Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Yesterday I looked into the past.

My cousin Judy and her daughter Kara came from Roanoke to look at the family things I had—many old photos, old letters, some linens (mostly things crocheted by my great aunts or embroidered by my mother), a few pieces of furniture (such as the dining room set that my mother bought in the early 1930s; she paid a dollar a week for it from her seven dollars a week she earned working at Heironimus). These things aren’t investment quality antiques—alas, no Duncan Fyfe or Sheraton—but they’re remnants of a farm family from days gone by. Their value is sentimental and maybe historical.

My mother was her mother’s only daughter, so family things passed to her. My grandmother’s two sons wouldn’t have been interested in them. Household goods don’t interest boys.

Since I am my mother’s only daughter—and only surviving child (my older brother died the day he was born), the family things passed to me. Since I am childless, I need to pass them on. Of my three female first cousins, only one has a daughter. And that daughter has now a daughter. The female line continues. The family things will pass down through the generations.

And here’s what’s weird: two-and-a-half-year-old Maddie looks just like I did when I was her age. And her birthday is the same day as my mother’s, which was the same day as her paternal grandmother’s.

We looked at things that Judy and I remembered from our visits to Grandma's house over fifty years ago. We remembered these dishes, but we couldn't remember them ever being used, though. They were always in the china cabinet. We remembered that the pitcher and glasses always sat on the server in the dining room; again, we never remember them being used:

A picture of three nymphs hung in the parlor. There was a matching picture opposite it, but another cousin has that. The other picture had swans.

We spent time looking at old photographs. Many were identified, but some were mysteries. Were the people in the pictures family, or were they acquaintances? We’ll never know.

We looked at pictures of ourselves when we were kids and gathered around the dining room table at Grandma’s house—the same dining room table that we gathered around yesterday. We looked at our pictures of our ancestors—the people who made us who we are.

Our granddaddy, Howard R. Ruble, when he was a young man.

Grandaddy is at the lower right. Most of his fellow railroad engineers are unidentified.
The picture is dated 1914.

We are who we are because our ancestor Peter Nafzger and his brothers Rudolph and Matthais—Mennonites from the Swiss-German border—stowed away on the Phoenix and landed in Philadelphia on September 15, 1749. Their story is on the Nafzger website. In America, the Nafzgers became Noffsingers/Nofsingers/Noftsingers (or one of the many variant spellings).

We are who we are because of our ancestor William Nace, overseer of Mount Joy Plantation in Botetourt County. We looked at a copy of his will and the inventory of his estate. When William died in the summer of 1863, his son (and our ancestor, John Christian Nace) had leave from the 22nd Virginia Infantry to settle his estate—and thus missed the Battle of Gettysburg. John Christian Nace married Mary Ann Nofsinger.

William Robert Nace, the son of John Nace, married Sulmena Frances Spence, who came from the Big Island section of Bedford County—just across the mountains from where the Naces lived. How did they meet? We don't know. We talked about the few things were knew about her, but much of her life is mystery. (Two decades ago, I rode my mare through the Big Island area. Did I ride past family land? I'll never know.)

Sulmena Frances Spence, daughter of Andrew Francis Spence and Mary Lucy Goff.

Our Nofsinger ancestors (as well as some of our Nace Ancestors) lie in the Nofsinger-Styne Cemetery in Pico (near Buchanan in Botetourt County, Virginia). I’ve visited twice on family reunions. Other Naces lie in Lithia Baptist Church Cemetery. I've been there many years ago. One of the Nace graves at Lithia Baptist is that of our great-aunt Annie Pearl, who died mysteriously when she was in her early twenties:

Annie Pearl Nace, with her boyfriend Otha Young.

We looked at pictures of other ancestors, too. They made us who we are—and who we will become.


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Blogger CountryDew said...

What a wonderful post, and a great way to spend time. History should never be forgotten.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Amy Hanek said...

I just love old photos. Every time I reconnect with my husband's family, I am enchanted with the old photos from the past of his parents and grandparents. What a great way to ring in the new year!

5:52 PM  
Blogger Genevieve said...

Would love to add these photos to a project we're doing for the Fincastle Library genealogy room. You can contact me through the library.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Genevieve, I'd love to add some family photos to the Fincastle Library genealogy room. How about if I send you a disk with some higher resolution jpegs? The ones on this blog are low resolution.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I just posted a big old thing and then got kicked off. So let me just say, loved reading about your old stuff.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Great post Becky! I just finished framing some of my great-grandparents pictures on my wall, leading to our great room downstairs. I have some shots of Franklin Rd. from 1912. Don't you just love those old hats? I think it's wonderful that your cousin's daughter looks so much like you. I know your Mama must be smiling down on ya'll. Happy New Year!

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My gr. gr. .gr. grandmother was mary Noffsinger, My name is Tom Nace.
She married John C. Nace I am looking for the Father of Robert Calhoun Nace. His mother was Mary in Fincastle, Virginia. I feel as though I know you as an ancester , thanks to your wonderful contribution. My son is happy to finally get information on our family also. He has been in the Army almost 20 years, he has 2 daughters, my wife and I had only the one son ,Mark and we adopted 2 other children years aga. than you Mr. Tom Nace

12:24 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Love this post. I work at the Bassett Historical Center and love all things genealogical/historical.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Cyn, I have some connections to your region, too. My paternal ancestor was General Joseph Martin.

10:43 AM  

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