HOW WE CAME TO BELMAR I use the pronoun "we" because it looks better so. Actually, however, this bit of family history is, of course, designed to explain how I, myself, came to be born in Belmar and is by way of introduction to the many volumes of my diary which follow. What, in these first two, I have tried to do is to trace the Disbrows from Cambridgeshire and the Sterners from ancient Swabia, until the two families were united in Belmar. And so, through this and the diaries, you may travel from Europe to the 17th and 18th Century wilderness of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, and from there over into New Jersey, whence you will be carried back again to New England, then far south to that other very different land of the Argentine pampa, and finally back once more to Europe, to the rain-swept, shell-torn muddy soil of Northern France in the First Great War. But, while I have done this for my own amusement, there is also the hope that at least one of you may find it interesting and from it get something for yourselves. It takes no deep intelligence to realize that, only yes- terday, today was the future and that, by tomorrow, it too will have become the past - and yet so few seem able to visualize this timelessness of history, to feel that they themselves are a part of it, and that all the long procession of their forebears were real people who had the same hopes and fears and motives for doing things, both good and evil, as have you who read this. You can see from the fragments of his letters in the Appendix to Vol. II [THE STERNERS] that Uncle Henry Sterner had that feel for the living reality of the past. He must have written much more along this line. He was able to 1
HOW WE CAME TO BELMAR reach back, if only gropingly, to our frontier period. He laments his stupidity as a boy in not getting this information in more detail from the old people he knew. I was equally stupid. He assumed that I was not interest- ed and I never knew, till long after his death, that he was. There were probably others who could have given me invaluable information but even if they had written it down, as I am attempting to do in this superficial way, their descendants probably burned it as trash like Sarah Pope's letters. Perhaps the same fate will befall this stuff - although it is a bit bulky and has some interest- ing pictures in it. Of the Canfields, Taylors, Tolmies, and Gregories, I know of so little that I can only, in another appendix, give you some loose tags, clues which you can, years hence, follow up if you care to. In compiling this chronicle of the Disbrows, two things caught my interest particularly. One is the curious fact that, for over three cent- uries, theirs is a record of mediocrity. Not one, with the possible exception of Nicholas (and I do not know for certain that it was from his loins they sprang), did anything truly noteworthy, good or bad. The same thing applies to the Sterners, as you will see. The other, and this I like, is that the Disbrows had the itching foot, the hunger to see and be a part of new and different places from those they had known. Some of them must have felt what Sir Richard Grenville meant when he wrote - To passe the seas some think a toile, Some think it strange abrod to roame, Some think it grefe to leave their soil, Their parents, kyne-folk & their whome. Think so who list, I mind them nott; I must abrod to trie my lott. At least the first three Disbrows did and, when the Lane blood was added, it reappears again. So, in a sense, 2
HOW WE CAME TO BELMAR the story of the Disbrows becomes the story of the found- ing of the little towns - Newtowne (Cambridge), Hartford, Hempstead, Mamaroneck, Matawan, Belmar. As to my own diaries, they may be of interest to someone some day. If any of you find you can write, here is the material for a picture of one tiny facet of an in- teresting period in our civilization. But I am none too hopeful. J.W.S Ocean Grove July 1956 3
Todd L. Sherman (genealogy at alachuaskywarn dot org)
© Copyright 1995/1996/1997 by Todd L. Sherman.
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