Heart of a Southern Woman

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You Can Discover Amazing Things in These Family Trees!–John Rogers the Christian Martyr

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     You Can Discover Amazing Things in These Family Trees!   

     Tonight I was perusing some the family tree of some friends of mine,which they had shared with me, when I came across the Rogers name.  We had mentioned in passing some time ago that there were Rogers in their family tree, and that not only was my husband’s mother a Rogers, but also I had discovered that my college roommate, and friend of over 40 years, Carol, was kin to the same line of Rogers. After discovering their relationship, I was very surprised to find another cousin for them in my own Red Hatters group! So , now my husband had two new cousins, Carol and Adair, and what…now here is a third one, Marilyn–in the same Rogers line! Those  Rogers were prolific people and widespread in North Carolina! My husband is from the western part of the state, Carol from New Bern in the East, Adair from Louisburg in the central part of the state, and now Marilyn from the North–I mean New York north! Max and I have known Marilyn for 30 years without knowing she was kin, and we’ve known Carol for over 40! We just had the pleasure of getting to know Adair in this last year! Coincidence? God at work? 

     I have come to realize that if you can trace your family back to the early 1600’s through the early 1700’s here in the colonies, well more than likely you are going to be kin to almost everyone who was here then! There were so relatively few people, with such large families, that cousins married cousins, and neighbors married neighbors. Since I come from Virginia, and can trace parts of my family back to Jamestown, I know what I’m talking about! LOL  It seems I’m kin to everyone in the United States– if we dig far enough! 

John Rogers, the Martyr, picture from ancestry.com

      But there is a very special consideration about our friend Marilyn being a Rogers descendant. In that line are many interesting people, but the one I am focusing on right now is her twelfth great grandfather, John Rogers, the Martyr. John Rogers was born about  1507 and died in 1555. He was the first protestant burned at the stake by Queen Mary I, “Bloody Mary”! He was burned at the stake because he helped translate the Bible into English and brought printed copies of it back to England for people to read, all by themselves, without the guidance of Catholic priests. That was against the law, and considered heresy! The powerful Catholic church, and their Catholic Queen didn’t want people reading at all, but especially not the Bible. It might undermine their power. 

    One reason this is so interesting to me, is that Marilyn’s husband Thomas A. Clayton, not knowing anything about John Rogers or his wife’s kinship to him, recently wrote and published a book titled,  Rebel With A Cause, the Radical Reformer which includes his screenplay The Passion of the Heretic.  This full feature, historical drama, is about Michael Servetus, another Protestant martyr, born in 1511 Spain, educated in France, and burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553! Michael Servetus was not put to death by Catholics however, but by Protestants, namely John Calvin, who felt his own power threatened by Servetus. 

Image of Servetus provided by Thomas A.Clayton

     The Servetus Project includes Thomas Clayton’s blog, which you can access here  The Servetus Project. Thomas says that he felt called to write about Servetus. I suspect John Rogers and Michael Servetus knew each other. They both were reformers, and much of their work took place in France.  Europe was a small place with relatively few people in the mid 1500’s, surely they had heard of each other if they had not met. Now, over 500 years later, the husband of Rogers’ granddaughter feels “called” to write about Servetus! Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe people who have died can be our spirit guides? Can you imagine all the universal influences at work in this seemingly serendipitous situation? 

Thomas and Marilyn Clayton , Servetus and Rogers? 

      By the way, John Rogers the Martyr, is my husband Max’s 14th great grandfather, and he is my friend Carol’s 13th great grandfather. I know he is in my friend Adair’s tree, but I have not filled it in completely, so cannot yet calculate the exact relationship. 

    I stand amazed at discovering things like this during family tree work and research. If you have done some genealogy, I’d love to hear about your experiences.  

   Until we meet again, I’m wishing you only the best, Helen

Author: Helen Holshouser

Old enough to enjoy life, I am a Red Hatter, grandmother, gardener, and amateur genealogist. I am a retired clinical psychologist, master's level, who is disabled with heart disease, but having fun with family and friends. Married over 40 years, I have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I have learned that grandchildren provide a joy one never knew existed---writing feeds my soul, gardening is therapy, and genealogy research makes me feel like a detective!

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