Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sold Out to Web Atwood ~ End of Diary

David Lewis Drew’s diary ends in December 1856.  Earnings from placer mining had all but ceased.  He was fortunate to find a buyer of his shares in the partnership.

DLD_Diary_Cover David little knew that his diary would bring some of the descendants of his business companions and family together one hundred and fifty years later when I first posted his words on my website.   We are scattered across the United States and are obviously all interested in genealogy.

The actual diary is in the possession of my cousin in California.  When I sent it back to her today, it was like saying goodbye to him in the form of something tangible.  We are fortunate that he kept a diary and that it survived to this point in time.

I’ve visited and walked in his homes in Plymouth, Massachusetts and Copperopolis, California several days apart in my quest to find more about my lineage.  On the flight home from Plymouth, I thought of how easy it was for me to travel cross country compared to David’s long journey down around the end of South America and then back up to Sacramento. 

We love to find the names, dates and places associated with our ancestors, but finding their personal words and thoughts are a full magnitude of intrinsic value greater than them.

We enter David’s life with the final entries in his diary:

December 1856.

MONDAY 1, -- Bought a share in A claime of Gorge Colingwood,. Paid $400, to be taken out of the clame.

WEDNESDAY 3, -- Received A letter from Mother

David’s mother, Anna Tribble Burgess Drew, died on 9 Feb 1852 before he left Plymouth for California.  He is referring to his stepmother, Caroline Tribble Drew in this entry.DLD_Diary_61

FRIDAY 5, -- Horse came down from the ranch.

MONDAY 8, -- Sent my horse down on a ranch again. 

TUESDAY 9, -- Commenced working on the Flat.

FRIDAY 14, -- Looks like rain.

SATURDAY 15, -- Went up on Shaws Flat.

SUNDAY 16, -- Web and myself came down on the river this eavning.

MONDAY 17, -- Len and White went up on the hill and (brought) down some grub.

TUESDAY 18, -- Went up on the Flat.

SUNDAY 23, -- Came down from the flat. have been on the flat all week.

Drew doesn't tell us what he was doing up on the Flat. He probably worked up a deal with Web Atwood for his share of the river claim, as well as looked around for a better claim to buy into.

MONDAY 24, -- Commenced working on the claim.

TUESDAY 25, -- Went up on the flat.

WEDNESDAY 26, -- Worked on the claim to day.

FRIDAY 28, -- Sold out to Web Atwood for $600, three hundred down and the rest out of the claime. Came up on Shaws Flat this afternoon.

From notes in the back of the little book, it is estimated that David’s 1856 gross income was $1585.14, which included the cash proceeds from the sale of his share in the river claim and other sales of speculative interests. His expenses, which included, in addition to his share of the housekeeping expense, the mining costs and assessments and share expenses on the outside claims, totaled $1575.89, so his net after the above items was about $10 for the year. His outside mining speculations apparently were not very successful. Like most of the miners, he worked very hard, but didn't get very rich.

In 1869 David married Helen Marr Farrar. She had come to California from Macon, Missouri, David and Helen Drew Familyacross the plains with her father and her sister. Her mother and little brother had died in Walworth, Wisconsin shortly before the trip. The Drew's lived for a few years at Bostwick Bar, near Reynolds Ferry, where David was placer mining. About 1880, they moved up to Copperopolis where they raised their family of eight children. David worked at times underground in the copper mines, and also drove a freight team from Stockton and Milton to Copperopolis. The Drew's also rented out rooms to miners working there.

David Drew continued in close touch with his father and his brothers and sisters for the rest of his life. He never returned to the east, even for a visit, in spite of repeated appeals for him to do so. Apparently money was scarce and he must have felt that his large family required his presence at his Copperopolis home. Fortune never seemed to smile upon the Drew's, and the eastern members were in no financial condition to make the long trip either. His father died at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1902, at the age of 93, and David survived him by less than a year. All of the Drew's eight children married, and there were twenty grandchildren.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Watching Over My Shoulder

Like many of you, I spend considerable time doing genealogical research on my family lines.  My forays into the past often overtake my perception of where and when I am.   My mind and efforts constrict to a fine focus on the quest to find records, proofs, information and details about my ancestors lives.   I put headphones on, start the music or video library playing in a small window on my left screen for background ‘noise’ and leave the world to fend for itself. 

Frequently, I don’t remember eating, drinking or involvement in any other activity until I notice that the sun has arisen again and that I’m so stiff it is hard to stand up.  My sweet wife has apparently brought sustenance to me and checked on me from time to time to confirm that I’m in a ‘genatonic’ state and not a catatonic state, although I was on my own during the wee hours of the night.  

Death CertificateSunday afternoon has magically transformed into Monday morning.  If music was playing at the beginning of my session, it is still playing.  My library is large enough to play new songs continuously for days.  I’ve been unconsciously entertained the whole time.  If a movie was playing when I moved into my ‘genamension’ (genealogical dimension), it is still playing.  I have no recollection of restarting it over and over nor do I remember viewing any of its scenes.  The permanent ringing in my ears was offset by the soundtrack, which helped keep the world at bay so I could concentrate.

Glancing down, I realize that I’m holding a document in my hands from my quest.  On rare occasion it is the original that I’ve retrieved from my files, but usually, it is a copy that I’ve found while I’ve been traversing the halls of time.  Often, there are stacks of printed documents to the side of my keyboard, waiting to be filed in sleeves in my storage binders. 

Checking the records in my database, I note that I’ve dutifully transcribed them as sources in the records for the associated people.  Their respective document images have been cleaned up, straightened, resized, linked to my database sources and saved in the various source folders on the multiple storage drives that I use to store my records.  I marvel at all of the records that are now online and on pilot.familysearch.org.Over My Shoulder

Reading the image of the last found death record on my right screen brings a image of the person to my mind.  I know them on some deeper level than just the dates and places that I’ve discovered in my genamensional journey.  Often, I know what they sounded like, what they wore and how their houses and farms were organized.  

I am inseparably bonded to them from that point in time on.

Where did that knowledge come from?

Someone has been watching over my shoulder.

They have been whispering to me all night long, guiding my quest, cheering me on and celebrating when they are finally ‘found’.  They are mine now.  I am theirs.  The bond and ties have and will be made permanent in the coming days.

If you are intently involved in a similar quest for your own ancestors, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If anyone were to ask you about a member of your ancestry that you’ve worked diligently to find, then they need to be prepared to sit down and listen to you describe them and their story.  They have become part of the fabric of your being.  Indeed, you are inseparably bonded to them.

On the web, the story of Sara Beth’s quest to find her 5th great grandmother, Sylvia Lewis Tyler, in her blog postings resonates with us, because Family Bible we understand exactly how she feels.  We know why she is so excited to have touched Sylvia’s journal and to have found her grave.  We celebrate her discovery with her.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the discoveries of others who are seeking to know their own lineage and family history.  BYU Broadcasting has created a new program called, “The Generations Project” that will start airing in January, 2010.  It is already on my calendar with a reminder that will start flashing on January 1 to find the exact time of its broadcast.

The sneak preview on the site shows a young lady who has slipped into her own genamension as she progresses from painting concentric circles to start her new painting to their unknown ancestral relevance in the process of her ancestral quest.  The full show should be fascinating.

What are your genamensional stories?  Post them on your blog and send me a note.  I’ll link them here.