“The Ultimate Eagle Scout” and His Grandfather

Cholera epidemic.  Mexican War.  War of 1812.  Chris O’Donnell has an amazing family legacy of service to this country!

Michael Hait, one of the genealogists on this episode, joined me in the live after-show hosted by the In-Depth Genealogist. This was really fortunate for me, because I had a ton of questions after this episode ended, especially:

  • What family circumstances compelled George McNeir to leave the Sea Fencibles and return to his family?
  • With eight generations before Michael McEnnis and many since, surely there are many more generations of heroes in this family?
  • At what point did Chris figure out that War of 1812 + Bombardment of Ft. McHenry = The Star-Spangled Banner?

During the show and afterwards he revealed that there was much more to Chris’ family than made the cut, as you would expect from a family in this country for fourteen generations.  Indeed, ancestors served in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  And yes, there was much more to George McEnnis court case.  He hadn’t paid rent in two years — that was clear.  But the warehouse he was renting was shared with a merchant who imported cloth from the British West Indies… and obviously you aren’t importing cloth from British anywhere when you’re at war with the British.  So the circumstances surrounding George’s poverty were more complicated than the small glimpse we got of the court case — these records were actually quite numerous (more luck for Chris!).  It was this court case, which lasted two years, and its effect, as well as the family’s general poverty, that led to George’s decision to leave the military.

And finally, I was glad to hear that Chris was a lot sharper than the episode made him seem and was one step ahead of the researchers all the way.  He and his niece couldn’t help but research in parallel with the show, and evidently every time Michael was about to drag an important connection between the evidence and history for Chris, Chris took the words right out of his mouth!

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