THE UNFOLDING JOURNEY is a new blog written in association with Legacy Genealogy.

This blog is a blend of disciplines that reveal the rich texture of culture and history that surrounded your ancestors' lives, as well as your own. We will take you beyond just the names, dates, and places to give you the "back story" for the reasons your ancestors thought what they thought and did what they did. We invite you to also visit us at the Legacy Genealogy facebook page at http://facebook.com/legacygenealogy

Monday, February 25, 2013


“The Hatfields and McCoys” is the most famous “feud” in American history. It raged on and off over more than 35 years from the end of the Civil War until 1901.
In the early 19th Century both families had settled in the Tug Valley along the Kentucky-West Virginia border. The McCoys put down roots on the Kentucky side of a stream called Tug Fork, while the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side. By the time of the Civil War each family was headed by an ambitious and confrontational man. The McCoy family was led by Randolph McCoy. The patriarch of the Hatfield clan was William “Devil Anse” Hatfield.
Trouble started during the Civil War; the Hatfields fighting for the Confederacy and the McCoys for the Union. After being discharged from the Union Army, young Harmon McCoy, returning home from the war, was hunted down and killed by resentful Hatfield kin folk.
Bitter feelings really began to rise about ten years later when Randolph McCoy accused a Hatfield man of stealing one of his pigs. The Hatfield’s contended that the pig belonged to them because it was on their property, even though it was tagged as one belonging to Randolph McCoy. The case went to court. The presiding judge was a Hatfield who decided in favor of the defendant. Tempers flared in court with threats exchanged and future reprisals promised. Not long after, the key witness in the trial, who testified in favor of the Hatfields, was killed by two McCoy brothers. They in turn were found not guilty due to self defense. 
Purloined pigs, crooked courts, and rising resentment fueled even more violence. Hostilities peaked in 1882 when three of Randolph McCoy’s sons killed Ellison Hatfield, the brother of “Devil Anse” Hatfield, leader of the Hatfield family. “Devil Anse” retaliated by capturing and executing the three McCoy brothers, without a trial of course, by tying them to a tree and shooting them. The accompanying photo shows heavily armed Hatfields.
Violence surged and receded for the next few years. In 1887, a lawyer, the cousin of Randolph McCoy, used his influence to have the murder indictments reissued against the Hatfield boys who had killed the McCoy brothers. Their extradition from West Virginia to trial in Kentucky was slow and frustrating, so the McCoys raided the Hatfield settlement taking several men captive back to Kentucky for trial.
The Hatfields were enraged and planned to kill Randolph McCoy. On January 1, 1888, a party of Hatfield men surrounded McCoy’s home and opened fire on his family sleeping inside. They set fire to the house killing two of Randolph’s children and beating his wife, who they left for dead. This has been called the New Year’s Night Massacre.
Now the conflict expanded. It was not only between the two families, but between Kentucky and West Virginia. The Governors of both states called up the National Guard as more retaliation raids were made by the McCoys into West Virginia. The governor of West Virginia accused Kentucky of violating the extradition process and took the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled against West Virginia (and therefore damaging the Hatfield cause). All eight Hatfield men were found guilty of murder by a Kentucky jury; seven were sentenced to life in prison and one was executed for murdering the daughter of Randolph McCoy.
The bloodshed had finally reached its finale, but the “Hatfields and McCoys” became an American metaphor for any harsh rivalry.
Tensions eased over the years. In 1979, representatives of the two families appeared on the TV show “Family Feud.” A pig was prominently displayed on stage during the game. The two families even held a joint family reunion in 2000, but no one was quite ready to forget what happened those many years ago. “We feel that through the press the Hatfields and McCoys played a big role in the stereotyping of Appalachia. We were not ruthless, illiterate hillbillies murdering each other over a pig” (Sonya Hatfield). You can be the judge of that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


In 1814 following the burning of the Capitol at Washington, the British moved on the harbor at Baltimore. A young lawyer named Francis Scott Key, representing President Madison, boarded a British warship to negotiate an exchange of prisoners. While aboard, Key overheard the British attack plan. So he had to remain on that ship until the battle was concluded.

Key was witness to the bombardment of the American fortifications at Ft. McHenry which guarded the harbor entrance. The fort’s flag was waving as darkness ensured. The bombardment lasted all night. At dawn Key looked toward the fort and saw that the American’s flag was still there. He was so moved with patriotism that he wrote a poem on the spot called “Defense of Fort McHenry.” Almost everyone knows that Francis Scott Key poem became the words to “The Star Spangled Banner.”

However very few people are aware that an Englishman wrote the music. Key’s brother-in-law saw that the poem’s words fit perfectly with the tune “The Anacreontic Song” which was the official song of London’s Anacreontic Society, a gentleman’s club of amateur musicians. It was written by Englishman John Stafford Smith. He of course did not set out to write an anthem for the United States, a nation with which his native country would fight two wars in his lifetime. And he had no way of knowing it would become, in order, a religious hymn, a popular drinking song in the pubs of London and America, and finally the anthem of the United States of America.

Key could not know that the words of his patriotic poem would be sung to the tune of an English drinking song and become the nation’s anthem 117 years after he wrote it.

Later in 1814, newspapers began circulating the words and the music together, and the song became popular. It was first performed publicly at Captain McCauley’s Tavern in Baltimore, an inauspicious debut. Throughout the rest of the 19th Century, the song was frequently played at public events. In 1889, the U.S. Navy made it its official song when raising the flag. Eight years later “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at the opening of baseball season in Philadelphia and then in New York the following year.

 “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed for years and even played as an anthem at the Olympic Games, but never officially designated as the nation’s anthem.

 About 1929 the editors for “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” newspaper column became aware that the United Sates had never adopted an official anthem and spread the word. Songwriters from New York to Hollywood composed patriotic songs and urged their congressmen to submit them for consideration. It was debated that “The Star Spangled Banner” was not appropriate, because it was hard to sing and people could not remember the words. But several famous American musicians supported it. John Philip Sousa loved it. At the urging of many, the U.S. Congress created an act in 1931 officially naming “The Star Spangled Banner” the anthem of the United States.

Unfortunately, neither Francis Scott Key nor John Stafford Smith were around to collect royalties. As far as the song being too hard to sing, well maybe a couple of mugs of beer might help.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Yee Ching Wong was born in the city of Guangzhou in the People’s Republic of China on August 27, 1947. Her father was a local businessman and her mother a homemaker. In 1952, when Yee was five, the family escaped Communism by fleeing to British Hong Kong, seventy miles to the south.

She was enrolled in a Catholic school there; and was a bright, capable student. Because of her potential, the nuns of the school believed that Yee should have an English name to enhance her opportunities. Her father, who didn’t speak English, turned to the newspaper to select Yee’s new name. It seems that the week before a storm came through Hong Kong that was named Typhoon Flossie. That was it! The young girl’s new name would be Flossie. Later, she said, “I used to be embarrassed by it. Now I’m trying to change the image of the name.”

Flossie was an exceptional student and those around her encouraged her to study science (an option that would not have been available in Communist China). She wasn’t interested but followed their advice any way. The more she studied it, the more she learned to love it. Graduating from high school in 1965, Flossie Wong was sent to the U.S. to further her studies. Her family enthusiastically supported her education. She enrolled at UCLA, majoring in molecular biology. In 1968, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in bacteriology.

Flossie did postgraduate work at UC San Diego until 1972. She married there; her next new name being Flossie Wong-Staal (a name she kept even after a later divorce). The next year, she moved to the east coast, taking a position with the National Cancer Institute in Maryland. Her work focused on retroviruses - a mysterious group of viruses of which little was known.

By 1980, the AIDS epidemic was first recognized. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute lab were working to isolate the cause of AIDS and the many illnesses that make up the syndrome. Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal worked with the noted researcher Robert Gallo. Together they first identified the HIV virus and its link to AIDS in 1983. Flossie is credited with the first cloning of the HIV virus and the first genetic mapping of it. Her monumental breakthrough allowed the development of diagnostic tests to screen patients and donated blood supplies for the HIV virus.

In 1990, the Institute for Scientific Information named Flossie Wong-Staal as the top woman scientist of the 1980’s, as well as the fourth-ranked scientist in the world under the age of 45. That same year she returned to the University of California at San Diego. Four years later, Flossie was named to direct the new Center for AIDS Research, at UC San Diego, where she and her staff worked to find a vaccine for the HIV virus, and a cure for AIDS, using the techniques of gene therapy. After several years in this position, Flossie left to co-found iTherX Pharmaceuticals, a company focusing on treatments for Hepatitis C. She is its Chief Scientific Officer. She still holds the title of Professor Emeritus at the University of California.

Today she is acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on viruses, and HIV specifically. In 2002, Discover Magazine named Flossie Wong-Staal as one of the fifty most extraordinary women scientists in the world. She was also elected to the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies. Then in 2007, The UK’s Daily Telegraph listed her as #32 on its list of the “Top 100 Living Geniuses.”

Not a bad record for the little Chinese-American girl who didn’t like science.


The Alien Enemies Act of 1798 provided the legal justification for controlling many Americans, and visiting foreign nationals, even 150 years after its creation.

The term “enemy alien” refers to any person, male or female, who is 14 years of age or older living within the United States but not naturalized, and who is, by default, a citizen of any foreign nation with which the United States is at war. These people are “liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as enemy aliens.” Also considered enemy aliens are foreign merchants transacting business in the U.S., international students studying here, and merchant seamen stranded in U.S. ports because their ships are impounded if war broke out.

During the WWII there were about 1,100,000 people labeled as “enemy aliens” in the United States. The Japanese totaled 92,000, the Germans 315,000, and the Italians 695,000. All were required to register with the government, be fingerprinted and photographed, and were required to carry their “enemy alien registration cards” at all times.

This 1798 act, along with the War Relocation Authority was used to remove and detain tens of thousands of Japanese during WWII. Their story is well known today. But other groups of foreign origin were also affected, principally Germans and Italians. No one would have had a problem with removing diplomats or other representatives of enemy nations, of course, but many Americans were caught up in this legal net simply because their naturalization process to become American citizens had not been completed.

In 1939, Britain and France declared war against Germany. In a show of support, President Roosevelt authorized the FBI to compile a list of all those to be arrested in case of national emergency.

The Germans

In the United States by 1940 there were 1.2 million persons residing who had been born in Germany, another 5 million with both parents born in Germany, and another 6 million with one parent born in Germany. The political and economic influence of this major sub-group precluded any mass effort to relocate or intern them. But a total of 11,507 German “enemy aliens” were interred during the war.

But many Germans, and German-American citizens, were detained temporarily then evicted from coastal areas on an individual basis by the War Relocation Authority, who also was responsible for the relocation of Japanese Americans. 

Another 4,500 ethnic Germans, who were living legally in Latin American countries, were brought to the U.S. and interred at the insistence of our government. American intelligence paid financial rewards to all Latin countries expelling these people. They were interred at camps in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Tennessee and some were held until 1948, years after the end of the war. Five countries refused to participate in the action, including Mexico.

The Italians

By 1940, there were millions of native born Italian-American citizens of the United States who were not affected by the Alien Enemy Act. But astoundingly, there were more than 600,000 who had immigrated in previous years who had not become naturalized citizens. The label “enemy aliens” did not distinguished between ideologies; pro-Fascists and anti-Fascists were legally the same.

The War Relocation Authority (the agency that supervised the relocation of Japanese-Americans into camps) evacuated and interred Italian-Americans, without regard to citizenship, from areas designated important for national security. These were primarily along the seacoasts. With Italy’s surrender in September of 1943, most Italian internees were released.

National security was a legitimate concern during the 1940’s. But was the government over zealous in its action at the expense of individual freedoms? And, does this situation exist in American today? 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


The ancient Iroquoian-speaking peoples of North America lived as separate, distinct nations for centuries. But by the 16th Century, they came together as the “Iroquois League.” The five nations whose culture merged were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and the Seneca; a sixth nation, the Tuscarora, joined the union in 1722. They had many traditions and practices that were assimilated into Colonial America and Canada that still exist today. The ideas in the U.S. Constitution are thought to have been influenced by the Iroquois.

Their societal roles were quite different from European traditions however. A woman’s place within the ancient Iroquois Nation was very different from her sisters in Europe. Iroquois society followed a matrilineal lineage. Generational succession was through the woman’s family, not the man’s. Any social status that her children gained was through her family.

Women held all the property rights. They owned the land, the dwellings, tools, blankets, and horses. Men only owned their clothes, weapons, and personal effects. Property owned by the woman before marriage remained in her possession, and was not considered comingled with her husband. The product of an individual woman’s work belonged to her alone. She could share or withhold it at her discretion.

At marriage, every young couple lived in the home of the wife’s family, and children were always educated by the woman’s family. If a woman chose to divorce her husband, all she had to do was to ask him to leave the dwelling (which she alone owned) and take his few personal possessions with him. After the separation, the children always stayed with the mother.

While men and women had separate roles in the day to day Iroquois life, both genders shared power at the clan level. Political and diplomatic decisions were always made at the local tribe level as well. Tribal councils of the mothers were held separately from the councils of the men. But frequently, a women’s representative would appear before the men’s council to present the view of the women. Tribal laws were usually initiated by the women.

The members of the Grand Council of Sachems (the ruling elite) were men but they were chosen by the mothers of each clan. The chief of the clan could be removed from office at any time by a council of women elders.

If the male clan leader did not conform to the wishes of the women of the tribe, the “clan mother” (the ranking female) could demote him. This was a process called “knocking off the horns” and consisted of removing the ceremonial deer antlers from his head piece. The now ex-chief was returned to regular citizenship. Successors were nominated by the former chief’s sister.

Warfare had always been the domain of the Iroquois men and they controlled when and against whom war would be declared; but even this was disputed by the Iroquois women during the mid 1600’s. War had become constant and unregulated. The Iroquois women devised a plan to force the men to include them in decisions about war. First, they boycotted lovemaking (called a Lysistratic action). Then they used an effective tactic, proclaiming that childbearing would cease. The Iroquois men believed that only the women knew the secret of birth so the future of the tribe would be out of their control.

What ultimately worked was that the women denied access to the men for the supplies necessary to make war; primarily food and clothing. The men did not want to be hungry and naked warriors, so the relented. The women now gained the power to declare war and accept, or veto, peace treaties. Strong consensus was required to approve a treaty. Ratification required a two-thirds majority of tribe mothers.

Centuries have now passed by and today the authority and responsibilities of Iroquois citizens is more equally divided. The modern process of electing the tribal government has made it so. But once upon a time, the women ruled . . . and the men obeyed.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Douglas Corrigan was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1907. His family moved around often. After his parents divorced, Douglas settled in Los Angeles with his mother. At eighteen, he decided to visit a local airfield. He watched excitedly as a pilot took passengers for a ride in an old bi-plane for $2.50 a trip. Not having the fare at the time, Douglas returned the next week with the money and in anticipation of his first flight. He was hooked. He started flying lessons. Five months later Douglas Corrigan made his first solo flight.

While at the airfield one day, he was offered a job by the Mahoney and Ryan Aircraft Company as a mechanic in their San Diego plant. While working there, a new customer arrived to see if the company would design and build a special aircraft for him. It was Charles Lindbergh. Douglas was assigned to assemble the wings, install the gas tanks, and mount the instrument panel on the Spirit of St. Louis. When “Lindy” made his famous transatlantic flight in May of 1927, the mechanics were thrilled and proud. Douglas’ excitement turned to inspiration by the flight, and he decided right then that he would make his own transatlantic flight. In 1929, Douglas Corrigan became a full-fledged pilot.

After working on the east coast for a small passenger air service, he decided to return to California. For the trip, Douglas bought a used Curtiss-Robin monoplane for $310. Back at home, he restored and improved his aircraft, and as a mechanic he began to modify it for a transatlantic journey.

In 1935, Corrigan applied for permission to make a non-stop flight from New York to Ireland. Permission was flatly denied. They said that the piece of junk he was flying was not sound enough for that kind of trip. For the next two years he continued to modify the plane in order to be granted a certification for the Atlantic crossing. He was repeatedly turned down. He was granted permission to fly non-stop from the west coast to New York however.

Douglas Corrigan had a plan up his sleeve. He would land in New York at night after officials went home, fill his gas tanks, and leave for Ireland. But mechanical problems delayed his departure and bad weather made the trip impossible. Maybe next year - and he returned to California.

In early July of 1938, Corrigan again arrived in New York. After a short stay he was given permission to fly back home. But by July 17th, it was his time to act. He took off from a field in Brooklyn at dawn in a thick fog. A few onlookers watched him climb into the clouds. Well, Douglas Corrigan flew eastward, not westward. He had no radio and his compass was outdated.

Twenty eight hours later, Corrigan landed in Dublin, Ireland, and was reported as saying, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” Unhappy aviation officials took him in for questioning. Corrigan said that he had flown through clouds for about 26 hours before finding clear skies, and when he emerged he was over a large body of water. He claimed that when he looked at his compass in the light, he realized that he had been reading it upside down (wink, wink). They did not believe him. “That’s my story,” he said. They suspended his pilot’s license immediately.

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan returned to New York by ship with his airplane crated in the ship’s hold. As the ship passed by the Statue of Liberty, whistles started to blow and fireboats shot water upwards. The next day, “Wrong Way” was given a ticker tape parade down Broadway which drew one million people (more than the parade for Charles Lindbergh). This simple man with a largely home-built old airplane, no radio, and a faulty compass was easy to identify with by the public.

He said later that the high point of his life was not the journey but that President Franklin Roosevelt assured him that he didn’t doubt Corrigan’s story for a minute.

When Corrigan was 81 years old in 1988, his original Curtiss-Robin plane went on display at an air show. It had to be put under guard . . . so that “Wrong Way” wouldn’t be able to take off one last time.