Holding the Self Accountable

With leaps of faith, daffodils bloom.

As spring struggles to break winter’s grasp, I find myself spending far too much time wiping dog paws and mopping floors.

Mutter, mutter, mutter.

Occasionally I take a hike up my stairs and stop in admiration: defying the swirling snowflakes, a Mourning Dove takes its turn sitting the nest, incubating the first brood of the year in my gutter.  I can’t mutter anymore.  Nope, got to stop my fussing at nature and model these gray bundles of hope.  Just what eggs have I been incubating this year?  Are any close to hatching?

1)  The readings for my Civil War course are close to completion; within the week I will listen to the last two lectures .  I have any number of questions popping into my head that will stimulate some very interesting family history interpretations–just in time for the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War observances.  It’s gonna be a good four years, folks.

2) I have steadily made my way through the treasure trove of the Minor Papers.  Can’t say I am close to finishing the annotation and storage project, but I have seen the bottom of more than one pile.  Progress is a good thing!

3) I have been on one field trip–Washington, DC!!!!  YAY!    And thoroughly enjoyed the Civil War exhibit at the National Archives and the tour of Robert E. Lee’s estate which overlooks Arlington National Cemetery.  Both visits supplemented my Civil War study while getting me out in the Cherry Blossom Festival.  THAT is my idea of a successful field trip!

So, though I feel the residual of winter blahs I have to admit to some eternal tug of hope right now.  Spring will come with its blossoms and mud, with its fledglings and song.  And I will have taken some good steps toward hatching my own plans and goals.

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Hearty Easter Greetings: Wordless Wednesday with Vintage Postcards

When the postcard album was first entrusted to me, I was most interested in reading the notes scrawled to my granddaddy, Donald C. Minor, a young child while collecting the 1906-1910 cards.  My head just buzzed with research fever as I tracked names and postmarks. With each read of the cards, I noticed new details about the notes and the cards themselves–their designs, cryptic publisher symbols, the artistic renderings.  Before I knew it I had joined the ranks of international deltiologists who collect and preserve these beautiful postcards.

Over the weekend I finally completed the task of sorting the collection into protective acid-free sleeves.  With a satisfied sigh, I thumbed through the thick portfolio, plotting my next scan and publish strategy.  I was drawn to the cryptic symbol found on several Easter cards, and went googling for some explanation of this publisher’s trademark.  Fortunately I it was a EUREKA! kind of day, and I stumbled upon a German site run by Helmfried Luers, The Postcard Album.  Mr. Luers has a whole section of his site dedicated to uncovering the meaning of this symbols!

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These chromolithographic cards were published by Paul Finkenrath, Berlin, Germany in 1909 and 1910.  Mr. Finkenrath, a successful chromolitho printer, established his postcard publishing house in 1897, successfully exporting quality chromolith cards that met the consumers’ demands for affordable postcards. He closed his business around 1911 as competitive forces and protective tariffs made the production of postcards less lucrative.

A Minor Detail: Amanuensis Monday

I threw off two quilts and a down comforter this morning, and leapt to my feet.  Hurriedly I dressed into chore clothes and padded stockinged-footed downstairs to make coffee.  The dogs sleepily rose from their beds to gather their morning pats before groggily making their way outside for the day’s first potty trip.  The damp March air filled my lungs with both the early smells of earth’s warming and of clouds holding snow.  We in northeastern Pennsylvania still sit on the edge of spring, with wintry conditions hovering.  I whistled the dogs back inside.  They listened impatiently as the kibble clinked into their bowls, paused in their down positions before being released with my “Rise and shine” command.  As Cappy, Fly and Luci wolfed down their breakfast my coffee steeped; finally I pushed the plunger of the French Press, and poured a mug of strong, bold brew lightened with a generous slug of cream.  The house was empty and still, NPR talking in the background, the computer screen an eerie glow in the dawn lit kitchen just waiting to transmit the bits and bytes from my trans-Atlantic children.

How different was the dawn for my great-great-great-grandmother, Isabelle McClelland Minor.  When Isabelle was my age, she had five grown kids, married with children of their own; and five kids still living at home, the youngest just 11 years old.  Her wake up time would not have been so peaceful or languid, and her breakfast chores would certainly have required more effort than pouring kibble into a bowl.  On the morning in 1855 that she and John P finally gave the Harrison County, Virginia land over to eldest son Abia Minor, Isabelle probably finished a bunch of chores by the time light broke over the farm in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Hopefully the May air was sweet with the smells of a first cut of hay and with the endless song of birds waking to feed nestlings.  Did Isabelle feel satisfied to be off the farm for the day?  How much say did she have about this transaction?  Was she pleased to make this provision for her eldest boy’s family?

The land on which Abia Minor farmed from the mid-1840s through the 1850s.

Abia Minor, for his part, had lived on the Harrison County farm since at least 1845, and had six children by 1853, the year he lost his wife, Elizabeth.  He had remarried, taking Hannah Ballard as his wife, only four months before his parents went to James Cree and Alexander Stephenson to draw up this document.  At almost forty years of age, Abia must have felt that this Minor detail was long overdue.

This Indenture made the Eleventh day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred and fifty five Between John P Minor of Green County and State of Pennsylvania and Isabel His wife of the one part and Abiah Minor of Harrison County and State of Virginia of the other part Witnesseth that the said John P Minor and Isabel his wife for and in consideration of his share of a tract of Land willed to him the said Abiah Minor by Robert Mc Clelland deceased it being valued at twelve Hundred dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknoledged (sic) and for other reasons and in Liew of Legacy*¹ do Hereby grant bargain sell convey and confirm unto the said Abiah Minor his heirs and assignee for Ever all that tract or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the County of Harison (sic) in the State of Virginia and bounded as follows Beginning at a Shugartree (sic) and of the original Corners of the Lowther Survey also a Corner to Land belonging to Solomon Holland thense (sic) by Lands of Said Holland North 81 E 22 perches to a corner thense (sic) south by Land of Same 28 E 76 perches to a corner on the creek thense (sic) up said creek 13 ¼ perches to a corner thense (sic) North 25 ½ E54 perches to a post on the division line between Abia Minor and Robert Minor thense (sic) North 20 ¾ E 90 perches to a stake on said line thense (sic) by the same Course 66½ perches to a Stone near to a whiteoak thense (sic) on a Northern direction to a stone on the original Line 162 ½ perches thense (sic)  South 27 W 53 ½ perches to a Stone in the old line thense (sic) South 10 West 11 perches and 15 links to a Black oak Near to a Cole (sic) Bank thense (sic) South 16¾ East 96½ perches to a Beech thense (sic) South 8½ West 28¼ to a whiteoak thense (sic) South 12 W26½ perches to a Stake near the mouth of the run*² thense (sic)  S 10 W 24 perches to a sugar tree place of beginning containing one Hundred and sixty acres, it being a part of a sirvey (sic) of Land Deeded to the party of the first part by deeds of James P Wilson bairing (sic)  dates 19th october 1841 and 31st March 1842 and recorded in Book No 29 folio 486 and in deed Book No 29 folio 681 in Harison (sic) county State of Virginia as Shown by the cirtificate (sic) of the Clerk of Said county Referance thereunto being had will more fully appear together with all and singular other the the houses out houses buildings barns stables ways roads waters water courses rights libertys priviledges hereditaments and appertenances whatsoever thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining  (Except the wright (sic) of a way for the benafit (sic)of the upper or remaining part of the aforesaid Survey to get out to the road.) and the reversion and remainders rents issues and proppert??thereof and also all the Estate right title interest property clause and demand whatsoever of them the said John P Minor and Isabel his wife in law with equity or other wis however of in to or out of the same To have and to hold the said (several words unreadable) containing one hundred and sixty acres hereditaments and premises hereby granted or intended so to be with the appertenances unto the said Abia Minor his heirs and assigns to the only proper use and behoof of the said Abiah Minor his heirs and assigns for ever and the said John P mInor and Isabel his wife do covenant and agree to the said Abiah Minor to warant (sic) and forever defend from all persons Lawfully claims rising under them interest or title to the aforesaid premises In witness whereof the Said John P Minor and Isabel his wife have hereunto set their hands and seals this day and year first above  written.

*¹Abia did not receive any other land or money in the settlement of John P. Minor’s estate.

*² The run mentioned in this document refers to what is known in the 1841 and 1842 documents as Limestone Run, which emptied into Simpsons Creek.

Let Erin Remember–wordless wednesday

Happy St. Patrick's Day

ELLEN H. CLAPSADDLE does it again! Little wonder that the International Art Publishing Company defied the customs of the day by employing  a female artist.  With deft use of symbol, color and word Miss Clapsaddle pays tribute to Irish Nationalism in this 1909 St. Patrick’s Day postcard. On her unfurled standard of green, Ellen Clapsaddle added a gaelic harp.  The shamrock studded phrase, Let Erin Remember, is a line from a classic Irish poem by  Thomas Moore:

Let Erin Remember The Days Of Old

Let Erin remember the days of old
Ere her faithless sons betray’d her;
When Malachi wore the collar of gold,
Which he won from her proud invader;
When her kings, with standard of green unfurl’d,
Led the Red Brand Knights to danger;
Ere the emerald gem of the western world,
Was set in the crown of a stranger.

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