It was curiosity about his family crest that sent Mid-States Detailer Adam Benedict down a rabbit hole that led him to tracing his family line all the way back to 1520.
“It was always just ‘I wonder what it looks like, what it is,’” said Adam, who joined the Mid-States team in January 2017.
His research began with ancestry.com, where he utilized his free trial to get as much information as he could. In fact, he got his main family laid out first, and then found some distant relatives in Canada who helped fill in the blanks. One of those relatives just happened to be a genealogist.
Through his research, which Adam has been working on for about two years, he was able to trace his family line back to 1520, to the first documented Benedict.
“That alone was interesting because I never thought we’d make it back over 500 years,” Adam said.
The very first Benedict came to the United States in the 1640s and landed in the Salem, Massachusetts area. The family was prominent enough that when they came over, people wanted to be imposters of the Benedict family. These imposters would go so far as to make up fake family mottos and crests, to try and prove their relation. However, in the 1850s, the real Benedicts had had enough and drove a fake Benedict out of the area.
The family did end up keeping and using a family motto that was made up by an English con artist impersonating the family in 1850: Benedictus qui patitur, which means Blessed is he who suffers.
In his research, Adam also found that some of his direct bloodline was kicked out of the United States after the Revolutionary War. Adam’s sixth great-grandfather and some other family members fought for the British, rather than America, so when the British lost, the family that fought for Britain had their land taken and were driven out of the country to Canada. In fact, one of his family members helped found what is now Ontario.
Because those family members were technically labeled United Empire Loyalists, when the family wanted to return to the United States in the early 1800s, they had to sneak in. They settled in Iowa and from there came to Wisconsin.
Henry Marvin Benedict, who was basically a hermit, wrote Genealogy of the Benedicts in America Vol. I. He found a copy of the family crest painted in the late 20s and published in the early 30s, which Adam’s distant relative in Canada managed to get a copy of. He also got a total breakdown of the meaning behind the crest. Adam, who is married with four children, had a copy of the crest framed and hanging in his home.
The crest looks remarkably like that of the Gryffindor House in Harry Potter (for all you Potterheads). The red coloring means warrior and martyr. The gold represents understanding, respect, virtue and generosity. The lion represents dauntless courage. And the hammer represents honor.
A second volume of Genealogy of the Benedicts in America was started in 1969, and is still in progress. Both Adam and his daughter Emma, born in 2010, are in the book.
Although Adam has tried to trace both his mother’s side of the family, and do some genealogy research on his wife’s family, both have led him to dead ends. Adam wants to keep diving in to his family history though, and the next step is that he and his wife have sent away for DNA test kits.
“We just think it’s cool for the kids to have all this information,” Adam said. “There is no end. It just keeps going and going and going.”