This is my interpretation of today’s Daily Prompt titled “Modern Families”…Thanks for reading!
My seventh great uncle, Daniel D. Tompkins, was vice president of the United States, under President James Monroe. Daniel D., or “Dandy” as I like to call him, was also governor of New York. Tompkins Square Park, right there in Alphabet City, was named after him.
He’s coming over for dinner tomorrow and I’m scanning the web for recipes that would befit an early-19th-century gent who likes to imbibe. OK, he died a raging alcoholic, but it was only after he loaned all his money to support the War of 1812 (or something like that…I have to look it up in Wikipedia) and instead of being repaid, he was accused of embezzling or something like that. He was shamed into drinking. We have that in common.
I suspect that whatever was considered a delicacy back in 1825 — pickled goose eggs? pheasant neck stuffed with apples? — will not be found at Kroger. Or even Trader Joe’s, if I had time to make the hour-long trip. I will stick to what I know: roast beef and yorkshire pudding. Anyway, he’s flying in from LaGuardia, which will be shock enough for him. Or maybe not. Maybe since he’s been dead for almost 200 years, he’s quite used to flying. Who knows?
So I decide to do some research on the family tree, learn a little more about his family, study up on turn-of-the-19th-century New York. I want to ask him about his brother, Nathaniel, my seventh great-grandfather. I think he was a farmer. How did they travel such different paths?
All through childhood, my relation to Dandy was confabulated. I was told that I was the great, great, great, great, great, great-granddaughter of the Vice President of the United States. I couldn’t bring him to show-and-tell, but I sure did bring up my lineage at every chance. “My great, great, great, great-grandfather (the number of “greats” I repeated varied, depending on my mood) was Daniel D. Tompkins, vice president under Monroe,” I’d say. But I uncovered the truth long after my parents died, thanks to Rootsweb. It became painfully obvious as I traced the lines down the Tompkins branch that Dandy was nowhere to be found. Certainly, he must be an uncle, I surmised. All those Tompkinses living in Eastchester, Westchester, NY, must be related.
I thought I found evidence of this when I took my first stab at putting our family history together, Volume 1, the Tompkins, Partridges, Traceys, Smiths, Deans, Boardmans, and Wrights (straight back to Kelvedon Hatch in merry England). But, oh no. Tonight, on the eve of our “reunion,” I learn that Dandy is not an uncle at all, and it has taken me three hours to dig back through the uncles and cousins to find that, in fact, he is my fourth cousin, six generations removed. I’m not even sure if I’m saying that right.
And here I’ve told everyone about this connection to a vice president and he’s coming tomorrow to eat roast beef and yorkshire pudding at my table, thinking that I’m the favorite 7th or something great-granddaughter of his beloved brother. I decide I need to buy more wine. I will get him drunk and it won’t matter who I am.
Besides, I want the inside scoop on Dolly Madison.