The roots of my family tree, both sides, the Philbricks and the Eatons, are deeply embedded in the colonial soil of what is now the United States. There was an Eaton who came over on the Mayflower, but as I remember it, my mom said it wasn’t one of our family, directly. I do know, though, that the Eaton we come from was settled in Watertown, Mass., by the mid 1630s.
The Philbricks were also there in Watertown, probably a couple of years earlier than the Eatons when Thomas Philbrick, known as “Thomas the Emigrant” came to New England’s shores around 1630.
I don’t know too much about the Eaton side, more’s the pity, but a lot of people put a lot of time into exploring the Philbrick lineage. There’s a group called “The Philbrick/Philbrook Family Association.” I discovered them while bored at work one day many years ago. I wrote to them and discovered that I’m a direct descendant of Thomas. The association sent me a very detailed genealogy tracing the family all the way back to the 11oos!
Naturally, with roots so deep, it was inevitable that quite a few famous people who were descendants of Thomas evolved. There’s the notable author, Nathaniel Philbrick who wrote: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, and a host of others. Herbert Philbrick was a famous counterspy during the “Red Scare” of the 40s and 50s and had a T.V. series I Led Three Lives.
It seems that a lot of the descendants of Thomas have a way with words. Besides Nathaniel, there’s Rodman Philbrick who is an award-winning author of books for both adult and young-adult readers. He wrote Freak the Mighty, which was made into the movie The Mighty, starring Sharon Stone, Harry Dean Stanton, and Gillian Anderson.
Poet Laureate Robert Frost was the 7th great-grandson of Thomas the Emigrant, and, therefore directly related to me.
Another 7th great grandson of Thomas is Sir Winston Churchill! Besides his political career, Sir Winston was also a Nobel Prize winner for literature.
But of all my famous relatives, the one I hold in highest esteem is Frank Randolph Cady, an 8th great-grandchild of Thomas. That name might not ring any bells for you, but if you ever watched Petticoat Junction or Green Acres you’d certainly recognize the general store owner, Sam Drucker.
We seem to linger in manhood to tell the dreams of our childhood, and they vanish out of memory ere we learn the language.
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