Each one of us has a story. Many stories are sealed, never to be revealed. Sealed within us – possibly due to the introverted notion that no one else would care to know our story, or our inability to know where to begin in telling it. Yet, the story is there. The story is real. And, in my humble opinion, the story needs to be told.
I’ve always been a teller of (and reader of) stories, gravitating most often to true stories more than fiction. When so many great true stories surround us, I sometimes wonder why fictionalized ones exist – but they do, thanks to creative writers who work hard to fascinate us with their plots, characters, and settings.
The best stories I’ve read recently are ones from a century ago or more – the writings of my paternal grandparents. And, yes, I am beginning to believe I inherited those genes! It would seem many of my ancestors were recorders of life – on the printed page – much like yours truly!
My paternal grandpa, Carl Custer York, left some neatly typed words which – I might add – were typed while he sat at the same small oak desk I sit at today. I love that I acquired this heirloom at their estate sale years ago!
So, at that very desk, I transcribed his words to share electronically with my brother, whose niche is in documenting and verifying facts; solving genealogy puzzles. As Glenn works to trace the westward migration of our ancestors a couple hundred years ago, he was glad to get our grandfather’s newsy record which helped him connect the dots in his research! In contrast, the stories I most enjoy are those that answer the who, what, when, where, and why about my ancestors! I want to KNOW them!
Grandpa’s story told a lot about life in the late 1800s on the plains of North Central Kansas. “My entry into this world was very humble,” he states, then detailing the legal description of the land where a certain sod dugout was located – his birthplace. His story took an unexpected turn when his mother died about a year later. He was raised by an aunt and uncle – his mother’s sister and brother-in-law, and his newborn brother was sent home with another aunt and uncle to be raised. Life on the plains as a single dad with two little ones was nearly impossible, so the brothers were lovingly raised by family members.
Grandpa spoke of growing up. Of hard winters. Of hunting jack rabbits with his New Stevens .22 rifle. And, of walking to country schools and churches. He recounts his first meeting with a special girl at a birthday party in 1905 – a girl who eleven and a half years later would become his wife. My grandma.
His is a good story. It highlights the life of simple farmers on the plains of Kansas, of crops and dust, of horses and harnesses, of life itself. A simple life. A good life.
The story continues….and in my next post, I’ll tell you more about that girl at the party – she, too, had a few stories to tell, including one that took her – a single, 25-year old school teacher – a long way from home in 1913! An amazing adventure!