Tuesday, 28 November 2017

An Ancestor Story

Somewhere around 700 years ago....near the 1360 era, I had this ancestor named Thomas.  We will call him 'Tom' for short.

Tom grew up on the eastern side of England, in a small farming community of Levenham, UK (about an hour's drive north of London).  To be honest, in today's environment....there's just not much there.  In the 1200 to 1400 era?  Well....oddly enough, it was regarded as one of the dozen-odd spots on the whole isle with wealth.  Several families with status....lived in the local area.  Tom?  He was a 'clan-member' of one of these families.

At some point, around age twenty to thirty (no one knows the precise story)....Tom ends up on a trip that takes him to the northeastern end of Turkey (on the Black Sea....NOT the Med).  This is 200 years after the crusades and has nothing to do with the crusades.  The period?  This is really the Marco Polo-era, when trade routes are being developed and people are trading off into China, and routes end up going through Persia, Armenia, and Georgia....onto Turkey, the Black Sea, and the Med.

My humble guess is that Tom ended up on one of these sea adventures, and a trading expedition of sorts. 

Along the north coast of Turkey, near the end....lies the port city of Trabzon.  Today?  It has roughly 750,000 residents.  In those days, it probably numbered at least 50,000.  It would have been a major port for trade activity coming out of the Silk Road.

At some point, Tom ends up with a Countess wife (Cycely of Alcel).  Tom?  He likely holds a title of 'Sir' at this point.  Most royalty in England is ending, and even getting the title of the 3rd Duke of Madison....really didn't mean much of anything. 

Who was the Countess Cycely of Alcel?  It is a real unknown.  It's an odd spelling.  If this were English or Irish...it'd be Cecily.  Alcel?  Non-existent today.  It might have been a hilltop, or a courtyard on the outskirts of Trabzon.  Perhaps it's not even around Trabzon but of another area in the distance. 

So you start to look around this region of northeastern Turkey, and its neighbors.  To the east, you have Georgia, and in the middle....the major trading city in the 1300's of Tbilisi.  Tbilisi is fairly well known in this era for prosperity, trade, and capital.  Interestingly enough, it's also known for a fairly large population of Ashkenazi Jews.   Around a hundred years prior to Tom's adventure....the Mongols arrive in the Georgia region, and a fair number of folks evacuated....left....relocated, with some of the wealthy clans ending up in Turkey. 

My suspicion, to this odd feature in this recent DNA test I took....I have .5-percent of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA....is that the Countess here (Cycely of Alcel) is more or less a descent of the Ashkenazi Jews of Tbilisi, and the family had become traders in the Trabzon port region.

A dowry of sorts is offered up to guys of this era, and I'm guessing that Tom was standing at the right place and right time....and ended up with a Countess by this circumstance.  And thus explains to some degree the .5-percent of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA that I have.

What happens after this event?  Tom and Cycely return to England.  Tom passes away at age 49 (we never know the circumstance to this).  Cycely lives on for another forty-odd years. 

Oddly enough, this is the end of any royalty or status claims to the family tree.  No one after this point ever mentions Lord, Duke, Sir, or Countess. 




The Rural versus Urban Senator Topic

The Wall Street Journal wrote up a piece yesterday to stir 'the pot' over representation and fairness within the Senate....which got two public comments tossed out:

"By 2040, about 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states. They will have only 30 senators representing them, while the remaining 30% of Americans will have 70 senators representing them."

-- Kyle Griffin


"This is the core threat to our democracy. The rural minority -- the people @JYSexton just wrote a long thread about -- have and will continue to have disproportionate power over the urban majority."

-- Joy Reid

In this case, Griffin and Reid have spent almost no time looking at history and how the Constitution pieced together the US government.

If you go back to the original thirteen states and review the 26 Senators in place....there's an unfairness built into the system on day one.

The 1790 Census shows the general population of the US, which includes free-men and slaves:

Virginia: 747,000
Maryland: 319,000
North Carolina: 393,000
Vermont: 85,000
New Hampshire: 141,000
New York: 340,000
Georgia: 82,000
Maine: 96,000
Rhode Island: 69,000
Massachusetts: 378,000
Connecticut: 237,000
Delaware: 59,000
Kentucky: 73,000
New Jersey: 184,000
Pennsylvania: 434,000

That adds up to 4,893,000 total.  You can subtract approximately 694,000 as slaves, if you desire.

So talk fairness.  In 1790, there are five states with 300,000 or more, and there are ten others with a population of 200,000 or less.  In fact, Delaware has barely 59,000.

One might go to both Reid and Griffin....to ask what exactly do you want to do?  Redesign the states to be a particular size each?  Do you want to force large segments of the population to move into Utah and Montana....to even things out?  Do you want to give an extra Senator to highly urbanized states?

For that matter, what is a highly urbanized state?  Once you get beyond the New York City limits....it's a fairly rural state.  Once you drive past the city limits of Chicago....Illinois is a fairly rural and non-metropolitan state.  Once you exit Detroit.....well, there's just not much of an urban nature to talk about. Go discuss Atlanta and draw the 30-mile circle....what you find outside of the circle is a very rural state. 

Then you have this funny factor.....large urban cities to some degree are dying or getting less popular.  A lot of people work now in urban areas, but drive an hour to live in lesser urbanized areas.

The original thought by the Constitution guys...was that Senators were going to be wise older men, and advise the President.  Where did they get the idea?  Oh my...that would require pulling out Roman history and discovering that virtually everyone had a grasp of Rome, the Empire and how things worked there.  Go ask high school kids how much Roman history they get today.  Ask Reid and Griffin what they know about Rome. It'll likely be two 3x5 cards of information. 

I can see this label coming in the future....rural-Senator or urban-Senator.