Sometimes genealogy findings can be almost unbearably ironic. I used to say quite frequently, “I want a “You Are Here” map for my life” and I meant it sincerely. I have often felt lost and out of place. I have also been heard to say that I must have been a dog in a previous life because this life seems to be so hard and confusing. I once said this to a friend of mine who then offered to read my palm. I agreed and she told me I was a “new soul”. When I asked her what that meant, she told me it was a person who’d never been on earth before. Well, that cleared THAT up for me. But the wish for an actual map for my life? That must come from being a descendant of Bernard Romans, a cartographer, among many other things.
Bernard Romans was born about 1720 in the Netherlands. He grew up and was educated there, but moved to England where he trained as an engineer. He was sent to America, then known as British North America, and served as a surveyor of Georgia. In 1761 he married Maria Wendel in Albany, New York. Their son Peter Milo Romans was born there in 1762. Peter would marry have 10 children, one of whom was Leah Romans, born in Albany in 1787, who was my 3rd great grandmother. While not documented, it is believed Maria died shortly after Peter’s birth and Bernard married a second time Elizabeth Whiting in Wethersfield, Connecticut in January of 1779. The couple had one documented child, Hubertus, born there in October of 1779.
Bernard was very active in the young America during his life. He surveyed Florida and wrote a book, A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, which was first published in April of 1775.
He was in Boston when the Boston Tea Party occurred, and in April of 1775 was appointed a captain by the Connecticut Committee of Saftey, and was active in the American Revolution. There are many articles and some books written detailing the life of Bernard Romans which include his military service in the Revolution.
Elizabeth Whiting Romans applied for a pension in 1852 for his service, stating under oath:
“And he so continued in the line of his duty as an officer until 1780, about eighteen months after the marriage…according to her best recollection, when he was ordered to go to the State of South Carolina, there to join the Southern Army, and shortly thereafter he sailed from New Haven or New London, in the State of Connecticut for the place of his destination, and who, together with the vessel and crew with which he embarked, were shortly thereafter, while on their passage, captured by the British, and her said husband was carried a prisoner of war to Montego Bay, Island of Jamacia, where he was held in captivity until the close of the war in 1783. The British authorities, in the mean time, were applied to deliver him up by exchange for their own men then held as prisoners of war by this government, which exchange they refused to make, on account of his, the said Romans, ability to do so much injury to the British interests. And she further saith, that her said husband, as she was informed and believes, was shipped by the British authorities under the intent of sending him thence to some port in the United States, and he was said to have died on his passage, though from circumstances attending his demise his friends had good reason to believe him to have been willfully murdered.”
The date and place of his death is said to be 1784, “at sea.”
Now when I feel lost and confused in life, I remember Bernard Romans who made maps and explored new lands, and feel a little bit better, knowing he didn’t always know where he was going, but used his experiences to create the means by which others were able to plot their own journeys.