Despite the land, despite the sea,
I was: I am: and I shall be.
Sidney Lanier, "Centennial Cantata"1
GENEALOGY AND SOCIAL HISTORY
The objective of this project is two-fold. On the one hand it is the genealogy of a man but it is also a look at a slice of history. Purists of either genre will find sections of this book wanting. My desire is that the reader will find within these pages an underlying resonance with a life that may not have been lived richly but was richly lived. The story of Everyman is the story that holds each of us up. It is the glue that binds the grand picture as told in the history books. With the merging of genealogy and social history, I hope to give voice to Captain Dave to say: “I was; I am: and I shall be.”
The simple facts of the life of David Ellis are: he was born in the first half of the 19th century in Cardiganshire, Wales, moved to Key West, Florida before 1860, died in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1893. He married once, had eight children and worked a hard physical job for most of his life. But that doesn’t tell us enough. This book will ask many questions and offer answers to most of them.
Some of the questions posed are:
- What were the predominate influences of being born to a working-class family in southern Wales in the 1800’s?
- How did the history and geography of Key West, Florida shape the city and its people in the 19th century?
- How did Key West handle the Civil War years?
- What was life like in Ft. Jefferson, Florida during the Civil War?
- What was the evolution of the Lighthouse Service?
- What did a Master Mariner do for the Lighthouse Service?
- What was life like in New Orleans, Louisiana at the end of the 19th century?
The spotlight will shine brightest on David Ellis but it cannot fail to also illuminate his family. Underlying all of the material presented will be his wife and children. Due to space restriction, this book will not focus upon them. They were none-the-less an integral component to his life and will be presented in detail at a later date.
1Lyrics from the Centennial Cantata sung at the
opening of the nation's Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876,
written by Sidney Lanier.
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