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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oral History to the rescue: Next FTF post is up!

My next Family Tree Firsts post is up, so run on over there and check it out.

This was such a neat experience for me.  I have begun to fall in love with personal accounts, stories, and biographies as a window into the lives of my family.  This was one of those moments that I will never forget; reading the life story of my dad’s great aunt to him over the phone.  It was almost surreal at points when he would fill in information for me about where places were and other people mentioned in the manuscript. 

As a recap, Eliza Jane Combs was the baby sister to my great-grandfather, Everett Combs.  Their parents were Willis Franklin “Frank” Combs and Mary Margaret Hall.  Frank and Mary had 9 children who were: Ira, Jennie, Homer, Ada, Everett, John, Margaret, George, and Eliza.  Eliza married first Everett Emmons and second Otis Kinnman.  By the time she gave the interview in 1973 she had done genealogy research for about 20 years the best I can tell.

I have to give my heartfelt thanks to Jill Larson who is a librarian and archivist at the Lewis Historical Library in Vincennes, Indiana.  She was great to work with while I was locating this document.  The staff and the library is a real gem with so much to offer historians and genealogists who want more information on southern Indiana.  Oh, and cheap too!  They only charge cost of paper for copies ($0.10 a page!) and mailed it to me with no problems.  Check them out!

Finally, I wanted to share with a couple passages from this interview.  They really struck me, and made me feel like I was right there with her and my family. 

In the summertime and in the fall we would go to fairs and things, but they didn’t have too much going on.  We used to get out with our brothers and pitch horse shoes.  I still love to pitch horse shoes.  It was regular boys’ activites, bit I was a regular tom boy.  My brother was four years my senior and we used to just love to climb trees.  In the tall cherry trees we had these old fashioned black cherries.  I would climb to the top of the tree with him and pick cherries to eat.

When we lived up in the hills – that was when I was a smaller kid of course – it was before I was ten years old.  We had an orchard and he only owned 80 acres, but we romped all over that.  We made our own sorgum.  We had mulberries, chinquapins, beechnuts, and everything else on that old hill.

We didn’t suffer, but I thought that we were dog poor.  We didn’t have much money.  We raised our own beans and potatoes and dad kept a pretty good herd of calves and cows and he always had a lot of hog running around through the woods.  They ate a lot of acorns from the oak trees.  My older brother wasn’t married until he was 28 and he had a great big bunch of calves and cows running around there.  They didn’t have too much farm ground.  I forget just how much my dad did have cleared.

My dad and his dad were mean horse shoe players too.  I guess I now know that it is a family obsession!  She talked for almost 10 pages about growing up on farms and the life that she had as a child in the country.  Priceless information to me.
Image from the Library of Congress

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