Saturday, September 3, 2011

Living or Dead--Who would you like to spend the day with?

My apologies for posting my article late. Today is my birthday, and I just plumb forget. Geez, I hope getting another year older, and forgetting to look at my calender isn't a sign of what's ahead for me for the upcoming year. But, all of that aside. . .as I get older, I think about relatives who are long gone, those I never got to know. I think about all the questions I'd like to ask them about their lives.

With that being said, I have a question for you -- If you could spend a day with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could, I'd like to spend the day with Sarah Francis Taylor Fowler Frier. Sarah was my great grandmother. My cousins and I grew up with the following story: Sarah and her family lived in the Florida Panhandle, during the time the Cherokee and Creek were moving out of Georgia to avoid being rounded up for the Trail of Tears.

At the age of thirteen, Sarah went out to feed the chickens and tend to the daily chores. After a lenght of time, and when she hadn't returned to the house, her mother and father set out to find her. All they found was the bowl Sarah used to put chicken mash in, and it was laying on the ground. There were also foot prints, not made by boots or shoes, but rather, moccasins. It was obvious she had been kidnapped.

Sarah was about sixteen when she and other white captives were rescued by some militia men. She was pregnant. Now, in those days, folks believed that women who had been kidnapped and impregnated by a so-called "savage," was permanently tainted. In other words, she became an outcast by her own people. Usually, these women were given two choices--commit suicide or return to live with the tribe. Sarah's parents didn't wish for their daughter to make either choice.

A few months before Sarah's child was born, her father married her off to a circuit riding preacher. He was forty-four years her senior. When the preacher passed away, she remarried, and gave birth to twelve children, which included two sets of twins. Sarah died one week before her 99th birthday.

I wish I had known this great grandmother. My writer's insatiable curiosity wants to know what kind of fear she felt being dragged from her home by renegades, was she abused or treated with dignity? What hardships did she suffer while living with the Indians? What foods did they eat, how did they make their clothes, what games did the children play? If she'd been given the choice of committing suicide or returning to live with the tribe, which choice would she have made?

We don't know what tribe kidnapped Sarah. This was one of those family secrets that was only whispered about, and hushed up when we children walked into the room. My siblings and I have considered having a DNA test done, which might solve they mystery of which Native American blood runs through our veins. This may be one of those family mysteries that is never solved, but it remains interesting conversation at family gatherings.

So, I'll ask again, if you could spend the day with one person, living or dead, who would it be, and what questions would you ask?

Happy Birthday to all you Virgos, and to everyone who reads this--have an enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

10 comments:

Roni said...

Wow--that's a fascinating story about your great grandmother! If I could spend the day with someone I'd love to spend it with my grandmother Ada. She died in 1979 and I still miss her.

Noelene said...

What an incredible story, Loretta. Absolutely no question I would spend the day with my father who died suddenly aged 60 the day before my oldest daughter was born. His passing triggered my passion for genealogy and needing to know about my ancestors. A love I retain to this day.

What questions would I ask? I have no idea but I would probably start with asking about his childhood, his parents [my grandparents], his life, his romance with my mother etc. Just get to know him better. We often don't think to ask these questions while our elders are still alive. My mother lived until she was almost 83 so I made sure I interviewed her and I also asked her to write down memories as well. I so dearly wish I had something similar from my father.

Elisabeth Rose said...

What an extraordinary story. How resilient people were in those days--no psychological debriefing or therapy, just the love of her family and on she goes. And I bet she never used her experience as an excuse not to get her act together either. Wow!

I'd like to spend the day with my grandma too, the one who's name I use as my writing name. She'd be so proud. I'd love her to meet my husband and children too.

She was a single mother in the 1920's whose family supported her but became quite a successful business woman later on.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Thanks for dropping by, Roni. It's through our memories that our wonderful grandmothers continue to live on. Ada is a beautiful name. Perhaps one day, you'll name a character after your grandmother.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Lis--your grandmother must have been a strong woman to be a single mother in the 1920's. I think today's generation of you people could sure use a few lessons from our grandmothers. Thanks for dropping by and sharing.

Carolyn Brown said...

What an awesome story!
If I could spend a day with anyone it would be my mother. She's been gone over a year but I've thought of a million things I'd love to tell her or get her ideas about. I still pick up the phone to call her when something happens in our family.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I wish I had taken the time to record all the stories from my grandmother, and asked her more questions about family history. Having that close relationship with your mother, Carolyn, is wonderful.

Creepy Query Girl said...

wow- what a fantastic part of history your grandmother was a part of and yes, it would have been great to find out the truth about what happened and what it was like for her.
Gosh, there are so many people off the top of my head I'd like to meet. I wish I could spend the day with a young Oscar Wilde. I have a feeling he was a good time.

Beate Boeker said...

I just read your story, Loretta - a bit late - and I loved it. I'm very sorry for your grandmother. She must have suffered so much.

Sarita said...

Happy birthday!