Friday, January 12, 2018

You can go home again, if only in your dreams

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
Week 2 – Photo

The Photo

This photo, taken about 1910, tells me a lot about my family.  In the back row, with the farmer overalls is my second great
grandfather Levi Whitman, in front of him is Hester, his daughter.  The man in the black suit is Monroe David Whitman, Levi’s brother.  The lady behind him is my 2 great grandmother, Fanny Ella Martin Whitman.  The older lady in the end of that row is Anna Bryant Whitman, Monroe’s wife.  Monroe and his wife Anna lived in Owatonna Steele Minnesota.  The little impish girl on the end is Elfreda Josephine Whitman Ladd.  The older girl with the long braids is my grandmother, Ruth Elizabeth Whitman Emery.  The picture was taken at the family farm in Newbury, Vermont.  It appears to me that a reunion of sorts was coming to an end and this picture was taken for remembrance of the occasion.

The People

When I first saw this picture I was taken back at the smiles and the happy nature of the girls.  Hester, Ruth and Josephine were sisters.  I didn’t remember this happiness from them as I was growing up.  Those smiles seemed to have faded more and more as the years took their toll.  They and their brother Horace were the children of Levi and his second wife, Fanny Ella.  Levi’s previously wife was Fanny’s sister, Ann.  Ann and Levi had 4 children: Dora, David, Everett Eugene “Gene” and Fanny Rebecca.  When Ann had died of untreated diabetes, Levi had to have someone to care for his children and free him up to work the farm.  Who better to marry then someone he and his children already knew?  Monroe was a Civil War veteran serving at the Battle of Gettysburg.  He and his brother Shepard, who served at Antietam, moved west into the Minnesota, Nebraska area and raised their families. 

The Farm

For years, the farm was the center of the family’s gatherings no matter where they were going or coming from, they would stop at the farm.  Many times you could visit and cousins from ‘away’ would be there, perhaps some you never meet or ever will again had stopped off to see the grand or great grandparents.  After I was born, I was included in the annual pilgrimages as well.  Each generation, it seemed, had its own little ‘club’.  My grandmother and her brothers and sisters, naturally; my mother and her first cousins were all the same age. Then there was the children of the first cousins who were also very close in age as well.  The generational division was obvious as they naturally gravitated together.

Levi’s father David had moved from Lyme, Grafton, New Hampshire, to approximately 20 miles west on the other side of the Connecticut River with 7 of his 8 children to Newbury, Orange, Vermont.  The farm was 109 acres more or less for the total sum of $750.00 with the mortgage signed by David’s X on 13 May 1852.   It was a working farm from the beginning.  They raised corn to feed the cattle as well as the people.  Everyone had chores. In the summer days when we visited, one of the chores I still remember is gathering the corn for the evening meal.  The corn was sweet, fresh off the stalk and right into the pot! They had chickens, other small livestock and of course, a barn full of milking cows.

Time Changes Things

Time passed and I started hearing stories about the changes on the farm. The 4th generation and part of the 3rd worked outside of the farm to sustain it.  Little by little, the cows were sold.  When aunts and uncles died, land was sold to pay the funeral expenses.  The barn, which was built in 1895, was taken down piece by piece, each piece was numbered to be rebuilt in another location in the area.  Some of the memories I have of time spent on the farm will live with me forever.  Little things like visiting one Easter, going out to the barn to watch the milking in my finest clothes.  The calf I tried to feed decided she liked my dress better than what I was trying to feed her!  I never had a cow munch on my dress before that!  Watching the cows come back to the barn from the day out in the field, I was amazed at the uniform parade as they went into their stalls without any problems or effort.  How can I forget the early morning run to the woodshed in the winter to take care of nature!  I wouldn’t have missed this part of my childhood for anything.  I know I won’t go back to see it as it is now, I want to dream and remember it as it was.  For it is my connection to the generations past that I feel fortunate to be a part of.

1 comment:

  1. I am a grandson of Josephine. I have not see this picture before.Thank you for posting this. I hope you still monitor this page.