Thank you.I believe most of us are familiar with the Jacobus article, but it falls far short of “proof positive.”It falls short of good, honest research as well.Jacobus claimed to be unbiased, but the text itself clearly reveals his prejudices.Let’s look at a few quotations from the article: “Any tradition passing by word of mouth through several generations requires verification from contemporary record sources before it can safely be accepted.”That is true, but oral history in some cultures, including Native American, are a necessary form of record-keeping and cannot be shrugged off as lightly as hand-me-down stories from Grandma.Such history is not just heard and casually repeated, but carefully memorized by each generation.Franklin Bearse’s minute notation of fractional degrees of Native American blood in each generation lends his account an air of truth.Degree of blood is vitally important to Native Americans, as that is the way the white man’s government decides who is and who is not legally a Native American, a decision that has a profound impact on the individual’s whole life. “To suppose that a Gypsy, a deported criminal, and the husband of an Indian, would have enjoyed such standing in a Puritan community is absurd.”Augustine Bearse was said to have been deported because he was a Rom, not because he was a criminal.But even deported “criminals” -- a term applied even in trivial offenses in those days -- did find acceptance in all of the New World colonies so long as they builthonest, productive lives there.As for “Gypsies” and “husband(s) of Indian(s),” witness the so-called Black Dutch of New York and Pennsylvania.Around the turn of the 17th Century -- not many years after Augustine Bearse’s arrival -- these German Rom did find acceptance in staunchly Protestant communities, and many of them married Native Americans.Some resumed their traditional Rom ways in the New World, but some settled down as artisans and farmers and were assimilated into their communities.Interestingly, among the German names these Rom adopted most frequently were Rau and May, two names that appear in Franklin E. Bearse’s history of his family.
“The birth of Martha Taylor on a precise date in 1650 has appeared in print, presumably from the Yarmouth records”In other places, Jacobus acknowledges that errors may occur in print.In this case, since it supports his argument, he cites the fact of publication as proof even though he does not know the original source. “It is almost certain that Ruth was born in England.”Proof positive requires more than “almost” certain. “The story therefore is that Josiah Bearse either committed a bigamous marriage, or kept a concubine, and that in spite of this his legal wife accompanied him on his removal to Connecticut. Such a story cannot be accepted, and is seemingly based on an error, either in the book by Otis, or in an original record at Barnstable.”The human spirit can be generous as well as mean.The history of that period (and all others) records many instances where a legal wife remained with her husband despite his relations with other women.And this is a fine example of Jacobus’ selective judgment:because the record does not agree with his preconceived conclusion, an error must have appeared either in a printed book or in the original records which, in other instances, Jacobus takes as gospel. “It is not our province to inquire why a later descendant prefers to disown Zerviah Newcomb in favor of an alleged Indian concubine, and to besmirch the character of Josiah Bearse by making bastards of all his children.”Here is the pinnacle of Jacobus’ prejudice and academic charlatinism.His choice of pejorative words in this passage “concubine -- besmirch -- bastards” reveals that his personal moral feelings were driving his pen.And the question he sidesteps, “why,” is precisely the question on which he should have focused.Franklin Bearse’s undisputed purpose in transcribing this oral history was to prove his Native American status.His claim ofMary Hyanno’s Native American identity contributed to that in a small way, but why then bring in the story of Augustine Bearse’s Rom heritage?It adds nothing whatsoever to the Native American claim.The most obvious conclusion is that, whether it was true or not, it was indeed part of the oral history memorized through generations. “Since the alleged claims of Indian marriage and descent in the second and third generations have been exposed as false and unacceptable, we have a legitimate basis for the deduction that the statement about Austin Bearse, the first settler, is of the same unsubstantial texture.”Jacobus showed that the claims were “unacceptable” to him, but he did not “prove” they were false.He merely asserted they were false and backed his assertion with a subjective choice ofsource materials -- printed accounts and original records that supported his view were cited without question, while those that did not fit his picture were rejected out of hand.Jacobus’ article must be analyzed and questioned as carefully as Franklin Bearse’s history. Please, let us have the “proof positive” and not just polemics.