Location, Location, Location

“Location, Location, Location,” coos the realtor.  I can just imagine the avian exchange among the branches of my oak windbreak.

Within ten hours of the Mourning Doves’ successful fledging another pair of Mourning Doves took up residence.  Oooo ah ooooo  ooooo.  The male presents some roots, small and branchy, to his mate.  He flies off with a “wh whh wh wh wh” whir of wings, returning to the conveniently tilled garden below to pick and sort through some more. Meanwhile the female  tucks the gift into the gutter nest, refurbishing the space for her brood to be.

Cautiously I pause before continuing to make my way softly upstairs, collecting details like roots, tucking them into memories for my stories to be.  Great location.

Life in the Gutter

For weeks I took the stairs softly, mindful that a Mourning Dove couple had seen my stairwell’s sheltered gutter as prime nesting real estate.  In amazement I watched the changing of the doves, ensuring that eggs and nestlings always had cover.  In awe I witnessed the chicks’ persistent pecking of the adult beak, and watched it then open and regurgitate dove deliciousness into the gaping baby’s mouth.  The clamoring feathered chicks seemed oblivious to the nest height as they teetered on the gutter edge afterward.

Today’s gutter is empty, the feathered bundles of Mourning Dove fluff are out in the big beyond.  I hear the soft oo oo oo, echoed by a softer, higher, tentative, oo  oo oo.  Parent and child, carefully keeping tabs on one another.  It is a beautiful duet, plaintive, hopeful, loving.

I am here.  Yes, I am here, too.

That duet is one I repeat with my newly fledged adults.  Wee text messages, brief Facebook messages, short emails, even shorter phone calls.

I am here.  Yes, I am here, too.

Family Lore

Praise Be To Those Who Compulsively Keep Records

I have been forever slightly apologetic for my propensity to write lists, scribble notes, jot in journals, and hoard them–and any such items from previous generations.  But as I grow into my wise crone stage I have realized a life truth– genealogists and historians love this stuff.  I am becoming both as I melt into my next life role of family storyteller. Soon loved ones will appreciate the fact that my compulsive collecting is leading TO some story, some tale.

Today’s tidbit is a data byte from the digital records of Goshen Baptist Church, Whitely, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Praise the original members for keeping minutes!  Praise the member who transcribed them for a digital public!!

The Minor family has been in Greene County, Pennsylvania a long time.  I am descended from that branch through Samuel, son of Stephen, brother to John, the father of Greene County.  Samuel married an Ann Tindall and apparently raised his family in New Jersey while his brothers settled in the wilds of the Monongalia, Yohogania and Ohio Counties that became pieces of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  By 1820 though Samuel’s descendants were in Greene County; I have primary documents to prove it.  So when did this branch remove from New Jersey to Pennsylvania?

Goshen Baptist Church records hold a clue, praise the data trail!  In 1798 Samuel’s son Abia Minor, with wife Margaret Pearson Minor, were accepted into the church by letter of dismission from Hughestown, New Jersey.

And that is all.  But that is everything.

It gives a target date for the Greene County arrival of  Abia and Margaret and my great to the third-grandfather, John Pearson.  It leads me to understand that John P. Minor was but a seven year old boy when he left the relative civility of New Jersey for the wilds of Pennsylvania, sharing his play space with panthers and bears.  It lets me identify more accurately the census information of that early American era, recognizing an Abia Minor as being MY Abia Minor rather than another branch’s Abia Minor.

Yes, praise be to those who compulsively make, and keep, records.

Childhood Memories Project 150 Random Thoughts

The Cloak of Defeat: Friday’s Facing The War

Author’s Note:  What began as a mere dabbling into my family roots has become a robust investigation of my family history. Slowly the search has become centered on the lives, decisions and events of the Civil War era, 1850-1880, as they shaped the physical and mental landscape in which my grandparents and parents lived.  Here I repost an essay from last summer, in which I first grapple with how those past lives reached out to touch my childhood, my mental landscape.  

  The Dodson Farm, Mecklenburg County, Virginia

I am American by birth, Virginian by the grace of God.

And like many southern white children of the 1960’s I grew up in a culture that wore its defeat like a thick woolen cloak draped around one’s shoulders, adorned by the tales of our brave soldiers J.E.B. Stuart and Stonewall Jackson.  To be Virginian was to represent your family and your state with honor, as demonstrated by that great leader Robert E. Lee.  You may not believe in the cornerstone argument BUT you must honor your duty to the motherland and your family, and rise to their defense!

While the institution of slavery was mentioned, pro-slavery racism and its sibling Jim Crow segregation were not discussed.   Ever so subtly children inherited their parents’ mistrust and loathing of all things Yankee, and even with a Yankee mother I could not escape this net.

I remember walking the hall of my high school, surrounded by my black and white friends, laughing and taunting the plain clothes police officer lurking in the dark corner–present to protect any little white child from unruly mobs.  Discussing the latest desegregation violence in Boston, one of my gang cried,”Ain’t so easy, is it, Yankee Boy!”  We all hated the hypocrisy of the Yank, whose finger pointed to the South as the crucible of all American sin and never at himself, ignoring the seeds of racism within his factories, cities, and governments.

All this anti-Yankee sentiment persisted into my adult discussions of the Civil War, and I continued the tradition of defeat.  The Civil War was about states’ rights, far more than it was about slavery.  Most southerners didn’t even OWN slaves, and many who did were right kind to them.  Yankees always think they are so moral and pure, but even they didn’t like free blacks and took drastic measures to ensure that freedom and liberty to the emancipated did not equate into white men’s jobs.  And so it was until I began my genealogical journey.

In census documents, deeds and wills, slavery became slaves–people that my people owned, like the trees they sold for lumber and the hogs they raised to butcher.  My people participated in one of history’s slave cultures, using the commodity of bonded labor to produce commodities like tobacco to be sold in a global economy.  To ignore the stories of slaves, even if they are only names found in documents, is to ignore black pioneering in the United States.  What is contained in my family’s papers, documents and stories will be shared whenever and wherever possible.

For me, it is time to drop the cloak of defeat, and be a true Virginian, honoring all the people who contributed to the development and promise of that state, and to all of these United States.

Random Thoughts

An experiment in Footnote(s)

I find the world of cyber research fascinating, and would like to keep this blog as a way of commenting on documents, rather than merely transcribing them.  So here is my first attempt to footnoting my posts