Come take a walk with me back in time, along a trail less traveled. We may discover a bridge that links the past with the present and is a prophesy of the future.
Gathering relics might be seen as something more than a collection of reminders of the past. It is imbedded in human nature and is the outflow of sentiment. We come to realize that a mother who cherishes the tiny shoes of her babe who sleeps in death, the religionist devout in faith thinks a small remnant of the cross a treasure beyond the reach of gold, and all memories of affliction, reverence, and honor cling to the silent reminders of things which perish in the using, and like their owners, finally return to original dust. Those relics prized by families more than gold will be transmitted from generation to generation by those whose fathers were pioneers and whose relics are the stubborn evidence of an unselfish life.
As we follow the dimming trail, we may wonder who our ancestors are. How can we know them if we never met them across the span of time? How we may wish for a scrap of paper with the script of a great-great-grandfather or a portrait of a great-great-grandmother. One of my ancestor’s handwriting is almost a mirror image of my father’s. What treasure it is to read the journal of an ancestor. Do we want to be remembered like our ancestors by our journals, or will we just be a blank faceless page on a genealogy sheet?
One child had the privilege of helping his aging great-grandmother clean her attic. In the center of the attic sat a small barrel. Nearby was an old trunk with clothing from another era. His grandmother asked him to place worn out clothing and trash in the barrel and place other items in a box. Looking through the trunk, he discovered a battered and bent black felt hat. He tossed it into the barrel of no worth. His grandmother asked him to dig it out, as she had a story to tell him about that old hat.
She told him of a day in her youth when she went to the river behind her family home with her older brother to swim. They had spent many warm days jumping into the river and splashing, laughing and cooling off during the hot summer days. This day was different. She jumped into the water where she began cramping in her stomach and legs. As she surfaced she managed to scream then sank and felt the current taking her downstream. Suddenly strong arms swept her up and tossed her toward the bank. She crawled out, coughing and choking. Then turning to thank her brother, saw only the river moving slowly along the bank.
Later that afternoon, her father and others pulled his lifeless body from downriver. Walking along the bank she discovered his favorite much worn hat sitting near the water. Gathering it to her breast, she clung to it as a treasure in memory of her dear lost brother. When the story ended, her great-grandson asked to have the hat as a momentous keepsake of a heroic ancestor.
The saddest statement could be that of someone saying they didn’t want to know the skeletons in their family’s closet. There are many ancestors whose stories should be known and told to their posterity. Knowing about them brings their story to life and with that knowledge brings comfort that we are a part of them.
Knowing our ancestors can assist us in improving our lives today. Their time-honored courage and strength gives us the ability to have that same strength and courage. Any weakness teaches us determination to strive for improvement.
Attempts to rewrite history are often made. Some historians put their own take on historical events. By writing a journal and referring to ancestors’ journals, we learn and pass on to our posterity values and integrity which bring joy and happiness that will guide them on their trails through life.
In the recently published “History of Utah’s Tooele County” by the Tooele County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the foreword written by Bette F. Barton, president of the International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers, states that by publishing this volume, preservation of the history of the stalwart pioneers in Utah accompanies the silent witnesses (artifacts) of those same pioneers. History is not preserved for future generations until it is written.
The book can be purchased from the Tooele County Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum on Vine Street in Tooele when the museum re-opens May 3. In addition, many precious relics passed on from generation to generation can be seen there.
Patricia Holden is the publicist for the Tooele County Company of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She is also a member of the DUP SheepRock Camp. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.