The Future | Tom Camfield

Tom Camfield
Posted 3/31/22

PICTURED ABOVE ARE Christina Park; my great grandchildren Claire (5), Iris (1) and Simon (3); and Taylor Camfield-Bronstein. They represent the Korean and Jewish branches of my family tree for the …

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The Future | Tom Camfield


PICTURED ABOVE ARE Christina Park; my great grandchildren Claire (5), Iris (1), and Simon (3); and Taylor Camfield-Bronstein. They represent the Korean and Jewish branches of my family tree for the time being. The children here are half Korean, one-quarter Jewish-American and one-quarter mongrel Camfield-Westall.

If you think I’ve switched from politics, think again. In another 40 years or so, any one of my great-grandchildren may well be active in politics or otherwise acting in behalf of the public. They all are intelligent, have dedicated parents — and hopefully enough of the world will be left to inspire them.

I’ve had printed up in hard cover six large hard-cover books of family history that repose in some major libraries (and half a book that doesn’t). I was able to luck out in the early going by finding the Mayflower passenger and first governor of Plymouth Colony William Bradford, whose great-great-granddaughter Cynthia (Bradford) married my gggg-grandfather Ira Camfield. Also Mathew (sic) the first direct-line Camfield (a younger son of a Northamptonshire stonemason) to reach New Haven (Connecticut Colony) in the early 1630s. It took a number of years to trace back to the French de Camvilles who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066, but the line is muddled with various spellings and records in Old English for about the next 500 years following that date.

It may appear that family history is merely a matter of sitting down at a computer for an hour or two now and then. But consider that I’ve been at it about 40 years — and at tooth-and-nail pace much of that time. And did a lot of leg-work and pre-computer snail mail. I made many trips, for instance, to the Seattle Public Library and found such book material as minutes of town meetings in New Haven back to the 1630s and the founding of Kent, Conn., in the 1730s. One town clerk from Connecticut sent me a copy of meeting notes on scrap paper on which “son” was written ”sun” and “Mary” was scrawled “Marah.” A museum director in Michigan sent me copies of most of two Civil War books. All free. I carried on a long (but slow) correspondence with a historian in Pennsylvania.

It also took about 30 years to discover finally that a second wife in the Warner line went through life using her middle name and died in South Dakota.

Much of today’s computerized material is impatient, in keeping with the times . . . and also is incorrect. Too many researchers are anxious to fill in the blanks of their computer software with meaningless names and give little heed to more commoners of history. Too many researchers give little attention to pig farmers as the search goes on for famous ancestors. One of my most-competent ancestors was the grandfather who built a log cabin in the Canadian wilderness in 1903, raised 10 children (seven of them girls) raised oats (and fattened pigs on the side) and eventually (at a somewhat advanced age) helped build the local paper mill. I have worked hard to write him his place in history.

People still write me figuring I have descent from General George Armstrong Custer because I had a grandmother Custer. They were unrelated. Custers/Costers/etc. were common throughout Germany,

In recent years, having exhausted colorful ancestors including such dubious individuals as Lady Godiva, I have turned more toward seeking multi-racial extensions of the family tree in its various branches. Most elusive over 400-plus years has been a Native American connection, but I am still researching one unresolved Warner female line from the early-1700s.

l also had about given up on mid-African Black ancestry until I decided to branch out the family tree with a step-grandchild named Riley, who at age 8 is showing great promise for the future. Riley’s natural mother is Black and both parents are Lesbian. (And a pox on Gov. DeSantis of Florida, about whom more will be heard soon.)