THE BOYD FAMILY
In the late 1700s the BOYD family came from Scotland UK to County Armagh, Northern Ireland UK. They settled south of the City of Armagh, in the Tullyvallan (or Townland), two miles north of Ballymyre, which would later become known as Newtownhamilton.
BOYD Homestead, Tullyvallan, Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, Northern Ir3eland UK, circa Late
Within the next thirty years there would be another family that would move in next door and begin this big ARDIS Family that we are all a part of.
THE HISTORICAL "STAGE"
I want to take a moment and bring to bear on our minds a few of the historical happenings that would influence our ancestors in this early period. This is not meant to be an historical dissertation, and I would urge each of you to go to your local library for additional background reading. I will, however, try to give you a few guideposts to this period.
These were extremely trying times in all of the United Kingdom. England was still smarting from the American Revolution; Scotland was in a constant state of rebellion, and Ireland had always been a thorn in England's side. Home Rule in Ireland was not going well, and in religion, the Huguenots in France were being unmercifully persecuted.
America loomed as the one great hope for religious and political dissenters, and any others who were being oppressed, around the world.
This is the stage onto which the William (1) ARDIS and Sarah [EMERSON] ARDIS would step.
ORIGIN OF THE WILLIAM (1) ARDIS LINE
As we have stipulated earlier, it is left to speculation as to the exact origin of the William ARDIS line. However we feel quite comfortable in stating that just prior to coming to Ireland that they had a stay in Scotland, as we see in the letter of Mary ARDIS KNOX.
[INSERT ON TAB ON RIGHT THE MARY ARDIS LETTER]
We know from family and church records that both the ARDIS and the BOYD Families were "staunch Presbyterians". In each of the early generations there were both ministers and missionaries.
There is that possibility then, that the William (1) ARDIS, and his wife Sarah EMERSON, could have been missionaries… somewhere in Eastern Persia, Switzerland and or possibly
THE ITALIAN CONNECTION
Thomas ARDIS has pointed out that a city in Central Italy, named Perugia, "sounds like
Persia". He has also discovered that there are a few (very few... 200,000 today, out of 14-million) Protestants in Italy. These are of several sects that trace back to the Protestant Reformation, in the early 1500s. Interestingly, the largest
of these is congregated in several of the mountain valleys of Central Italy.
We know of no ARDIS relatives in Italy today. Still, could this have been Aunt Mary's "Persia"? Could it, perhaps, also be the reason that her oldest brother, Mark (3) ARDIS
was recorded as having been "in Italy visiting relatives" in the summer of 1910?
Could it have something to do with our young ARDIS friend in upstate New York, his grandfather having emigrated to Brooklyn in the late 1800s... from Italy? Could there be a connection with
Italian folk having the ARDIS Surname and apparently living in three or four towns of Central Italy today?
People want answers! In time, we will have them.
Map of Perugia in Italy
Perugia, Italy Homepage
BACK TO ARMAGH
In the early 1800's many Irish (both indigenous Irish, and Scots-Irish) farmers were being displaced. England would force them off their land, or pay them to go to the United States, Australia and or Canada. Then they would encourage other Englanders to go to Ireland and take over the farms.
The Irish were not pleased with this and would not go without a fight.
In 1844 Thomas Carlyle, an influential British essayist wrote--
"Ireland is like a half starved rat that crosses the path of an elephant. What must the Elephant do? Squelch it by heavens, squelch it!"
During the formative years of both William (2) ARDIS and Mary [BOYD] ARDIS the English militia were in every County in Ireland. They would confiscate crops and cattle in payment for taxes. So while the people went hungry, they watched their crops and cattle be loaded onto ships and sent to England.
The Militia assigned to County Armagh were the 44th Regiment and also the 6th Dragoons. They were both situated in the City of Armagh.
THE POTATO ECONOMY
There was one staple food crop that was fairly new to Europe… the New World potato. It had been introduced to Ireland as cattle feed and was only adopted for human consumption as England tightened its noose around Ireland's neck.During the 1830's the potato became more and more important to the survival in Ireland. By 1840 it had become the staple diet for seventy percent of the Irish people.
BOY MEETS GIRL
It was right at this same time that the "boy next door" (man, really) became enamored with Mary Scott BOYD. They were married in 1838 or 1839. Their first of fourteen (14) children was born in 1843… near the very beginning of the Great Potato Famine.Let's not be misled. There was plenty of food in Ireland… but, the English were taking it all in "rightful payment" of the taxes levied by the
THE GREAT IRISH POTATO FAMINE
Beginning in 1845, and continuing for five years, blight struck the potato crop. When this food source disappeared, famine struck with a fury. This is the time that William (3), George (3) and Samuel Boyd (3) ARDIS were born.
The British refused to assume any financial burden to replace the lost harvests. In fact, they stepped up their collection of crops for export to England.
One million Irish starved to death, or succumbed to a variety of diseases, because of their weakened state. Another million-and-a-half emigrated, most to America, Canada, and Australia.
THE IRISH "EXODUS"
Michael Smith states...
"This huge exodus to America was to have profound significance in the 20th century. The Irish, who left, a vast majority of them Catholic, carried with them extreme bitterness towards the British and the Protestant Irish. This created a reservoir if Irish Americans whose descendants would identify with the Republican Movement and who would lend it their tremendous financial and political resources. More immediately, however, America became a safe harbor for the exiled leaders of the failed Young Irelanders who began to organize the vehemently anti-British recent emigrants into revolutionary secret societies."
At this point begins the devolution of Ireland into 140 years, or more, of internecine warfare. Sadly, it also marks the end of many failed opportunities for Irish Catholics and Irish Presbyterians to unite against the English.
To understand these "missed chances" we will have to have a more detailed discussion of Presbyterianism at some future date. For the purposes of this discussion we will just point out that Presbyterianism in Great Britain was closely allied with the Scottish Independence Movement, and therefore reviled by the Crown.
DISSENTERS TO THE CROWN
Both Catholics and Presbyterians were viewed as "dissenters" to the
official Church of England. Presbyterians were perhaps liked least, for as Protestants they "should have known better". Catholics were certainly disciminated against, but there was a general acceptance that they were "different".
Presbyterians were viewed as having made the proper choice in turning from "Papism", but it seemed particularly irksome to the English that they would not "come to heal" in the
official English Church.
THE SCOTTISH DIASPORA
This situation led directly to the mass expulsion of the Scottish Presbyterians... first to Northern Ireland... and then,
perhaps 150 years later, from Northern Ireland to America, and Australia.
THE RISE OF IRISH REPUBLICANISM
It was against this backdrop, in 1858, that John Doheny, James Stephens, and John Mahoney founded the Fenian Brotherhood. Then Stephens returned to Ireland and founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Their Paper, The Irish People, began to publicize the struggle for independence and recruit members and money, both in Ireland and the United States.
There was violent suppression of the IRB by the Irish Constabulary, and opposition by the Catholic Church, thus forcing the Fenians underground.
ARDIS FOLK ADRIFT ON A SEA OF DISCONTENT
Where our family stood on such issues is a mystery. However they were in Northern Ireland... and they were Presbyterians. If not actors on this great stage of world events, it is hard to imagine that they were not at least acted upon.
Being farmers it makes sense that they might have been supporters of the Home Rule movement, led brilliantly by the Irish Protestant landlord, Charles Stewart
We do have one family story handed down through the Robert (3) ARDIS line. William (2) ARDIS was walking home this certain night when he was attacked by a group of Catholics and violently beaten and left in the ditch for dead.
I am assuming that because Robert (3) ARDIS was deeply touched by this that he was perhaps the eldest boy at home. So this may have happened after the five older boys had moved from home.
AN ECUMENICAL SPIRIT?
More in the modern day, Thomas John (6) ARDIS visited Armagh in 1963 with his parents. He there discovered "long-lost cousins". One of his strongest remembrances is of being shown both the Protestant and Catholic cathedrals that grace Armagh City. They were both
presented with great pride.
Apparently, ARDIS Folk can be an ecumenical bunch, even when cast upon the turbulent waters of Irish politics and religion!
A PART OF THE SOLUTION?
We are most fortunate in having a friend, and possible "ARDIS Cousin", in
the modern-day politics of Northern Ireland. Lord [John] Alderdice toils earnestly in The House of Lords (London) and as Speaker of the recently
implemented Northern Ireland Assembly (Belfast). We are very proud of him and his
efforts to reconcile Catholic and Protestant and to find new paths toward a political settlement
for the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Perhaps it will yet be "ARDIS
Vision and Leadership" that brings peace to our beloved "Homeland".
I hope that this gives you an overview of the time period that our family began. Perhaps we can now see some of the reasons that they wanted to come to the United States.
How they came and why they ended up in Evart, Osceola County, Michigan USA is still hidden in the research that some red-haired, blue-eyed descendant will have to do.