I haven’t been blogging much of late because I’ve taken it upon myself to transcribe a thirty page, hand-written history of my grandfather’s family tree that dates back to 1590. It was written between 1910 and 1925 by a lady named Daisy Jameson who was my great uncle’s wife until the dirty dog left her for another woman. Of course, this bit of sordid family history was never mentioned while my mother was alive. And so I had to figure out it myself. Hum, why is Daisy buried in Chicopee Mass but Henry is buried in Virginia and who’s this Marie Ange woman buried in the same plot as great uncle Henry? That kind of thing. Thank goodness for google and funeral registries.
Anyway, it’s easy to understand why the document is just a collection of births, marriages and deaths (taken from church records) and snippets from letters and bits of family lore passed down through the generations. After old Henry dumped her, Daisy probably wanted nothing more to do with the Jamesons! Making sense of this document is further complicated by the huge number of offspring on both sides who lived to adulthood and propagated like rabbits. Especially in the coastal seaports of Maine and the town of Chicopee Massachusetts. It’s depressing to know that I am not a rare bird from an unusual family but just a chickadee from Chicopee. But, although they might have been just common folk, they did live through some interesting times: The Siege of Derry, voyages to America, battles with the Indians and French, injuries during the Civil War, etc, etc. And so I’m peppering the narrative with accounts of what it must have been like to live during those times. Then I can seal the document away and forget about it.
So I will be blogging less than usual but here are some pictures of a winery near Santa Rosa, beautiful even in the smoke. And my attempt at an artistic peach.
After taking a break to ponder the delights of gibberish, I’m back to pulling skeletons out of the family dirty laundry hamper.Perhaps I’ll find an even more illustrious ancestor than Deacon Samuel Chapin! What do you think?
This is one of fourteen letters which were written in the late 1800s to my great grandmother, Nellie Nelson, from someone in Sweden (supposedly . . . we do not have the envelopes to prove this fact).Nellie died after many years of ill health when her daughter (my gram) was only fifteen years old. After her mother’s death, Gram’s father, who must have been a dour old poop, refused to translate them for her.He refused to even tell her who they were from.His stance was “good riddance to old rubbish” and apparently Sweden and every thing Swedish and every one of their Swedish family and friends were old rubbish.
The only clues I have are the notes in my grandmother’s handwriting on the top of a couple of the letters, conjuring up the heartbreaking image of a young girl kneeling beside her mother’s deathbed hoping to learn something about her heritage. Probably while her father was out of earshot.
Although she had little idea what was in them, Gram cherished these letters her entire life as my mother does now. Today they are very brittle, falling apart in my fingers as I put them on the scanner.Paper that old should probably be handled by an expert and not someone as klutzy as me but time is of the essence, at any point they could be lost or turn to dust.
The one above seems to be in a different hand, meaning that more than one person sent Nellie Nelson a birthday wish or wrote to tell her of family events. However, the only thing I can glean from these fossils is that Nellie’s real name was Pettrunella Johansson (no wonder she went by “Nellie”). What will happen when I do find someone to translate them? Do I really want to know the secrets they contain or do I want to assume they were filled with cherished stories from the old country?