Mommy, where did I come from?

Twenty years ago my youngest daughter Mandy asked the question that every mother knows is coming, but just doesn’t know when.

” Mommy, where did I come from?" she queried one afternoon. I remember sitting down with some serious spinning inside my head but I attempted to keep it 'light'.

"Oh," I replied, "you came from the love that daddy and I have for each other." From that beginning, I attempted to explain, using the least explicit details, how our intimate relationship brought her, a beautiful little surprise, into our lives.

Her eyes rolled and her mouth twisted in that "mom you are crazy" look that she can still direct at me today.

"No, mom.... not that! Megan came from California, and I want to know where I came from!" she exclaimed with both hands on her waist and a foot already tapping the floor.

No matter how much we try to be, parents are never prepared.

During the past 10 years, my brother and I seriously began questioning where we came from. We had no idea how much energy we would be putting into the project.

Most of my effort and time was spent using what search vehicles were already available on the World Wide Web. At that time, the Mormon Church had just started a genealogy page that anyone could access. There were some census records available, but even more fun to search were the manifests of immigrants’ ships. My brother focused on known living relatives. He traveled around the country interviewing them, copying their pictures and letters, and whatever family history he could get his hands on.

One day I had to stop. I was overwhelmed with the exponentials. I start with me, (1) Then my parents (2). Then my grandparents (4). Then great grandparents (8). Then great great (16). Then great great great (32). As you can see, by the time you have touched six generations, there are already 32 family lines to follow. Besides being a full time hobby, it can become an overwhelming obsession. We have gathered a mountain of pictures and other information that are a family treasure chest.

Along the way, the hubby and I began picking up some things about his family tree, too.

Therefore, the remainder of today's post is for my daughter, Mandy. She has a little girl (Curly Mop) of her own who is going to ask someday, "where did I come from mommy?"

Dear Mandy,
In the early 1800's in Scotland there was a man named Alexander Laing who fell in love with Ann Watt. Their love for each other produced a daughter in 1812. Elizabeth.

I wonder what her world was like and if she would have been traumatized to know her picture was posted for anyone to see. The little glasses in her right hand intrigue me. I have a pair just like them. The book posed in her lap has pictures, so I do not think it is her bible.

Elizabeth became the wife of James Ainslie and they begat a son named Joseph. Our family records indicate he married Helen Martin. But I found out with a little research that her name was really Ellen.

Daughter Christine was born to Joseph and Ellen on December 1, 1856 in Point Arena California. That means the family had arrived in the western hemisphere.

Christine married Sumner Collins. I have the feeling that she married well. She is the one standing to the left with her daughter Estella. Dig the hats! We have a huge Bible with a carved wooden cover that was gifted by Sumner to his wife on Christmas Day, 1894. He didn't sign it in his own hand. In what looks like gold leaf, it is imprinted, "To Mrs. S.M. Collins, by her husband." He was in the lumber industry and moved his family to Castle Rock, Washington.

John Collins, offspring of this union, was born on January 23, 1875. What a handsome fellow he turned out to be. I think this picture, showing that he also had a sense of humor, was taken in Tacoma.

He married a very lovely woman named Vesta Lord, also born in 1875. Vesta is the one on the far right.

Vesta and John's daughter Esther was born December 17, 1901. Recognize the other two ladies? No? Pretend they are wearing hats.

John drowned in a most bizarre accident when he was 34 years old. According to the newspaper article, he was in a small boat with two other men out on Puget Sound that was run down by a steamer. "All statement bear out the assertions that the drowning occured after dark, even to the stopping of John H. Collins watch at 9:40."

Vesta remarried a horrid man that mistreated her, which resulted in a quick divorce. She then remained single and didn't have any other children.

Here is another picture of John and Vesta's daughter Esther. She began dating Oscar Hoover and soon they had a family of their own: Pat, Joan, and John. Oscar and John both died of heart attacks in their early 50's. (Pat is still going strong at the age of 83.) Esther, who was affectionally called Nana, developed Alzheimer's disease and lived in that forgotton "place" for more than 12 years and died in 1984.

Joan, Mandy's grandmother, died in 2003. She was a beautiful woman on the outside, but very unhappy on the inside. So sad and frustrating for those who wanted to love her. I was quite surprised when I looked at this picture at how much of Joan's lovely features are apparent in the face of my daughter Mandy.

Joan married Wallace. My hubby and his sister are the wonderful contributions from that short union.

One evening their son eyed my legs leaning over a billiard table while I was stretching to sight my cue stick. I think thats when I made the "kill shot."

This handsome young man was and still is a very indusrious fellow. He was a star pitcher on his little league team, played the bass and sang in a folk trio, and swam on his high school swim team. He joined the navy to see the world. He saw it from beneath the ocean as a submariner.

Of course, we must not forget that fateful game of pool.

That brings us back to that day when Mandy wondered where she came from. She was a little water sprite, like her dad. She is currently finishing her education and raising her little Curly Mop and doing a fine job at both.

Mandy can now tell "Curly Mop" that these are some of the many places “where” she came from.

I think they all would have been very pleased that she will know. Love, Mom


Amanda said…
Thanks for that, Mom ! It is so fun to know that stuff! I come from a long line of good lookers!
MTC said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
willowtree said…
That's great stuff! It's a bit long to read it all now so I'll be back tomorrow to finish off.

My people are also from Scotland and were among the crofters who were forced to migrate after being dispossed by the English landed gentry.
Pass The Torch said…
What a great idea! My mom wrote some geneology stuff for me and I'm so glad she did.
Karmyn R said…
Wow - that picture of Mandy looks a little like "buttercup" - no wonder I keep accidently calling her "amanda" when I'm yelling....heh heh heh

Cool geneology! Now do your side....
Karmyn R said…
OH! - does John Collins picture remind you of anyone? hmm.....
That's wonderful that you can write all that family history down. I regret never having asked questions like that. Now all my relatives are just about gone and I have only fuzzy and incomplete tales.

(Oh, btw I finally finished your Tag!! And there's a new one and YOU'RE IT! Wander over to my blog to see.)
willowtree said…
Wow that was a great read. Your kids really owe you for that!
Julie said…
This is such a good post!!! I know your daughters love it and appreciate it. I would if I were them. Geneology is such interesting stuff.

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