Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Remember to tell children all about those olden days

Five grandparents were invited to answer fifth-graders’ questions on Grandparents’ Day. One question was, "What did you like best in your hot lunch program?" My "hot" lunch? "Cold sausage and biscuits, with garden radishes" that I carried in a brown cardboard box with leather handle on top.

As an aging granny, I urge readers of any age to write life stories for future generations. Today you’ll be competing with the fast-food place, the coach, comic books, in-line skates - and the boundless world of batteries and electronics. But someday they’ll say, "I wish I had asked my grandparents about the Depression, night driving with a horse and buggy, life and death on Europe’s beaches on D-Day and about lives of people listed in the family Bible."

Example: Our Emeline Logan was a weaver of those old wonderful blue wool coverlets. She required her pay to be in silver coins because she was also a silversmith who pounded those coins into "coin silver" spoons. How do I know that? Because another Emeline, her namesake, left a rough paper memo, written in pencil, about her.

Recently I wrote about several pioneer families, my own and others who chopped through the wilderness to make their homes even farther into American Indian territory.

My ancestors built their log cabins near St. Charles at about the same time that the Coopers and Coles lived temporarily on Loutre Island near Hermann. The Coopers and Coles later went farther west to near Boonville and Arrow Rock, on the Missouri River. How do we know? Here’s a list of books that I find to be helpful in understanding the lives of our pioneers:

"Missouri" was compiled during the Depression by the employees of the Work Progress Administration, or WPA, to give jobs to artists, writers and many others who had no incomes. Every nook and cranny of our state is covered in detail. Example: "Ministers, traveling from place to place on country roads, were recognized by their manner of dress, and ... many affected the additional touch of a special hair dress. About midway between the forehead and crown, the hair was turned back and allowed to grow down to the shoulders."

Reprints are available at historical societies.

"History of Boone County" by Edwin Stephens, published in the county’s first atlas in 1876, says: "Of Franklin, once the abode of wealth, enterprise and intelligence ... where once flourished an embryo city ... now flows the placid river. ... The roar of the water alone now reminds the traveler of the historic spot resting in its bosom."

Read it in historical libraries.

"History of Boone County, Missouri," by William S. Switzler, 1882, has 1,144 pages and 52 pages of index. It’s for sale at the Boone County Historical Society for $47.50.

Example, about my grandpa: "James Lawrence Henry drove the stagecoach between Columbia and Sturgeon; he and a milling partner sawed 4,000 board feet of lumber per day."

It also tells of Henry’s injuries and imprisonments during the Civil War.

"History of Cooper County, Mo.," 231 pages and 14 pages of index. "From the first visit of white men in 1804 till July, 1876."

Example: "The Indians attacked Braxton Cooper when he was cutting logs to build a house. Settlers found an Indians shirt nearby, with two bullet holes in the breast of it."

"Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness," 1939, by John Bakeless, published by Morrow, 477 pages, including 10 pages of bibliographical notes and an extensive index.

Details of Boone’s life and travels, including: "My wife and daughter were the first white women who ever stood on the banks of Kentucke River." Bought at auction.

"Stories of Howard County, Missouri" - Elaine Derendinger, published by the Howard County Historical Society.

Click here to return to the index

 Subscribe in your RSS reader

Copyright © 1994-2010 Sue Gerard. All Rights Reserved. No text or images on this website may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author, except small quotations to be used in reviews.