Friday, August 03, 2007

My Heritage

Isn't this a wonderful photograph?
It was taken in the very early 1900's in South Dakota.
I knew these people personally, all except the man standing by the horse -- that was my great grandfather, August. The woman was his wife, my great-grandma, Teresa, whom I remember well. She was a quick-witted woman, clever, and full of life. She lived into her late 90's. The little boy in the carriage was my grandpa Ray and his sister beside him was my Aunt Ethel.

When we think of history, we really shouldn't think about it as "facts and dates" but rather, we ought to remember it in the span of a life. A real life. A life of someone we know today or once knew. When I think of Great-Gramma, I can imagine her going through the Roaring 20's with her young family on this wheat farm. I can see the threshing of the wheat (my dad has pictures of that too). I can imagine her making-do during the Great Depression, living on their fresh eggs, pork, milk, and grinding wheat for flour. I suppose that they lived fairly well since they produced most of what they needed there on the farm. Others who didn't live an agrarian life had it much tougher and often worked on farms for food and a place to sleep.

I can imagine my grandparents excitement when the automobile was invented -- going from this cart and buggy to a Ford. From Fords to fancy cars and airplanes. Later on, they would see men go to the moon and back. Now that's a chunk of history in one lifetime, isn't it? But see how much more real history becomes when we can attach it to a person's life? Since we are a home schooling family, I'm always trying to find ways to make learning come alive and attach itself to my children's brains. Talking to their own grandparents and family friends about the Depression or the War and hearing stories of how they lived their everyday lives really does make an impression on my kids. Not to mention, they learn a whole lot about sacrifice, living without, getting by, hard work, faith, disappointment and challenges which all build the house of Character in a life. Those are the real lessons I want them to learn. In this life, it's not what you know, but who you've known along the way that really matters.


  1. I have relatives in South Dakota. They originally came from Norway :-)

  2. Jody, what a wonderful post! Such a precious photo and the music is fitting as well. I whole-heartedly agree with your point about making history come alive through our own heritage. Nicely done.

  3. I swear Jody, that could be you. You look so much like your great grandmother. Or should I say she looks so like you, minus the cute haircut. You are so lucky to have this piece of history. Clarice

  4. Just discovered your blog. will visit it again. have added it to my list of blog friends.
    have enjoyed reading your posts.
    feel free to visit me anytime over at my little blog...we (my husband and I ) have an online e-zine as well called "Small Town Living" that you might enjoy at
    Have a great weekend!

  5. What a legacy for you and your family! Such interesting history!
    Loved reading that!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Forgot to say, that I just loved this quote of yours the most:

    Not to mention, they learn a whole lot about sacrifice, living without, getting by, hard work, faith, disappointment and challenges which all build the house of Character in a life. Those are the real lessons I want them to learn. In this life, it's not what you know, but who you've known along the way that really matters.

  7. Thank you for this post and yes, it's a truly wonderful photo. Your writing made it even more so.
    Living history. My husband's grandmother lived to be a month shy of 102 years old, and so often I stop to think of all she saw and experienced in her lifetime. Once upon a time, we had a conversation about doing laundry, and that keeps much in perspective for me.
    These days, I'm doing a little more thinking about all of the history I've seen and how it has defined my life. I was in first grade when John F. Kennedy was killed and I remember that day, like it was yesterday. Living through the civil rights movement, and Viet Nam....oh so many things! Life is truly something, you know?

  8. Britt-Arnhild, where in South Dakota do your family members live? I wonder if I *might* even know them. I've lived in or nearby SD all my life. I even know some Norwegians!

    Tina, thanks for your comments. History really is a "living, changing thing" -- as long as people live their lives.

    Clarice, I never thought that I looked like my great-gram. Isn't it neat to think that a little of her character or her looks might have rubbed off on me?

    Tina, thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your site soon.

    Joanne, I'm glad you enjoyed the little bit o' history. Family history is so fascinating to me.

    Mrs. Staggs, I agree with you that our heritage, the hard-work that our foremothers did, can really keep our perspective in the "here and now." I'm still without my dishwasher and every single time I go to the sink to wash dishes, I think of the stacks of dishes we did at Grandma's house. And think of doing laundry without our automatics??

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I enjoy reading each one.


  9. I love seeing old photos and reading about folk in the old days we call them..
    Wonderful post Jody.
    We do take so much for granted and we could learn a lesson or two from the way these folks lived in those can be too complicated these days...

  10. Jody,
    did I miss your photo of you...Clarice mentioned it!
    I would love to see your picture..

  11. What a wonderful photograph! The thing about social history is that by studying it we can really see how "big" history (wars, economic changes, inventions etc) affected everyday people. I love social history because it brings in touch with our ancestors in a very tangible way.

  12. A really wonderful post!
    I have watched the humility bloom like a flower in my young ones when they understand that life is not fair. Life is a battle and we have a part to play. The greater epic we are but a small part of. Without our part the epic is written with a great loss to it. It is each life that windes the thread of time into this fine tapestry.

  13. Ribbonwiz, life does seem complicated these days, but how much of it do we bring on ourselves? Or is it the culture that we live in? Both?

    Isabella, history, to me, is all about the people in the story -- even the ordinary ones. The homemaker growing a victory garden speaks volumes. Without the folks, there is nothing.

    Donetta, we all have our part to in history, don't we?



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