The Language of Homer

The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the most enduring works of fiction (or “fiction”, if you prefer) ever composed.  Although it is doubtful that they were composed in their entirety by a single individual, they are traditionally attributed to a blind bard called Homer.  Recently, The World According to Sound aired a podcast about the language in which these works were composed.  A form of ancient Greek that sounded nothing like its modern descendant.  According to this, this dialect was a tonal language.  An example of a modern tonal language is Chinese.

The story was picked up and, partially, rebroadcast, on NPR’s All Things ConsideredThe Sound Of Ancient Greek.



Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 87 – The New York Times

Mr. Wiesel, the author of “Night,” seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience.

Source: Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 87 – The New York Times

Nerdly News

new&nerdlyThe multitude of bison fossils found on the plains of Alberta, or their extracted mtDNA, have shed much needed light on just when the much vaunted Corridor opened between North America’s two great Ice Sheets. It has long been theorized that the First Americans passed through this Corridor to colonize the rest of the Americas.

In the 1970s, geological studies suggested that the corridor might have been the pathway for the first movement of humans southward from Alaska to colonize the rest of the Americas. More recent evidence, however, indicated that the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets coalesced at the height of the last ice age, around 21,000 years ago, closing the corridor much earlier than any evidence of humans south of the ice sheets. The initial southward movement of people into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago now seems likely to have been via a Pacific coastal route, but the Rocky Mountains corridor has remained of interest as a potential route for later migrations…The results showed that the southern part of the corridor opened first, allowing southern bison to start moving northward as early as 13,400 years ago, before the corridor fully opened. Later, there was some movement of northern bison southward, with the two populations overlapping in the corridor by 13,000 years ago…According to Shapiro, archeological evidence suggests that human migration within the corridor was mostly from south to north. Sites associated with the Clovis hunting culture and its distinctive fluted point technology were widespread south of the corridor around 13,000 years ago and decline in abundance from south to north within the corridor region. A Clovis site in Alaska has been dated to no earlier than 12,400 years ago.

“When the corridor opened, people were already living south of there. And because those people were bison hunters, we can assume they would have followed the bison as they moved north into the corridor,” Shapiro said.

Proving, once again, there is truth to found in the old tales, a body found in a well confirms events told in Sverre’s Saga, one of the Old Norse tales of Viking Kings and war.

Agriculture was developed a LOT earlier than previously thought, like 25 to 30 million years ago. You read that right. Million. And, here’s the real kicker, not by humans but by bugs. Termites actually cultivate fungi “gardens” within their mounds. This “fungiculture” began in Africa about the time the Great Rift Valley formed so that probably had something to do with it.

Some Nerdiness: A couple of interesting studies about ancient populations in Europe

new&nerdlyThe largest ever study of global genetic variation in the human Y chromosome has uncovered the hidden history of men. Research reveals explosions in male population numbers in five continents, occurring at times between 55,000 and 4,000 years ago.

Here’s a more Euro-centric, and less sciencey, spin:

A research team led by Prof. FU Qiaomei from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IVPP of CAS) and other international scientists has analyzed genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000-7,000 years ago and provided the first vivid look at the genetic history of modern humans in Eurasia before the start of agriculture ~8,500 years ago.

Romance Kindled During Union Occupation of Fayetteville – NC Civil War Center : NC Civil War Center

I just found this.  David and Sarah were my 2nd great-grandparents.  My maternal grandfather was the son of their son John Edward Fields.

Source: Romance Kindled During Union Occupation of Fayetteville – NC Civil War Center : NC Civil War Center

Neanderthals may have been infected by diseases carried out of Africa by humans, say researchers | University of Cambridge

A new study suggests that Neanderthals across Europe may well have been infected with diseases carried out of Africa by waves of anatomically modern humans, or Homo sapiens. As both were species of hominin, it would have been easier for pathogens to jump populations, say researchers. This might have contributed to the demise of Neanderthals.

Source: Neanderthals may have been infected by diseases carried out of Africa by humans, say researchers | University of Cambridge

The Vendrick Saga

For many years war ravaged the land along the Rhine. Seemingly endless battles between great powers, mostly over succession but sometimes over the land itself. People were tired. They were hungry. Then came the winter of 1708-09 and it was bad. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. People wanted out. For years, they’d been hearing wondrous tales of the New World. Specifically, Pennsylvania. Queen Anne, for reasons of her own, issued a blanket invitation to these Poor Palatines to come to London, and, thence, to America. Many answered. Thousands. More, in fact, than the English had bargained for. The Vendricks were among them.

By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
On the fifth of February, 1702, in the region of Frankenthal (the little purple area pointed to by the arrow on the map), Johan Georg Wonnrich, son of Baltzar and Elizabetha, was baptized. His brother, Johann Wendel Wennerich, was baptized in the same place December 5, 1706.

In April 1709, two more babes were baptized in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Benedictus Weinrich was their sponsor. One was Jeremias Scheltzer, the other a “Bisschof baby girl.” The only one I have a specific date for was the Bischoff child who was baptized April 7. (Sources: The Fountain From Whence We All Come! – Balthasar Wenrich for Bisschof, and Lebanon Daily News, January 11, 1977, page 9 or The Palatine Families of New York: A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710, Volume 1 by Henry Z. Jones, page x, for Scheltzer)

Balzar Weinrich, a forty year old Lutheran husbandman and vinedresser, appears on The Board of Trade List of First Party of Palatines in London, May 6, 1709. With him are his wife and their four children, sons aged 7, 5, and 3, and one daughter aged 15.  Benedict does not appear on any of these lists.

On August 25, 1710, Rev. Joshua Kocherthal baptized Johannes Wenerich, son of Benedict and Christina in New York. (Source: The Book of Names, Especially Relating to the Early Palatines and the First Settlers in the Mohawk Valley by Lou D. MacWethy, page 16, here)


Both Baltzar Wenerick and Benedictus Wenerich appear, with their families, on the List of the Palatins Remaining at New York, 1710 (Source: The Documentary History of the State of New-York, Volume Three edited by Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan, page 339).

They are also on the New York Subsistence List of 1710-1712 (Source: Early eighteenth century Palatine emigration; a British government redemptioner project to manufacture naval stores by Walter Allen Knittle, page 290, Internet Archive):

Wennerich, Balthasar 3-2, 5-1
Wennerich, Benedict 2-2, 2-2

There are two entries per person. The first entry is at arrival in June 1710, the second in September 1712. The first number in each entry is the number of adults and children over 10, the second for children younger than 10.

From here, I’m going to leave Balthasar, though he shows up later, and follow Benedictus.  But, before I go on, I want to bring up something that has confused me.  In Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania… by Henry Frank Eshleman, I found this under 1711, page 192:

…before the ground was brought forth its first crop, they made preparations to bring the balance of their families over … Mart Kendig … went abroad and brought a company of Swiss and Germans back with him … the party consisted of the balance of families already here … and three others, whose Christian names are not given, Schlagel, Wenrich and Guildin.

From the text, I assume that “abroad” meant going back to Europe.  To clarify that point, I read the pages cited from Rupp’s History of Lancaster County (80-81).   It says:

Without unnecessary delay, Martin, the devoted friend of the colony, made ready — went to Philadelphia, and there embarked for Europe….

Only, instead of Wenrich, he gives the name as Venerick.  If that is the case, then how could this Wenrich/Venerick be Benedict Wennerich who was in New York? Were there two Palatines named Benedictus with such similar last names in America at the same time?  It’s a puzzle.

In 1712, presumably after September if he was in New York, Benedictus Venerich was among the Swiss and German Settlers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Source: A collection of upwards of thirty thousand names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and other immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776 by I. Daniel Rupp, page 437, Internet Archive).

The year 1715 saw Benedictus Venerick the owner of 200 acres in Chester County, Pennsylvania (Source: Minutes of the Board of Property of the Province of Pennsylvania edited by William Henry Egle, page 597). Somehow he acquired another 50 acres because “…in 1716, 250 acres of land immediately southeast of Lancaster on the Conestoga Creek, was surveyed to Benedict Wenrich….” (Source: The Evening News Harrisburg, PA, June 4, 1941, page 21). On November 30, 1717, Benedictus Venerick was among the neighbors of Melchior Brenneman. He appears on several Conestoga Township assessment lists between 1718 and 1727 (Source: Assessment lists and other manuscript documents of Lancaster County prior to 1729):

Year Name as on List Assessment
1718 Benedictus Venerick 15 pounds
1719 Benedict Venry 30 pounds
1720-21 Benedictus Venrich 25 pounds
1722-23 Benedict Wenrick 10 pounds
1724-25 Benedick Venerick
Balser Wennerick
1725-26 Benedict Venery 6 shillings, 3 pence
Christian Venary 3 shillings
1726-27 Benedict Venery 5 shillings, 10 pence
Balso Venry 3 shillings

In 1727, in the 11th month, Benedictus Venerick sold his 250 acres to Christian Moyer (Source: Minutes of the Board of Property of the Province of Pennsylvania edited by William Henry Egle, page 755). After that, he moved to Craven Precinct, North Carolina (the part that would become Pamlico County in 1872), because that’s where we next find him, May 3, 1728-9, buying 180 acres of land on the North side of the Neuse River, along Green’s Creek, from Robert Pitts. Both Pitts and Benedictus Venery are referred to as being “of Craven Prect in Bath County & provc of No Carolina.” Here’s a transcription of the deed. He sold this same land to John Vendrick September 30, 1730 (see here).

Benadictus and John Wendrick were among the signers of the Petition of Craven Precinct for Altering the Seat of Government presented before the Governor and His Majesty’s Council on April 3, 1733 in Edenton.

The article of June 1941 in the Harrisburg Evening News quoted above, says that Benedict went back to Conestoga township to sell land in 1734, but what else there was to sell after 1727 I don’t know. I also don’t know if he came back to North Carolina, or even went back to Pennsylvania in the first place. His death is usually given as 1744 or 45. I just know I haven’t found anything else about him.

Update July 5, 2016:  I have found a deed in Craven County dated April 17, 1745 wherein Benedictus Vendrick of Craven County sells 200 acres of land on the north side of the Neuse River to Robert Peat, Merchant, of New York for 150 pounds.  In the deed, he mentions “my Patent containing three hundred and twenty acres and bearing date November the 14th 1713.”  It is signed with his mark which is a “B,” and witnessed by Daniel Shine and Thomas Pearson.

John Vendrick was the sole legatee and executor of the will of one Henry Parlepough in 1735-36:

The original will can be accessed through the NC MARS Archive website.  John was also granted Mr. Perlipah’s stock mark in 1738 (here).

The Colonial Court Records of North Carolina (Volume 4, edited  by William Laurence Saunders) has two entries for John Vendrick.  The first, on page 962:

At a Council held at New Bern 7th October 1749…Read the following Petitions for Warrants for Land Viz…John Vendrick 200 Craven…Granted.

and the second on page 1250:

At a Council held at the Council Chamber in New Bern the 1st Day of October 1751…Read the following Petitions for Warrants of Land Viz…Jno Vendrick 100 Craven…Granted.

All Vendrick land patents I can find on North Carolina Land Grant Images and Data are situated around Beard’s Creek, mostly the east side, except for one for John Vendrick, Sen., in 1771, on the east side of Goose Creek and one for Jesse Vendrick, 1808-9, between Gatlin’s Creek and Dawson’s Creek.  All of these are in what is now Pamlico County.

John, Peter, and Daniel Vendrick were all listed on the Roster of John Shine’s Company of the Craven County Militia, December 5, 1754.  Also, sometime in the 1760s, this List of a Company of Foot upon the North Shore commanded by Capt. James Shore included the following entries:

  • John Vondrick
  • +Peter Sendick X
  • Daniel Vandrick

Just what the plus sign and the “X” mean is not explained.

I don’t know if the original John Vendrick would have been considered young enough to serve in the militia in 1754.  He’d have been 44 years old then, so he almost certainly wouldn’t have been serving in the 1760s.  So, this could have been him and two sons, or all three could have been his sons.  I think the youngest you could be to serve was about 16, so all of these men would have been born during or before 1738.  If this is the Daniel Vendrick who wrote his will November 6, 1779, then there’s also a brother Abraham who he mentions in the will along with his wife, children, and brother John.  A Peter Vendrick was one of the witnesses.

On October 14, 1758, John Wendrick sold 205 (or 250) acres on Beard’s Creek he’d acquired from John Hoover to John Galloway (here).  Galloway would go on to sell this land to Isaac Reed January 21, 1761.

In 1769, there are three John Vendricks on that year’s List of Taxables and Carriage Wheels in Craven County.  The original John, maybe, a son, and a grandson, maybe.  There is no Peter Vendrick on this list.  I wonder if he died.  That could be what the “X” on the militia roster meant.  The second white male in the household of John Vendrick could be Abraham.

Vendrick, John Junr. 0 1 0 0 1
Vendrick, Daniel 0 1 0 0 1
Vendrick, John 0 2 1 0 3
Vendrick, John Younger 0 1 0 0 1

The first column is number of carriage wheels, the second the number of white males, the third the number of black males, fourth black females, and the last column is the total.  Remember all white males taxed are sixteen or over.  This changed in 1777 when the minimum taxable age was upped to 21.  Also, there was now a minimum amount of land that could be taxed.  If a man met the age requirement, but didn’t have the land, then he was just assessed a poll tax.  There’s a good explanation of this at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.  So, for this next tax list, 1779 (District 3, District 4), everyone is at least 21:

District Name Acres Other Property Poll Tax
3 Daniel Vendrick 570 1018
John Vendrick 400 2965
Abraham Vendrick Married man
poll tax
4 Jesse Vendrick 75 valued
at 250

I don’t know, for sure, when John, son of Benedict, died. There are Craven County wills for John Vendricks dated 1785, 1789, and 1804. Whether any of these was the son of Benedict is unknown.  The similarity of names between those of the 1785 will and those I’ve gleaned for Benedict’s John may be a coincidence.  Vendricks love to recycle names, remember?  But 1785 John may very well have been the son of Benedict.  As I speculated in my post about Chosewell Dixon’s possible second wife, I think that John of 1804 was the son of 1785 John. John of 1789’s wife was named Alles.

These are the Vendricks listed in Craven County in the 1790 census:

Heads of
White Males White
16+ -16
Jesse Vendrick 1 2 5
Wm. Vendrick 1 1
Alice Vendrick
(widow of 1789 John)
1 4 5
Ann Vendrick
(possibly Joanna, widow of Daniel)
1 1 5
Abram Vendrick 1 2 2
Peter Vendrick 1 1 3
John Vendrick 2 1 5
James Vendrick 2 3
Rebecca Vendric
(widow of 1785 John)
Francis Vendrick 1 5

March Reads 2016

Written_BishopMarch was an excellent reading month, for me. I devoured two new-to-me series, one with extra relish. I loved Anne Bishop’s series The Others. There were a few people I was hoping would meet Tess, but, no such luck. Their deaths were appropriate, mostly, for their crimes, but I was saddened they didn’t get the Asia Crane experience. Vindictive? Oh, yeah.

Magical_BlakeI also blew through Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga novels. Although, frankly, I didn’t like them as much as I thought I would. I loved the first novella, Wickedly Magical. It was laugh out loud funny, at times. The rest of the series, not so much.

OtherworldMen_ArmstrongI dipped my toes, so to speak, into Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. After reading a few of the novellas, I’m still not sure what I think. I’ll probably read the first full length novel, Bitten, before giving a final verdict. Right now, I’m on the shelf. (I couldn’t resist!)

FireTouched_BriggsAnd, speaking of Baba Yagas, there’s a strange and creepy one in Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson books, the latest of which Fire Touched, was awesome. Mercy ends up going into Underhill where she battles, among others, The Widow Queen who inspired the villainess in such tales as Snow White and Cinderella. But we start things off with a visit from an Avon lady type saleswoman and an epic battle with a huge green troll. While I prefer Charles and Anna, Mercy and Adam are a trip.

Phoenix_TylerAlso in the paranormal fiction category was the much anticipated (by me, anyway) Phoenix Reborn by J. D. Tyler, the latest of her Alpha Pack series. But I’m still a little pissed that it was a novella instead an actual novel. Nix and, especially, Noah deserved better than that. And the whole resolution of conflict was a bit of a cop out. As you can probably tell, I was more than a little disappointed in this one.

Guide_MacomberAnother disappointing read was A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber. In fact, I think I’m about ready to drop Macomber from my reading list. For the last couple of years her books, with the exception of the Blossom Street series, haven’t done anything for me. They haven’t been horrible, just not good.

Bridgerton_QuinnJulia Quinn’s latest, Because of Miss Bridgerton, was as far from a disappointment as you could get. It was hilarious, and wrenching, and heart-warming. All the things you’d expect from a Bridgerton, indeed, a Julia Quinn, novel. The ending, however, grated a bit. It was evil. That last sentence. How long do we have to wait for the next book?

Housewife_EllisAmerican Housewife, a collection of short stories by Helen Ellis was another amusing read. I especially got a kick out of “Wainscotting Wars.” The Tampax one, though, was kind of disturbing. It may take a while before I can walk passed a Tampax display without getting the heebies.

Words_LahiriI also read Jhumpa Lahiri’s new nonfiction work, In Other Words. This is the story of her journey into Italian and was, in fact, originally written in that language. It also reveals her frustration, alienation, and isolation with always being considered a foreigner in her native land, her native language. Even in that of her parents.  Very thought provoking.

1536_LipscombFinally, I read Suzannah Lipscomb’s 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII. This was a fascinating exploration of how the events of 1536 affected Henry’s physical and psychological health. Especially interesting was Dr. Lipscomb’s theories concerning the Framing of Anne Boleyn and her portrayal of Mark Smeaton as a stalker. I’m surprised the movie makers haven’t jumped all over that.

What about y’all. Read anything good lately?

Nerdly News

Lots of nerdly morsels to feed the brain this morning.

Archaeologists in Italy have discovered what may be a rare Etruscan sacred text likely to yield rich details about Etruscan worship and early beliefs of a lost culture fundamental to western traditions. The lengthy text is on a large 6th century sandstone slab uncovered from an Etruscan temple, said Gregory Warden, principal investigator of Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery, and professor emeritus, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the project.

Source: Text in lost language may reveal god or goddess worshiped by Etruscans at ancient temple – EurekAlert! (Southern Methodist University)
March 29, 2016

An ancient species of pint-sized humans discovered in the tropics of Indonesia may have met their demise earlier than once believed, according to an international team of scientists who reinvestigated the original finding. Published in the journal Nature this week, the group challenges reports that these inhabitants of remote Flores island co-existed with modern humans for tens of thousands of years.

Source: Indonesian ‘Hobbits’ may have died out sooner than thought – EurekAlert! (Griffith University)
March 30, 2016

The heavily studied yet largely unexplained disappearance of ancestral Pueblo people from southwest Colorado is not all that unique, say Washington State University scientists. Writing in the journal Science Advances, they say the region saw three other cultural transitions over the preceding five centuries. The researchers also document recurring narratives in which the Pueblo people agreed on canons of ritual, behavior and belief that quickly dissolved as climate change hurt crops and precipitated social turmoil and violence.

Source: Ancient Southwest marked by repeated periods of boom and bust – EurekAlert! (Washington State University)
April 1, 2016

The first large-scale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonization on the Indigenous American populations of the time.

Source: Ancient DNA shows European wipe-out of early Americans – EurekAlert! (University of Adelaide)
April 1, 2016

With the help of detailed satellite images, scientists have uncovered what may be a previously unknown Viking settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, news sources report.

Source: Satellite Images Reveal Possible Viking Settlement in Canada – Live Science
April 1, 2016

Earliest tea as evidence for one branch of the Silk Road across the Tibetan Plateau : Scientific Reports

Phytoliths and biomolecular components extracted from ancient plant remains from Chang’an (Xi’an, the city where the Silk Road begins) and Ngari (Ali) in western Tibet, China, show that the tea was grown 2100 years ago to cater for the drinking habits of the Western Han Dynasty (207BCE-9CE), and then carried toward central Asia by ca.200CE, several hundred years earlier than previously recorded.

Source: Earliest tea as evidence for one branch of the Silk Road across the Tibetan Plateau : Scientific Reports