Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Unlikely Sequence Of Events

With the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg this week, the fact that I found that one of my elusive maternal ancestors was a member of the Union Army, and the quote I heard today, I decided to post a quick, short blog about one man. I've already mentioned him, but I think he deserves mention again. I've been thinking a lot about him lately. I wish I had a big photo of him to put right here. I don't. Maybe I will request his Civil War pension file from the National Archives and get lucky and find a tintype photo in it. But probably not. And he's not even related to me. Or any of my family. So why, you ask, am I bothering to dedicate an entire blog entry to him? Because I wouldn't be here without him.

You see, Jeremiah (or Joseph Jeremiah) Bissett was married to my great great grandmother Rebecca Jane Evilsizor, who I wrote about in my previous blog. They had two children, Joseph Calvin and Ida Belle Bissett. Life was just dandy for them, until Jeremiah signed up with the volunteer PA infantry. He served for almost exactly 9 months, when he was struck with chronic diarrhea, an issue for many of the military in those days, and passed away on October 21, 1864. They had only been married for 2 years. Rebecca had two young children to care for, so she went back to her family in Ohio.

I am here to say thank you to Jeremiah Bissett. Thank you for your service to your country. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Because without your sacrifice, I wouldn't be here. Rebecca would have remained in Pennsylvania til your return, and my great great grandfather Joshua Zirkle would have found someone else to marry. The sequence of events would not have been the right ones to ultimately lead to me. Or my siblings. Or my cousins. Or my grandfather Roy. Or his mother Rose. 

Here's the quote I heard today on an episode of Genealogy Gems. (Check her out here) (The quote was actually from a listener, who quoted Bill Bryson, author of a Short History of Nearly Everything. He said:)

“Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result — eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly — in you.”

So this week, think about your ancestors that may have been lost during the Civil War. How did that one historical event change the course of history in ways you may have never thought of? How many of you have the same situation? Would you be here if the War had been won by the Rebels? It just takes one little misstep or wrong turn to alter the course of history. It's a lot to digest when you realize that you wouldn't be here, if one thing had been different. I owe my existence to the deaths of several people, and while I am grateful to be here, I wish I could have gotten to know them too. I wish they could have lived longer lives. Nevertheless, we all have a purpose and we do the best we can in our lives. May your life's quest be fulfilled and may you be remembered by your descendants, as we remember our ancestors. Thank you to all the men and women who served in the Civil War.

Jeremiah at Hampton National Cemetery