If I had
tried to tell about this side of my family two years ago, I'd have said
we were of French and Native American descent. (Actually, that's
not true. I'd have said French and Indian. My perspective
has changed on many levels.) We accepted that there was no record
or history of the family because we were assumed to be strongly Native,
to the degree of reservations and displacement. In Southwestern
New York, there are not a lot of records for the European settlers prior
to 1880, much less of anyone not monitored by the government or church.
maiden name was DeRock. The name certainly supports the
family history, as it seems to be a slightly Anglicized French name.
The running theory was that it was changed from DeRoche, or
De la Roche. But when I moved to upstate New York in 1998,
I was ready to look for them, in spite of the dearth of information.
True to expectations, they were not to be found beyond my great-great-Grandfather
Austin DeRock, who died in Sidney, Delaware, New York in 1919.
in a conversation with my uncle (the original holder of family records
and an historian), he mentioned that he had once seen Austin's name
listed as Drock. This was a variation I had never looked
into, but when I did, the entire story began to blow apart.
were not famous. They didn't go to college. They didn't
have any money. In fact, they were isolated from their neighbors
and looked down upon. And after hundreds of hours of research
on many fronts, I have yet to pin down a Native American in the tree
anywhere. For that matter, I haven't found that elusive French
one hundred and fifty years, the Drock's stayed tightly knit, supporting
one another, raising each other's children and averting financial disaster.
They emigrated to new lands as the frontier expanded, bringing four
generations at a time. They named their children after their uncles
and ancestors, and they tried to survive.
the effects of ostracization and social stagnation drove the Drock's
to turn their backs on their relations, their homes, and their history.
The family became estranged from one another deliberately. In
a single generation, concerted effort was made to hide the past from
not only strangers, but later generations.