Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roots

I wonder if genetics plays a part in people's choice of hobbies. My ancestors on both sides were farmers. I don't know if all of them had a love of growing things, maybe it was just their lot in life to be born into a farming families.

I've traced my father's family back to Virginia 1619 when Dr John Woodson landed with a company of British soldiers. Dr. Woodson built a cabin and began farming. His descendants pushed farther west and were among the first settlers in Mississippi and then on to Texas.

This is probably the oldest photo I have. This early Woodson relative left Virginia with a small group that made the treck into the unsettled lands of Mississippi and built homes and farms in the Holly Springs area.




This photo is my great, great grandfather Nathan Hill Evans (the nephew of the woman above). Nathan was a cotton farmer until he died.


His daughter Beulah looked the part of a pampered southern belle but like most women of her generation, she was tough as steel. She married a farmer, Eli Green, and they spent their early married years in Texas growing cotton. Later they uprooted their family which included my father (a baby at the time) and moved to Illinois.


Eli was the first relative (I know of) that enjoyed flower gardening as well as crops. Perhaps it was his wife's influence or perhaps he just had more free time for a hobby. Anyway, he passed that love of flowers to his son, my father who passed it to me.

My Dad tells stories of his father's flowers. There was a church near their house. On Sunday, after services, people would drive past and stop to admire the beautiful gardens. My Dad would be sent running to the barn to grab a shovel so Eli could give the visitors a start of which ever plants they admired.

Until his eyesight failed him, my father loved flowers. He lectured on creating what he called back yard habitats--places where birds and wildlife could coexist, even thrive with in residential areas. It has been a terrible thing for this man to loose his sight (his second greatest pleasure was reading). It hasn't broken his spirit. He continues to garden with my help and a few hired weeders. He simply cannot stand the thought of his home with no flowers surrounding.

49 comments:

jodi said...

What a fabulous post! It's so nice to see photos of relatives from days gone by, and to hear about how they've affected a current love for gardening. thank you for sharing these.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

That's so cool you know so much about your ancestors. My mother loves gardening; but I didn't as a child. My father's parents were farmers, but did grow flowers. My dad hated everything about farming... he didn't even mow the lawn--my mom did! :)

The Organic Gardener said...

WOW, extensive, I do not know about my relitives, but I wish i did. I know that both my mom and Grandma love to veggie garden, but not so much flower gardening. They just dabble in it. I have always wanted to creat a wildlife habitat, just don't have the time or the money at this moment. Loved all of the pics that you had, they truely are treasures.
~Zach

tina said...

It brings tears to my eyes the part about your father losing his eyesight. But it is so uplifting to know you are there to help him to still garden. Just putting your hands in the dirt for a gardener can be pure heaven, no matter the age. I will for sure remember this one day. It is so great you have such a history of your family and true 'roots' indeed within the soil, the country and your family.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Jodi, genealogy is another of my interests. It's funny, as I researched these people I began to feel really close to them--even tho they died long before my birth.

Hi Monica, as a child it was a horrible chore to do anything in the garden. It wasn't until I made my own that I came to appreciate gardening.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Zack, I do treasure my family photos. I'm fascinated by the history and everyday lives of those people. Maybe someday you will have time to work on a habitat. I hope so.

Hi Tina, I can't tell you how much I admire my father for his strength and sense of purpose. I know I would fall apart if I had to deal with the things life has dealt him.

Marnie

ramblingwoods.com said...

Marnie...what a wonderful post. I wish I had photos of my relatives, but they have all been lost along the way. Interesting question about the genes and hobbies..

Lallee said...

What a wonderful post of your family history. It's wonderful that you have the photos, too. Your grandfather sounded like a very generous and thoughtful man.

Balisha said...

Hi Marnie,
Very interesting post. Those old pictures are a treasure.My Mom lost her eyesight...the hardest thing to go through.

Patsi said...

Tough times to live in.
Love the old pictures.
You're lucky you have your father to tell you stories. Treasure them.

flydragon said...

Loved this post!! I wish I would have asked my grandparents and parents more questions about their lives when I still had the chance. My mother was a great gardener and an excellent cook. I think I got the love of flowers from her, too bad I never became the cook that she was though:)

Kathleen said...

You have a heritage to be proud of Marnie. I'm sure your father is delighted that you inherited his love of flowers/gardening. It has to bring him joy knowing you'll carry on that interest and passion. My father teaches classes about gardening for wildlife too (similar it seems to what your dad did) and I didn't listen to a word he said either as a child/teenager. It took my own home to bring me around and inspire me to garden. Roots are the lifeline for us all, aren't they? Good topic and I'm glad your dad can still garden even if it's in a different way than he'd prefer.

BeadedTail said...

What a lovely post about your heritage. It sure seems that you were born to garden. It's wonderful that your dad can still have a garden full of flowers with the help of others. I'm sure just knowing they are there and smelling their fragrance does wonders for him.

Rose said...

This is a beautiful post, Marnie. I think it's wonderful to know something about your heritage, especially when you can see a link to something in yourself. Obviously, the love of growing things is in your genes.
My ancestors were farmers, too, as far back as I know. It took awhile for that love of the land to take hold of me, though. I can feel my grandmother's presence, especially, as I putter about in the garden.

I'm glad that your father can still find joy in gardening. My father, now retired from farming, has turned to planting flowers instead.

beckie said...

Marnie, such a wealth of history you have in your photos and stories. they must give you a strong sense of who you are. Your love of the land is most certainly handed down to your from them. Great post!

flowergardengirl said...

It just has to run in our genes. I'm convinced of it. I do quite a bit of genealogy and I've found it to be a trend. My family were millers and furniture makers. They invented all sorts of things. It has been passed to my children. My oldest is an engineer and my youngest is in film production school. We are creators.

Loved your photos and history of your family. That cotton farming is rough stuff. Have you ever picked cotton? Mercy...it will rip your fingers to pieces. We are seeing a come back of cotton in our area. It really is pretty when it's ripe for harvest. You see fields of fluff everywhere.

Jamie and Randy said...

How incredible that you have all these old photographs. Ours seem to have disappeared since my grandmothers passing...--Randy

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Randy, loosing photos is a problem in every family. I'm just very lucky that my cousins shared these (his Mom was the keeper for many years).

FlowerGardenGirl, I've never picked cotton altho I once lived next to a cotton field;) I believe you're right, especially about artistic genes (that would include engineering).

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beckie, researching ancestors does give you a wonderful perspective. It has gotten fairly easy nowdays. Everyone should do a little;)

Rose, farmers just have to grow something;) It's true that the need to plant and create beauty comes with having your own home.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

RamblingWoods, what a shame you don't have any old photos. I realize I'm very lucky.

Lallee, he died when I was a baby but I have heard so many stories I feel like I knew him.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Balisha, I'm sorry about your Mom. It must be hard not only giving up you sight but having to ask for help to do simple things. That's what bothers my Dad.

Patsi, I do treasure the old family stories. I've written to distant cousins and collected stories about their parents. After all, they are family too.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Flydragon, we all feel that way. I never asked my grandmother those important questions and I will forever regret it.

Hi Kathleen, I think my father has black dirt flowing in his veins. He will sit outside and listen to us describe what's blooming and what is visiting the bird feeders.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi BeadedTail, just being outside I think he remembers the garden as it was and in his mind still is. It's really sad.
Marnie

sweet bay said...

I'm impressed that you were able to trace your family back that far. And that you have those old pictures too.

My grandfather was a very fine gardener, especially after he retired. I think it gave him peace -- he had had a hard life.

Gail said...

Marnie,

A beautiful post and filled with the deep love and admiration you have for your father. What spirit he has. There are no aunts and uncles to ask about the family roots, I wished I had the interest in knowing when I was younger. Gail

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi SweetBay, I'm glad your grandfather found peace and enjoyement in his later years.
Marnie

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Marnie this is such a wonderful story of your ancestors, and you have pictures! No wonder you love to garden.

My Mother came from a farm family and she grew her own veggies as often as possible. She always had flowers tucked into the veggie garden and around the house too though.

I took to the flower growing but lately I have been thinking of growing some veggies.

Meems getting all that good soil for her garden at this time of year makes me jealous. We can't get any soil around here until late spring or summer.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Lisa, I know what you mean. I'd love to be moving a load of compost right now;) It will be May before we can do that.

If you like fresh veggies and you've ever grown your own the difference is so extreme. I can see why your Mom went to the extra work.
Marnie

Sweet Repose said...

What a wonderful history you have with your ancestors Marnie. Unfortunatly for me all the men in my family regard my plants a nuisance, especially the ones near the foundation, stepping on them, pulverizing them to dust. Hmmmm...cacti and climbing roses...

By the way, the view is Muscatine. I had just come home from Coal Valley, through Moline and Andalusia and always through Loud Thunder Park.

Roselove said...

A big hallo from Norway!
I love your amazing blog!

TC said...

You inspire me to want to go back in time and see what I can find out about gardening in my family. I know my Mother loves her flowers, unfortunately she suffers from macular degeneration and her sight isn't what it used to be. But like your Dad, her spirit is still strong and she still gets out in the garden. Thank you for sharing some of your family genealogy.

Gayle @ Mountainmoma said...

I have loved flowers since I was a child. Moving to the pacific northwest I was excited to start growing a flower garden. I recently have become interested in genealogy. I found this an interesting post, and how close your relatives feel to you at times when you are researching their history. I have felt the same.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
What a wonderfully composed post, and so rich in detail that (at least) I lack about my own family roots. When I was growing up, it was never talked about and we weren't to ask. You're really fortunate to have such a rich tracing back of the family! I can't even go back 100 years for my family, that's how tight lipped all the relatives were.

Anyway, great that your dad still likes to get his hands dirty! I know if mine was still around he would too. He gave me the bug when I was a kid, even if I thought it wasn't that much fun back then!

IVG

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sharon, I haven't been to Loud Thunder. Thanks to our wonderful governor, many of our state parks are now closed. It's a pretty view.

Hi Roselove. A big hallo back to Norway. Thank you so much for stopping by to visit and leaving me a message.

Hi TC, I'm so sorry about your Mom. That is a terrible disease. Anything that robs the elderly of the small enjoyments of their remaining years seem particularly horrible.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gayle. For several years I genealogy was an obsession. Finally I got to a sticking point when there just doesn't seem to be any way to go farther back;)

My family enjoys talking about their ancestors. Unfortunately I didn't ask soon enough and lost so much history when the older generations passed.

Marnie

oldcrow61 said...

Marvelous old pictures, thanks for sharing them with us.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Goo morning OldCrow. I'm trying to find a way to display some of them in my home.
Marnie

Connie said...

This was a great post and I loved the old photos...very nostalgic. I believe my love for flowers came from my Grandmother, whose house was surrounded with Hollyhocks, Snow-on-the-Mountain, Dahlias and other pretty things.

The Birdlady said...

I love old photos! And especially when there are stories with them.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Connie, I think the consensus has been that nurture wins over nature. I think I agree that we get our love of growing things from those we love and admire and not because there is a gardening gene;)

Birdlady, I agree. We must all remember to pass lots of photos and stories down to our children.

Marnie

Sweet Repose said...

Google 'Junk Market Style', then click on projects. Sue Whitney is now doing the projects without her partner Ki Nassaurer, but the projects they do are all fun. You can also buy their book 'Junk Market Style'...fun stuff!

sharon

walk2write said...

Marnie, your post is really inspiring, like TC said. I would love to share more of my family's history, but some members of my extended family are not so willing for me to share. I will say that I learned to love gardening from my father. None of my siblings, as far as I know, are so fond of it. I think it's because my dad had mellowed quite a bit by the time I came along, and he wasn't such a taskmaster then. I think of him and the time we spent together in the garden every time I plant, weed, or harvest.

Sue said...

I am glad you left a comment on my SkyWatch, so I would make it here to see this post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your ancestors and father. I'm glad he is getting the help he needs to continue his gardening.

I have been asking my parents to see if they have any photos of my dad's parents' garden. His parents worked beet fields, even after he was born, and when they moved to the city, had a huge garden.

Rose said...

Just have to say, I loved this post. I wish I had more pictures and history of my family.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

How wonderful to have all the information about your ancestors! I think our choice of hobbies in indeed genetic. I got my gardening gene from my Dad's side of the family, they were all intense gardeners and keeper of houseplants.

Kim said...

What wonderful pictures and such a lovely story too. So much has changed in such a short space of time, regarding how we live! We take so much for granted, and flowers are now commonplace instead of a luxury, as they once were.

Kim x

The Tile Lady said...

Your father is such an inspiration! What an amazing man he is! And, I just bet you inherited a lot of your love of nature from him....I really enjoyed this post. I think there is a lot more to our "roots" than we often even know.

Kerri said...

Thanks for this fascinating glimpse into your family's background. Sadly, I barely knew my 2 grandmothers, and their husbands had already died when I was a small child. My mother was an avid gardener and passed her love of plants on to me.
I'm sure your father is pleased to know that you're carrying on his passion of gardening. So sad about his eyesight. How lovely that you are able to help him continue to do what he loves.

Anonymous said...

I've recently learned that I am a direct descendant of Dr. John Woodson. My great grandmother, Bessie Eaton Dorsett is where the links begin. I traced her family back to Sarah Woodson and Dr. John.
I enjoy old photos. My grandmother had a lot of them. The sad part is none of them were labeled as to identity and in her later years, she had alzheimers and wasn't able to tell us who any of them were. I do have a picture of great grandmother Bessie taken around the turn of the century. I can definately see Sarah Woodson there. She had the look of a strong pioneer woman.