I have always been drawn towards history, military history to be more specific. In high school I was drawn towards the World Wars I & II. WIth lack of realistic options after high school, I attempted to join the Navy but I was underweight and could not be waivered. However, after Lady Luck had signed yet another contract with Murphy’s Law and the two of them were fixin’ to start a sequence of pile-drivers pushing me over the proverbial edge, I walked into the Schenectady, NY recruiting office and calmly told the First Class Petty Officer sitting at the desk that I was there to join the Navy and asked when could I leave for boot camp.
After a few diversions and misdirect ions where I tried to glow in the dark I found myself walking down Pier 21 to meet my first true love USS DAHLGREN DDG-43. Walking through that gate and seeing the bow and that great ’43’ staring down at me under the waterline lights. It was just after 2200 when I was approaching the quarterdeck. As I walked closer to the fantail, where the quarterdeck was, the ship came to life with billowing steam, bursts of water & steam, welding & grinding, and all those cool scenes you see from dub ya dub ya too.
It felt like I was meant to be there.
It felt like Home.
When I touched her hull it was … Electric
My twenty-two years two months and fifteen days of service were some of the hardest, most stressful, yet most rewarding days of my life. I treasure each and every conversation be they sarcastically inclined, technical consultation, ‘elevated hostile debates’, or just a hi in the p-way.
But I digress, I have been rambling to this point so I could discuss my military legacy. While helping my Dad with an ancestry project, I found that his However-Many-Great-Great-Grandfathers on both his mother’s and father’s side of the family fought in the Revolutionary War. In a weird twist of fate, I found that my step-mothers However-Many-Great-Great-Grandfather served alongside my Dad’s ancestor.
On my father’s paternal side, the first American citizen was Frederick Deemer. The surname has various spellings at this juncture but the original spelling appears to have been de Mar originating from the Normandy region of France. I found that Frederick’s father, Etienne de Mar, was a Soldier of Fortune who served under the command of Henry of Navarre as a Huguenot. Etienne betrayed Henry to the King’s Army and fled to Germany where the surname took on the more Germanic spelling of Deemer.
Frederick Deemer was born around 1760 in Alsace Lorraine, Germany and emigrated to the Colonies (Philadelphia) in the years before the Revolutionary War. Frederick joined the Pennsylvania Militia in January of 1776 and was assigned to the newly formed Pennsylvania 3rd Regiment. Initially, the Pennsylvania 3rd was assigned to the Canadian Department and joined the Continental Army in the Invasion of Quebec. After the retreat from Quebec, the Pennsylvania 3rd was assigned to the Main Continental Army in the battles in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. During the war, Frederick survived the harsh winter at Valley Forge. It was during the Valley Forge research that I uncovered the weird connection with my Step-Mother’s family. On a whim, I traced her family tree and found that her Great Grandfather, John Loeder Green, served alongside Frederick Deemer throughout the Revolutionary War from beginning to end. Both were Privates and likely knew each other. The added twist is that my Step-Mother is Canadian by birth. John Loeder emigrated to Canada shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War. Her Father emigrated to the United States (Philadelphia) in the early 1900’s. Any-who, the PA 3rd fought in the Battle of Vancouver Island, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, & Springfield. All of these battles helped in the formation of the foundation of our once great Nation.
On a side note, Frederick Deemer settled down in what is now Saltsburg, Pa and married Lydia Eberhart. Lydia was out gathering dandelions for supper when she stumbled upon a spring of water emptying into the Conemaugh River. After using the spring water, she discovered a salt residue in the bottom of the cups. At this time, the troops were forming for the war with the British in 1812, salt was a luxury and considered a premium spice. Eventually wells were drilled and a booming salt industry formed which led to the town of Salts-burg. She created a town and an industry – too cool.
My research into my father’s maternal ancestry, it led me to George Garland as the first American citizen. George also emigrated to the Colonies (Philadelphia) in the years leading up to the Revolution. When it came time to serve his newly forming Nation, George joined the Pennsylvania State Fleet under the command of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety. He served onboard the Fleet Galleys. The Fleet had 13 Galleys that were propelled by two oarsmen and carried one cannon. Ten Galleys carried 18 lb cannons, two carried a 24 lb cannon, and one carried a 32 lb cannon. George served as Second Lieutenant on the Camden where he was promoted to First Lieutenant and transferred to the Chatham. While onboard the Chatham, he was promoted to Captain and given command of Hancock. He eventually retired and settled in the Bedford, PA area.
Time for a disclaimer, my research into George Garland was through Pennsylvania State Archive via the Fold3 search engine. All of my information is from the archives of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, all dates match the ancestry data already available through a genealogist. However, the ancestry data that my Dad has shows that George Garland came to the Colonies as a soldier of the Kings Army who ultimately served as a Major in the Continental Army under George Washington. This information was gleaned from the Bedford County Historical Society Archives but it cannot be confirmed through archival searches of the Pennsylvania records of the Continental Army. The only other reference to a George Garland was a Private in an infantry company who was killed in action – I am going out on a limb here but… I don’t think that is the correct ancestor. But I digress, the information that I divulged above has been researched to death over a period of ten years and I am certain that Captain George Garland of the Pennsylvania State Fleet is my guy.
So, back to my thesis-ish statement, the Navy was my destiny or ‘calling’. The Paternal side of my family fought to stake the foundations of the freedoms that we American Citizens cherish and routinely abuse and tarnish on a daily basis. I, in turn, dedicated a large portion of my adult life ensuring that our Navy’s platform’s of defense were always ready to turn the screws and burn the lights and ensure that Uncle was able to put ‘Warheads on Foreheads’…
Until next time…Fair Winds and Following Seas