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1900 US Census

1900 US Census

I have spent the better part of this summer looking for my grand-father.  No, not a living-breathing man, but a man who has turned to dust along with any sign of his beginnings or his middle.  All I have is his end.  Death by alcoholism in Louisville Kentucky July 29, 1904.

I’ve done a lot of genealogy research over the years, tracing my mothers family back to Maryland in the 1600’s.  I’ve followed my paternal grandmother’s folks from England into Pennsylvania and then into Kentucky and Indiana.  Always my attempts would uncover just a little more.

Now there’s George.  My proverbial brick wall.  I have to do this research, but only the Lord knows why.  He sticks in my craw, that’s all.  My dad never knew his dad. My dad only knew his mom from the age of 16 until she died in 1941.  He spent the years after George’s death in an orphanage, because his mom was too ill to care for him.  There were family members that could have taken him in, but I guess he was considered tainted because he was born ‘too soon’   My Daddy always wanted to know about his father and the family before him, but even after his reunion with his mother, no words were of him were spoken.

The fact is, there are no facts. Oh, there’s an incomplete marriage record of grandma and grandpa George crossing the state line to get a married quietly, without fanfare, no friends or family in attendance.  Quickly too, as grandma was 5 month pregnant with my dad.  And there’s death record, short and concise.  Oh, and there’s actually a story in the newspaper about his gruesome death by alcohol and a tiny blurb about services being held at his brother-in-laws home.

So, I’m chasing George and I’m becoming familiar with every Campbell family in the mid-west, central-plains that had a George, born between 1861 and 1869, in their family.  I’m gaining insight into the lives of these people, the difficulties they faced, how they moved about and why.  It’s been such an educational experience.  In the end, maybe I’ll catch up with George and know who he was and why.  Maybe I’ll have to wait and meet him in heaven, though I wonder if he’s there.  In the meantime, I have a spreadsheet over 500 entries long that covers from 1870 to 1940 of a man (or men)  named George Campbell.  I will share what I know if you will share what I don’t know.

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what is this digital world

that brings on life so impulsively

no toppings no relish no savor

once the inflections in your voice

spoke volumes to me

now the text I hold in my hand

has no expression

the warmth is lost to lol

perhaps already a passe’ phrase

how to preserve love letters

not written

in this virtuality

of urgent gratification

wastebaskets empty

of balled up mistatements

images that paint themselves

instantly

across the screen

pixels not vellum

no longer reserved for special

aunts and uncles and grandmothers

never to reside

in the attic boxes

life moves in nanoseconds

with memories that die

with the mind that held them

unpreserved

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