Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Taste of Oral History

I had the most delightful conversation with my mothers cousin last evening. I have a huge family I have never met. My grandfather moved to Akron, Ohio from Tennessee and then my parents moved to Rochester, New York. I grew up away from the extended families. And so, I sometimes feel detached. I am a relative by blood and name but I don't have all the photo's or anecdotes of memories. It is not to say we were not close with our Akron family, I spent a lot of time with cousins on my Grandmother's side growing up but the Tennessee family I know what I see on my pedigree chart. I have some articles and pictures but I don't have the experience with them. My mother went to Tennessee once as a child and while she did form relationships with them it was long distance. It is not like I didn't know any of them, I knew my grandfathers two sisters, Ruth and Bertha, they lived in Akron too. So talking to Patsy was an absolute joy.

I expected it to be business about the DAR and Colonial Dames 17th Century. I am in the process of getting my mother, my sister, my daughter and myself into the DAR and the Colonial Dames 17th Century has been a little more difficult to make contact. She gave me helpful information as to what line I want to take into the Colonial Dames as I am a colateral descendent of Ann Lee who married Thomas Youwell. Her father was Richard Lee, who signed the Declaration of Independence. And so I will try to make contact with them again once I get the DAR buttoned up.

What I ended up with from this phone call was a few stories and a smile that lasted all night long. Listening to her talk of my great grandparents was such a treat and she told me a couple of very short stories about David Washington Duncan and Carrie Ann Baldwin Duncan. Carrie is the blood line that goes back to the Revolutionary War and Colonial times.

David and Carrie were living in Atlanta, Georgia for a time. He was a postman on the railroad and he would pick up mail and sort it to be delivered. When McKinley was elected President of the United States, Atlanta began to celebrate. A man stepped from his hardware store and started banging two cast iron skillets together as noise makers. David looked over and decided he liked those skillets. The next day he went back to the store and bought them for Carrie. One Patsy gave to my mother to pass down through the family since Patsy didn't have grandchildren.

Carrie Baldwin Duncan wanted to die on the same day as her husbands birthday/death date, March 24. For days she laid on her death bed and she kept asking what day it was. Those with her would respond, Monday or the day of the week and she kept asking the date. One day she asked the date, she was told it was March 24th, she smiled and closed her eyes and died. Patsy said that Carrie loved David Duncan more than anything and that they had been a happy couple. I find it ironic that he worked so many years around the rail road and it was on the rail road that he died. His car was hit by a train when he was crossing when on the way to a meeting. Patsy said it was figured he was pressed for time, he was on his way to a cattleman's meeting, and distracted so didn't hear the whistle. Carrie hated slang of any kind, a darn or shucks around her was as good as swearing in her book. I wish I had known her.

After talking about so many other things, we left the phone call with what she likes to bake for Pam when she comes to visit. Pound cake with almond flavoring and cookies. She said to use a chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute chopped dried bing cherries for the chips, or add both. They sound so good! I will have to make them sometime soon. Today I don't feel so deprived of family stories and I look forward to talking with her again and hearing more of her stories.

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

What wonderful stories - thank you for sharing them.