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, April 07, 2017

Lilacs and Connections

My lilac bush is blooming. Brought a slip from a bush on Smith Farm, it is an old-timey lilac with a wonderful fragrance. The original lilac bush was planted by the old kitchen house near the cabin, but what's left of the kitchen has been just a pile of rocks for nearly a century.

My Aunt Belva—who died in 2003—once told me that when she was a child, she and her younger sister Virgie—who is 99—were playing in the old kitchen when it fell in. I'd always thought of the kitchen—and lilac—as my Granny Sallie's, but now I realize the kitchen was Gillie Anne Bernard's. It's likely Gillie Ann planted the lilac. Gillie Ann died in 1897 and was the first resident of the cemetery up on the hill. 

Her husband William had a window cut in the cabin wall so he could sit by the fireplace and see her grave. This window also provided a view of the lilac bush. William joined Gillie Ann on the hill in 1907. (I blogged about that cemetery in my "Vines and Stones" post in 2011 and again in 2014 in "Special Delivery.")

Until recently, I didn't know I had a connection to Gillie Ann, but it turns out that she's my first cousin. three times removed.  Here's how: Gillie Ann Bernard is the daughter of Gwin—or Gwynn—Dudley (1810-1846) and Nancy Eliza Smith (1815-1890). Nancy Eliza is the daughter of my 3rd-great-grandfather, John Wood Smith (?-1842), who lived just down the road apiece from where Smith Farm is. John Wood Smith was married to Lucy English (1791-abt. 1850), daughter of George Lewis English and Ann (Nancy) Smith, the daughter of Col. John Smith and his wife Frances. It is likely that Col. John Smith (1735-1820) is also the grandfather of John Wood Smith, so Gillie and I might be kin in another way, too. All of these folks lived within a few miles of each other in Union Hall. 

Anyhow, Gillie Ann Dudley Bernard and my great-grandfather, Henry Silas Smith (1854-1923) are both grandchildren of John Wood Smith—and that's my connection. 

In long-ago Aprils, my distant cousin must have enjoyed the smell of lilac blossoms outside her kitchen door. Over a century later, I'm enjoying them too.

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Blogger CountryDew said...

Nice. All of us old timers are connected somehow. Smell is such a strong memory reminder.

12:20 PM  

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