I keep hoping to find a "conchie" in my family history. That's what conscientious objectors were called, mostly with disdain, by their contemporaries in WWI and WWII.
If your religious beliefs or your individual conscious said, "do not pick up arms and fight," you could end up in jail. Or be executed for cowardice and shirking.
St. Maximilan of Tebessa gets the title as first to suffer this punishment for conscience in modern memory. Back 200 CE, hell no he won't go was followed by a prompt beheading. Capital punishment for being unwilling to kill –– oh the irony! –– has only recently receded from the world of modern military regulations.
More proof that we humans aren't actually supportive of outliers from the herd. Or even for folks who exemplify the beliefs we think we hold dearest. Turn the other cheek –– oh no you DON'T.
But so far, I've uncovered garden-variety military ancestors from the start of European settlement in North America: veterans of the Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812. Survivors and victims of the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, both WWI and WWII, et cetera. These are folks who gave time, limbs, life in exchange for their country –– of their idea of the country, right?
A few during were batting for the other team in the 1770's; and in the 1860's, I trace slave-owners and abolitionists, North and South, Rebs and Yanks in about an even sprinkle across the family tree. Can't choose your ancestors.
My dad's father, Bompa (for some of the grandchildren it's "Bampa." Weird.) was a genealogy fan. According to my possibly faulty memory, he commissioned a history of the family and then composed his own written narrative about Smiths and Fessendens in that wild northern corner of Pennsylvania.
The writing is 100% the way I remember Bompa: it's careful, arch, correct, and as I recall, all of the ancestors were upright good citizens. For my purposes, it's not much use, as, sadly, the original source material is never cited, and again, as I remember, the professional genealogist's report was lost.
Still, it's a document in and of itself, revealing a certain mid-Century privileged mindset. It's also not terribly accurate (take note, cousins! Bompa's Enoch Smith seems to combine facts from Enoch Jr (1791-1871) and his father Enoch, Sr. (1771-?). Totally understandable, name like Smith.
Anyhow, where are my conchies? Was their unpopular view a one-way ticket out of our family memory or do we simply have none? My best bucking-the-tide guy so far? Aaron Augustus Chase, who seems to have had a steely grip on moral north, as least as regards the mining strikes of his day.
But I'll keep looking.
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