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Natural Perspectives: Tracing branches on the family tree

December 21, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Vic and Lou met in Middletown, Conn., in 1975 when Vic was in graduate school. At that time, they had no inkling that Vic was a descendent from some of the founding colonial families of Connecticut from the mid-1600s.
Vic and Lou met in Middletown, Conn., in 1975 when Vic was… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

Our stockings aren't hung, our cards are not done, and we haven't done any baking.

The calendar, dear, says Christmas is near, but progress we are not making.

That original little ditty sums up the status of our Christmas preparations, or lack thereof.

Actually, Vic and I are more focused on our wedding anniversary, which arrives five days before Christmas. This year marks 36 years of living together in bliss and happiness, a real accomplishment in this day and age.

Vic and I met in Middletown, Conn. Vic was a California boy, fresh out of the Army, which is where he went after he graduated from Stanford University. He had just begun graduate school at Wesleyan University, working toward his doctorate in biology, when we met. I was a lab technician down the hall.

Vic and I really hit it off, two hippies intent on saving the environment. Shortly after we met, we moved to a seven-acre farm in Higganum, Conn. The house belonged to a faculty member on sabbatical. We took care of the place for nearly a year, growing our first garden together and raising lambs to eat.

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The Higganum house was actually two historic houses, moved together and restored.

One house had been built in 1690 and the other was built in 1710. We loved living there, imagining the lives of colonial Americans. The house had a huge fireplace in each section, giant oak beams in the ceiling, and wide hickory boards on the walls.

Our year in the Higganum house was coincidently our nation's bicentennial year, 1976. We often thought of the people who had settled the area and fought in the Revolutionary War. But at the time, we had no inkling of Vic's ancestral connection to the Middletown area.

In the fall of 1976, we moved to a house in Middletown that was near campus and across the street from the town's historic cemetery. At Vic's urging, I entered graduate school the year after we met. We each graduated with doctorates in 1981, moved to Huntington Beach and never looked back at Middletown.

Until now.

I discovered yesterday that some of Vic's ancestors were among the founding families of Middletown, and that another of his ancestors was William Leete, one of the early governors of the Connecticut Colony. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Yet more of Vic's ancestors were founders of the towns of Guilford and New Haven in the mid-1600s.

Running for political office and serving the community has been a long-standing tradition in Vic's family.

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