family history pt 1

I’m currently traveling with my mom in the Canadian Maritimes. This is our first time spending more than about 24 hours alone together, that I can remember. For most of the trip, we’re staying in a little cabin/bungalow on Prince Edward Island, which is just off the water and has an incredible pastoral view with amazing sunsets and no internet. Which is fine, outside of keeping up on 500 words a day. I’m also unbelievably exhausted. For some reason the old shoulder injury has kicked up again and combined with the 4 hour time difference, I’m not nearly as lively as I had intended on being for this trip.

We’ve been spending a good amount of the trip so far driving. First from Nova Scotia where we flew in, over and across the Confederation Bridge to the Island and then over the past 24 hours throughout a lot of the island exploring. Along the way, I’ve been trying intentionally to ask questions about my mom’s family. Her dad had 9 siblings, a few of whom I met and knew a bit, but many I didn’t. Much of my childhood holidays were spent gathered at the homestead with a collection of that side of the family and I’m trying both to learn the stories and to see if the ones I remember are myths or not. This also provides a nice change of topic from politics J.

(Side note: one of those weird amphibian tour vehicles just drove out of the Charlottetown harbor and up onto the boardwalk near where I’m sitting. I’ve never quite understood the appeal of those, for some reason that’s probably totally irrational, it feels like something should either be able to drive in water or on land, but not both.)

Some of the facts of the family I’ve known from childhood questions or family tree assignments. My maternal grandfather was born in 1914, the 8th child and 7th son of German immigrants that migrated from Russia, where they were weavers in 1900. One of my great grandfather’s brother’s had first immigrated and then as soon as he could save up $100 he would send back for another one of the other brother’s to come over. The first generation settled in Quincy and Odessa Washington and began farming. Lena, my grandfather’s oldest sibling and only sister was born in Russia, the first son was either born also in Russia or on the boat over, there’s some debate on that point. After him, followed 8 more boys all born in the US and raised on the homestead they established in 1901 just outside Quincy, Washington. Nearly all the land and the original homestead home as well as the home my grandparents built is still there and owned by the family today. I would imagine my great grandparents’ life was one full of hard work establishing the farm, building the home and other buildings and raising 10 children. That last bit alone seems like quite the feat – she gave birth to her first in 1899 and her last in 1922. Twenty-three years of pregnancy and childbirth combined with immigrating across an ocean and then continent and establishing a farm combined with a weak heart that ultimately claimed her life.

Using the ‘free write’ form of the writing challenge seems as good a way as any other to try to record a bit of the family history I’m trying to pick up and not forget. At least for the time being. Later this month, the husband and I are going to spend a couple days on the other side of Canada with my grandfather’s last living brother and I’m looking forward to learning more stories at that point.

 

 

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