Dear Thomas – Part II

A fictional letter to the late Thomas Moore of Maberly from his 3 x Great-Granddaughter, Krista Moore…..

Do you remember the Deacons?  Do you remember old Ephriam and Ellen? And the Deacon farm? Did you visit often?  Did you two ever have a match of wits, and who decided to accept the role of Reeve first?  Was it you?

The Deacon Farm, Bolingbroke 2011

You were likely a fairly ambitious young man.  I  noticed you were a councillor very early on, and you took the charge as a young magistrate as well, and you, along with the other pioneering churchmen, fought for the little church on your father William Moore and later Robert Hughe’s land. I’m not sure what the picture was like at the time, or who was fighting for whom, but your name was on everything! So I can only assume it was very important to you.

Petition to save Wesleyan Methodist church, Thomas Moore Esq. et al. circa the 1850s, Maberly, South Sherbrooke

What was that first little Wesleyan Methodist church like? Do you remember it now? Could you describe it to me?   If you were here, or I could hear you, I could imagine you saying it was quite dim inside, the logs were quite heavy and dark, and the place was quite stark. It was good enough for the purpose it served at the time. Certainly not an elaborate testament to God or King.  But, it would do for a little chapel in the woods.  I wonder who attended, and what they wore, I wonder who descended upon it, and the little wagons pulling up or going through the lane-way on your father’s land. Maybe it was different then and the church wasn’t where I imagined it at all. Perhaps I got it all wrong.

log cabin church in ontario

What a log cabin church might have looked like in 1840s Ontario.

You see, we only have an 1880 map of the area, and the roads have changed since then. I’m sure if you stood where your house was now, you would be quite alarmed to see a paved road running through, and a big white house standing where your father’s log cabin used to be. Or perhaps you would be standing in a thicket and nothing would be there. Or, perhaps, you would stumble down the lane-way, the very stony lane-way I saw on your father William’s land, where I could see his wagon and horses coming through, to the open patch of land where I imagined his crops were, or his cows grazing, or oxen pulling and tilling the hard earth…

The new lane-way up to the old William Moore farm, Maberly, 2011, Conc 10, Lot 14

Maberly has changed quite a bit since you first lived there.  But I imagine your face would light up to see some of the buildings and houses still in place, like the old general store, now boarded up, but the backroom still open and the old shelves still there and the same old door.  The river Tay runs behind it, and where once was an old mill I believe. I can’t remember if we had a hand in that at all, or just the Deacons, and the Morrows. You tell me!  I imagine though, you had to do something with all that wood you cut down on your properties. I feel so ignorant as to your lifestyle and what it meant to live at that time. What you men went through, clearing your land and building structures that were liveable enough for your ever-widening brood.

End of Part II

Continued in Part III

Dear Thomas – Part I

A Fictional letter to the late Thomas Moore of Maberly, from his 3 x Great Grandaughter, Krista Moore…

 

Dear Thomas,

This is your great-great-granddaughter, Krista Moore, writing to you in the year 2012, about a hundred and twenty-five years after you lived. I bet you didn’t know I existed, did you?!  Well, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you and your brave father, William Moore, and your dear mother, Winnifred, who braved even more. So I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done, and braved, and won.  None of us would be here without you.

But more than that, I wanted to apologize for not thinking of you enough when I grow selfish and impatient and ‘want to know more’. My hunger for knowledge has led me to you but has also kept you at bay because I didn’t allow the real story to shine through.  There is so much more to you than historical facts, that I beg your forgiveness for not seeing the miracle of your existence sooner. Now I long to know you as you really were and are. Simply to feel your presence, what you went through, and feel I have come closer to my great-great-grandfather and mother and shared time together, all these years later.

Krista Moore on Thomas Moore land, Maberly

Did I tell you I stood on your land last fall?  I believe this was the land you purchased likely with your own money, because you worked hard for it, that is for sure.  I noticed there was a trailer on it now, and some smaller houses, but most of the land is still there, clear as ever, and your original fence, too. I stood next to it, and Steve, my husband, took my picture. I was holding my book of information, all about you and your children and grandchildren, a little white binder of facts, clinging to my chest. I was proud of you and proud to be standing on a big rock outside the farm that you once knew, and once knew you!   Did you work hard on it, or did you have your sons to help you? Did you hire other help as well? Or did your wife Margaret lend a hand? What about your daughters? Did you see that they were useful as well? Or did they sew and cook and clean inside? I’d love to know more about them as well.

Thomas, I am so sorry about your loss of Margaret and David. I can’t even imagine the pain you must have went through when you lost them. I have a daughter who is 9, and this very night she has a fever and has gone to bed early. In those days, I am pretty sure you did not have children’s Tylenol or a warm bed unless it was the heat of summer. In which case the bugs must have been merciless.  How you bore it, or your child Margaret, when your little Margaret died, and then ten years or so later, David too. Or was it the other way around?  I do not want to report facts to you, because I feel I would be insulting you to pretend to know more about you than yourself. I would rather ask you, and see if I might be surprised, and realize I know very little about you after all. That there is so much more to know, that this is a real adventure we are on, again, in revisiting the past, only to bring my own dear father, John Harold Moore, closer to you, his own great-grandfather. Can you believe it?  He didn’t even get to know his grandfather, your last son, Lawrence, who was lost to his own family at the age of 44. I am sorry to report, but I’m sure you already know.  He too left a whole brood behind him with dear Emma leading the way, a hearty Deacon girl.

End of Part I

Continue to Part II

A Captive Audience

This past weekend I had the pleasure of sitting with my father in his ravine-side gazebo overlooking a canopy of trees, with tea in hand, and many folders full of material from our family history.  I had never sat with him before in this manner or read to him aloud.  It was “very Chekov”, a friend of mine pointed out.  I thought it was sublime.

On one of his birthdays past, I gave him a family history with all of the information in it, including a picture of his great grandfather. It did not seem to spark his interest.  Something was missing in my pursuit to inspire him, or hook him, into the past as I had been many years before. I lacked the confidence to convey to him the importance of it to me, or to engage him in a way that he could understand.

This time was different.  I had collected some new facts, and found a nugget that really interested him.  Our grandfather was a Reeve and owned his own land.  He had many properties.  My dad smiled at me as I read aloud, himself a business man with property.  He challenged me on a couple of things.  His questions peaked my interest and we sparred over whether or not such and such was true or not, or if we were related to so and so at all.  I believed we were, which fascinated him more. As he lay there on his lounger, head leaning back, eyes closed, I thought he fell asleep, only to arise with another question, “Do you think they were drinkers?”  I laughed out loud.

And…

“When are you going to find out more?”

I smiled. He was hooked.