Fresh (adjective): Experienced, made, or received newly or anew.
I am celebrating the overwhelm that results from a decade’s hunt for Ira Sayles, my great-great-grandfather. In my research stash are maps of Allegany County (NY), the Union encampment at Suffolk (VA), landowners of 1870 Mecklenburg County (VA); letters to his brother James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and his friend Edwin B. Hall; book chapters, newspaper columns, field notebooks, and poems; census data, New York enlistment and discharge records, Alfred University documents, land deeds, and a federal pension application.
Ira Sayles was a Victorian gentleman, an autodidactic from a rural northern tier Pennsylvania family whose passion for learning led him to school in the southern tier town of Alfred, New York. The 27-year-old finished the teacher’s education course of study and then zealously joined Principal William Kenyon in expanding Alfred Academy into a premier teacher’s college.
And then the two explosively parted ways.
This much of the story was established fairly early in my search. Burning curiosity pushed me in multiple directions to discover the source and result of the conflict, the status of Ira’s relationships, the values and communities that informed his choices over his long life.
Now 2019 is the year, the year to challenge myself to stop collecting detritus, and tackle the endeavor of creating a fresh narrative for the geologist-educator-writer-ancestor, Ira Sayles.
Coming soon…how to identify an ancestors’ vision and values