The Autobiography of Nathaniel Southgate Shaler

By Nathaniel S. Shaler | Go to book overview

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

CHAPTER I MY ANCESTORS AND PARENTS

IT is duly recorded in a family Bible, there being then and there no other means of recording such events, that I was born in the then village of Newport, Kentucky, on February 20, 1841. I was the second child of Nathaniel Burger Shaler and Ann Hinde Southgate, having had an elder brother who died in infancy. My parents had been married in 1834; at the time of my birth my father was thirty-six years of age and my mother twentyfive. Three other children survived to maturity, the one early death apparently having been due to accident.

Although the time when a man comes into the world and the place where he appears are in certain ways important and may well begin his story, the really weighty question concerns his inheritances and the conditions in which they were developed. That he brings with him something that is in a measure independent of all his progenitors, a certain individuality which makes him distinct in essentials from like beings he succeeds, is true -- vastly true; but the way he is to go is, to a great extent, shaped by those who sent him his life. I shall, therefore, do what I can to set forth the nature of the people through whom I came.

As is usual with Americans, I cannot clearly trace my ancestors beyond the sea, or for more than four or five generations back. On my name side it is fairly certain that the source was in central England, in the Warwickshire district, with folk who in the seventeenth century bore the name in the form of Shayler or Shaylor. Thence they seem to have moved

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