Great Grandpa

Just like your life a great deal has taken place before I arrived on the scene. Our lives are very much a part of a Larger Story or Grand Narrative. Folks from the Ransom Heart and Dangerous Heart Ministries have taught me that keeping that perspective helps me to understand more clearly why my life sometimes feels like I have walked into the middle of a movie and I have no idea what is going on. That’s because so much has played out before my part in the story. So here before we launch into my life with this chapter we get a bit of the back story and a little fiction to help set the stage God was preparing for my role.


If you ever wondered how my father my son and I have all made our living in the car business it may well be our horse thieving roots. My 3rd Great Grand Father was Richard “Dalmore” (the name according to his tombstone) was born on Christmas day in County Dunnagall, Ulster, Ireland. Over the years as I have greatly enjoyed studying our ancestry and digging around in the roots. I truly sit in awe in the way that God used such events to advance his kingdom. If we only knew the whole story the delicate balance one slip and there would be no me. Perhaps some day we will, in the meantime, I here use the facts I know and a little, (perhaps a lot of) imagination to perhaps know the story behind the story….

I can picture in my mind, that Richard’s family was one of the peasant Scottish families brought to Ireland to work the Ulster Plantation. This Plantation was King James VI’s attempt to both appease the Scots and reduce the friction in Ulster, (Northern Ireland). Needless to say this impacted my forefathers tremendously. You may be asking, “Why would this impact the Dalmore’s”?  The answer is quite simple. The situation in Ulster was ripe for trouble, and trouble has always been a magnet of some kind for Dilmores. When trouble rears its ugly head, if a Dilmore isn’t in the middle of it when it starts, he will find a way to get in the middle before it is over.


Richard’s father, William himself was a tall gangly Scotsman with hardened features from years of planting crops and picking them in the hot summer sun. Try as he might, William was rarely involved in young Richard’s life, or the lives of Richard’s siblings, this was because of the tireless plantation work of the peasant class where this Scot found himself. He was a Scottish slave brought to Ireland working under very demanding conditions. This may have accounted for a personality trait that still exists among Dilmores. William, like most any Dilmore you would ever meet, seemed to have a temper that would flare up from nowhere. That outburst of  temper could take your head off. Amazingly, you will find that a Dilmore will then regain his composure just about as fast.


However, William did find a way to spend a little time with each of  his children. There was the shrouded glen on the river Erne. This was one place where William would take young Richard every chance he could because he saw something of himself in Richard. He was not just his father. There was something secretly known only between William and his father. When they were there in the glen, William had Richard to himself and he could explore this secret with his son. These times were Richard’s times.


During the older brother John’s time, young Richard would hear the whine of bag pipes from clear over by the ruins of Ballyshannon Castle. Ballyshannon is where William took John to teach him to play the bagpipes. Richard couldn’t help but tease his brother when he returned from those lessons. He would ask, with a grin on his face, “Do you know where that sheep’s bladder has been before you go a blowin on it?”


Michael, the youngest was special, in today’s medical terms he was autistic, back then they called him an Idiot Savant. Laughed at by most of the town folk, Michael didn’t seem to mind, but Richard did. When he saw others teasing Michael, Richard would ball up his fists, and his face would turn red. He murmured under his breath. However, he knew he could not show his temper for fear his dad would be punished by the owner of the farm. As Michael matured, he sported the most amazing Scottish red hair and beard you would ever set eyes on. Whenever he met some one, his arms were outstretched, always moving forward, Michael loved to be touched and he was quicker with a hug than the usual Scotsman’s hospitality. During Michael’s set time with his father, they would go out to the barn. Richard, John and Christian wondered at all the clanking and hammering during those sessions, but the secret was between father and son. When Michael emerged he would say, as if talking to someone, “Whirl, Whirl, Whirl, Father, turn, turn”. He repeated this over and over again with a finger motion using his index finger to make large repetitive circles.


The oldest sibling, Richard’s sister Mary spent her cherished time with their father in their small flower garden. Mary loved her Scottish primroses brought over from Scotland by William’s mother, Margaret. Special also to William was the memory of his mother and his love of the soil, there in the garden. This is where father and daughter shared this love of the flora of Northern Ireland.


Perhaps the sibling that shared the greatest of William’s loves was, Christian. William had as his prized possession, a Gaelic Book of the Bible; “The Revelation of St. John”, the last book in the Bible. Most importantly, William had it in his native tongue. In that day for a peasant to own a piece of the scriptures was a big enough deal. To have it in Gaelic was a unbelievable treasure. Through reading it, William would meet Jesus every morning, as he ingested every letter of his Gaelic scripture. William, seeing Christian’s spiritual reception, loved to share his treasure with the son whose name reflected both his heart and the family’s Congregational underpinning.


Years after Richard and Christian were sent to the penal colonies in America, Christian told Richard the secret of his father’s efforts to have a unique time and special place for each of his children. Christian recalled, “Father had read in his Book of Revelation about the hidden manna in the second chapter and how we were to receive a new name that only we would share with Jesus. So father was sharing his hidden manna the things that gave him life with each of us, to each the interest we would show to the thing Father liked. As, in your case Richard yours was down at shrouded glen on the river Erne. I don’t know what you did down there with father but I know you often came back with a mess of trout.”



Richard nearly erupted. A huge grin crossed his face, like the sun lighting the horizon as it comes up each morning. He said, “Yes, now I understand why Father always told me to keep it a secret between me and him, both the exact place and how we caught them. He had a special nickname for me as well. He only used it when we were fishing. Do you really believe that my new name was because of something he read in the Bible?”


Christian responded, “Yes he had one for me as well only known to father and me.”


William worked hard. He was also a man of many passions and each of his children reflected a unique piece of their father. William’s wife, also named Mary, wore the crown of joy like no other woman in County Donegal. And it was for good reason. Her husband loved and adored her. Mary was so childlike herself that her children couldn’t get enough of her. They clustered around her like chicks around a mother hen. She could barely move around the kitchen without stumbling over one or more of her brood. She was quite a contrast to gangly William. She was an oddly short woman and quite stout. William laughed as he talked about their differences, saying they were quite a sight walking the path together hand in hand.


All this joy and love in the Dalmore family was more than tiresome to their wealthy land owner, Henry Galloway. Always dressed in a waistcoat and breeches, and a ruffled shirt, Henry Galloway would have reminded you of fancy folks from around the time of the American Revolution. Although he dressed like a fine gentleman, his wrinkled face and ugly scowl demonstrated his real character. He made sure that every one knew that he despised William and his family. Grumbling, as he spoke to others in the nearby town, he would say, “What could this mere peasant with no property, no name, no position, and an idiot son possibly be so happy about all the time? That boy is maddening and that wife of his looks like some kind of midget?” The more Henry spoke of the Dalmores, the angrier and more spiteful he got. “There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t regret ever taking him on to work my fields,” he barked as he went to get his horse and head homr.


Once when Michael, (the autistic son) was out in the field working with his father, a coach drove up to where they were working. It was Henry Galloway himself in his fine Scottish coach with all the attendants. Infuriated that William would have Michael out there working, Henry shouted out, “What the hell are you doing having that idiot out in my fields?”


William, realizing what was about to happen, tried to reach Michael to get his hand over his mouth, but it was too late. “Daddy that man said hell! Daddy that man said hell!” Now Henry Galloway was not only furious but livid and animated. He stood up in his coach, his face as red as a ripe apple, and shaking his hand at William, he shouted, “You get that idiot out of here. You get him off my land or I’ll have you in the stocks. If I ever lay eyes on that boy working in these fields, you’ll never work this land again, do you hear me?”


William answered, “Yes sir!” and scurried Michael off to a family meeting of what to do next. Michael enjoyed the outdoors and always wanted to help his dad. They couldn’t keep him in the house all of the time.


As they gathered in their small living room to discuss this problem, they heard a loud commotion outside. William opened the door and stepped outside. He had never witnessed anything like this. Other Scottish serfs were running everywhere shouting, “To arms! To arms!” The rebels are coming. Later on, the Dalmores and others would learn that Robert Emmet, one of the first Irish Republicans had initiated the Irish Rebellion of 1803. Emmet’s goal was to free Northern Ireland from United Kingdom rule. It was an ill-fated attempt, when an  explosion occurred prior to the starting date set by Emmet. The one day’s activity was cosued mainly in Dublin, but with very little discipline among the rebels, some of them broke away and committed mayhem in the surrounding countryside. Needless to say the Irish rebels were reportedly vicious to the Scots. Without enough guns, many of the rebels used  new type of Pike. It was hinged, so it could be hidden under their garments. It had a very sharp edge and Emmet’s Pike men left a bloody trail. Their reputation for brutality preceded them and the fear they were coming to County Donegal caused panic in the streets.


This fear that ravaged the countryside seemed to have no effect on Michael. Any agitation would usually set Michael off on a spree. Today, almost miraculously, Michael was as calm as the family had ever seen him.


An Irish rebel force of what looked like about eighty men marched within a quarter mile of the Dalmore’s home, burning everything in their wake. The family watched as a Scottish led Dragoon Calvary of nine or ten men was quickly slaughtered by the advancing rebels. The main weapon of the Irish rebels was the aforementioned pike, a long stick with a metal top. It was sharp and could cut the reins of horses. The pike was quite useful against cavalry, and the rebels made quick work of those Dragoons.


By now dozens of peasants were fleeing before the vicious onslaught of these rebel pikemen. The Dalmore’s home was right in the path of what appeared to be mass chaos and destruction. Strangely, his siblings noticed autistic Michael as he started yelling, Turn, Turn, Turn.” He started making circles with his arm, and they remembered how he done that often when he came from the barn after being with his dad. Then, Michael ran out the door, headed for the barn, William went after him. Moments later they all saw what father and Michael had been doing in the barn all these years. A giant contraption, built on the wheels of an old farm wagon, rolled out of the barn. It had ten foot blades, like an old-fashioned push lawnmower, whirling as the wagon rolled forward. The blades looked to be very sharp, made of metal strips along the edges. The rest of the family, had no idea at the time but Michael and William had been inventing a reaper of there own similar to the ones of the early agricultural revolution.

Michael, as he pushed the contraption with his father, yelled, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The forward momentum of the reaper turned those blades as Father yelled for the rest of the family to come and help push.


While their neighbors retreated from the oncoming Irish rebels, the Dalmore’s were charging toward the enemy with what the hoped would be their “Grim Reaper” against the rebel Irishmen, and their pikes. A few brave Scots among their neighbors joined them as they charged the enemy with the “Grim Reaper” whirring.  As they got close the Irish broke ranks, Some fled, others tried to attack the Scots from the rear. Michael was the first to be stabbed, right in his left shoulder and as his father tried to load him on the Reaper to safety they stabbed William in the leg.


Both immediately fell to the ground easy prey for the Irish pikes, or so it seemed. Then suddenly from out of nowhere about fifty Royal Dragoons came charging up the road from behind the “grim reaper”. They charged the Irish head-on and then some of them rode around the battle and charged from the rear as well. The Irish caught in the middle soon ran or died where they stood. The Dragoons rode on searching for more of the enemy and left those pushing the “grim reaper” with Michael and William bleeding badly on the ground, desperately in need of help.


Mary screamed to John, Richard and Christian to go for help. Running to the village, they found no one there, All had fled from the Irish. Tied to a rail, in front of the general store, were three of Henry Galloway’s horses. Desperate for help and with no one to ask about borrowing  the horses, they made a fateful decision that changed the course of our family’s history. They took the horses and headed for Londonderry.


They were able to bring back a doctor, He sterilized and bandaged the wounds and assured the family that Michael and William, although hurt badly, were going to be on the mend.


Yet, as you may have guessed,waiting with the constable for their return was Henry Galloway, who made quick work of prosecuting all three. Within weeks, all three were exiled to America, where, as prisoners, they were conscripted to join the Chemung canal digging convict workers of New York.


Ironically Richard’s son Thomas my 2nd great grand father became the constable of Veteran, New York where Richard’s family settled.


Now the stuff of legend, (perhaps more so after this), Richard Dalmore’s horse thieving was God’s way of getting us started here in America. As of today Richard has had nearly 175 direct American born descendants and more coming every year.  That’s a whole lot of bad tempered tall gangly God lovin folks who all have their own hidden place in their Heavenly Father’s Heart where they feed on that life-giving hidden manna and Jesus gives them a name other than Dilmore known only to the one who receives it.