Again, a bit late to the party, but I am officially obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda and his masterpiece, Hamilton. Haven’t seen it yet but because I support a black market economy, have tickets in August for which I paid about a 380% mark-up to secure the worst seats in the house. Back row of the rear mezzanine. And we can’t wait. We have the soundtrack and the book, the original biography. My job is to memorize every lyric; his job is to reconcile the history. The amount of truth — and plot — Miranda drives into every verse is awe-inspiring. And for a fledgling writer trying to lasso generations of family history into one cohesive arc, instructive.
Hamilton is set in a specific time. Binge listen and the years will flash in your head. 1776. 1780. 1781. This is exactly the time-frame I am researching; but unlike Hamilton and his fancy friends, my Scotch-Irish ancestors, who really hated any mention of the “I” word (Irish) were hacking out a new frontier in Kentucky, the western edge of civilization — until whatever government emerged could wrest more lands from the Native Americans who were there first, who had generations displaced as generations of my ancestors pushed south, and west, and south, and west, with each new cession. By the early 1800s, I have documentation of them waiting it out for the Indian lands to be released. There, hovering like locusts. Church-going, God-fearing people, all of them. Without a single thought for the Cherokee and Shawnee they were displacing, whom they didn’t view as real people.
Oh, they were a proud and ornery bunch, my Scottish and Scotch-Irish forefathers. And one strand of my DNA comes from the same land-locked County Monaghan in Northern Ireland as does one strand of the clan of Hamilton. So maybe, generations ago, we were neighbors. My name from then was Woods. Hamiltons were there from the get-go.
Lin-Manuel Miranda did the impossible. But because he did, there may be a path for me by dissecting how he did it and applying as I can. I listen to the soundtrack over and over and I have hope. On so many different levels.