Thursday, January 12, 2012


  Google this and chapt. 7 of a 19th century book on the Catskills (Schoharie Co. in particular) comes up.  Osterhout is a common name in these hills, but more than likely these were distant kin. The chapter documents the fam. back to pre-independence, French and Indian War times. The "Negroes" and "Indians" do not fair well in this telling of my gnarled family tree's involvement with the Brits, as well as the revolutionaries. Put in the most patriotic of terms....we were fucking Americans in a time and place that produced the term. As they say, you can't pick your family or the country you were born in.
   Yet there are traits of pure ornery distain for authority that seem to have survived through the centuries. I can relate when the old man gets whacked with the General's cane, or cussed out by the Captain, only to stand his ground and prevail. Like my ancestors I do not take kindly to the voice of authority. In the end the old man gets pushed off a wagon, murdered for some land and cash.....not by an enemy, but a friend. Lesson to be learned? I can't find one.
    To have an account of ordinary (not public figures) blood kin that far back is fascinating. The men and the women were tough, mean, complex, pioneer, racist, Indian killers. Told by the grandson in the 1860's, his account of his grandparents is of it's day, a time when Blacks and Indians were still thought of as less than human. But to somehow sugar coat it would not do anyone justice. It is probably as accurate an account as you will get. On a cold snowy day in the Catskills, 400 years later, the narrative continues.    


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