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THE ROOSEVELT FAMILY.
Holland and Huguenot Stock-President's Grandfather, Explorer of the Ohio and
Mississippi Rivers on the First Steamboat That Navigated Them-His Father's Public Spirit and Philanthropy–His Mother of a Historical Family in Georgia, The President's Family at the White House--Ages of His Children.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT, XXVth President of the United States, was
born in the old family residence, 28 East Twentieth Street, New York
City, October 27, 1858. When the great war of the sections and States was over, he had not reached his seventh birthday. The names of the battlefields, and all the meaning of the war, came to him as the story of a cause lost by one branch of his ancestors, and gained by the other. His father was of the Empire State of the North, and his mother from the Empire State of the South.
The grandfather of President Roosevelt was Nicholas J. Roosevelt, son of Isaac Roosevelt, who was a member of the New York Provincial Congress, the legislature of the City Council, and President of the Bank of New York. Nicholas J. Roosevelt was born in New York in 1768 and associated with Robert Fulton in the invention and introduction of steamboats. Fulton said of him that he was nobleminded and intelligent and he would be glad to do anything for him that was in his power. Mr. Nicholas J. Roosevelt lived eighty-seven years. He was the representative of promoters of steamboats in the City of New York, who made a survey of the western rivers, including the Ohio and Mississippi, to ascertain whether steamers that had been moderately successful on the Hudson would be suitable to navigate the great western waters.
There were many novelties in navigation, to those familiar only with tidal waters, and they were full of dangers; among them the rise and fall of the rivers, the caving in of the banks of the Mississippi, filling the food with snags. A great number of trees were undermined and stranded in the channel. These difficulties were found formidable in future enterprises, but Mr. Roosevelt reported favorably as to steamboats on western rivers, and built, at Pittsburg, the first that appeared in the waters of the Mississippi valley. He made his way with it to New Orleans. It illustrates the courageous temperament of the family that his wife regarded the voyage as one that would be agreeable, and not only accompanied him, but took all their children to enjoy the adventure. An embarrassment of steamboating at the time was that no fuel could be had to raise steam unless the men on the boat went ashore, chopped the green trees and carried the wood aboard.
The only landings were those used by keel boats and flat boats; but the voyager, Roosevelt, discovered coal in the banks of the Ohio, near the mouth of the Tennessee, and provided himself with fuel for the complete voyage, indeed loading the steamer with it. It was this large supply of the power of raising steam that saved the boat and passengers, because it was their fortune to be on the Mississippi and in the neighborhood of New Madrid when the memorable 1812 earthquakes occurred there. These were far the most violent and protracted phenomena of shaking and rending the earth that ever happened in the North American Continent. Tremendous cracks opened and swallowed forests. Through a great region were rifts from four to ten feet wide of immeasurable depth. There was considerable loss of life, though the country was sparsely populated, and the log cabins were admirable contrivances for saving the people. There was nothing in the walls to crumble. Fallen trees bridged the fissures made by the shakes, so that they were crossed without difficulty. The enormous agitation of the central Mississippi valley will be understood from the fact that a lake sixty miles long and two to six miles in width, created by the earthquake, exists, bearing the appropriate name of “Reel-foot.” It is celebrated for hunting and fishing.
Reliable records exist of the remarkable journey during which the steamer passed in the midst of the frightful mingling of land and water without being harmed, though many flat boats and keel boats were lost. The Mississippi river, to the great amazement of the old settlers, ran Northward for miles several times. There was a literal and awful illustration of the famous line, "The earth hath bubbles as the water hath.”
Another narrative of the exploration of the Mississippi river by the bold navigator, the grandfather of the President, contains additional details that add light in the illumination of the character of the Chief Executive, that his grandmother, the pioneer steamboat man's wife, as before stated, insisted on accompanying her husband on the trial trip.
It was easily to be seen in advance that the voyage would be a dangerous one, but nothing could deter the brave woman from sharing her husband's fortunes, good or evil. No freight or paying passengers were carried, the trip being only an experimental one. The voyage was to be from Pittsburg to New Orleans, and if navigation of the rivers was found practicable the boat was to be put in the New Orleans and Natchez trade. Besides Mr. Roosevelt and his family, there were no other persons aboard except Mr. Baker, the engineer; Andrew Jack, the pilot; six deck hands and a few servants.
There were, as heretofore pointed out, no woodyards along the river banks at that time, and Captain Roosevelt had taken his precautions on that score. On his reconnoiter of the rivers, a few months before beginning the voyage, he had discovered two beds of coal about 120 miles below the rapids at Louisville, and took along tools to work them, intending to load the vessel with the coal instead of frequently detaining the boat while wood was being cut and hauled to the banks.
It was while the steamboat was on the Mississippi, in the months of December, 1810 and January, 1811, that the greatest earthquake ever felt in North America changed the physical geography of much of the country watered by the Mississippi river.
Captain Roosevelt and his family aboard the New Orleans, as the boat was named, were in the worst fury of the earthquake, having come out of the Ohio into the Mississippi river about the time of the greatest damage at New Madrid.
In the midst of the terrible convulsion as this the first of western steamboats was pursuing her way to the South. When John Bradbury, a noted English explorer, and his keel boat were near the mouth of the Arkansas they were passed by the steamboat, which had weathered the gale and came through all the war of the elements without any serious injury. The Englishman says in his book: "She was a very handsome vessel of 410 tons burden, and was impelled by a powerful engine.” He afterwards took passage on this boat at Natchez for New Orleans, and in his description of the operation grew enthusiastic.
The Southern side of the ancestry of the President is given with scrupulous care in the Georgia journals as follows:
"President Theodore Roosevelt probably comes nearer to being a Southern man than any Chief Executive the nation has had since the Civil War. Certainly he comes nearer to being a Georgia man than any of his predecessors in office since the war.
President Roosevelt is a direct descendant of Governor Archibald Bullock, the first State Governor that Georgia had. This does not include the Colonial Governors. The mother of President Roosevelt, Martha Bullock, was born in Liberty county, and at Roswell, Ga., twenty miles from Atlanta, in the mansion of her father at that place, she married Theodore Roosevelt of New York, the father of the new President of the United States.
In Atlanta President Roosevelt has a number of relatives. Among them is Mr. Jefferson Davis Dunwody, who has furnished the following account of the Roosevelt history in Georgia, which shows that Georgia and South Carolina have many of the relatives of the new President among their best citizens.
Archibald Bullock was the ancestor of Theodore Roosevelt. Archibald Bullock was the Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775. He was elected to same in 1776, and could have signed the Declaration of Independence, as he was elected to that Congress, and would have remained until the Constitution was framed. He attended both meetings of Congress in 1775 and 1776 and was a prominent and conspicuous member.
In 1776 he was elected as the first Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the State of Georgia, which then ceased to be a Colony. He signed the first Constitution of the State of Georgia as President. He died in 1777, soon after signing the State Constitution. He also read in public for the first time the Declaration to the citizens of Savannah. A copy was sent to him from the Congress in Philadelphia by horseback rider. They gave a big barbecue in Savannah, at that time capital, as it were, of the State, and Archibald Bullock, Governor and Commander-in-Chief, read to the assembled citizens the new Declaration of Independence. Archibald Bullock married on October 9, 1764, on Argyle Island, Mary DeVeaux, daughter of James DeVeaux.
Archibald Bullock and Mary DeVeaux had issue-Captain James Bullock, born in 1765, who was a Captain in the Virginia State garrison troops from 1778 to 1781. He was married April 13, 1786, to Ann Irvine, daughter of Dr. John Irvine and Ann Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Kenneth Baillie. Captain James Bullock died February 9, 1806. He and his wife, Ann Irvine, had issue:
1. John Irvine Bullock, who married Charlotte Glen.
2. Major James S. Bullock, who married first Hester Elliot, who was daughter of United States Senator John Elliot and Esther Dunwody. The second wife of Major Bullock was Martha Stewart, daughter of General Daniel Stewart, of the Revolution, and his wife, Susanna Oswald.
3. Jane Bullock, who married John Dunwody, of Georgia, and had issue, including the Dunwodys of Georgia.