Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November Notes: Continuing To Tell Our Stories

I got so into my own research and writing last month that I neglected to blog. Perhaps I can atone for that this month and continue the conversation with you, my dear readers, about recording our family stories. About telling our stories as well as the stories of those who came before...

By the end of the week I will have some fun and exciting news to share with you, about a project I was heavily involved in last month, which has now come to fruition and is available to the public. All I can tell you today is that if you want a little sneak peak, check out the cover photo on my Twitter page (link at right). That's just a hint of the fabulousness to come!

The Classic Preppy is participating in Family Tree Magazine's 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge. Each day I will post a link to that day's prompt...and I hope you will consider joining us, in whatever way, shape or form you can.

Today's assignment is here.

Summary: Day 1: Write a letter to an ancestor you've never met. Include questions you've always wanted to ask him or her, plus some that reflect what you've already learned about your ancestor (for example, "Do you enjoy your new job?" or "How are you coping with your father's death?"). 

This is my letter:

Dear Great-Great-Grandfather Ragsdale,

How in the world did you survive the "world of hurt" you sure must have suffered in your brief life? To lose your mother before your teenage years, only to have your father remarry, leave South Carolina for Alabama with his new wife, and leave you with the local Methodist minister to raise? How did such a young man cope with such a sense of loss...and, I imagine, abandonment? When the preacher added "Elisha" to your name (how appropriate, considering the circumstances), were you able to accept that with an open mind? To be Robert Ragsdale for the first dozen years of your life and then to be Elisha Robert Ragsdale after that must have been a painful reminder of such a cruel break.

We know you found love. You were married and had a child. The child died and so did the mother. You were married again, and found yourself in similar circumstances. Your child dies and so does your wife. Finally, you meet and marry my great-great grandmother, Nancy. You have three sons, two of whom would be noted attorneys and state politicians, serving in the South Carolina Senate and House. Your third son, my great-grandfather, was a successful business man, who invested his money in land and a variety of businesses, and raised a large and happy family. But you never got to see that. No. With the advent of the War Between the States, off you went, leaving South Carolina to fight with your regiment in Virginia. I am not sure you even had the chance to prove your courage on the battlefield. All I know, from the records, is that you died after contracting measles and pneumonia. It's no wonder you were sick. Family records tell the story of the cold and rain. The leaky tent. The unimaginable happening. The little boy who had finally grown into the strong, settled man you were would lose his life before seeing his family mature.

Great-Great Grandfather, I just want you to know this. I took the research of your granddaughter, my Great Aunt Ruby, and I found your unmarked grave. It is right here in Richmond, in the shadow of the stone monument that rises over Hollywood Cemetery like an Egyptian pyramid. Your other granddaughter, my Great Aunt Helen, bought a marker for your grave and I saw that it was installed properly. My family and I visit you and we think of you often. You are our only "family" here in Richmond, and one day (hopefully many, many, many years in the future), we, too, will be residents of Hollywood. It is my hope that the Lord looks kindly on those of us who are genealogists, because we know that He knows our hearts. He knows that there are so many unanswered questions about those of you who came to this Earth so many generations before we did. We carry you with us in our DNA and in our hearts, but we still want to get to know you better. I hope that when that day comes and I join you in glory that we will meet face to face. I want YOU to tell me your story.


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