luck.  I guess if I had done all of those things at the same time, I would have been inundated by a tsunami of bad luck.

I think that sometimes true bad luck happens.  We somehow fall into the seemingly random patterns of the universe and we end up in a place where bad things happen.  For example, I might leave the house and get into the car at a certain time on a certain morning.  I might drive down my street and just happen to hit the intersection at a stop light at the same time as a habitual runner of stop signs (there seem to be many on my street at one particular place).  Result, major fender-bender.  That person may just happen to not have insurance, and therefore I not only lose my car to repairs (or maybe totally) but my insurance also takes a big hit.

That happens, and will happen quite a few times in our lives.  Sometimes, it is simply an annoyance, like being stuck in airports for hours on a day where storms cause major disruptions in air travel, or an accident on the freeway snarls people up in traffic.  Sometimes it is more serious and leads to monetary loss, or minor injury, or broken relationships.  Once in awhile, this randomness could lead to serious injury or death because one is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I'm reminded of the recent shootings in a theater in Aurora, Colorado and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

However, I do find it interesting that sometimes what is blamed for bad luck is just the endpoint of a series of choices that we've made and that if we trace those choices back, we can most likely find the point where the choice took us down a path that guaranteed that bad things would happen.  For example, I once met a woman who complained about her bad luck in men.  Her life was a series of relationship disasters.  And yet, if you look at the choices she made, and the actions she took in those relationships, one could easily see that her "bad luck" came always by her choices.  The men she picked, the actions she took once in the relationship, all led to bad endings.  Is that really bad luck?

We have to acknowledge that conscious choices play a part in a lot of what we call bad luck.  I believe that most of what we call bad luck is the intersection of three elements:  the information we have, the patterns that we get ourselves locked into, and the level of risk we are willing to take.  These three things guide the choices we make.  A gambler may complain about her bad luck in gambling, but a gambler relies on all of these things.  She looks around the card table and reads the other players while taking into account her own hand.  She has certain ways of playing certain hands and therefore a pattern emerges in her playing.  She also may be a risk-acceptant or risk-averse person.  If she is a risk-acceptant person, she may play a bit more loosely, a bit more recklessly.  All of these elements add up to the choices she makes in her play, which will have an effect on her winnings.  In essence, this is not luck.  Luck may play a small part in the equation, but most of the outcomes will come down to her decision to fold or stay, raise or call.  Often, you will hear a card player say that they "should have" done something else, indicating that they made a decision that led to the outcome.

If I look back on my life, and I could see all the instances where I felt myself victimized by bad luck, chances are that I could examine my choices and find that it was my decision-making and not luck that led me to most of my difficult circumstances.  Sure, bad luck has happened to me, but not in the quantity that I would like to think.  I have not been victimized regularly by the universe.  The universe has no desires, wishes nor feelings - it just is.  It acts according to its laws and patterns automatically.

We, on the other hand, are not automatic.  We make choices based on information, our own patterns, and our sense of risk and that means that many times, we will make wrong decisions.  If there's anything that I've learned, it's this:  One is better equipped to head off "bad luck" if one makes decisions with more information than less.  The more you know about any situation, and the more you know about yourself, less randomness will accompany your choices and therefore, the better your luck.

Musical Interlude

I happened to find a list of songs about bad luck.  You can find the list here.  And here's two off the list.  The first is by Social Distortion called Bad Luck, because when you have bad luck nothing embodies it like some distorted electric guitar.  The second is a rhythm and blues song by Earl King from New Orleans called Mr. Bad Luck, because New Orleans, in my opinion, sits on the boundary of all that we understand and don't understand in the world.

If you want to know more about Hancock's Bridge

Discover Salem County: Hancock House
Revolutionary War Sites in Hancock's Bridge
Wikipedia: Hancock's Bridge
Wikipedia: Hancock House

Next up: Salem, New Jersey


Blue Highways: Greenwich, New Jersey

Unfolding the Map

William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) gets an account of an organization battling a large company over issues of sustainability and corporate responsibility.  I used to work in the field of corporate social responsibility, and it was an exciting time of my life that I'll reminisce upon in this post.  To see where this Greenwich, New Jersey (can you believe that there are three of them?!) is located relative to everything else, responsibly consult the map.

Book Quote

"'We've had time to organize and make changes because the demand for power in the seventies didn't increase as much as A.C.E. predicted it would.  Technical problems at the Salem nuclear plant gave us time too.  Now, if you ask me, both regulations and time are on our side - on the side of history.  It's easier to keep a developer under a quiet but continuous pressure to act with corporate responsibility.  But for us, it was an awakening at the brink.'

"'The problem of what we're doing lies in deciding what's the benefit of history and what's the burden.  We're not trying to hold back the future, but we do believe what has happened in Greenwich is at least as important as what could happen here.  The future should grow from the past, not obliterate it.'"

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 11

Monument to the Greenwich Tea Burners in Greenwich, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Photo by "Smallbones" and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Greenwich, New Jersey

In 1995 I moved to San Antonio, Texas.  In January 1996, I started a job as the director of an organization called the Texas Coalition for Responsible Investment (Texas CRI).  The organization still exists as the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition (SRIC).

I had never invested in my life.  I knew little about Wall Street.  But, here I was as the head of an organization that had "investment" in the title.

I soon learned that I would have little to do with actual investing.  Texas CRI was a coalition of about 20 religious organizations and institutions, mostly Catholic, that made investments in the stock market and yet wanted their investments to reflect their values in social justice and environmental responsibility.  A typical example of such an institution is the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, an order of Catholic nuns based in San Antonio that invested pension money to maintain their elderly and retired members.  Like the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, other members of the group such as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio and the rest did not want to invest in companies that promoted tobacco, or profited from weapons manufacture, and other issues that they deemed important.  So, each of these organizations at the very least put restrictions on their investment managers that kept their pension money from going into such companies.  This was the minimum action for socially responsible investing.

To a point.  Some of our members would invest a token amount in companies that they deemed irresponsible in some way.  By doing so, they became shareholders, and obtained the rights and privileges of being a shareholder.  One of the rights and privileges was that shareholders could propose resolutions to be taken up and voted upon at corporate annual meetings.  And that's where I came in.  I was responsible for keeping up with the social and environmental issues that were most critical and relevant and reporting back to our members.  They in turn might decide to file a resolution with a company, or to support a resolution that another group was planning to file.  We often filed 50 or 60 resolutions a year, on everything from asking companies to report on their emissions to proposing increased wages for workers in maquiladora factories at the US-Mexico border, to asking companies to report on efforts to minimize or eliminate the glass ceiling.  Our group was part of a broader network of Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups and institutions around the US under the umbrella of an organization called the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), based in New York City.  (A side benefit of this job was that I got to spend about 15 days a year in New York City at various meetings.)

We never filed a resolution with an expectation that we would get the necessary number of votes.  Often, we were happy if 10% of the shareholders voted with us.  But, a resolution on an issue often caught the attention of the company management, who would then meet with us in discussions.  If there was some movement on an issue, we would often consider withdrawing our resolution.

I remember sitting, with my priest and nun colleagues, with corporate people from various companies, like GM and GE, Ford, and Texas Instruments and discussing whatever issue we had with them.  It became apparent that corporate responsibility was a difficult goal.  Whatever you think about corporations, good or bad, it is best to remember that they never do anything without looking at how it will affect the bottom line.  If something cuts into profits, they are reluctant to do it.  Corporate responsibility is rarely done because it will solve a problem, or right a wrong.  Companies do not care about values unless they can be convinced that doing so will help their image and sell more products.

But even then, persuasion can take place.  A member of our coalition was a small, Irish nun named Sister John Marie.  She was the treasurer of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Houston, and she was legendary for what she accomplished.  In a meeting with Jack Welch, then the CEO of General Electric, she made the case about how GE's work in nuclear weapons research was not only bad for the world, but also bad business and that the Sisters were planning to divest themselves of GE stock over their association with weapons laboratories in New Mexico.  I don't know if Welch and GE's board were moving in that direction already and Sr. John Marie provided a gentle nudge over into a certain action, or if Sr. John Marie actually moved him in some way.  I'm cynical enough to believe that GE was moving in that direction anyway and needed a push.  Whatever the story, GE ended its management of the federal government's nuclear weapons research at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

Which is where I get back to the quote, because it's easy to talk about corporate responsibility, and to urge corporations to do the right thing, and to promote that they take a long-term view over short-term profits.  It's more difficult to convince them to do so.  Promoting responsibility to corporations involves showing them that a long-term view can satisfy their goals, bring them credibility and increase profits.  In the quote above, the speaker is Roberts Roemer, who fought the Atlantic City Electric Company (A.C.E) to keep it from acquiring land that would have ruined the historic character of Greenwich, New Jersey.  What really stopped A.C.E?  Their plans wouldn't be as profitable.  They don't, as a corporation, care about historic character.  Perhaps individual people in the corporation do, but the company does not.  The company cares about bottom line.  If organizations can understand this, meet them on those terms, and convince them using business logic, success is more certain that everyone gets what they want. 

Regardless, sometimes being that strategic doesn't work either.  The next time you hear calls for boycotts, you are witnessing what often happens when profits simply outweigh a corporation's willingness to consider any alternatives.  I consider it the downside of capitalism, especially if their profits are made off of actions that have the potential or actuality of doing irreparable harm.

Musical Interlude

I don't know why this song comes to mind, but I think it has a lot to do with corporate responsibility.  I really liked the version of Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton when I heard it but I also love Joni Mitchell's iconic version as well.  I give you both - you decide.

If you want to learn more about Greenwich

Cumberland County Historical Society
Greenwich: a seaport town with a rich history
Greenwich Tea Burning 1774
Historic Greenwich NJ
Wikipedia: Greenwich Township, Cumberland County

Next up: Hancock's Bridge, New Jersey


Blue Highways: Othello, New Jersey

Unfolding the Map

William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) does a little searching for a mystery:  Why is Othello named as such. The answer causes me to think about my own, newly discovered mixed ethnicity and what it means for me.  It also shows how complex and interesting the United States and its people can be.  If you wish to know where Othello is located as you "with greedy ear devour up my discourse," (Othello, Act I, Scene III) then "you best know the place." (Othello, Act I, Scene II)

Book Quote

"'In Cumberland County we have a settlement of people called 'tri-bloods,' people that trace their history - or legend - back to a Moorish - Algerian, specifically - princess who came ashore after a shipwreck in the first years of the nation.  The Indians took her in, and from the subsequent mixing of blood - later with a small infusion from the Negro - there developed a group composed of three races.  The 'Delaware Moors,' they're called...'

"'In the thirties and forties, governmental bureaucrats - especially in Delaware - they had a time trying to classify tri-bloods because the people considered themselves neither white, red, nor black.  Usually they ended up in their own category, one so small as to be forgotten.  To this hour, the people remain what you might describe as aloof, and they maintain themselves as independently as they can.  Clannish, even secretive.  But they always have been landowners and farmers.  Never slaves.  Still, they are - to use the phrase - 'men of color' and consequently suspect, especially in border states, despite their features usually being more Indian than Negroid.  Aquiline nose, straight hair, high cheekbones.'"

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 10

Othello, New Jersey

The story above, from a man who is giving LHM a history of a portion of the town of Greenwich, New Jersey, also known as Head of Greenwich, is interesting in that it answers LHM's query about why that particular section of town is also named Othello.  Othello, as you may know, is the title of a Shakespeare play, and therefore the mixed-ethnicity between Arabic and African peoples in the town is part of the reason for the town name.  It is also an elaborate joke because, as the man goes on to relate, the play is about a black man having a romantic relationship with a white woman and therefore a commentary on the intermixing of ethnicities within the town.  The story, however, resonates with me because of what I've learned recently about my own heritage.

Up until about three years ago, I thought my ancestry was Irish, English, German and French Canadian.  That's always what I've been told.  The wrinkle in that story was that I'm adopted, and nobody knew anything about my real roots.

It turns out that the French Canadian was correct, and I've learned something of the rich history from my newfound relatives on my biological father's side.  But there was so much more to me than I could have imagined.

Through an interesting series of events about five years ago, I met a woman online who helped me discover my birth history and changed forever the way I view myself.  Not only did my heritage become richer, but I suddenly felt more interesting than just being another white guy of European descent in America.

I discovered the history of my biological mother's side of the family, which was more complex than I'd ever thought possible.  My bio-mother's last name was Mayle, and she was from West Virginia in a coal mining, mountainous area.  It was hard work, and the Mayle's were one of the coal mining families.  There were around six other families spread out over this area and the Mayles and these other families were collectively and derogatively known as "Guineas."  In other parts of the US, the term guinea was often used to refer to people of Italian descent, but in this part of West Virginia it was used to informally classify families that had mixed race descent.  Because of their long history in that area of West Virginia, there had been some intermixing with blacks and the Delaware Indian (Lenape) peoples who lived there.  The intermixing was apparent in the variation of skin color and features, even within families.  I was given a picture of a great great great uncle who, even in the black and white photo, appeared African-American but obviously had blue eyes, like mine.  When my wife saw it, she also noted similarities in his facial features to mine.

Guineas were the target of discrimination.  Like the story in the quote above of the Delaware Moors, census workers would come and count people in families, and mark them down as being black or white depending on their color and features.  Thus, people in the same family unit might be marked as different races, condemning one brother or sister, for example, to further discrimination while enhancing the other's prospects if only barely.  Guineas had their own schools because they wouldn't attend the schools created for blacks, and couldn't go to the schools that only served white children.  They were in some kind of in-between limbo between black and white.  I heard stories that some private motels in the area would refuse service to people whose last name was Mayle or that of one of the other families known as Guineas, even as late as the 1970s.  Even so, these families provided the workers who mined a lot of coal in the area.

When I began talking with my biological family, I learned that this was a touchy subject.  The older generation was not willing to talk about their mixed race.  They saw themselves as whites with some Indian blood, but weren't willing to acknowledge their African-American ancestry at all.  They were offended and even angry if it got mentioned.  The people in my generation were curious, exploring a little about their mixed heritage and at least accepting it.

But at a family reunion in Ohio, I saw evidence of how the world changes.  In the youngest generation, I saw a couple of the family members bring their black wives and girlfriends.  While this was uncomfortable to the older generation, it was the reality and I was happy to see it.

These revelations changed me.  I became much more interesting to myself, if that makes any sense.  Suddenly, even though I would never be part of the African-American or Delaware Indian communities and would not try to use my heritage to claim that I could be, I now feel a wider and deeper connection with the world.  My sister in my adopted family has had a great time calling me "my brother from another mother" with emphasis on the "brother."  She pronounces it "brutha" when she really gets into it.

But what my newfound heritage really confirms is what I always knew I am.  I'm an open, interested, curious, and accepting person.  I love the fact that my heritage just isn't white, but something much more inclusive and with a richer history behind it than I ever dreamed.  I now have a whole new ancestral history that I feel is completely mine.  I want to visit West Virginia to see where my biological mother's roots are located, and I want to visit the places in Canada where my biological father's roots grew.

Above, all, I know that if people look at me, they may see just another white guy, but I'm so much more than that.

There are other stories and communities of multi-ethnic and somewhat isolated communities in America.  Add these groups to the Delaware Moors in New Jersey and Delaware and the Guineas in West Virginia:  the Melungeons of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky; the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina; the Carmel Indians of Ohio; and the Redbones of South Carolina and Louisiana.  I feel a part of a more complex history and genealogical makeup than is generally known.  And I am really damn proud of it.

Musical Interlude

By searching for songs on being of mixed race, I found this song.  Every Day, by Tricky, is on his album Mixed Race (he is of Jamaican, Ghanaian and English heritage).  The song's lyrics sort of describe my new feeling about myself, and Tricky's music embraces all sorts of different styles, genres and countries, just like I think I do.  I might seem "every day" to most people, but I'm really not.  Just scratch under the surface.  I encourage you to do so!

If you want to know more about Othello

There is very little about the town of Othello, also known as Head of Greenwich, on the internet.  However, there's a bit of information on the Delaware Moors.

Cumberland County Towns
Great Grandmother's Blog (blog entry about a person's Delaware Moor great-grandmother)
Mitsawokett: The "Moors" of Delaware
Moors in America: Othello's Children in a New World

Next up: Greenwich, New Jersey