Commissioned Memories

Two years ago I was deep into searching my family roots.  My day-to-day life was a rat’s nest of chaos, but I found comfort in the past lives of my ancestors thanks to Cousin Kay Strickland who has done an enormous amount of work telling their stories in her blog Shoots, Roots and Leaves.   Her words make these long dead relatives come to life.

While I was very lucky to grow up in the same county where my Father’s family had lived for many generations and near to where my Mother’s family lived as well I had not really paid attention when they discussed the family history.  Both parents took an interest in  genealogy and were active in the local societies and DAR/SAR.  Many childhood Sundays we would go for a ride in the country.  Over hill and dale, we travelled. ” So and So lived there.  Look what has happened to that house.  Such a shame. or Look how good that farm looks”, I would hear as I counted cows from the back seat anxiously awaiting our stop at Bryan’s dairy for a giant ice cream cone.

One place we never drove past, or rarely did, was my father’s grandparents farm. He loved the farm and his memories were fond ones.  His Mother had grown up there and had died when my Dad was 2.  He was mostly raised by my Grandmother’s parents and spent time on the farm as a child.  I only had a few memories of it, (one where my father fell through the kitchen floor, nearly plunging into the cistern below,) and so it became a focus of my family history interest for a while.  According to Kay’s records, the farm was originally purchased by my Great-Great-Great Grandfather John Pierson Minor around 1830.  From that time until the 1960’s, the Minor descendants raised cattle and sheep, suffered hard times and times of great prosperity, nurtured their families and memories, and called this place home.  Much of the farm is still intact.  The house is occupied and livestock still grazes on the hills amidst the gas wells and storage tanks.  It is a pretty farm, nestled in a valley, tucked away from the rest of the world.  Climb up to the hill-top and you can see the Laurel Mountains to the east.  Looking  west you see the endless rolling foothills of a new frontier.  Good land.   Home land.

Here is a link to Kay’s blog:    The House That Jacob Built

I wanted to preserve its beauty in some way before all was lost.  So, I asked a local watercolor artist, Leslie Fehling,  to do a painting.  Leslie and I had never met but I had some of her work and liked her style.  After a visit to the farm, she tramped the hills, took some photos and painted a lovely rendering. It was rewarding process as well.  Cousin Kay and I worked on the details discussing the kind of cattle and sheep.  Leslie chronicled this bespoken work for her own blog which was an added surprise.  And now, everyday as I have my morning coffee and look upon the farm, I make up little stories about the Grandmother I never knew and her childhood there.

Here is link to Leslie’s tutorial from her blog:  My Christmas Gift


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