The History of 8 Families
The Gates of Sheskin
Each of my eight immigrant families had the same goal: decrease the distance between themselves and lunch on a daily basis. What courage it must have taken to step onto an ocean going ship in 1848, anticipating icebergs, storms, fifty foot waves and knowing that it might be sixty to ninety days to reach land.
In preparation for the fast approaching global village, the rising generations of these eight families, as they jump out of the dull annals of history, where we are their barbarians, and ride across the stage of life in the 21st century with all the valor, gaiety and color of modern times should want to understand from whence they came.
In the last third of the 19th century, when over 90 % of all countries in the world were still ruled by sovereign monarchs, while Queen Victoria's England was at its height with the sun never setting on the British Empire, while again Ireland was being tested in spirit and for her very survival, there were five McTiernan children, 4 sons and one daughter born in the townland of Sheskin, the daughter dying at birth, one son staying in Ireland and the other three following the classic Irish example of the Wild Geese leaving for the far corners of the earth,
Reading this means that you were born in the 20th or early in the 21st century and more than any other period in history, we now possess a more dynamic archive of life in our time than ever before. These inventions that enabled this archive are a by-product of the inventive genius of the 20th century, movies, video, sound and photos. The basis for the 20th century achievements actually may have begun earlier, formed by several events and at several different locations at different points in time.
In 1870, the Age of Invention established the technological foundation for our society that later on in time allowing the peasants to move off the farm to the cities enabling the beginnings of the industrial revolution. In 1914, The Great War erupted dismantling the 19th century's class and political structures. Forever more, good help would be so hard to find. In 1917, the Russian Revolution established the ideological schism that would define a bipolar world for over seventy two years, eventually forcing the Russian people to choose between the Communism religion and Mother Russia herself. In the 1940s, the spectacular sacrifice of our World War II generation, who alone may have saved the century and perhaps all of mankind.
War is a common thread throughout the lives of all our Irish and
European ancestors. Military glory was a dream that century after
century seized on man's imaginations and set their blood on fire.
Trumpets, plumes, chargers, the pomp of war, the excitement of combat,
the exultation of victory--the mixture was intoxicating. To command
great armies, to perform deeds
of valour, to ride victorious through flower-strewn streets, to be
heroic, magnificent, famous--such were the visions that danced before
men's eyes as they turned eagerly to war throughout our history. In
these wars, my
Bender family line from Germany lost over 230 Bender ancestors
starting in the third partition of Poland and Napoleon's
invasion of Russia.
War was not a dream for the common man in Europe or Ireland. Many of our ancestors were the foot soldiers of these wars, the stepchildren of valour. War was an aristocratic trade, and military glory reserved for nobles and princes. In history, courage was the god of war, called valour by many historians. War was won by valour and was seen as the supreme high adventure.It was a dream that died hard. Century followed century and glittering visions faded before the somber realities of history. Great armies in their pride and splendor were defeated by starvation, pestilence and filth, valour being sacrificed to stupidity, gallantry to corruption. Many times throughout our family's European history one or all of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse were turned loose on mankind, governments and aristocrats believing to the end that valour was the lock on the gate. "Before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on Conquest. Yet another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword for War. Then a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand, Pestilence. And theî a pale horse! Its rider was named
When you read the Bender history and see my grandparent's cousins listed on the wall of St. Nicholas, the Rettigheim village church as being killed in The Great War [photo] or in WW II [photo] history might come alive as you ask yourself, what might have been? Reading about our twelve Bender ancestors that served and were wounded or killed in Napoleon's Army during his invasion of Russia in 1812, one of which made it home to die makes history seem real. When you read the Irish side, can you picture yourself as a twenty five year old young man in the early 1890s sitting on a mud floor in a stone house 11 by 20 feet big, talking with your parents about emigration knowing that you would never see them or the green fields of Ireland again? History does not always reveal its alternatives but implies rather what might have been.
Not too many years ago, at the beginning of the 20th century in 1906, the last great caravan of 20,000 camels started on its yearly trip along the Great Salt Road in Africa, about eleven years after my Irish grandparents arrived in America. Salt at that time was worth its weight in gold in that part of the world. A 100 years or so, really wasn't that long ago.
As we begin the 21st century, I hope the History of 8 Families may provide the framework on the way back to let you imagine what might have been if our ancestors had chosen a different road to travel, if they hadn't put on strength, Che Dzin. They had only the courage to risk all, grasping at the freedom to better themselves, risking the unknown, the ultimate terror, accepting the age old great rule of all agrarian societies if not all society, once you leave there's no coming home again. After all, a great idea must first break a great rule. Emigration on a grand scale, our ancestor's defining moment was the great idea.
Unable to resist looking back before my days are in the sere and yellow leaf, this is a brief nineteen page abstract of the families of my eight great grandparents. Four were Irish, two were German, one was French and one was of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It has where the families came from, when they left their homelands and where they settled in America, Australia and England. The individual family histories are ten to sixty pages long with their links located off the icons above. The Bender German history is the exception being over 4 inches thick with over 20,000 ancestors. If you are connected to any of these eight families, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include your information in the histories. A poorly done map of the 8 families is at this website: http://mctiernan.com/8familiesmap.htm