The following article was written by my friend, Thomas Fiske
Thomas Fiske

Who knew there was a dark side to genealogy? I certainly did not know until today. It was news to me before I figured it out.

While looking at an Internet epistle from Family Roots, I saw two books that looked mighty interesting. As a fan of Amateur Radio and Genealogy, I was long accustomed to being disappointed at Christmas when I opened packages of socks and underwear. No one knew what to give me. This last year I decided to take matters into my own hands and get something I really wanted: genealogy books. Besides, my chest of drawers were full and my shelves were empty. This year I opened two packages containing books and I loudly thanked an obscure aunt who lives in Kentucky. I even wrote her a note of gratitude for the volumes. But I didn’t mail the envelope.

The first book, titled something like Ontario People, contains information about those folks who were loyalists when the Revolutionary War ended. I read that Americans offered them a hanging with all the appropriate amenities, while King George III offered them land in Ontario, Canada. Most people wanted to escape the rope and III wanted to fill Ontario with his subjects. Outside of the cold weather, it was a match made in heaven, proving that III was no fool.

Now, it just so happened that among the loyalists were a group of folks named Shippee who lived in Rhode Island. They quickly fled to Ontario. Over the next 100 years the Shippee/Shippy clan worked their way in a south-westerly direction until they found the American border. There they slipped across and traveled until they got to Iowa, where they settled.

The second book was titled Expansion of New England. It seems that my ancestor, a man named Fiske, had with his ancestors, been living in Rhode Island for some hundred years or so. There was a big recession in the area in 1837, so he took his small family and left for Southern Indiana near the Ohio River. He settled in New Albany, across the Ohio River from the city of Louisville, Kentucky. There, he had many children and all of them lived to maturity. In 1866, just after the close of the Civil War, Fiske moved across the Ohio to that wonderful city of Louisville where his number one son took up residence and established a profitable business. The river was about 3/4 of a mile wide without bridges, so the move was no small thing.

The Fiske family settled down and waited for me to be born. Eventually I showed up and there was great rejoicing. But I did not lead them. I tried several cities such as Cleveland, Schenectady, and Ontario, California before settling down.

And it was in Southern California that I met a pretty young woman from Iowa. Her maiden name was Shippy.

We had a wonderful courtship and then we married. While in middle age I took up the august hobby of genealogy. After several years of recording facts about my family, I began looking into my wife’s family. Her uncle had been doing the same thing, so his records were a wonderful help. My wife is an identical twin whose husband is also a genealogist.

All three of our records showed the same thing. The Shippee/Shippy family were loyalists who fled from Rhode Island and went to Ontario as guests of King George III.

Only my records showed that my Fiske ancestor was a captain his local militia. His side won the War and was charged with the responsibility of hanging loyalists.

I tried very hard to keep this information from my wife and her family, but eventually it leaked. I found out when I came home from work one day and noticed the silence. My wife was not speaking to me that day. She had discovered that the Fiskes were wanting to hang the Shippees. Or could have been; it made no difference. It made for a dark day.

When I saw these two very interesting books for sale on the Family Roots web site, I was reminded of that time and how much pain it brought to my wife. Oddly enough, it brought me no pain at all. Did I buy the books anyway? You can bet your bottom dollar I did.

But I may keep them hid behind my collection of various texts about the intricacies of Amateur Radio.