http://www.one.org Dixie Peach: Archives

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Archives

I had to spend a dull hour at with Aunt Annoying and Uncle Milquetoast yesterday to celebrate Uncle Milquetoast's birthday. An hour of Aunt Annoying announcing at least three times to everyone that I don't drink coffee and that she made a pot of tea especially for me.

Golly, Aunt Annoying. Perhaps next time we're having a party I'll announce over and over that I buy non-alcoholic sparkling wine especially for you since you're a recovering alcoholic.

The hour wasn't a complete loss though. Aunt Annoying is in charge of the restoration of an old ass church there in POS Cow Town (I don't know if she's actually in charge but if you hear her tell it, she's the boss). I did have to suffer through her telling us a couple times that they've written to the bishop and he's accepted their invitation to see the church when the restoration is complete. She was bragging that the invitation to the bishop was all her idea and this will be such a prestigious event. It's not about having a spiritual leader come bless or rededicate the church or something - it's all about prestige. The woman is a life-long atheist. She has about as much knowledge of the Church as I have about brain surgery. Yeah, I know you don't have to be religious or a believer to be interested in restoring a church but when you only want the bishop there to make yourself look important it seems somehow a bit phony to me.

Anyway, getting back to the actual restoration, they've found lots of old documents in this church and they're cataloging them and using them to help fill out holes in the history of POS Cow Town. Yesterday Uncle Milquetoast showed me a couple documents that they found. They're handwritten in that old sort of German handwriting that went out of style after the war - I can't read that sort of handwriting. B even has a lot of trouble reading that sort of handwriting - my MIL does a bit better at it since that's the way her parents wrote. One document was a mystery to me - I never did understand what it was all about, although it involved my MIL's family and the date on it was from 1846 - and the second document was the posting of banns for a woman with the same last name as my MIL's maiden name. Catherine Dorothee Elisabeth...well I won't post the last name as it's the same last name Aunt Annoying and Uncle Milquetoast have. I don't know if those two know how to Google up stuff but let's not get me into the position to have to explain to them the definition of milquetoast. The document was dated September, 1844. Since it was a woman with that name we know B's not a direct descendant of her but it does show us that at least a branch of that family was living in POS Cow Town back in the mid 19th century.

What was really amazing about the whole thing to me wasn't the fact that they were old documents for distant relatives of my MIL's family but the documents themselves. One would think the documents I saw would be fragile and brittle and yellowed with faded writing but the opposite was true. While the edges showed age, most of the paper was still a creamy white and still smooth and rather pliable and the handwriting was still clear - if you can read that sort of writing anyway. Both documents had official seals in wax and the seals were still pretty clear to read and weren't cracked. The sealing wax was even still shiny. It was as if they documents were written, stamped, and filed away immediately and they haven't seen the light of day in the past 160-some-odd years. I would love to have those documents for myself but they belong to the town, not to the family. And it's better that they stay with the town archives anyway. My MIL's family is dying out. Her cousins didn't have kids and Uncle Milquetoast doesn't have kids and that makes B the last one ever. The only other relatives there would be would be children of siblings of B's great-grandfather and as far as I know, not even my MIL would know who they are if they ever existed. Funny how after four or five generations you no longer have any idea of where you're connected to anyone else.

Even though I didn't want to go out to POS Cow Town, it did end up being worth it just to see those documents. They make me wonder about those people from long ago - who they were and what they were like and how they lived. That's what I love about history. It's not just the events and the people surrounding the events but it's the ordinary people as well. I love thinking about their lives and who they were and what they did. I can imagine that back 163 years ago when Catherine Dorothee Elisabeth was getting married and posting her banns that she couldn't possibly have imagined me holding them all those years later and thinking about her.

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2Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

Be sure to back your blog up on cd so the citizens of 100+ years in the future can enjoy it as much as we do. :) That makes my brain itch just thinking about it...

Another thing, I know it's evil to snigger at your descriptions of your relatives-in-law but I get the biggest kick out of it. I've met (and suffered) people like this over and over all through my life and feel like I know them.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Twango said...

For some reason, Uncle Milqetoast and Aunt Annoying bring to mind Richard and Hyacinth Bucket (that's bouquet dear) and 'Keeping up Appearances'.

4:44 AM  

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