Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family History’ Category

Christmas Wreath

This is an amplified and expanded version of something I wrote a couple of years ago.

On Christmas Eve of 1984, my first in San Francisco, I found myself at the home of a close friend’s new boyfriend (I’ll call him “Daniel”), enjoying a little “pre-party,” prelude to a celebratory night of clubbing. While we sipped his elegantly crafted cocktails Daniel began to spin a web of enchantment, sharing with us some of his favorite memories of the season. Bittersweet to heartwarming to hilarious, Daniel’s stories of Christmases past tumbled out one on top of another, creating an almost palpable atmosphere which was nearly visible and wholly hypnotic. I was transfixed. What a magical Christmas Eve this is turning out to be, I remember thinking.

I had no idea.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My family connection to this story is gossamer thin, so this is really more “history” than “family history.” But since it’s a nice story for the season, and largely unknown, I offer it here.

Several years ago, when Rockefeller Center began what has since become a traditional part of Christmas in New York City they paid tribute to what they called “the only two true Christmas carols composed in America,” O Little Town of Bethlehem by the Rev. Phillip Brooks, and Far, Far Away on Judea‘s Plains by John M. Macfarlane. Probably no one in the audience had heard of John M. Macfarlane…

John Menzies Macfarlane emigrated from Scotland in the 1850s and settled in a small village in the red rock desert of the American Southwest. Here’s the story of his Christmas carol.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

While mining 19th-century journals and memoirs in pursuit of family history I dug up the following nugget; it has no direct* connection to my ancestors, but I found it entertaining enough to share.

The writer (other portions of whose diary mention various members of my family tree) was at the time employed in the building of the Lion House, one of Brigham Young’s homes in Salt Lake City.

I commenced the work with two men to help me I went into the carpenters shop according to directions from Brigham I soon found that thare was a feeling of jealousy creeping in for Miles Romney the foreman of the shop came in. He had been having some whiskey and he came up to me and said who sent you here to be a boss I told him I was not his boss nor it was not my duty to interfere with his business, he said you need not say that for it was a plan laid to work him out of the shop. I assured him it was not the case but he did not seem inclined to believe it. He said if I would bring on the liquor and treat he then might think I was telling the truth this was not the first time I had felt his spirit.

~ Phineas W. Cook’s diary, 1854

(more…)

Read Full Post »

I suppose every family has its stories of ghosts or other odd phenomena. This one belongs to the latter category.

Utah Lake, a 150 square mile body of water in north-central Utah, has a rich tradition of monsters and other unnatural creatures living in its depths. The Ute Indians told legends about evil dwarfs living in the waters of the lake. The Indians called these “water babies” [pawapicts] because they made sounds like crying babies that lured mortals into the water where they drowned. The Ute also told of a “Water Indian” who would drag unlucky braves to their deaths. They also told of a creature so large it was able to swallow a man whole.

Local natives said the great serpents had disappeared in the 1820s, but by the 1860s white settlers were reporting incidents involving huge, terrifying, scaly creatures.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Charles Price, surveyed

Until lately I didn’t know much about Charles Price, my grandmother’s great-grandfather, but he is turning out to be one of the more easily documented of the “grandcestors,” for reasons that will likely become clear below. First, though, a biographical introduction; then, on to my recent discoveries about him.

Charles Price

(more…)

Read Full Post »

In the United States a man builds a house to spend his latter years in it, and he sells it before the roof is on; he plants a garden, and lets it just as the trees are coming into bearing; he brings a field into tillage, and leaves other men to gather the crops; he embraces a profession, and gives it up; he settles in a place, which he soon afterward leaves, to carry his changeable longings elsewhere.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

2011 marks the bicentennial of the start of construction on the Cumberland Road (also known as the National Road, the National Turnpike, and later U.S. Route 40), the first federally-funded highway in the United States. This year is also the 200th anniversary of an episode in my family’s history with a slight connection to that project. I’ll get to the family stuff a little later; but first, about the Road.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Renetta

Maybe it’s just the fog, and the mother-of-pearl light, melancholy yet warm, that it imparts to summer days here on the coast, but sometimes, like this morning, I imagine I can almost feel something like the presence of ghosts. Whatever the reason — fog in the atmosphere, fog in the brain — I feel impelled to share what I know of Renetta. Maybe then she’ll let me be.

Here she is in 1897, looking rather chic and a bit wistful in this wedding photo. Or is it just me? Read her story, then come back and study her face, and tell me if I’m wrong.

Renetta Fuquay Lee Diehl

Renetta Fuquay Lee Diehl

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »