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Have you seen it yet? It turns up in my email inbox from time to time or in my Facebook Feed since I bear the same last name. It was my husband's name and so many of our conservative acquaintances felt that we would appreciate seeing the photos.

Of course, they knew very little of history, of our genealogical research, or of our political beliefs. I am finally tiring of refuting the assumptions one at a time, and have decided to write it out where people can find it. If you are reading this after following a link that I have given you, read on below the doodle divider to learn why.

My husband's 6th great-grandfather, John Grigsby, sailed to Virginia in 1662, earning the Captain of the ship in which he sailed, 50 acres of Virginia land. The Grigsby family became prosperous land owners and remained in Virginia for generations. Many remain there today. However, after the Revolutionary War some of the great-grandsons decided to leave Virginia behind. Some went to South Carolina. Some followed, but then pushed west and north into Kentucky. My husband's ancestors stayed awhile in Kentucky before moving into southern Indiana. Some of the families remained in southern Indiana, while Ed's 2nd great-grandfather and his brother moved into northern Illinois with their families.

A member of one of the families that remained in Indiana was Aaron Grigsby, whose claim to fame was his marriage to Sarah Lincoln, sister to the future President. They wed in 1826, but sadly within 18 months, Sarah died in childbirth. Abraham felt that Aaron failed to get a doctor in time and blamed him for Sarah's death. The animosity that he held for the Grigsby family lasted until 1844, when during a campaign speech, he noted another Grigsby brother in the audience, and calling out to him, arranged to meet that evening. (From David Herbert Donald's biography Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, 1996, pg 116.)

*Nathaniel Grigsby was Aaron Grigsby's brother, a good friend of Abraham Lincoln who attended school with him. By 1860, Nathaniel had moved to Missouri where he wrote to Lincoln requesting to be named

as Republican Precinct Committee Man.  He placed Lincoln's name on the 1860 ballot.

All of Natty's neighbors were Southern sympathizers.  He had been talking about
electing Lincoln for president in town.  One morning at about 2 or 3 a.m. a neighbor
rode up and told Natty not to light any lights.  The neighbor wanted to warn him
that his neighbors were planning to murder him and if he wanted to live he should
be on his way.  

After the warning, Natty moved back to Spencer Co., IN where he and four of his five
sons enlisted in Company C 10th IN Cavalry ( Richmond Davis did not enlist).  Natty
was named 2nd Lieutenant.

The Grigsby men in the midwest were staunch Union men, strong supporters of the young Republican Party. The polarization was just a little greater then than it is now. The Grigsbys did not believe in secession, feeling that it was treason. Nor did they believe it was proper to claim to "own" another person. They were Republicans. And they were willing to bear arms in support of the Union.

The Democrats, on the other hand, led the fight for the expansion of slavery, and when that failed, the fight for secession. They remained the party of the South for years and years, until Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And then they turned coat faster than anyone would have believed possible and became Republicans rather than accept the African American as a full and equal member of society. And the Republican Party, which today would never have accepted Abraham Lincoln as a member, much less standard bearer, embraced the lost Cause of the South in an effort, led by a Quaker from California, to win the White House. It worked.

The ancestors of today's Republicans were called Democrats. Today the Republican Party is the Party that speaks of secession, of treason, as Nathaniel Grigsby had carved into his tombstone. He fought them when they were called Democrats and if he were alive today, he would still know who the traitors to the Union are, regardless of any name change.

*Edited to add further information about Nathaniel Grigsby

Originally posted to Susan Grigsby on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 06:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community.

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