Tag Archives: War

Anger by name…

Years ago, I was in a public library in Los Angeles and found reference books on family Massacre of the Vaudois of Merindol from Wikipediahistories.  I looked up my family name, Anger.  It said the name came from France, from the region of Anjou, with its main city being Angers.  I was thrilled with the idea of being French.

When I came home, I told my father.  He said “French!  No!  We’re German.”  He had always said when asked that he didn’t know the family origins – “a little bit of everything” was his answer.  So I remained convinced that we were French.

Much later, when I started delving into family history and found other family members doing the same, I discovered that Dad and I were both right.

A French and German family name

The family was Huguenot or French Protestant.  In the 16th and 17th centuries, Protestants in France had to convert to Catholicism or be killed or expelled.  Or they fled the country.  They went to Protestant countries, among them the territories that became Germany.  And that is where the known history of our family starts.

Butlers-Rangers signage at Ottawa-War-MuseumGeorg Frederick Anger migrated to Pennsylvania in 1754. When the American colonies went to war with Britain, Georg Frederick chose the British side and he and his sons fought as Loyalists to the crown.  After the war, they moved across the new border and settled in Bertie Township, near Fort Erie.  They joined Butler’s Rangers, a British regiment made up of Loyalists.

The Anger men weren’t done with war.  In the War of 1812, they again found their new homeland in the midst of American and British conflict.  Then, forty years later, the Angers of Bertie literally found themselves in the midst of battle.

In the 1866 Battle of Ridgeway, part of the Fenian Raids in Upper Canada, the Anger homestead was smack Watercolour of Battle of Ridgeway, Alexander Von Erichsen Ft. Erie Museumin the midst of the battlelines.  Bullet holes are still visible in the bricks.  The house was turned into a field hospital, being handy to the wounded. (Also see my Battle of Ridgeway.)

Several years ago, my husband and I made a trip to Ridgeway to find the family.  First stop was the Ridgeway archives and library.

Ridgeway Cemeteries

The librarian told us that my great-great-great-great-grandparents were buried in the “Coloured Cemetery,” north of Ridgeway near the Anger house.  Close to the American border, the area had become home to escaped and freed slaves.

But just when I was thinking with delight about what the Anger place of burial meant for my personal ancestry, the Anger family name - gravestones in Ridgeway, photo Jim Stewartarchivist told me it had been the cemetery for everybody in the early days of the settlement.  White people, generally, had gravestones.  Black people had wooden crosses.  The Angers have gravestones.

All the cemeteries near Ridgeway have Angers buried in them.  But several of the children of Georg Frederick’s son John Charles moved west.  One of them, also named John Charles, had a son Peter who moved to Hazen Settlement in South Walsingham Township, Norfolk County.  It is from him that all of us here in Elgin County claim descent. (See my Anger family tree.)

This is for my father, George, who died nine years ago today.  He had seen his family history in computer printouts first by my cousin Chris Anger and then by me.  Dad and I also came to agree that the family was German and French.  The title for this is from his saying about our family name – “Anger by name, Anger by nature.”

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (July 31/11)

Care Packages

Eddie making care packages for GaryEddie Windass, in the cafe, stealing Roy’s condiments for food purchased elsewhere.  Anna scolds him.  He asks if there’s any tape.  She looks to see what he’s doing, sticking food and magazines in a shoebox.  Ciaran looks too and realizes he’s making a care package for Gary, just left for duty in Afghanistan.

Aah, it’s not the first time I’ve had to wipe away a tear watching Eddie lately.  He gave his son a St. Christopher’s medal from his father, after realizing where his son was going and to what. Gary had packed several hairbrushes, saying he’d need them to brush things off.  What things, Eddie asked, himself not that familiar with hairbrushes.  Explosive devices, Gary said, land mines and that sort of thing.  That brought Eddie up with a start, then he rummaged through a drawer and produced the small medal on a chain.

Then when Gary was leaving, Eddie gave him a video camera and said so you don’t have Ciaran tells Ryan about mom's care packagesto worry about writing, you can just tape on this and send the disk home.

And now, packing up a care box.  He got the idea from Ciaran, who has himself become a wonderful Mr. Fixit for other people.  Ciaran was telling Ryan about the packages his mother used to send him from Ireland when he was in the Navy.  Ciaran’s story was part of his effort to get Ryan to cut the apron strings and go to university in Glasgow.

Ryan wants to go but doesn’t want to leave his poor mother all on her own.  (I wonder Michelle talking to Ciaranwhen Ryan last looked at his mother, really really looked at her.)  Ciaran, with his iffy plan to move to Glasgow, may have an ulterior motive for encouraging Ryan to leave home, but I think he genuinely wants the boy-man to take the opportunity that’s on offer.  Glasgow University is where he really wants to go, and his mother will be just fine.

So to illustrate his point about being able to live away from mother yet still be connected, Ciaran talked about the care packages from Ireland and how much they were appreciated by him and his mates.  And Eddie hears, and begins preparing his own for Gary.

Anna listening to news on earphonesThe added bonus of this care box is that Anna will have something positive to do for her son.  Since he left, she’s just been mourning.  Watching news reports about the war, listening on earphones while she’s supposed to be working.  Her whole focus has become Afghanistan and what is happening there.  This is understandable, but not a great situation in which to bring a new child.  They have been approved for adoption and if a child is placed with them, Anna cannot be totally absorbed in what’s happening with her Anna takes care box to repackother child.

So Eddie’s care package has given Anna a new focus.  She took it to repack properly.  Now she can busy herself knitting socks and packing cookies for the lads overseas.  That is something in which a new child may participate and can understand.

Jack’s care packages

Jack talking with Tyrone about giftsAnd Jack is handing out his own care packages – cash to Tyrone and Molly, theatre tickets to Sally, even a mystery red rose delivered to Julie.  Thursday we found out why:  he’s dying.  I can’t bear to think about it.  Can’t write about that, not yet.  If knitting socks would keep Jack alive and Bill Tarmey on the show, I’d knit a pile higher than Blackpool Tower.

Rwanda

Skull among palms in fieldSeventeen years ago, one hundred days of genocide ended in Rwanda.  It was part of a long-standing conflict between Hutu and Tutsi, two groups who uneasily co-exist in the small Central African countries of Rwanda and Burundi.  This time, from early April to July, it was the Hutu doing their damnedest to wipe out their Tutsi neighbours, family and friends.

Canadian Armed Forces General Roméo Dallaire headed a small UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda and Burundi at the time.  He saw early on that there were genocidal objectives to what had seemed like intertribal fighting with colonial history overtones. More peacekeepers were deployed, too late to stop the massacre and without a clear mandate on use of force in a still-volatile situation.  An estimated 800,000 people, one-tenth of Rwanda’s population, were killed in that hundred days.  The majority of the dead were Tutsis, the numerical minority in the country.

Invitation to journalists

Skeleton on beach at Gisenyi, Lake Kivu, RwandaAfter the bloodshed stopped, the Canadian Armed Forces invited journalists to come to Rwanda to see what they were doing.  I was lucky enough to go in September.  A word of advice to writers, travelers, students of the world:  if you ever have an opportunity to go to a war zone or any area of violence and conflict, take it!

I went with no knowledge of Rwanda, of military or UN action.  My predisposition was anti-armed forces, and against sticking our noses in other people’s business because we usually make it worse.

Bodies outside and inside Ntarama churchMy 10 days in Rwanda were earth-shattering for me.  I had been in conflict zones before, in Central America in the 1980s, but I’d seen nothing like Rwanda after the killing stopped.  I cannot imagine what it was like while it was still going on.

The closest I came was listening to a CBC radio news item that summer.  In almost silence, the reporter walked through the refugee camp at Goma, Zaire (now DRC).  She whispered into her microphone what she was seeing.  I sat down to listen, chilled in the day’s heat, following her steps over and around corpses and living people moaning for help or food.

Smell of death in Rwanda

In Rwanda, I saw skeletons and smelled the odor of death that lingered in massacre sites now cleaned of bodies. I saw gutted villages, houses burned and people gone.  Survivors starting to clean up and rebuild.  Can’t describe it – I did soon after getting back in a Patients, doctor and soldier in hospital, KibunguCBC Radio documentary Rwanda Maps.  I still smelled it then.

I saw military men and women from around the world – operating field hospitals, rebuilding telephone lines and radio transmitters, guarding and patrolling against insurgents.  On days off, they’d visit orphanages and play with the kids.  They ran radio stations for their own entertainment and that of the surrounding area.

They sometimes talked about what they saw and their own fears.  Soldiers in a military and political no man’s land.  They were not engaged in war, but they were not doing a straightforward peacekeeping mission where the lines, literally and figuratively, are clearly drawn.  They could use their weapons for their own protection or that of others if there was a real threat.  But many of the threats were invisible.  Land was still mined.  Signal Corps linesmen had to work in bush to rebuild communications lines.  The same bush that our Canadian Forces minders told us to avoid for fear of explosive devices.  “Keep on the beaten path, where you can see!”  they told us.  Wasn’t possible for the Signal Corps, however.

Peacekeeper Post-Traumatic Stress

Canadian Forces Grizzlies, stopped for bones in pathWhen my documentary aired, a friend said, “they bought you easily – a free trip to Rwanda and you’re a big Armed Forces fan!”  Yeah, I suppose that’s all it took.  That, and seeing the faces of soldiers.  Seeing them at work, then at play with the little kids.  Hearing them talk about what they’d expected and what they were seeing.  Watching them at a massacre site, telling us to use Vicks Vaporub and our gauze mask to block the stench of death.  Watching them look at skulls split open by a machete.  Them looking at the scattered bones of a child, gauging the age based on the size of their own children.

I later heard a soldier I’d met being interviewed about the need for treatment of post-Village children, base of Virungu Mountainstraumatic stress upon their return.  I could see why.  A night or so after my return, I was in a mall parking lot.  An employee put some wood in a dumpster.  Then he broke it to fit it in.  Crack!  I dropped to the ground like I’d been shot. I was only in Rwanda a few days, after the killing had been somewhat cleaned up.  While there, I never heard a gunshot.

United Empire Rebels

Christopher Mabee, Canadian Nationals 2005 photo d stewartA couple weeks ago, I posted the family tree of the Mabees, my paternal grandmother’s family.  It’s the family I knew least about, other than there are a lot of them in the Tillsonburg-Courtland area.  And I claim the fabulous figure skater Christopher Mabee, from Tillsonburg, as kin.  Don’t know how he’s related* but I believe he must be, so I call him “Cousin Chris”.

Anyway, the internet allowed me to connect my limited knowledge of the Mabees with sources of a lot of information about them.  The thing that I was delighted to discover is that the Mabees came to Canada from the US as United Empire Loyalists.  That makes my entire lineage, both sides of both parents’ families, UEL.

Nancy Hart of Georgia, holding United Empire Loyalists prisonerSo talking with my husband, who was born and raised in the US, about the Loyalists.  His children are Canadian because of the Vietnam War.  I am Canadian because of the Revolutionary War.  Telling him about a Mabee ancestor whom the British hanged as a “spy” for the rebels.  The rest of the family came north to Canada. The American rebels, later known as the government and citizenry of the USA, seized their lands.

So what was that like?  Families divided by political opinion and geography.  For those who left, returning to the US was not an option unless they were willing to risk arrest.  Sounds like the American Civil War, doesn’t it?  Only it was a national border between them in the latter 1700s.

Butler's Rangers, painting by Garth DittrickBlack, white and First Nations – all belonged to the group that the new United States saw as traitors and that Canada called United Empire Loyalists.  All contributed to military efforts against the American “rebels” and all made new communities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario.

Voluntarily or not, the loyalists had already left their homelands at least once.  Europeans like my ancestors had sought freedom from religious, economic or political oppression in a new land.

One tyrant or a thousand tyrants

Painting of Loyalists landing, Bay of QuintePresumably, my kin in the Mabee, Burwell, Anger and Lymburner families had found that in the beginning.  But when total independence was being discussed and fought for, they preferred political ties with Britain to living in the proposed republic.  “Better to live under one tyrant a thousand miles away, than a thousand tyrants one mile away” was how UEL Daniel Bliss put it.  And, to the north, there was a country/colony that agreed with that philosophy.  So they picked up stakes again and moved to British North America.

UEL version of Union Jack 1707-1801 Double rebels, and divided families.  Family members maybe never saw each other again.  Those who left had to abandon the land and homes they’d built up. They had to homestead all over again in new country.  New generations became American or Canadian, maybe not really thinking much about their connections to the other country and their family there.

UEL military service coronet, for Canadian heraldryFrom New Jersey to New Brunswick and New York to Niagara, those United Empire Loyalists, rebels against the United States of America, are my people.

*I have found out! We are related through Simon Mabee (1700-1783), making us half 6th cousins, 3x removed.

The King and Us

George VI portraitColin First as George VI, in The King's SpeechWallis Simpson makes me think that there may well be a God, and that He is on “our” side.  I cannot imagine what the world would look like had Edward VIII remained on the throne.  And it’s thanks to Wallis Simpson that he didn’t.

He came to the throne in 1936 when the build up to WWII was already taking place.  Hitler had firm control of Germany and was looking to expand that control further in Europe.  Neville Chamberlain, British PM at the time, believed the best way to handle Hitler’s Germany was through “appeasement” – let him have what he wants and he’ll leave us alone.  Edward VIII, it seems, went even further than appeasement.  He and Wallis were pretty close to Nazi-sympathizers.  They enjoyed socializing with high-ranking Nazi officials.

Edward VIII, Duke & Duchess of Windsor, at home with pugsNow, maybe that was Wallis’ choice more than his.  It seems that she did the thinking in that family.  But I believe that if it hadn’t been her, it would have been someone else leading him around by the nose.  The one thing that seems very clear from reading history from that time is that Edward was a fun-loving man who really didn’t want to be bothered with heavy matters of state.  So he may have fallen in love with another woman who was marriage material, but based on assessments of his personality she probably wouldn’t have been any more competent as a war-time Queen than he would be a war-time King.

"We Four" at home, with dogsAs unsuitable as Edward was to inherit his father’s crown, so too seemed Albert, his younger brother the Duke of York.  As second in line, he’d never really had to worry about wearing the crown.  An introspective man, he wanted to pursue his own interests.  As Duke of York, that was just fine.  He married a strong woman, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.  She, a perfect home-grown match for a royal marriage, had been long courted by him and had refused his proposals.  She didn’t want a life anywhere in the Royal Family.  At that time, life as the central Royal didn’t seem a likelihood!

Edward VIII to Duke of Windsor

Poor Bertie stuttered badly, but it didn’t really matter – he wasn’t going to be in a position where public speaking was a major part of the job.  Then the unthinkable happened.  After George V’s death, David became Edward VIII and he refused to give up the American twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.  Parliament refused to waive the rules about divorced persons joining the Royal Family and there was the abdication crisis.  That was a crisis for the country.  Succession to the Throne had to be a familial crisis for Bertie and Elizabeth and the two Princesses.  “We Four”, as the Duke of York called his family, had a good and comfortable life mapped out near the limelight and with benefits, but not in the limelight.

Coronation photo of George VI and familyBut step up he did, and became George VI.  Elizabeth became a stalwart Queen consort.  Britain, still under Chamberlain as PM, engaged in war with Germany and won.  George VI truly lived up to the oath that England’s monarchs take in that being King probably cost him his life.  His daughter Elizabeth has gone on to be one of the two longest-reigning British monarchs ever.  And she has seen the Royal Family through some spectacularly rocky times during those decades.  She’s done it with grace and wisdom, just like her father and mother.

I haven’t yet seen the movie The King’s Speech, but I hope Colin Firth wins the Oscar for Best Actor – for his sake and Queen Elizabeth’s.