Sunday, January 24, 2016

Me first!

          The latest ancestor in my genealogy quest is Robert Eakin Miller, reportedly the first white male born in Kentucky. I say reportedly because several people claim this dubious honor. 
          Robert was born Aug. 28, 1780, at Bear Grass Fort (Louisville) to Major John Miller and his wife Ann McClintock. Thirty-six years later, Robert's daughter, Ann Mariah Miller, married my son's ancestor, Joseph William Wallace.  
           In the History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky,  author William Perrin wrote "Robert Miller, born 1780, is said to be the first male child born in the state." Perrin's book came out in 1882. That same year Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky  lists a dozen babes who claim to be the first white birth in the state, several of them males, and all before Robert's 1780 debut. 
         This all goes to reinforce my journalism training to avoid claims of first, or oldest, or any other "est" unless the parameters are very controlled and knowable. The real lesson is it doesn't matter. What's the difference if Robert was the first  or fiftieth child born to white settlers in the territory that would become Kentucky? All that matters is that his parents were among the early settlers, and  he was born into a world full of possibility.
          Reminds me of that old joke: Men want the be a woman's "first." Women want to be a man's "last."      

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