Friday, October 17, 2008


Although I am quite obsessed with it, I have no intention of discussing the current election. In this forum, I prefer to look to the lessons of the past and how they have shaped our nation. In my family history, there are several who gave service to our country whether as political activists or as fighters for freedom, some famous, others unknown. But they all have interesting stories. You have them in your family too, you just have to do some research, ask some questions. I thought I would share with you some of my family members that have had an impact on our great nation.

Timothy Matlack was born in 1736. He is my 8th great grandfather. I will outline the genealogy below for those that have interest in it.

Some movie buffs recognize the name - in the movie "National Treasure" his name was part of a clue which leads to the characters stealing the Declaration of Independence. We have known about him long before the movie though.

Timothy Matlack was a Quaker, most well known as the scribe who penned the official Declaration of Independence on parchment in 1776, now on display at the National Archives. He was also a colonel during the revolution and a quite colorful leader as well as a political and social radical.

He was a gambler and loved being around those of all social classes. This behavior and others got him kicked out of the Quakers. He promptly joined other disowned Quakers that had supported the war to form the Free Quakers and continued to challenge traditional practices such as slavery. He had no patience for those who did not support the new country's independence and wrote letters to George Washington warning of Benedict Arnolds treason. Later he served as prosecutor at Arnold's trial.

Timothy and his wife Ellen Yarnell had five children and died after a long life in 1829. My genealogical line is as follows:

Timothy Matlack married Ellen Yarnell
Daughter of Timothy Matlack and Ellen Yarnell, Martha Matlack married Guy Bryan
Son of Martha Matlack and Guy Bryan, Timothy Matlack Bryan married Anna Elizabeth Wilson
Daughter of Timothy Bryan and Anna Wilson, Mary Wharton Bryan married Oscar Lorrain DeWees
Daughter of Mary Bryan and Oscar Dewees, Mary Lorrain Dewees married Blake Baker Wiggins
Son of Mary Dewees and BB Wiggins, Blake Baker Wiggins III married Trinkins (Eddie) Cabaniss
Daughter of BB Wiggins and Trinkins Cabaniss, Aline Dewees Wiggins married Frank Cunningham
Son of Frank Cunningham and Aline Wiggins, Frank Cunningham Jr married Georgianna Marcella Gilligan
Son of Frank Cunningham Jr and Georgianna Cunningham, Frank Cunningham III married Annette McKnight
I am the daughter of Frank Cunningham III and Annette McKnight.


storypeople said...

OH wow! I LOVE the threads of history that you can tug at like this! We've always been a nation of remarkable characters. Okay. Not all of us. But some of us. And they make up for the rest of us. :)

Thank you thank you for telling this story! I could have standed (little spell check fellow's telling me that's supposed to be 'stood' as in I could have stood it. Well, I'm feeling a little revolutionary myself. And am going to let 'standed' stand. So there.) it going on a whole lot longer.

Wanda said...

Oh I loved reading your Family History..... I have never been into geneology... so I don't know my history in this effect.

But wow, I love that you have given us this taste of History.

BTW Loved the National Treasure movies...

Ruth D~ said...

Soooo interesting. Was it a huge amount of work to find this info? My father was into genealogy and I have his records, but we go back to Scotland not the U.S.

Tere said...

Thanks everyone! Timothy Matlack was quite a character!

Genealogy is an addictive, exciting, maddening hobby. It's like putting together a very large puzzle. You get little drips of info from one source which, hopefully, leads to another source.

I have met so many wonderful "cousins" and received a great deal of help from others who each held a little story that led to a larger story.

It's been fun.