Thankful Thursday: Sing A Song

SpringStream.1.EH

The impeded stream is the one that sings.  ~~Wendell Barry

I have not written much on this blog since my mother died.  The daily exercise failed to distract my grieving brain.

Instead I hopped into a genealogical burrow and nosed around through its labyrinth of story lines, tumbling out in previously unknown family territory and time.  The research begged for more than a cursory post.  I drifted for a while, before I befriended a deadline, and realized how important these “time to stop writing” moments are in the process of developing a story, of finishing thoughts, of discovering what emotional responses to ancestral tales actually mean–to me, today.  An article has been published in my local genealogical society’s newsletter.  I drafted a 3000 word essay, that still sucks, but is the transformative story before the story, the first baby step in confronting my family’s legacy of enslaving.

Now I return to the blogger community, to embrace daily prompts, tiny deadlines.  This community is my channel, the place where my stream of words can bounce up against the research rocks, and rush over and under branches of “what ifs” and “whys”, to sing the past into the present.

Thank you for listening to my songs.

The Story Lies In His Hand

Page Five of The MINOR FAMILY ALBUM

How good it is to see familiar faces!!

The fifth page frames a young couple’s portrait, carefully staged to tell the story of a momentous autumn day. Robert Minor had just taken May Stevenson’s hand in marriage.

The twenty-three year old groom was dressed in well-tailored pin-striped pants worn with a frock coat and matching waist coat–a fashion which would indicate that the Thursday wedding was held during the day.  His bride, seventeen year old May Stevenson, wore an exquisite gown with lace at the throat, on the bodice, and at the cuffs.  The hat, no doubt designed and made by her milliner mother, Mary Jones Stevenson, was trimmed in the this same lace and finished with feathers.  September 8, 1892 was a grand day for these families.

The Presbyterian minister, T. G. Bristow, conducted the service in Carmichaels, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  After Robert and May exchanged their vows, and the LARGE families of both bride and groom mingled in congratulations, the newlyweds stopped by the Public Square studio of T. W. Rogers and had their picture taken.  Robert stared a bit like a deer caught in a lantern’s light, perhaps rocked by the realization that the circuit of ice cream socials and steamboat shows had come to an end. A soft smile tugged at May’s face, however.  The young lady had survived the arduous years following her father’s death and secured her future with this prosperous young man.  Together the youngsters would join in the family business–raising cattle and children to carry on the Minor legacy on Ceylon Road, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.

May Laura Stevenson and Robert Minor said "I do" on September 8, 1892, in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.  The service was officiated by Rev. T. J. Briston, a Presbyterian minister.

May Laura Stevenson and Robert Minor said “I do” on September 8, 1892, in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania. The service was officiated by Rev. T. J. Briston, a Presbyterian minister.

Greensboro, Pennsylvania Yesterday and Today: mappy monday

Today I learned how to add a google map to my wordpress hosted blog, quite a simple accomplishment, actually. The big secret is to access google maps in the classic mode. Open http://www.maps.google.com, and your page automatically loads the New Google Maps. In the lower right hand corner you will find a tool bar. Click on the question mark on the left, and you will have options to take a tour, send feedback, ask questions, or return to the classic mode. That action returns you to the “old” map, and once you have zoomed into your desired location, look to the upper left. Do you see the get directions block? Look to the right and click on the link symbol. Here is secret #2. You must copy the HTML code, not the short code. Return to your wordpress blog and paste the code into your post. Check out the results with a preview!! Finish up your writing, save, and publish!!

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Walking Down May’s Street: mappy monday

May Laura Stevenson lay under covers, listening to eight siblings rustle from bed’s warmth into cold, thick wool layers.  Procrastinating would not reduce her chores or delay the walk to school, so up she sat, throwing off her blankets, reaching for her clothes. In quick fluid movements May covered her shivering little body, and joined the familiar morning jostle.  Ice had to be broken from animals’ water troughs; pigs had to be slopped, and chickens fed.  Stalls needed to be mucked out, and cows milked.  Breakfast had to be fixed, the table set.

May’s early life was spent on Gabler’s Knob, a farm that looked out over the bustling river town of Greensboro, on the Monongahela River in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Born in 1874, May was the seventh of nine children born to Ellis and Mary Jones Stevenson.

Prints of LightAfter a hearty breakfast the school-age Stevensons set off down the hill, past Dr. G. F. Birch’s orchard, and turned left onto the main road of the Old Glass Works*.  As William, Presley, Permelia, and May walked up the village street, they were joined by young Kramers, McCoys, Mercers, Blacks, and Gablers.  The wind coming off the river hurled the winter damp through their coats, and the would-be scholars hurried past Mr. Neil’s ferry, round the corner, and into the school house.  All together they learned to read, to write, to do their figures.  At day’s end, the group trudged on home, the Stevensons to return to more chores before settling down for the dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Floe on the SusquehannaOn Sunday, the family traveled into town, to attend services at Greensboro Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Clear and Second streets.  The sanctuary was just a block down from the Star Pottery and Tile Works, owned by Frank Hamilton and John Jones,  Mary Stevenson’s cousin. After church service, May and her family walked three blocks south on Front Street, to eat Sunday dinner  with the Jones’.  Uncle David and Aunt Cill ran Greensboro House, a family business handed down from father, John Jones, and the home to the Jones family since the late 1840s. Her double first cousins, Anna and Fannie, would regale May with stories about the latest hotel guests, and the difficulties steamboats had when the river ice grew thick. The girls imagined a day in spring when they would saunter down County Street to the quay, and board the Packet Dean Adams, traveling all the way to Pittsburgh, just to shop for a dress.  Laughter and dreams and family.

That is what I imagine for May, my great-grandmother, as I walk down May’s street in my mind. [click on the maps below for enlarged viewing]

*Some seventy years before May was born, the village on the banks of the Monongahela River had been occupied by the first glass making factory west of the Allegheny Mountains. German immigrants like May’s great-great-granduncle, Adolphus Eberhart, lent their expertise to the making of frontier window glass and bottles.