: Young Man Heinrich Boll :

Genealogy

I am assured at any rate
Man’s practically inexteriminate
Someday I must go into that.
There has always been an Ararat
Where someone else begat
to start the world all over at.

-- Robert Frost,  A Wishing Well, 1962

2018 Fall, Vol. 4, No. 4

2018 Fall Young Man Heinrich BollRecently there has been a sudden upsurge of interest in genealogy in the United and elsewhere. It has been prompted by a popular television show moderated by the Harvard Professor “Skip” Gates who can trace his own roots beyond West Virginia where he was born. There is also the Antiques Road Show where locals show up with treasures from their attics or cellars to be put on display before a rapt audience.

And, of course, there are ancestry companies who will take your DNA and send a pie shaped report that traces your “family” history several countries or ethnic groups confirming or denying the family gossip that there was a drop of Native American blood (or a sixteenth) that may qualify you for tribal membership. The surge of ethno nationalism sweeping through Europe has fueled neo-Nazi sentiments and is quite different from the nineteenth century eugenics movement fathered by Frances Galton (Darwin’s’ cousin) and directed toward race improvement through eugenics.

None of this has particularly engaged my attention despite my scholarly work on the free love Oneida community in central New York that carried out a bold sexual experiment called “stirpiculture” that pared off men and women with differing physical and spiritual qualities and produced seventy children and such mundane products as bear traps and silverware, the latter traditionally given as wedding presents.

Recently a nephew off mine took an interest in the Fogarty clan, which I had always thought of as rather simple. There were few family rumors about exotic mysteries since both my parents had migrated from the west country of Ireland to New York where they married, raised eight children without any of the Eugene O’Neil sturm und drang. They were both peasants (and I don’t use that word despairingly) with limited education (fourth grade). My father was a longshoreman who carried a hook and eventually achieved his dream of owning a bar in Brooklyn before it became famous and expensive. Everybody went to church (I was an altar boy along with Pete Hamill) and went to school (parochial of course) with three of my brothers becoming (what else?) lawyers, enacting the American dream (ala Horatio Alger) from rags to riches.

My nephew’s search for his roots led me to look for a satchel left to me by a brother (a judge) who had done some detailed genealogy work in the wonderful Mormon archives that contains such items as genealogies of genealogy for their own religious purposes as “The Latter Day Saints.” I found the satchel in my cluttered (a kind description) home office that is filled with books, papers, and so much detritus as to defy description. It contained the family history with pictures, citizenship papers of both my parents including the mellifluous original name given to my mother: Margarette Loyolia Carmody.

Thanks to the Irish critic Declan Kiberd, I learned that the families of supporters who favored the creation of an Irish state did not name their children using English names but rather took a French or Spanish name. My mother’s name was shortened when she was processed at Ellis Island to “Gretta” which she carried throughout her life. Her middle named paid homage to the Jesuit priest Ignatius Loyola.

Our lead essay is about “Young Man Boll,” an evocation of a youthful criticizing the Nazi regime. We have a Texas couple touring Ireland in search of their heritage and finding it. Additionally, we have an older essay by the aforementioned Professor Gates who chronicles the development of the Black enclave in London-Brixton, penned in 1976 when he was a young man and Brixton a vibrant community. This genealogical tour requires no DNA; and, if you read it you won’t get a certificate. There always stories, poems and a promise that another number is in the making.

Robert S. Fogarty, Editor

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