Michael Ratliff Lutz
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My mother Nina Mardel Ratliff Lutz (1909-1985) was the family historian and left me with the family bible and most of the family documents. It wasn't until after her death that I began researching our family history and discovered that most of what I thought was family folklore was actually family history. With only a couple of exceptions, all of the memorials under my care are members of my family.
The marriage of my mother, Nina Mardel Ratliff and father, Richard George Lutz created a bit of historical irony as well as me. My mother's great great grandfather was Judge Bowling Greene(1786-1742), friend and mentor to Abraham Lincoln during his days in New Salem, Illinois. He loaned Mr. Lincoln many of the books he used to study law. He and his wife Nancy Potter Green(1793-1867) also took Mr. Lincoln into their home when he was despondent after the death of his first love, Ann Rutledge(1813-1835). In 1842, Mr. Lincoln delivered the eulogy at Judge Greene's funeral and stayed with the family a while before and after the funeral.
My great great great uncle, John Jack Armstrong(1803-1857) was famous for his wrestling match with Mr. Lincoln. Jack lost but he became a lifelong friend of Mr. Lincoln. Jack was Bowling's half-brother. Their mother, Nancy Greene Armstrong(1768-1856) was the matriarch of a family who were among Mr. Lincoln's closest friends during his life in New Salem, Illinois.
Jack Armstrong's wife Hannah Jones Armstrong (1810-1890), my third great aunt, lined Abe's pants legs with buckskin to protect his legs from brambles when he worked as a surveyor. A process called "Foxing". Hannah was known for asking her friend Abraham Lincoln to defend her son Duff in the famous "Almanac Trial". Duff was acquitted. She later visited with Mr. Lincoln in the Whitehouse to secure a discharge for her son, William "Duff" Armstrong(1833-1899) who was in a Union Army hospital. Mr. Lincoln wrote out Duff's discharge as he discussed old times with Hannah. It is the only case of a military discharge having been personally written by a U.S. President.
Mr. Lincoln also interceded in the enlistment of another cousin, Pvt Edward Potter(1845-1927)
My great, great grandfather, Eli W. Benway (1827-1897) was wounded twice and enlisted twice during the Civil War. He was a blacksmith who holds patents for some of his inovations.
My great granduncle William Graham Greene Benway (1886-1961) was an early inventor of hearing aid glasses.
On March 22, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed my great granduncle, Congressman Anson Burlingame as our second Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Qing Empire (China). The city of Burlingame, California was named after Anson Burlingame.
There were Revolutionary War heroes like my 5th great grandfather Colonel Israel Angell (1740-1832), the commander of Rhode Island's second regiment, who received gold medals from General George Washington and the Marquis de La Fayette. The gold medal presented to Col. Angell by Lafayette was donated to the Rhode Island Historical Society museum collection in 1938 and my 4th great granduncle Jervis Green(1750-1782), who served under Colonel Daniel Boone at the Battle of Blue Licks, Kentucky.
Capt. Stephen Olney (1755-1832) and his company took the first redoubt gun enplacement at the battle of Yorktown.
Col Christopher Greene (1737-1781) commanded the 1st Rhode Island regiment made up of free men of African origin, and slaves who were promised their freedom in return for their service.
There were even well known authors like Lillian Angeline Hinman Shuey Bailey. Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), a cousin, wrote The Battle Hymn of The Republic.
Theologian Roger Williams (1602-1683, founder of Providence Plantation and the state of Rhode Island is my ninth great-grandfather.
My ninth great grandmother, Mary Morrill Folger (1620-1703) is mentioned by name in Chapter 24 of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick". Melville mentions that she was the grandmother of Benjamin Franklin when justifying the morality of whaling as a profession on Nantucket Island. The DAR chapter on Nantucket Island is named after her daughter Abiah Folger (1667-1752) who was the mother Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), my first cousin.
Cousins Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)from Pennsylvania, Gov. Stephen Hopkins(1707-1785) from Rhode Island, William Whipple (1730-1785) and Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795)from New Hampshire, signed the Declaration of Independence
Recently most of my ancestral relationships have been confirmed using DNA matches on Ancestry and other DNA sources.
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