Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hidden Stories

One of the things you learn quickly as a genealogist is that if you cannot deal with the skeletons in your family closet, this is NOT the hobby for you.  Every family has skeletons hidden away somewhere.  My personal view is that they contribute to who we ultimately become.  Sometimes they drag us down.  Sometimes they lift us us up -- either because they are so positive, or because they are so negative that we are driven to overcome them.

I invite you to stop in at to read my brother's post for today, 2 Sep 2012.  I had showed him a photo of the remnants of the Fergushill Rows (Kilwinning, Scotland) earlier this week.  The photo caught his attention.

Our paternal grandmother,  Jeanie Montgomery,
lived in the Fergushill Rows until she was about 12.  There was not a whole lot lower one could go on the social scale and still survive as a family.  Her life at Fergushill represented the very bottom of the economic pit into which our line of Montgomeries and Greigs slid.  Earlier generations had better times.  Our great-grandfather began the climb out after following his own father into the coal mines.  His children and grandchildren  kept climbing.  The climb takes determination -- and education -- and more determination.

The photo above was taken during the family's years at Fergushill.

Our grandmother lacked the education, but she made up for it in determination.  She would leave those muddy streets, open sewers, and 6x9' lodgings behind.  She would be all the things she dreamed a gracious lady would be.  She never shared the stories.  I heard them from her brother Tom's children, pieced them together from literature in Scotland and online about life in the Ayrshire mining camps, and from visiting the  museum at Eglington Park, Kilwinning.

Grandma is probably appalled that I'd consider sharing her stories.  But her experiences and attitudes are just as formative  as those of the English landed gentry in Devon, the farmers and livestock men in West Calder and Dumfiresshire (Scotland), the pioneers who spent 200 years settling the American frontier from Virginia and North Carolina all the way to California, and the pioneering seamen who followed a legend and a star -- and later, regular migration paths -- across the Pacific Ocean in open canoes to eventually settle in Hawai'i.

Share your stories.
Don't forget to pray ...
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