Ashley Judd - Judd's Ancestors Fought For Social Justice11 April 2011
Judd's Ancestors Fought For Social Justice
The Double Jeopardy star made two big revelations as she researched her father Michael C. Ciminella's family on the hit U.S. programme and traced them to Kentucky, before delving even deeper and learning she had roots in New England.
She found she was a descendant of William Brewster, her 10th great grandfather, a Puritan radical who sought freedom as a "religious refugee" when he joined 101 other passengers on The Mayflower in 1620. He was one of the few who survived the long journey across the Atlantic to set foot in New England and subsequently settle in Massachusetts.
Judd also heard all about the suffering her third great grandfather endured - Elijah Hensley was imprisoned twice as he fought for the Union during the American Civil War and lost a leg all before he turned 18.
She uncovered 19th century war records that detailed the leg injury he sustained while on duty and how he was forced to have his limb amputated on the field during the Battle of Saltville in Virginia.
Marvelling at the discovery, she said, "The part that touches me most is how psychologically strong and resilient he must have been to have survived being a prisoner of war once, and while there's a battle happening around him that he can hear, having a leg amputated and coming to knowing that his regiment has left and he's just waiting to be a prisoner of war for a second time... At 17 years old to have been dealt such a life-changing injury must have been overwhelming."
And her findings helped Judd, an active humanitarian, to identify in herself her ancestors' longrunning dedication to the fight for social equality.
She added, "Two of my ancestors, having been wrongly imprisoned under abominable conditions, may have been forming all along, in my lifetime, my absolutely furious passionate need for social justice."
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