Family photos are treasures, but not enough - I'm writing down our stories too.
One of my father's great-grandfathers was born in Scotland in 1821 and left a very long and detailed journal.
He wrote: "I attended school until I was about fourteen when father had me go down in the mines to work with him. I received one fourth of the minor's wage. When father had an easy place at work, he would do my share and his own and send me out to play a while. Father was always good to me and sang as merrily as a lark at his work.
We would go down on summer mornings and the birds would be singing so sweetly, the hares hopping in the rows among the green wheatfields, the Hawthorne hedges white with blossoms, the perfume so pleasant, it took a stout heart to light the stinking lamp and go down into the bowels of the earth for eight or ten hours. But we could take a days rest once a week, and then we would work in our vegetable gardens. Mother had lots of flowers, many roses and honeysuckles.
There were several girls working in the coal pits along with their fathers and brothers. They pushed small cars on the track containing about 600 pounds each. They were good girls, and seemed to always be treated with respect. After working hours, they always dressed up like ladies. I am glad to say there are no women allowed to work in the coal pits now, as they have found other better employment."
Another Scottish great-grandfather, a less content man, left an even longer diary, but one filled with blow by blow, bloody accounts of seven years of fighting under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars, followed by years of privation and suffering as an unskilled laborer, and ending after crossing the Atlantic and then the American plains, where half-way over, his wife refused to go another foot, so he left her by the side of the wagon train.
He wrote, "June 26, 1853, I feel very sorry to for poor Margaret. I have heard nothing of her. She had nothing but the wrapper she wore and no money. I now wish I had given her the clothes as she requested for she said she did not think I would keep her under-clothing. I felt sure she would follow us later, having no clothes. I also expected to remain for a time in camp near Charlestown, but did not, as all the companies advanced, so it will be hard for her to come now."
None of them ever knew what happened to her.