Sunday, September 18, 2011

IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK (Section XX: transmagnificantubandensiality)

Have you ever walked through a historic home and wondered what the walls would tell you if they could only speak? What questions would you ask if you knew that a home could answer the questions you have about the past?

On Sunday, August 21st, in the minutes before a thunderstorm swept down from the heavens and poured out showers upon the dry earth at Sugar Creek, something quite extraordinary happened. We found out that our walls could talk. Hubby and I (with the kiddos in tow) pulled into the driveway of the House at Sugar Creek and found two Harley Davidson Motorcycles parked out front. There were two men standing in the yard, which was slightly suspicious when you consider that our nearest neighbor is miles away. Being the tough-as-nails redhead that I am, I hopped out of the van and asked these two men what they were up to.

"We think our great-grandparents built this house," they said.

"And who are your great-grandparents?" I asked.

"The Taylors."

I felt the air in my lungs expand, because the Robinsons have given us a very thorough history of the home and I knew already that the house had been occupied by the Taylor family untl 1902.

"This is the old Taylor homeplace," I said.

"We thought it was," they said, smiling.

A half hour later, after they toured the house pre-restoration, we exchanged email addresses. That night I was surprised to find a copy of VERA TAYLOR ODEN's memoirs in my inbox. I clicked on the attachment and read the first lines of her memoir. They are as follows:

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I. Introduction

The Last fifty years have witnessed more progress than any other period in our history. It has truly been the scientific age, the age of invention. When I realize that I have been privileged to watch this progress, I am moved to write down my recollections of the changes that took place, as related to my childhood, hoping that they might be of interest to my grandchildren whose lives are so different to that which was mine.

II. Ancestors

My grandparents were from good Scotch-Irish-Welch ancestry, who migrated to north Louisiana by covered wagon from Georgia along with others from there, and settled in Claiborne parish in North Louisiana. The Taylors settled at SUGAR CREEK, and the Pattons at Lisbon, about ten miles north. I'm sure they lived under more primitive conditions that I did. I remember both my grandmothers very well, but not my grandfathers. My grandfather Patton died before my parents were married, and my grandfather Taylor died about a year afterward.

My mother and father were married on November 29, 1888 at her home near Lisbon by the Rev. J. L. Williams. My father had a country store, post office and farm lands in a neighborhood called SUGAR CREEK. After their marriage my parents lived with Uncle George and Aunt Belle Taylor while their new home was being built nearby. They moved into their new home a short while before I was born. Soon afterward Grandpa Taylor died and Grandma Taylor came to live with us. She was very hard of hearing, but her eyesight was unusually good. She was always knitting socks when she was not busy otherwise. I think she gave them to Papa. Her glasses were bought from a peddler who went from house to house and the customer tried his glasses on until he found a pair which seemed to be right for him. I was very fond of my grandmother and she of me. She taught me to cut out paper dolls and to piece quilts. She had a favorite chair by the fireplace, and I would sit by her side while she cut out square of cloth and taught me how to sew them together.


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If the walls of our darling dog-trot could talk, I would ask a lot of questions. I'd want to know everything, of course. Like the names of the settlers that lived there, the names of the people that came to help with the cleaning, the cooking, and the farming. I'd want to know what the original families that occupied the home did on rainy days, what they ate for Christmas dinner, and what games their children played while Grandma sat on the front porch and knitted. I'd want to know what books they read, what newspapers they subscribed to, and what they wore to church on Sunday mornings. I'd want to know what they had to say about the word TRANSMAGNIFICANOTUBANDENSIALITY that's written on the back of one of the doors. And amazingly enough, I have found the answers to each of these questions. We now have a copy of VERA TAYLOR ODEN'S memoirs. Her family donated them to LSUS in Shreveport, so you can easily find this document and confirm that these words are indeed 100% the words of Vera Taylor Oden. But there's something that you can't find in those archives, and I'm going to give it to you on this blog. You cannot find a direct link between our house and the house that is described in these memoirs, unless you know exactly where to look. And as time goes along, I'm going to show you the connection between written history and physical history. You have just read sections I. and II. of Vera Taylor Oden's memoir. The portions of her memoir dealing with life at SUGAR CREEK, and in fact in our EXACT DOG-TROT HOME, are sections I - XXI. So hold on, kiddos. You're about to learn a lot about history. Our first lesson will be on a word written in Section XX of Very Taylor Oden's memoirs. And that word is... TRANSMAGNIFICANOTUBANDENSIALITY.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Jackie,
    What an ambitious & wonderful project! Wondering who the Oden was whom Vera Taylor married. I have a great-aunt who married an Oden (Mattie Bell Green Pate & John "Johnny" Oden) & lived in Ringgold. Drop me a line at hallroots (at) sbcglobal (dot) net if you'd like.
    Your Aunt Linda mentioned your blog to me; we were corresponding about the Arizona, La. community I had mentioned on my (genealogy & family history) blog.
    --Liz

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  2. Hi, Liz! The Taylor family moved to Arcadia in 1902, and became very productive members of our local society. Vera married Ray P. Oden in 1912, hence the tie to the Oden line. I can't say that I know much about any of these family histories as of yet, but it's something that I'd love to look into in the future. I'd love to have a link to your family history blog. You can email me at lewisfamily1908 (at) bellsouth (dot) net. Thanks for stopping by our little blog!

    Jackie

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  3. You've got my attention even more now Jackie! I'm holding on for the ride!

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  4. Well hold on tight, Brian... because I've got so much to tell you guys that it'll take me a few weeks of posts to catch up to where we're at on the project. ;) We've had a lot of CRAZY, AWESOME stuff happen with the house this month!

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  5. Jackie, had a great chat w/my mom tonight who does know some people from Sugar Creek. Will send you an e-mail. My blog is "My Big Fat Cajun/Irish/Scottish/English/German/French/Southern Family Blog" at www.mybigfatfamilyblog.blogspot.com -- I have ancestors from NW La. (Claiborne, Webster, Bienville Parishes), SW La., Colonial New Orleans & other states, but they all ended up in La. eventually. --Liz

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  6. Thanks so much, Liz! I sent a reply to your wonderful email. I'll definitely check out your blog! ~ hugs ~

    Jackie

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  7. I'm from Lisbon, Louisiana. I visit that town twice a year. I still have family there. My family is the Johnson's. Jack Johnson kids. Ask anybody. They know us.

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