My Great-Great Grandfather on my Mother’s side was named after one of ancient history’s wealthiest men, but Solomon Soper left a humble legacy: $50.00 to each of his four minor heirs. Actually that may have been a substantial inheritance back in 1843 when Mr. Soper died—but obviously not a fortune.
I have difficulty reading the photocopy of Solomon’s personal goods listed in his will which I received from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository in Springfield, Illinois. Here are the items I can read: 1 two-horse wagon, 1 chopping ax, 1 iron wedge (or widge), 1 pot, 1 tea kettle, 1 pan, 1 pail, 1 pitcher, 1 plate, 2 mugs, 1 saddle/’bridle/reins, 1 tin box, 1 bed and bedding, 1 bag, 1 smoothing iron, 37 bushels corn, 1 curry comb—and that is all I can decipher.
The ancestor splurge has been triggered because I’m in the process of joining the Daughters of the American Revolution. I’ve been asked why in the world would I want to do that—and the question has been posed with an underlying inference that maybe I’m some kind of a snob. Well, my Revolutionary ancestor was a Private in the Continental Army, so I’m not exactly descended from General George Washington.
Since my Mother and Maternal Grandmother were members of the D.A.R., joining that organization has often come to mind. So when our Granddaughter, Nancy in L. A., decided to join, both her Mom (our Daughter, Laura in Washington State) and I agreed it would be fun.
Along with the family connection the D.A.R. has appealed to me for it’s traditional stand on patriotism and the importance of our U. S. Constitution—both of which have been egregiously undermined by President Obama and his minions. Rather than grousing while watching the news (or maybe along with grousing!) I want to be involved in some tangible activity that reflects my values. Currently the D.A.R. sponsors projects and fund raisers to benefit our veterans—and that suits me just fine.
You may be wondering why, with a Mom and Grandma who were D.A.R. members (and I have the provenance of their membership cards) wouldn’t that suffice to let Nancy, Laura, and me into the group? Well apparently there is a current rash of applicants due to the ease of online ancestry searches—and some of the claims are invalid. Our Registrars–West Coast and Wisconsin—are leaving no stone unturned in order to connect the dots in our lineage. (Please forgive those two clichés. Yikes!)
So I have journeyed back four generations to get Solomon Soper’s will. Solomon married Phoebe Wood—the granddaughter of Private Ebenezer Wood. Solomon and Phoebe’s daughter, Electa Lusetta Soper, married Reverend Daniel Alexander Campbell—a Scottish descendent Yankee who pastored the First Congregational Church (really the first!) at Pine River, Wisconsin. These were the parents of my Grandma Kate—a woman whom I’ll always revere for her Scottish backbone, and especially for her love for the Lord.
Meanwhile, I’m touched by the list of Solomon’s goods—truly a litany of basic things. I have far more than 1 plate, 2 mugs, etc. But I have no reason whatsoever to be a snob! Solomon’s will reminds me of that!
Margaret L. Been, April 2015