December 24, 2020
This morning I got up and sat on the edge of the bed and read the news on my phone as I always do. Nothing much had changed as I scrolled through the various news outlets. I hit my email and found out that I had a message from someone on Ancestry.ca. If you read my blog this week I am finally putting my maternal family tree together.
I dangled my feet off the side of the bed and remembered the black smoke coming out of the family burn barrel in the Albert Street backyard during the last days of September 1963. I can still see my father through the white sheer curtains stoking the fire and tossing photograph albums and the beloved handwritten family genealogy book that cousin Iveson Miller from Island Brook, Quebec had done for my mother. Death does strange things to the mind, and it was obvious that my Father was wiping away any trace of my Mother who had just passed away at the age of 34.
As a very young child I still remember taking that family book out of the piano bench and reading all the family entries written in fountain pen ink. It was just names to me in those days, but year after year those names became more important to me. For many years I have been the last standing family member of the Knight family from Cowansville, Quebec. It’s not easy to watch family members die from cancer, always wondering when it is going to be your turn. But, through the years of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes I am still standing. In the back of my mind I feel there has got to be a reason somewhere other than irritating people with my eclectic personality.
Last week I began the maternal family tree and found out that I actually had a bonafide settler who made a name for himself on my mother’s side. James Miller and his wife Mary Henderson were prominent founders in the Eastern Townships from the bottom up: designing buildings, working on the railroad and birthing babies.
For years I have been posting online trying to find the handwritten notes of Iveson Miller to no avail. This morning I got a note that someone has them and will be sending them to me. That was the best present I could ever get besides my Pioneer Woman salt and pepper shakers Steve gave me. This will be a gift for someone in my family down the line who is interested.
After sitting on the edge of the bed smiling for a long time I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror at a face I seldom recognize these days. I looked closely, shrieked, and got the flashlight and tweezers out. I am not going to explain this line of events, but any woman will know what I am about to write. There above my lip was the longest transparent facial hair I had ever seen. It could have knit a sweater it was so long. Obviously I am getting my proper vitamins to grow something so humongous.
It reminded me that today was Christmas Eve and my Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight would be outside the kitchen door with her axe. A prime turkey would be sitting on a stump and she would cut that sucker in half with one fell blow. Half would be for Christmas day and the other half would be jammed into a tiny freezer for Easter. After the final blow to Christmas dinner she would take out my Grandfather’s round shaving mirror and pluck her chin hairs. It was an annual tradition to the soothing sounds of Mantovani.
This morning as I plucked that sucker off I put it on the bathroom mirror to show Steve in case he was interested. As he loaded the dishwasher in his usual anal ritual of making sure cutlery was placed neatly and in order I told him the story. I reminded him once again that when I am on my deathbed all facial hairs must be removed or I will come back and haunt him for the rest of his life. He said nothing as he loaded dishes in next and nodded his head to my wishes. You have to remember after almost 23 years he finds the best way to deal with my constant stories is to just nod and move on. Probably for the best.
So to the person in the Eastern Townships that found me thank you for a wonderful Christmas present. Genealogy is like a magic mirror. Look at it, and sometimes some pretty interesting faces appear and honestly… they probably all have chin hairs.
My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter
The Old Church in Island Brook That Needs a Home
What Do You Do if You Just Can’t Walk Right In?
The Personal Ad of June 9th 1966
Did They Try to Run the World?
Memories of Mary Louise Deller Knight’s Wood Stove
The Story of Trenches –Fred Knight Legion Branch #99 Cowansville
Mary Louise Deller Knight — Evelyn Beban Lewis–The Townships Sun
On the Subject of Accidents and Underwear
Linda, I love your stories – who wouldn’t!? I got myself an ancestry DNA kit two years ago just after Christmas and spent hours every day on tracing my family back on both sides. My father’s side had been kick-started by him (with my help) years ago using antique methods and tools like a typewriter, pen and paper, and a camera which only took pictures – imagine, no texting, no phoning – and used film that you had to wait a week to get developed. Our methods involved going to graveyards, writing letters, visiting people and filling in hand drawn charts.
However, I digress. It was my mother’s family I wanted to find; in particular, her father’s family. Some slight difficulty, since Grandma never married Mom’s father, but that was the very reason I was looking for him. I found him, and his wife at the time. I also found out that I am a Mayflower descendent. I haven’t done much on ancestry.ca since then, but I’ve got a few more pieces of the puzzle that is me, and I did visit the Plymouth Plantation last year.
Keep on writing, please.
Heather Hay Charron
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