The American Soul

Religion in Family History

For the past several weeks I have been reading a great book about one of my ancestors.

In-N-Out, Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, Church and State, John M. BarryI would usually end up reading it while at lunch. Here at In-N-Out I had food for both the body and soul.

Great, Great Grandparents School Book, Signature, Inscription, Lewis Munn, Sullivanville, New YorkI just recently found out that I was a direct descendant of Roger Williams. He is the 6th Great-Grandfather of my 2nd Great-Grandmother Henrietta Shafer. I recently wrote a post about one of her Old School Books.

While writing the post about her school book I decided to see if I could find anything new about her ancestry. I poked at a few of the brick walls in her ancestry and one of the walls tumbled over.

I knew that through her mother, Maria Chapman, she was descended from a Captain John Rhodes of Warwick, Rhode Island. However, I had not done any more research on the Rhodes family. A little research found that he was the Great, Great Grandson of Roger Williams.

I also found some more interesting early Rhode Island ancestors, but I will save that information for a later time.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, John M. Barry, Separation of Church and State, Rhode IslandThe book I have been reading is Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul by John M. Barry.

I actually had this book on one of my shelves when I found out that Roger Williams was my ancestor. It was also near the top of one of my to-read lists. Of course, it did not stay on the to-read list. I had to start reading it.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, Church State and the Birth of Liberty, John M. Barry, Colonial, Rhode IslandRoger Williams is primarily known as one of the founders of Rhode Island and being an advocate of separation of Church and State. If you would have asked me a couple months ago about Roger Williams, I would not have been able to tell you much more than this.

After finishing this book I have a great appreciation for who Roger Williams was. He had connections with the elite of England before coming to America as part of the Great Migration. On his return trips to England he also came into contact with many other people who are household names even here in America.

I plan on writing more about Roger Williams in the future as I learn more about him. This book has only given me an introduction to this great man.

I want to write about his life in England before he came to America, why he was banished from Massachusetts, his work with Native Americans, the books that he wrote and the people he came into contact with.

I will give you one tidbit about one of the people he knew. He was a friend of John Milton and taught him one of the many languages that he knew.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, Church State and the Birth of Liberty, John M. Barry, Colonial, Rhode IslandRoger Williams was a champion of Freedom of Religion. When we think about the Puritans we often think of them coming to America so that they would have Freedom of Religion. However, this same freedom was not given to others. In Massachusetts you only had the freedom to be a Puritan and only if you believed the same as the magistrates.

I will end this post with a quote from the Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience.

God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state.

– Roger Williams

Now for some more research.


This post is part of a series on Religion in Family History.

See also:

Religion in Family History

Amish in California?

The Light in the Forest

Stephen Jenks – Singing Master

Amish in Oregon

Amish Origins

Gallup Poll Connection I – Amish

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Pilgrim Ancestry

First Amish Settlements

Irish Heritage

Amish in Oklahoma

The Harper Mansion

The Deerfield Raid

The Frytown Church

Day after Thanksgiving

The Prospering

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