Ancestors

Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m going to copy my friend Mary Blayney‘s idea and talk about interesting ancestors. Mary’s family has a very interesting fellow in the the family tree, Major General Lord Blayney, whom she wrote about on History Hoydens (part 1 and part 2) and who lived during the Regency, fought against Napoleon’s army, and became a prisoner of war. He even wrote a book about it, available on Google Books.

My ancestors are not so impressive, but there is one who has a good story. In 1836, My great great grandfather, Joseph Batt, brought his wife and eight of his nine children from Alscace Loraine to America. On the voyage over, there was a terrible storm and it looked as if the ship was certain to perish. My grandfather, a devout Catholic, prayed to the Virgin Mary, promising her he would build a shrine in her honor if she spared his family from the storm. The storm subsided and the family arrived safely in their new country.

Batt made good on his promise. He settled near Buffalo, New York, where his oldest son had already settled. Soon he prospered. He built a chapel on his land, just as he’d promised. The chapel still stands today: Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga, NY.

The Chapel has been rebuilt a few times, but a painting of Our Lady looking down on the ship still hangs above the altar.

I wish I could say I visited this chapel, but I haven’t. I did not even know about it until I was well into adulthood. Although when I was growing up my family often visited our Buffalo relatives, I’ve been there rarely as an adult and my unsentimental family just never talked about or visited this wonderful place.

How about you? Do you have any interesting stories of ancestors?

Only a little more than two weeks before the release of The Unlacing of Miss Leigh. Also on April 1, you can get The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor from eharlequin. Check my website that day for the links.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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