Posts tagged genealogy

Going Home

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Jen drove slowly down the old dirt drive. “There aren’t many dirt roads or long driveways left,” she thought. She hadn’t seen her great aunt Sarah in many years. All sorts of excuses rushed through her brain as she got closer to the lovely old farm house at the end of the driveway. “I’ve lived too far away, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t seen her since I was a child,”she thought, then guiltily threw each excuse aside.

She had not taken the time-period. Now, she was 27 years old, a high school history teacher, engaged to be married and she could surely have thought of more valid excuses than those. But something had tugged at her heart. She had come to Alabama to tour a local schools system for a study she was conducting. Remembering that Aunt Sarah lived in this county, she looked her up in the phone book. Surprisingly, she was still listed.

She got out her I-phone and turned on the app that showed her a map to the little town of Rosewood and soon found Cornfield Lane right off the main road. “What would she say?” she wondered as she pulled up the two story house with a wrap around porch. Would Aunt Sarah remember her, welcome her, or would she be treated with disdain?

Jen remembered that Aunt Sarah, her mother’s aunt, had been married, had 3 children and then her husband had died at a fairly early age. She didn’t think she had remarried, because her name was still the same in the phone book. It seems the children would be about her mother’s age, probably with grandchildren of their own.

With her heart beating quickly inside her chest, she parked her Maroon Chevy Van near the house and walked towards the door. It was nearly Halloween, and even in Alabama, there was a nip of autumn in the air. Jen, pulled her sweater around her as she walked up the old brick sidewalk. Before she started up the steps, an elderly lady walked out onto the porch. The screen door creaked as it closed behind her.

“Why, Jenny!” The lady exclaimed. “Jenny Markham! Is that you?”

“It’s me, alright, Aunt Sarah.” Jen said with a blush. “I have no excuse for not having seen you in so long. It makes those Christmas cards seem awfully pitiful.”

“Well, don’t you think a thing about it,” Aunt Sarah said with a smile as she opened the door and motioned for Jen to come in. Jen obliged, remembering the high ceilings and the slightly old scent of the wooden house. She looked around and smiled. It was as if she had been here only a short time ago.

“Come on in here and let me make us some tea,” Aunt Sarah smiled as she lead Jen to the room behind the living room. Sarah stood and looked around at her Great Aunt’s kitchen. The same long table and chairs sat upon the worn tiles, the curtains were new, but of similar pattern, an autumn harvest with ruffled bottoms around the windows which hung over the sink and the one on the slightly opened back door. It brought back memories of her mother and rest of their big family coming here for watermelon on the Fourth of July when she was young.

“It sure is good to see you, Jenny!” Aunt Sarah smiled. “What on earth brought you way out here in backwoods Alabama?”

Jenny told her about her research project, career and upcoming marriage, inviting her long-lost cousins and families to come. Aunt Sarah sat and sipped tea with her for maybe half an hour before she invited her to come through the house and see the walls and dark walnut dressers filled with pictures of her children, grandchildren and even their kids. Again, Jen’s heart beat rapidly inside her as she took in the years and memories that she had missed out on when her father had taken a new job in East Texas.

She wondered what her life would have been like if they had stayed here. Would her and her brother’s kids been friends with Aunt Sarah’s children, would they have ridden the same bus, lived on the same road, had watermelon on that worn front porch on the fourth of July? Would she already be married, maybe to someone she knew as a child.?

Thoughts swirled through her head as the “what if’s” rushed by. What was the name of the high school here? What college would she have gone to? Would she have been a teacher, like she was now? It was at that moment Jen decided not to tell her Aunt Sarah her secret. She would save it until after the wedding, it would seem better then.

Inside her, Jen felt the movement of her baby, a girl, she had learned just yesterday. She wondered how Aunt Sarah would feel about her being pregnant before her marriage and then grabbed her Aunt’s wrinkled hand. Of course, she would love this baby, just like all the other children that decorated her dressers and walls. Surely, out of all of them, there had been children conceived before their parents married. Perhaps their parents had never married at all.

After a long visit, Jen walked back to her car with Aunt Sarah and her collie, Barney, beside her. She promised her Aunt that she would never let their families loose touch again, and she meant it. In Aunt Sarah’s younger days, having a baby before marriage would have brought many cross looks and perhaps even a few rejections. But this, thank goodness as a different time.

Jen vowed to herself that she would write her aunt a letter and tell her more about her soon-to-be husband and the baby she was carrying as soon as she got back to Texas. There was one more thing she would ask of the Aunt she had just come know again. She would ask her to allow her the honor of naming her new baby, Sarah.

Jen drove slowly down the old dirt drive. “There aren’t many dirt roads or long driveways left,” she thought. She hadn’t seen her great aunt Sarah in many years. All sorts of excuses rushed through her brain as she got closer to the lovely old farm house at the end of the driveway. “I’ve lived too far away, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t seen her since I was a child,”she thought, then guiltily threw each excuse aside.

She had not taken the time-period. Now, she was 27 years old, a high school history teacher, engaged to be married and she could surely have thought of more valid excuses than those. But something had tugged at her heart. She had come to Alabama to tour a local schools system for a study she was conducting. Remembering that Aunt Sarah lived in this county, she looked her up in the phone book. Surprisingly, she was still listed.

She got out her I-phone and turned on the app that showed her a map to the little town of Rosewood and soon found Cornfield Lane right off the main road. “What would she say?” she wondered as she pulled up the two story house with a wrap around porch. Would Aunt Sarah remember her, welcome her, or would she be treated with disdain?

Jen remembered that Aunt Sarah, her mother’s aunt, had been married, had 3 children and then her husband had died at a fairly early age. She didn’t think she had remarried, because her name was still the same in the phone book. It seems the children would be about her mother’s age, probably with grandchildren of their own.

With her heart beating quickly inside her chest, she parked her Maroon Chevy Van near the house and walked towards the door. It was nearly Halloween, and even in Alabama, there was a nip of autumn in the air. Jen, pulled her sweater around her as she walked up the old brick sidewalk. Before she started up the steps, an elderly lady walked out onto the porch. The screen door creaked as it closed behind her.

“Why, Jenny!” The lady exclaimed. “Jenny Markham! Is that you?”

“It’s me, alright, Aunt Sarah.” Jen said with a blush. “I have no excuse for not having seen you in so long. It makes those Christmas cards seem awfully pitiful.”

“Well, don’t you think a thing about it,” Aunt Sarah said with a smile as she opened the door and motioned for Jen to come in. Jen obliged, remembering the high ceilings and the slightly old scent of the wooden house. She looked around and smiled. It was as if she had been here only a short time ago.

“Come on in here and let me make us some tea,” Aunt Sarah smiled as she lead Jen to the room behind the living room. Sarah stood and looked around at her Great Aunt’s kitchen. The same long table and chairs sat upon the worn tiles, the curtains were new, but of similar pattern, an autumn harvest with ruffled bottoms around the windows which hung over the sink and the one on the slightly opened back door. It brought back memories of her mother and rest of their big family coming here for watermelon on the Fourth of July when she was young.

“It sure is good to see you, Jenny!” Aunt Sarah smiled. “What on earth brought you way out here in backwoods Alabama?”

Jenny told her about her research project, career and upcoming marriage, inviting her long-lost cousins and families to come. Aunt Sarah sat and sipped tea with her for maybe half an hour before she invited her to come through the house and see the walls and dark walnut dressers filled with pictures of her children, grandchildren and even their kids. Again, Jen’s heart beat rapidly inside her as she took in the years and memories that she had missed out on when her father had taken a new job in East Texas.

She wondered what her life would have been like if they had stayed here. Would her and her brother’s kids been friends with Aunt Sarah’s children, would they have ridden the same bus, lived on the same road, had watermelon on that worn front porch on the fourth of July? Would she already be married, maybe to someone she knew as a child.?

Thoughts swirled through her head as the “what if’s” rushed by. What was the name of the high school here? What college would she have gone to? Would she have been a teacher, like she was now? It was at that moment Jen decided not to tell her Aunt Sarah her secret. She would save it until after the wedding, it would seem better then.

Inside her, Jen felt the movement of her baby, a girl, she had learned just yesterday. She wondered how Aunt Sarah would feel about her being pregnant before her marriage and then grabbed her Aunt’s wrinkled hand. Of course, she would love this baby, just like all the other children that decorated her dressers and walls. Surely, out of all of them, there had been children conceived before their parents married. Perhaps their parents had never married at all.

After a long visit, Jen walked back to her car with Aunt Sarah and her collie, Barney, beside her. She promised her Aunt that she would never let their families loose touch again, and she meant it. In Aunt Sarah’s younger days, having a baby before marriage would have brought many cross looks and perhaps even a few rejections. But this, thank goodness as a different time.

Jen vowed to herself that she would write her aunt a letter and tell her more about her soon-to-be husband and the baby she was carrying as soon as she got back to Texas. There was one more thing she would ask of the Aunt she had just come know again. She would ask her to allow her the honor of naming her new baby, Sarah.DSCN1026

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The Winds of Time

photo by dawn Q. Landau

He stood silently offshore, staring at the remnants of an ancient lighthouse. After hours upon hours of research, he had traced his great-times-3 grandfather to this place. He had been the last lighthouse keeper. That had been in the early 1800’s-during the war of 1812, in fact. He spent weeks here, alone as his family waited on the mainland. During fierce battles and raging storms, they were terrified that he would never come home. But he did, and though the lighthouse did not survive to love he passed on to his family was alive and well.

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The Beauty and the Truth

They anxiously took a seat at one of the rather luxurious tables on the ferry. Feeling humbled, the listened to the announcer on the television screens mounted all around telling about the battles that had taken place at the Civil War fort that they could see ahead as they traveled across the bay.

 Copyright - Ted Strutz

It seemed irreverent, a bit foreboding, to ride, in luxury, to a place where hundred died and the history of a nation changed. She grasped the family history book that told of her ancestors’ death at this fort, then wiped a tear and traveled on.

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The Dance

 

 

 

“My heavens!” gasped Catherine as her daughter swished by in a dress that was little more than a scrap of material. “ Where do you think you are going, dressed like that?”

“Oh, Mother,” Emily smiled as she swirled around in the light blue knee-length gown,” Don’t you ever get out and go anywhere? Shorter dresses are the fashion this spring, everyone is wearing them!”

 

“Well, you certainly aren’t,” her mother said roughly. “There’s no telling what people will say about you, or about our whole family , for that matter.”

 

“Mother, it is 1923, for goodness sake.” Emily cried out. “I don’t want to go to my coming out party dressed like girls did when you were young.”

 

“Party?” Mother huffed as she arose from the dining room table. “What party?”

 

“I told you last week, Mother dear,” Emily replied. “”Everyone is going. It is to be given at the school.

 

It isn’t like I was going to some night club or something.”

 

Emily’s mother sighed, as she sat down. Her hands covering her face so that Emily would not see the tears forming in her eyes. Emily was her youngest child. How she hated to see her grow up. Was she really being silly to forbid her daughter to go to the school dance or wear the silky blue dress?

 

Many years later, Sarah saw her mother turn toward her as she gathered up her books. Sarah really hated reading. Especially these old-fashioned books that her teacher assigned. 1923, why that was 50 years ago. Imagine a mother thinking a dress below your knees was short, or that a school dance was some sort of travesty. She smiled as her mother saw that she had actually been reading. Her mother didn’t see that the owners name was written neatly on the inside cover. Her grandmother, Sarah Jefferson been the author of the novel she had been reading. And the night of the school dance was the very night that her grandmother had first met her grandfather.

 

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/writing-challenges/9-18-13

 

DP Challenge 9-18-13

 

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Irish Colleen

It had been an exhausting trip for Colleen, but, finally she was at the front of the pub that had belonged to her family in England for over 150 years. Colleen, having been born in Georgia, in the United States had heard of this place since she was a child, sitting on her Grandpa’s knee.

Her Grandpa had always called her his, “Irish Colleen”, with her flowing red tresses. Suddenly, it felt real, she WAS that “Irish Colleen”.

“Colleen!” a voice shouted. She looked ahead in astonishment. Her cousin, Siobahn, was her mirror image! Grandpa was right! Irish genes were strong!

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A Blossom in the Wind

It wasn’t difficult to remember the first time I had been to that old house.

My curly hair was drooping in pigtails, golden brown from the summer sun.

 My Aunt Lilly had whispered to me as we dried the dishes, “I have something I want to show you!”

 “Okay.” I smiled as we continued to work.

 Soon, we climbed into her 1966 white Ford and bumped our way a few miles down the dirt road to a drive way that looked as if had not been used in years. It seemed like the bumping and grinding of the gravel went on forever. Now, I realize, it was only a half mile or so.

 My aunt grabbed my sweaty little hand as we skipped up the chipping rock steps of a wooden cabin, paint long faded to the natural gray of hardwood. She took the key, clipped to her shirt with a safety pin, and unlocked the door.

 It smelled musty inside, and I giggled, ”Yuk,” as I looked up at her.

 “Houses smell like that when no one lives there anymore, Sarah. This is the house I grew up in. I was born here.”

 “But you live on the hillside, Auntie!” I protested. “We were just there!”

 “No, honey, I mean when I was a child, like you. This is where your mother and our brother Willie grew up.”

 I glanced around he room in wonder. It was a mess. The curtains hung down limply, so dusty that the bright sunlight filtered through as if it were sunrise. There was a desk cluttered with writing materials,a yellowed tablet, the edges of the paper curled. a pencil that badly needed sharpened. I noticed that one of the drawers was partly opened and reached to see what was inside.

 My aunt stopped me. “That as mama’s drawer. We weren’t allowed to mess around in there.”“But it’s opened ,Auntie,” I said “Why can’t I look?”

 To be honest, I don’t have a reason, Sarah.” I guess it is just my remembering how we were not to mess in that drawer. Obviously, someone has!”

 “Yeah,” I whined, eyes cat to the floor. “I sure would like to see what’s in there.”

 “Sometimes, Sarah, it is more fun to imagine what a drawer may hold than to actually know.”

 I shrugged my ten year old shoulders and smiled. In my young mind, knowing what was in the drawer would be much more fun.

My aunt and I spent another hour or so wandering through the room. We looked at boxes of old doll, metal cases filled with uncle Willie’s cars. My aunt show me how the pedal operated sewing machine worked, the drawers where scissors and thread were kept. I remember my favorite was the button drawer. In it was an assortment of buttons removed from many different items of clothing before the cloth went into the rag-bag.

 “Why did you bring me here, Auntie?” I asked her as we started out the door.”

 I saw a tear slide down her cheek. “Oh, Sarah,’ she cried. “I was thinking of mamma. It’s been ten years today since she died. We started clean the house , your momma and I and one day, we just didn’t come back. It hurt too much. It was sort of like the drawer, we decided we would rather remember the house the way it had been when she was there, when we were children.”

 That was twenty-seven years ago. I had brought my children there a few times, my mother and I had even come here with Willie one day to get some things out of the barn. But today was different. Today, a tear slipped from my eye as we walked down the steps. We had just buried Aunt Lilly in the family cemetery on the hill. Somehow, I felt a deep, almost mysterious connection with my Aunt Lilly as I looked up at the apple tree, bursting in bloom as if nothing had happened.

 Life changes, time goes by, memories are made, but somethings never seem to change. I snapped a small branch of blossoms and twirled them in my hand. I already had a place picked out for them-the would dry and remain on the inside cover of my Aunt  Lilly’s oldest photograph album. Someday, a young girl with golden brown hair would remember the story that her mother had told her that day.

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Ashes By Now

Ashes By Now

When I see an older home that has burnt down, I can’t help but wonder about the stories of the people who have lived there. Who they were? what they did? Any kids? Were they happy? Every house holds its own story with in its walls.

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