Happily ensconced among yellowed pages, citizen archivists preserve a nation’s stories. We sort, digitize and conserve family letters and ledgers, photographs and newspapers; we practice in our homes, and in our local genealogical and historical societies. Those lucky enough to live within the Washington, D.C. metro area can even volunteer their time to projects within the National Archives. One such project is currently digitizing 1.28 million Civil War Widows’ Pension case files, making these treasured collections available online to millions of fact-hunting family historians. Ah! Were I close enough to participate!
One hundred and one years ago my grandfather, Donald C. Minor, gazed upon this Black-Capped Chickadee. The four-leaf clovers may have sent him scampering to the window, frustrated by the snow or hard frost that separated him from his own patch of good luck. January 1, 1911 in southwestern Pennsylvania would have been gray, damp and cold.
It’s been a year of challenges and quite frankly I am glad to see 2011 end. I like the prospect of saying good bye to unsolved family dilemmas and saying hello to awesome new opportunities or the potential thereof! Once upon a time, I would have wished friends and neighbors a New Year of warm, solid, predictability and good luck in all their endeavors – and eagerly sent my grandfather’s chickadee to bear that message.
But this year, I yearn for opportunities of innocent jollification and so send these gleeful elves to wish you a New Year full of laughter and affection! Happy New Year!
With my trusty Flip Pal scanner, I captured this image of a family heirloom. The photograph is snugly framed, with a sturdily nailed backing that I didn’t want to disturb. So I did the best I could and scanned from on top of the glass. The image will be useful in identifying other photographs that my mother is letting me take home, since we know the identities of these folks.
Seated are my great-great grandparents, Mary Jane Gwynn and Francis Marion Minor. The little boy standing to their left is my great-grandfather, Robert Minor. Standing behind the trio are the older children – Sarah Priscilla, John Pierson and Olfred Minor. I know that Robert was born in 1869, and he looks to be about 5 or 6 here; T W Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania took this photograph sometime in the mid-1870s then.
Someday, when the lion lies with the lamb and neighbors everywhere love their neighbor, we humans will no longer need soldiers. But on this day I call to mind all those ancestors and relatives who died serving a greater cause; all those who witnessed the horror of war, returned home and lived their lives with grace and courage; and all those who set out today, on my behalf, to defend and protect our nation’s freedoms.
- Abia Minor Pennsylvania Revolutionary War
- William Rowlett Virginia Revolutionary War
- John Bradford Virginia Revolutionary War
- William Wills Green Virginia Revolutionary War
- John Pearson Minor Pennsylvania War of 1812
- Greene Dodson Virginia Civil War
- Ira Sayles New York Civil War
- Anderson Strickland North Carolina Civil War
- George Strickland Virginia World War I
- Sidney Strickland Virginia World War II
- Clifford Strickland Virginia World War II
- Michael Strickland Alabama Vietnam War
- John Minor Pennsylvania Vietnam War
- Michael Hanlon * Pennsylvania Currently Serving
This Friday we stop to remember the courage and sacrifice of these Americans, and the support and perseverance of their families. Thank you.
*My daughter’s childhood friend since Kindergarten, expected to be deployed in Afghanistan early 2012.
Originally posted here on Memorial Day 2011.