|Shenandoah National Park|
Would you believe that this story was inspired about seven years ago by genealogical research that I did not want to pursue any further? I was wanting to find out more about my mother’s side of the family, who were notoriously tight-lipped about such things. Why, I wasn’t sure. Still don’t know. But in any event, I got back in Mom’s genealogy far enough to find two people by the last name of Rousch marrying. I did a double and triple take. Oh no--cousins who married. I prayed about whether I should pursue the genealogy any further or if my mother might be happy to leave it at that. I do remember her laughing about it. She was flat-out shocked that they were German, from what was then the Palatinate. After prayer, I forged ahead. And found out the most interesting thing about one of their parents—George was reported to have been born inside Holman fort. Here is one link to that report. Of course we used some creative license here for the storyline because George was born in 1761. And I needed a baby girl in our story!
And although my genealogical research shows Jonas, the other father, born in New Market, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, another online resource refers to his pension application showing him born at Fort Holman in 1763, possibly during Pontiac’s Rebellion. Both George and Jonas were born to Johan Adam Rousch, who had nine of his ten sons serve in the American Revolution, as did these two sons.
So all those years ago, I began thinking about what it must have been like to have been a mother, like Susannah Rousch, giving birth inside a fort. And from the more recent research I’ve done, it appears that the families may have remained in a forted or stockade community for over two years, with George and Jonas both reportedly born there in two separate years—or perhaps they had to periodically return to the fort.
|A view to the New Market, Virginia area|
So I spent some time in the rare book stacks at the University of Virginia reading about Johan Adam Rousch and his family. There are several volumes available there. And I also chose to read some accounts of people from the Shenandoah Valley who'd lived during that time period. Those were some of the most touching stories I have ever read and the voices of the people echoed through the ages to me. Mothers who'd lost their children or their husbands. Fathers whose entire families were taken from them in Indian attacks. Their unadorned, honest, and searing voices took me to a place near where Fort Holman likely was. A gorgeous environment fraught with danger where people from all kinds of backgrounds sought to begin a new life. Can you imagine standing atop the mountain and looking down, like show in the picture above--and imagining that you would begin a new life, one away from the dirty cities of Europe for example?
We hope you have enjoyed the anthology thus far and pray you'll be captivated by the conclusion this coming Monday. We have a famous visitor, who according to my research, was the real life surveyor of the Rousch's property. And this young man went on to have an illustrious future. According to what I've found, he may or may not have been in the vicinity of our fort, but he would have been close enough that he could have been. Can you guess who he is?