Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who Is Your "Bad Behavior" Relative?

It's Saturday, and that means another episode of Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!  Tonight's assignment was a very easy one for me:

1)  Who is one of your relatives (ancestor or not) who behaved poorly during his or her life?   It can be any time period.

2)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

Anytime I'm asked about black sheep or misbehaving relatives in my family, the first person who comes to mind is Joseph Mulliner, commonly known as the Pine Barrens Bandit.  While Joe's brother, Moses (my ancestor!), was a Patriot who fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War, Joe was a Loyalist.  Instead of fleeing to Canada after the British lost, he stayed in New Jersey and became a thief and poacher to survive.  He eventually was caught and hung for treason.  "Bad behavior" doesn't get much worse than that!

Many legends have been repeated about Joe Mulliner over the years, including that he was a kind of Robin Hood and that he attacked both sides indiscriminately.  Gabe Coia, who has a Web site about the New Jersey Pine Barrens, wrote a well researched post that tears apart most of the things that have been written about Mulliner.  While some arguments were apparently made at the time of his capture in 1781 that he had been commissioned by the British government and therefore should be treated as a prisoner of war, he was charged with high treason and hung.

The ironic twist to this is that today Joe Mulliner is still well remembered.  He was portrayed in a New Jersey Public Television documentary about the Pine Barrens.  He has a tombstone that is replaced when it disappears (which has happened several times over the centuries, apparently).  He even has a page on FindAGrave!  Yet Moses barely received a pension for his service before he died, and he doesn't seem to have a tombstone at all.  What's that line, nice guys finish last?

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