Lunch with Dead Phillipses

So, I’ve been mapping all the dead Phillipses near Marion, New York, hoping that geography can show me something about possible relatives for Luke. You know my theory that Luke’s dad is Isaac Phillips, the only Phillips near where Marion would be in 1810 who had small children.

Well, up in the Furnaceville Cemetery, just northwest of Marion, there’s an interesting Phillips family–Sayles Phillips, his wife Amelia, their sons Harley and Theron, and one of their daughters, Cordelia. Sayles died in 1851. His kids, who are all roughly the same age as Luke either lived to be old or died in the Civil War. That’s how Harley and Theron went. Amelia also died in 1862, in what we can only surmise was “No husband, two dead sons? Fuck this shit, I’m out.”

Sayles is interesting because he seems to bring us back to the Phillips family in Connecticut I’ve long thought we must be a part of. This would be the family of Elijah Phillips and Rhoda Sayles. Let’s go over the suspicion-raising things. Luke says his parents were born in Connecticut. Elijah and Rhoda got married, had kids, and died in Connecticut (though Elijah was, I think, from Rhode Island). Luke has a daughter named Rhoda. Elijah and Rhoda’s descendants contain a lot of Rhodas. Elijah Phillips has a son, Asa, who has a son, Johnathan, who has a son, Anson, who has a son named Hildreth, who lived in Michigan, who is certainly the Hildreth Phillips that got my great-great uncle Barlow the job (remember, his son told me that Hildreth Phillips got his dad a job and Carroll, the son, always assumed it was my Grandpa, also named Hildreth, but he would have been a young child). Plus, this branch of the Phillips family came through Canada to Michigan, as my Uncle B. told me was the case. I just cannot accept that two Hildreth Phillipses whose lives somewhat intersected aren’t related. I cannot.

But, while it’s unlikely that Sayles Phillips would be named Sayles Phillips if he weren’t a relative of Rhoda Sayles Phillips, I haven’t found the connection. I know Isaac was around 1780. And Rhoda tended to have children once every two years:

Augustus 1765

Martha 1767

Asa 1769

Amasa 1771

Rhoda 1773

Elijah 1775

John Sayles 1777

Hannah 1779

Michael 1781

Polly 1784

Anna 1785

Freelove 1787

Cyrus 1791

So, I guess it’s possible that he might fit between Michael and Polly, but the kids I was able to find in a church register were Michael, Hannah, and Polly. If Isaac were born between any of them, he’d probably have been caught by the church.

That’s frustrating. You’d think a name like “Sayles Phillips” would result in a traceable family, but so far, no. Still, I wonder if I will find that Sayles is Luke’s brother, and both of them are sons of Isaac.

But I’m starting to realize that I’m going to have to go there to chase this stuff down.


Messing Up the Past

One thing I’ve come to realize in writing the Ben & Sue thing is that, in general, it would be nearly impossible for a time traveler to change the past. I mean, think of the past like a vast river that you, one tablespoon of water, is somehow going to launch yourself out of and deposit yourself way upstream. Now, it is true that, in times of crisis, like a flood, it must come down to a tablespoon of water, eventually, being the difference between the levee being breached and it not. But that you are going to be that tablespoon at that moment? Highly unlikely.

The fantasy that you can change the past must, in general, be borne by people who feel they can change their own present.

But changing the past would, actually, be difficult. Who would believe you? Even if they did believe you, why would they act on it? I mean, we get told all the time by people who know what they’re talking about that global warming is happening and that it’s going to add to our own future misery and we don’t do shit. Why would we act on the future needs of people we aren’t ever going to be or know? Plus, the things you know about are very limited. So, what permanent change are you capable of making? Say you even know how to do something complicated–like build a computer–where, in the past, are you going to find workable parts? Okay, say you even find workable parts, where are you, stranger in a strange land, going to find another person with your talent to pass this knowledge on to in a useable form?

It’s hard enough, in the present, to intersect with the right people at the right time in order to move your life how you want it to go. And you know people here.

Which is not to say that it’s not possible for people to make change. Just that time travel to the past seems to unquestioningly rely on the danger of fucking things up for everybody, when, really, the odds of you being able to make any changes, positive or negative, are not good.