Tag Archives: non-fiction

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wed, Nov 29, 1911

As someone anxious about the near-future, I find it odd that my husband is developing an addiction to  Ancestry.com. However, many people are obsessed with searching for their ancestors on-line. If you don’t believe that, a quick web search will reveal someone who describes himself as “the Walter White of family trees, always looking to build a better meth lab”. Perhaps these people are incipient tech addicts or wanna-a-be detectives, but hours can disappear while researching your roots, only to be buried in dirt. For those wondering if you have the symptoms, I’ve included a (partial) list below taken from the Geni.com website.

You might be addicted to genealogy if…

  • You’re more interested in what happened in 1815 than 2015
  • You spend your vacations visiting cemeteries, courthouses and archives
  • You introduce people as “my aunt’s husband’s second cousin once removed”
  • Your doctor asks about your family history and you ask, “how many generations back?”
  • You know more about your friends’ family history than they do
  • The pharmacist asks you to decipher the doctor’s handwriting

For me, uncovering dates of birth, death, marriage etc. of my ancestors is so dry as to require a drink. I crave those important details that bring a life to life, and, rarely, that  happens. My husband found this wonderful newspaper article about his great-grandfather who moved from Quebec to Alberta in 1903. It’s too good not to share.

Ananie Durand, 56 years old and father of nine children, came 2000 miles from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, to St. Louis to find a wife. He arrived Thursday. He was introduced to Mrs. Mattie White of IOC614 O’Fallon street Friday, sampled her cooking Saturday, proposed and was accepted Sunday, bought a wedding outfit for her Monday and engaged a priest Tuesday to marry them Wednesday afternoon. Mrs. White is 53 years old and has two grown children. Her husband died last February. Durand’s wife died last March. Durand says he has a $100,000 farm In Alberta and he is sure his bride will like to live there, although he has warned her that the temperature sometimes drops to 50 degrees below zero. This being a mild winter it was only 14 below when he left home, he says.

“I don’t mind the cold,” says the prospective Mrs. Durand. “I always did want to live on a farm.” Durand wrote to friends in St. Louis several weeks ago, telling them he was looking for a wife. He will not divulge the names of these friends but says that after looking over the matrimonial field there they advised him to come to St. Louis and take his pick of their selections.

Durand went to the Alcazar Hotel, 3127 Locust street, and then called on eligible widows whose names had been furnished by his friends. “I didn’t let them know what I wanted, though,” he said slyly. “Some of them kept rooming houses. I would ring the bell and ask to see a room. They would show me through the house and I would note whether they were tidy housekeepers. Most of them were not, and I went away without telling them I wanted a wife.”

I liked Mrs. White’s looks when I was introduced to her. I found her house neat and clean. I came back the next day and ate dinner with her and learned that she was a fine cook. The meal was so good that I came back for a Sunday dinner. No man ought to marry a woman who can’t cook.  In order to marry It was necessary for them to get a dispensation from Archbishop Glennon, as Durand is a Methodist and Mrs. White a Catholic. “Religion makes no difference if the cooking is good” said Durand, Wednesday. Mr. and Mrs. Durand will depart on their 2000-mile journey to Alberta next Wednesday evening. After arriving at Red Deer, they will drive 30 miles in a sleigh to Durand’s farm.

 

 

[Any news article published in the United States before 1923 is in the public domain and can be reprinted or republished without any copyright concerns.]

Standing Stone (F)

Last September, we rented a car in Inverness and headed north. We were stopped twice by orange Highland cattle with shaggy coats and huge horns. They roam the narrow back roads in search of tourists struggling with right hand drives. Surviving them, we caught the ferry at a village with a wonderful name, John O’Groats. The sea was atypically calm for our passage to the Orkney Islands.

Long before the Vikings arrived in Scotland to first plunder and then settle here, impressive circles of stones were erected. The Ring of Brodgar, about 4500 years old, is magnificent and mysterious. We can only guess why the stones were erected and the function they served. Their age shows on a surface etched and colored by lichens, like mottling on old skin.

I took a picture of my husband’s shadow next to the shadow of a standing stone. It was leaning towards him, and a nose-like feature on the stone suggested that it might be watching or listening. I remember wondering what we might have to say that would interest it, but perhaps it was offering advice in a language long forgotten.

cattle

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This story and the Angel’s Share were written on a memorable trip to Scotland in 2009.