Happy Birthday, Bartholomew Stovall

August 24, 1665, Bartholomew Stovall, my grandfather from nine generations past was born in Albury Surry, England.  When Bartholomew  reached the age of eighteen years, he boarded a the sea going ship, Booth and sailed to the new world of America.

Today, hundreds of thousands if not millions carry his DNA.  Thank you George and Joan Stovall, parents of Bartholomew, for giving birth to our ground zero forefather here in the US.  And Thank you Bartholomew for making that historic voyage.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ann Boleyn and the American Culture

 

       She captured the heart of Henry VIII and hastened Reformation

 By the time young America created the Declaration of Independence, the mindset of their population had already formed core beliefs about how a government and the people should interact; government would operate by consent rather than decree.  Then and today, few realize that this uniquely American marriage of freedom and justice shares a near link with the infamous Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII.

In the novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant, Bartholomew knew his destiny.  As a slave, he was forced to accustom his master’s rules.

By the time Bartholomew had earned his freedom in 1688, he understood that governing in the New World was much like that in his mother country, England.  It was a government of representation and was imposed by a fair legal system, elected by the people.  These facts helped Bartholomew to understand that, should he follow the path that was presented to him with nobility, the truth would be rendered, and he would find his destiny.

This provincial government Bartholomew found in America was a byproduct of the successful Protestant Reformation in England between 1500 and 1650.  During a time of deep rooted religious oppression, noted authors were writing essays supporting the Enlightenment, and others were interpreting The Holy Bible from the Greek and Latin scrolls to English books, so “Even the plowman could read Gods word and form a personal relationship through prayer.”

But the turning point in England’s history had little to do with reformation.  Britain and their provincial experiment, America, as well as large portions of the civilized world, should credit Anne Boleyn for their freedom to worship and to live in a true Godley spirit.  It was Anne Boleyn, the former Queen’s maid and then second wife of King Henry VIII who used her charm, wit, and flirtatious manner to repel the forces of intolerance.

                                                                 .  .  .

King Henry’s attraction to Anne Boleyn was not a quick romance.  At first, she denied his advances, as well as the ‘formal request’ for her to become his solitary mistress.  The king was taken aback by her refusal.  Anne was steadfast against his charm, but the two did become close.  Finally, she confessed her love for him, but reasoned that it would all be in vain because he was a married man.

With her refusal, the king became open with his intentions to marry Anne Boleyn, going so far as to summon the Pope and requested that his marriage to the Queen, Catherine of Aragon be annulled.  But the Pope refused the request leaving Henry livid.

But liberation for the protestants took a huge leap forward in November 1528.  On this date, King Henry VIII summoned Parliament and gave a masterful speech at Bridewell, London.  The King confessed that he had been living in mortal sin, caused by his arranged marriage to his late brother’s wife, Catherine.

He quoted passage from the Holy Bible in Leviticus Chapter 20 Verse 16:

If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an impurity; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.”

The King may have convinced the gathering when he stated that he lived in “detestable and abominable adultery”.

                                                                        .  .  .

History has proved that King Henry VIII wanted to be rid of Catherine because she was barren and had not produced him a male heir.  He was also infatuated with Anne Boleyn and wanted her as his queen and beds maid.

But history also proved that by bringing his request to Parliament, Henry was seeking support for his cause from the nobility of the country he ruled.  He knew that he could not ‘decree’ to the Pope, thus he enrolled the help of the people to absolve the authority of domestic matters from a foreign entity.

Henry’s plea to Parliament was the turning point in England’s history.  In incremental events, Henry VIII achieved his objective. On November 3, 1534 the Parliament of England passed the first Act of Supremacy, appointing Henry VIII as The Supreme Head of the Church of England. Finally, Henry was able to discern the legal sovereignty of the civil laws over the laws of the Church in England.  This is to say that Henry could grant himself a divorce and then marry Anne Boleyn.

This sweeping turn of events altered England’s business model drastically.  With Henry’s plea to Parliament England was now governed by consent rather than decree.  It was a mindset that followed those who formed the laws and labored the fields of the New World.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How America Was Made

If you trace history back three hundred and thirty-two years from today, then imagine Bartholomew Stovall, an indentured servant in the early American colony of Virginia.  He had reduced his obligations from four years, to only months, and would soon be set free to make his own way in America.

Bartholomew was ever mindful of the survival odds; Only one in ten indentures would endure freedom.  For the most part, they would take the skills learned on plantations and use that knowledge to grow tobacco, just like their master.  The dream was always real, but the reality for most free servants proved too difficult a task.

The cause for failure was usually of circumstances beyond their control: sickness, lack of help, unfavorable weather.  Some statistics show that, upon completion of indenture, only one in ten received the land they were promised.  There was the dreaded “Summer Sickness” that claimed the lives of near forty percentage of all young immigrants in the mid colonies.

Bartholomew knew that his fortunes had been good, but he never anticipated the difficulty of blending with the populous of America.

                                                               .   .   .

During this early colonial period, most of the duties and laws were based on customs of the mother country.  England’s system may well have been an ideal model but implementing it into colonial America required ‘adaptations’.   From necessity came new ideas, and those ideas influenced the identity and character that branded the new world.

But once he was free of indenture, Bartholomew was to merge with shop owners, farmers, tradesman, and men of GodHe was like scores of other immigrants, ready to claim their partial and make a life.  It was young America on the cusp of the eighteenth century.

The Enlightenment

The Great Awakening – John Wesley

All these free servants understood that the mindset of their young colony was growing but none understood that it was during a rare place in time where The Enlightenment and the religious revival known as The Great Awakening existed simultaneously.   In seventeenth century Colonial America the question arose; Enlightenment or Awakening, reason or faith, science or God?   To everyone’s amazement, the new world of America embraced both lines of thinking.

Indentures from as early as 1620s paved the way for settlers like Stovall.  It was a determined society and the opportunities were endless, if you were willing to work.   Bartholomew’s timing was perfect as the colonies abounded with capitalism.
By the time Bartholomew received his land, the colonies of America became provisional, meaning “This is the way of things and those rules are subject to change at any time.”  It would take Bartholomew but ten years to understand the way in this new America.  In the end, he would settle on a large land plot resting on a navigable waterway.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bartholomew Reaches America – November 11, 1684

The Booth Moored off Jamestown, Virginia Colonies

On his day in history, exactly three hundred and thirty two years ago, The Booth sat moored off the coast of Jamestown, Virginia Colonies.  It had been a four month voyage, but Captain Peter Pagan finally tracked down the terminus of his passage across the Atlantic ocean.

The ship held a cargo of fifty-two servants, less Captain and crew, all of  which had signed a contract obligating them to years of servitude in exchange for freedom in America.

This is the exact truth in so much as history has recorded, but our novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English immigrant,  details events that led up to, and then proceeds this moment in time.

On board, is a tall English lad, nineteen years of age.  Bartholomew Stovall was surely overwhelmed by the new life in Colonial American, but when all was said and done he owned 320 on the James River.  He married Ann Burton and raised a family of five boys and one girl.

The generations that followed the lineage of Bartholomew must have inherited his audacious spirit.  Today, twelve or more generations and literally millions of cousins can trace their lineage back to Bartholomew, the only documented surname “Stovall” to immigrate.

American Colonies – November 1684

When the Booth finally reached America it was the beginning of winter and the weather was probably much like that in England this time of year.

The Booth anchored close to the shore so the ship wouldn’t rock about as it had for four months at sea.  All of the passengers had an opportunity to peek out of port windows and survey the edge of the continent.  Most assuredly, the first thing they noticed were trees.  Giant pines were packed close together in a display of greenery they were not accustomed.  Each man, woman and child feared what may be waiting hidden behind the wooden giants.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Midpoint of the Passage

On this day in history, exactly three hundred and thirty-three years ago, September 12, 1684, Bartholomew Stovall cast his view to the open seas, North West.  Bartholomew knew full well that he was crossing midpoint of the passage across the Atlantic.  The slave hauling ship, Booth, Captained by Peter Pagan, had made the initial stop at Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands to replenish food stocks, water, and rum.

The Booth reached incredible speed as she rode the southerly trade winds past Africa.  Soon enough, the sun stared directly into the face of Captain and crew, making it apparent that they were traveling in a more westerly direction.   They had left Africa and were crossing the Atlantic, searching for Dominica in the West Indies.  When the islands were spotted it would have been six weeks without the site of land.

It was a defining moment when the young, English lad finally realized how totally alone he was as he drifted in the middle of the ocean.  With an obligation to give four years of indenture, Bartholomew Stovall was left to question his compulsion.

But there was no time to dwell on such matters.  As told in our novel, Bartholomew Stovall, the English Immigrant, the next big adventure would happen sooner rather than later.

Thank you, Bartholomew for embarking on the passage to America.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tales Of The Bible

Hello to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It’s been three months since my last posting and for this, I do apologize.  I find myself in a place where life’s realities and my six-year-old grandson dictate my time.  Most anything I do that involves our ground zero grandfather is surely a blessing during this period of my life.  I would like to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged me with kind words,  contacted me for information, responded to posts, or purchased our book.

But for the present, I’m sharing this post to provide insight on a certain story-line that stretched out over several chapters of our novel, Bartholomew Stovall –  The English Immigrant.  I will ask that you please bear with me while I try and unwind this true tale of how fiction is created.

The Tyndale Bible played a large part in the book of Bartholomew.    When his Great Grandfather, George Stovold, received his copy in 1585, he understood that it was a holy book.  For the remainder of his life, George wrote of personal experiences to reveal the truth in the scriptures.  Sometimes he would underline a verse or jot down his thoughts and understandings in the worn margins of the book. By the time the Tyndale was placed into the hands of ten-year-old Bartholomew, it was filled with wisdom from three generations passed.

It is also written that, when Bartholomew reached the age of eighteen years, he made the decision to immigrate to Colonial America as an indentured servant.  He was prohibited from carrying the Bible with him, so he asked his friend from birth, Sara Gentry, to watch over the book until he could give her an address to forward it.

Sarah Gentry kept the book safe for twenty years, but on Christmas Eve, 1704 she received a letter from her old friend requesting that she send the book addressed to: Bartholomew Stovall, Kennon Plantation, Virginia Colonies.  As fate would have it, Captain Peter Pagan of The Booth, was flagged down on the street in London, England by a courier who offered him a sum to deliver the package from Sarah, to Jamestown, Virginia.  When Pagan saw that it was addressed to Bartholomew Stovall, he consented to the transport.

Now, fast forward to the year, 1705.  Elizabeth Kennon, John Worsham, and Peter Pagan are riding in a carriage from the Kennon Plantation bound for the home of Bartholomew and Ann Stovall.  With them they carry a proposition that would award Bartholomew 320 acres on the James River in return for his farm in the wilderness.  Although Bartholomew would not be able to refuse the generous offer, it was not the only prize that he would be given during their brief stay.  Mrs. Kennon had intercepted the package from Peter Pagan and planned to return the coveted treasure from Bartholomew’s youth, the Tyndale Bible.

During the day long excursion to the “farm in the wilderness”, Elizabeth devoured the notes written in the Bible’s margin.  She moved through each page but was particularly drawn to one underlined verse.  Inserted in the pages, written in clear penmanship was the entire text of the book of Ecclesiastes.  Chapter one, verse three was underlined and read:

 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. 

When I was writing our novel, I thought this passage was the essence of Bartholomew’s story, but I was soon to realize that I had written an error.

During the initial writings of Bartholomew, I was sitting at my desk thumbing through KJV version, searching for a relevant verse for Elizabeth Kennon to find that would make her take notice.  The task was taking too long and I became frustrated.  I closed the cover of the Bible and thought.  I remembered someone saying, if you have a question, just say a prayer, open to any page in the Bible, and put your finger on a verse.  There will be the answer to your prayer.   I stared down at the Bible and then reached for the lower pages.  I flipped through until I stopped and then opened the book.  Very slowly and deliberately I put my finger down to a verse and saw Ecclesiastes 1-3.  When I read the text, I was… stunned.  What were the odds of me finding this most relevant phrase?  I knew that there was no need to look further and vividly remember transferring each word to my manuscript thinking how lucky, or blessed, to have found this scripture.

Several days later I was editing some of my work until I came to the words about Ecclesiastes.   But the thought occurred to me that the Tyndale Bible don’t contain all the books in the KJV.  It was a worrisome thought until it was confirmed.  William Tyndale ran out of time before he could publish the book of Ecclesiastes.  You see, while he was busy converting the scrolls to English, the Holy Roman Catholic Church had him arrested for heresy, and executed.

The thought never occurred to me to remove the verse, so I set about the task of writing around my mistake. I envisioned that Bartholomew should have copied the chapter from an original KJV of the scriptures and insert the pages into his Tyndale.  Just like that, you have a Tyndale with a bonus of Ecclesiastes.

But it was only one of the several stories that needed to be written before Bartholomew was finished.  Primarily, I wanted to bring Mary Wilkie into the story line.  Mary was the beautiful lass, one year younger than Bartholomew’s 18 years, that traveled the passage aboard the Booth, from the Port of London.  She was shy and kept to herself, but soon enough she and Bartholomew came to be good friends.

What I’ve not told you is that, I intentionally left small traces of her all throughout the book.  I did this purposely because I planned for my next novel to be the story of Mary Wilkie.

The Booth

But I had yet to drill into the details of her life.  So, I crafted a tale of Bartholomew and Mary during the passage.  Sometimes they would sneak away from the other servants at sea and climb up to the base of the mainsail.  There, they would find a place in a bundle of rope and share stories.

Bartholomew would often question Mary about her past, but she never offered anything other than, “I had to leave.”  But on one occasion, Mary would tell him of happier times in London, when she worked for a printer or the times she helped her Mother with the weaving of the yarn.  But then her mood turned grievous when she spoke with disdain that, “It was all taken from me,” and that she was “forced” to leave.

During this same encounter, Bartholomew would tell her of his love for the Tyndale Bible that he had to leave behind.  When he tried to explain to her how he separated the page spine and inserted his hand-written copy of Ecclesiastes, he was surprised when Mary asked him details of how he had done it.  Evidently the young lady had a knowledge of binding and printing books, which led him to believe that there was more to Mary Wilkie than he first thought.

It took more than three pages to clarify one of my errors, but it also allowed me to ‘formerly’ introduce Mary Wilkie as a character.  Those three pages also allowed me to tell a story of Bartholomew’s youth.  Factually, nothing is written about Bartholomew Stovall from age ten to eighteen.  I found it easy to fill in a short but relevant tale of fiction, and I readily admit that it was one of the most enjoyable writing sessions I experienced.

While creating our novel, I remember spending days, or weeks researching applicable subjects.  I would assemble the facts and then translate them into an engaging story line.  It was a tedious but rewarding progression measured sentence by sentence.  But editing and crafting story lines, like this example, is much more rewarding for this author.

William Robert Stovall Sr.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Revised Novel Is Now Available

 

Greetings to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It is with great  pleasure . . . relief . . . and liberation that I bring you good word on our novel.  I should receive copies of the revised, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant on May 12, 2017.  On this day, I will begin the process of delivering autographed copies to the many who emailed bartholomewstovall@hotmail.com.  I’ll respond to each one of you no later than May 7, 2017 with ordering information.  Everyone interested should visit www.bartholomewstovall.com and click on “Order Autographed Hardback Copy” under the “Order Book” tab.

May 12 marks almost one year ago to the day that I made the initial revisions to the original version.  Bartholomew had received high marks from critics and the reviews were overwhelming, but I knew I could make a tighter novel should I identify more inclusive phrasing and correct obvious errors from this self-published book.

Our novel has been removed from circulation for nine months while modifications were made and proofing completed.  I would like to thank each one of you for your patience during this arduous process.   Thank you for all the encouraging emails, letters, and web page comments since our first release.  Thank you for your interest in our revised version and rest assured that we now have an, ever so better, recorded account of our American, ground zero, Grandfather.

Peace Be With You,

Bill Stovall

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment