PittMoss Development Company is awaiting our final piece of equipment, which we hope will be installed this Friday, about a month behind schedule. There was a back order on a part and so we were forced to delay our plans of dominating the horticulture world for a few more weeks. The minor setback gave Vince and I time to attend a tradeshow in Columbus, where we talked up PittMoss™ and he ate his first White Castle. He’s also stayed busy planning his annual Bocce Tournament. Matt took time to attend a family reunion in Tennessee and I went home to Indiana (State of) for the same reason. The following week my dad and brother came out for a few days of Western Pennsylvania hospitality.
We are total geeks about our family genealogy so armed with a short-term Ancestory.com membership, I discovered that our direct ancestor, William Handley, Jr. and a large brood were once located in nearby Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Monongahela River. We never knew we had a connection to the Pittsburgh region until I found that 1800 U.S. census record, so my brother, dad and I felt compelled to go for a drive to check out the little borough. We found a quiet village (and some of the best cinnamon rolls we’ve ever tasted) but no leads on the family’s connection to the region or migration.
There were no records showing land surveys or sales, marriages, births, deaths, legal disputes or any of the typical documentation demonstrating long-term residence. We thought that perhaps the family was just making their way up river in 1800 to the Ohio territory when the census taker beckoned them over to the settlement’s dock. It’s likely that they would take the easier water routes to newly opened western lands won through Independence. In a new century, in a newly forged nation and feeling the power of revolution, I’d like to think my ancestors were determined to lay down a new path to the frontier and their futures. I’d like to believe they were heading out boldly to where they’d be free to live the lives they wanted, without the tyranny of a monarch or servility to a landed, slave holding, aristocracy. At a time when 4 of 5 Americans lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean there certainly were opportunities to lay down new trails for others to follow.
Crossing the river my ancestors used on the Fredericktown Ferry made me think that Old William probably worried about his choice to move his family westward. Did delays, bad weather, highwaymen and unexpected expenses make him question whether leaving familiar life in Virginia for an unknown existence in the west was fool hearty? I have no doubt he agonized much as I do now. I have no doubt family and friends encouraged him to be prudent and safe. My business development and equipment delays are absolutely nothing in comparison to what my ancestors endured and after 213 years I know their venture turned out pretty well. Some how that encourages me greatly.