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From Where I Sit

Because our perspectives are fashioned from  who and what we observe,  and from those perspectives we create the process of living, I begin the telling of what I remember, that which I was told, and a few odd personal observations about the fabric of my life with my great grandmother.

Sarah Butler Essex Daniels was born six years after the end of the American Civil War in a tiny house that clung to the side of a smallish mountain known locally as "The Knob."

On our annual trip to visit my mother's relatives in middle Tennessee we went to her house which was tucked away in what seemed to me to be an eternal forest with a long dark winding lane leading to the shotgun cabin in which she and her husband lived. She seemed as old as the hills that she looked as if she had been carved from. Slight in stature, hair pulled back into a bun, she walked with a cane and used a short stick to dip snuff from a small tin container. She drew her water from a well and it tasted like heaven. I remember interacting with her husband John, perhaps because he had a pet chicken? John sported a huge handlebar mustache, mostly white but stained with tobacco near his lips. I really liked John and the chicken.

No one called my great grandmother Sarah. I didn't even know it was her name until I became interested in genealogy. She was called Butler by one and all including her daughter and granddaughter - my mother. She always wore her hair up. Her dresses were long and homemade, covered by aprons that were pinned at her waist. Her stockings were tan and thick rolled with garters to her knee. She was poor and uneducated, but kind, a genuine Appalachian Hillbilly.

She died when I was 13. I don't think I went to the funeral, but suppose my mother did. Just as I later discovered Butler had another name, I also found out that there was no father listed for my grandmother and no marriage documentation. I've always liked her more for her apparent indiscretion. After seeing my grandmother listed as Pasco Wassom in a census document, I pieced together my own version of what might have occurred. You see, the Wassoms lived right next door and their son, Charles was the same age as Sarah, sounds like opportunity was close at hand at least. And, their lifestyle in the mountains was by it's nature limiting, maybe they just didn't get to the preacher in time.

I cannot imagine how hard her life must have been thinking back on the circumstances I found so charming as a child, but she was tough and not a complainer. I wish I had known her better.

I am grateful to have known her at all.

When, sometime in the 70's, I took my own children there to witness all this awesomeness, there was a four lane highway about 300 yards beyond the cabin. I wept.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
mallorys_camera
Apr. 4th, 2018 07:48 pm (UTC)
Fascinating!

Do keep writing! :-)
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Will try to write more, rather amazed at the amount of emotion generated by writing the post. And, do I need a proofreader or what? I am appalled at the grammatical errors I miss.
chocobell1212
Apr. 4th, 2018 08:42 pm (UTC)
How wonderful that you got to meet your great grandmother. And you have pictures. It is sad about the highway so close to her home, but probably not surprising.
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:23 pm (UTC)
She was a real character. Progress wipes away too much imho.
amethyst_witch
Apr. 4th, 2018 09:07 pm (UTC)
I cried reading the last line. It just makes this post even better and more important, though. <3

Enjoyed this so much...such keen observations and of course hindsight is 20/20 (I loved what you said about the things you found charming as a child that were actually very hard labour/work on a daily basis)

Would love to read more of these <3 and the photos are incredible. What year ish would these have been? 1930 ish? GG John looks like a sweetheart; you can just tell. Pet chicken is all I needed to hear :D



Edited at 2018-04-04 09:09 pm (UTC)
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:21 pm (UTC)
Not sure of dates on pics, think maybe 40's. Wish someone had written on the backs. Plan on writing more, just setting up the backstory,
amethyst_witch
Apr. 7th, 2018 01:21 pm (UTC)
I will always write dates on the backs of my photos from now on
rosegardenfae
Apr. 7th, 2018 01:42 pm (UTC)
Good for you!
veganhothead
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:00 am (UTC)
Wow, she sounds like an interesting woman. Both my great grandmas lived in apartments and had no pet chickens. Or pets at all.
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:19 pm (UTC)
It was certainly an adventure for me.
kabuldur
Apr. 5th, 2018 11:37 am (UTC)
That is special that you were able to meet and get to know and have memories of your great grandmother. Yes, her life would have been tough, but she was probably used to it and knew no other. I don't want to idealise it, but I'm hoping she knew the peace and solitude of nature. It sounds like she was pretty close to it. I hope she was happy in her little house and that she had enough to eat and was never very cold or hungry. I can see how she is a part of you. It's a shame that 'progress' has somewhat ruined it.

Edited at 2018-04-05 11:37 am (UTC)
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 12:18 pm (UTC)
I've always been happy that I was privileged to view a totally different way of life before so called progress destroyed it.
kabuldur
Apr. 7th, 2018 10:05 am (UTC)
And that's a lot to be thankful for <3

Edited at 2018-04-07 10:05 am (UTC)
lifeinroseland
Apr. 5th, 2018 01:29 pm (UTC)
Fascinating! Looking forward to all the rest :D
rosegardenfae
Apr. 5th, 2018 05:25 pm (UTC)
Oh girl, I do appreciate the encouragement.
msdazy03
Apr. 5th, 2018 11:42 pm (UTC)
So very interesting! You have a knack for writing. Thanks for sharing!
rosegardenfae
Apr. 7th, 2018 12:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
siglinde99
Apr. 6th, 2018 12:19 am (UTC)
That place sounds magical. Thank you for sharing your memories.
rosegardenfae
Apr. 7th, 2018 12:35 pm (UTC)
Too bad the adults couldn't feel the magic.
siglinde99
Apr. 8th, 2018 12:30 am (UTC)
That is a shame. One can only hope they felt a little bit of it at some time.
olbuksings
Apr. 8th, 2018 03:12 am (UTC)
Very interesting and GREAT pictures! I too harbor those regrets about not having talked more with the older generation when I had the chance. And like you, I didn't know either of my grandmothers' first names because they chose, for whatever reason, to not use them. I think that, when I read their obituaries years later, that was the first I knew that they had names other than what we'd always called them...
rosegardenfae
Apr. 8th, 2018 03:10 pm (UTC)
The more I dig into these memories, the more I find that I have forgotten. Working on a timeline of my own life, and discovering lots of missing pieces from the puzzle.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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