Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More family history

I've been digging into my family history lately. I find family research fascinating -- I did quite a lot of it in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Back then I had to trek to the National Archives or the State Archives or wherever else I could find historical records. Nowadays we have, which has done a lot of the legwork (not all -- I still have some treks I'll need to make).

I haven't found any nuts on the family tree, but I did find one stunningly beautiful young woman: my great-grandmother, Luella (for whom my mother was named). This picture fascinates me. The intensity of her eyes and the intelligence in her face make me want to sit down and have a conversation with her.

I never knew my great-grandmother, but she and my mother were very close throughout my mother's childhood (Mom was 18 when the elder Luella died suddenly of a heart attack at age 78). Great-grandmother Luella lived with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren in the city of Newark; she helped to raise her grandchildren, and that's one reason she and my mother, the baby of the family, were so close. Each summer she would take all the grandchildren to stay with her at the old family farm out in "the country" (the hills of northwest New Jersey). My mother and her sisters still talk about those summers, where they played freely in the woods and meadows for almost three solid months every year.

I recently asked my mother to tell me what her grandmother had been like as a person. My mother surprised me completely with her reaction to my question. She smiled and looked far away for a moment, and then she said, "She was a very special person." And that's all she would say. I tried probing, but to no avail. The smile remained on Mom's face but she just wouldn't or couldn't say anything more. Clearly the deep bond she felt with her grandmother has not diminished in 50 years.

This is my great-grandmother, Luella, in what I think was probably 1898 or 1899. She would have been about 28 or 29 years old then, and it's no wonder my great-grandfather fell in love with her.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

So often old photos, because people had to tense up and pose for so long to complete the exposure, look expressionless. This is absolutely beautiful, not just because she was pretty but because you can see the intelligence and hint of wit in her expression.

Catherine said...

Had she been a young girl today, she'd have been sought after as a model. She was just very photogenic (even in her old age, actually).