Friday, March 15, 2013

A Most Memorable Letter

You probably think I love the Ternes family so much because of all the interesting things that happened to them, which I posted about here, here, and here.  But that's not really true. I fell in love with Edith Mary Madeline Ternes Reynolds. And I think you will, too, when you read some of her letters.  I found the letters when Googling "Ternes Coal & Lumber Co." and stubbled across the Live from Tormville! blog, which originally posted about Edith.

Edith was interested in genealogy and was researching the Ternes family. She was corresponding with Sofee, another family member about their ancestors. She used recording tapes but typed out what she wanted to say beforehand. The transcript is what survived.  She starts off by introducing herself:

My name is Edith Mary Madeline Ternes Reynolds. I am your grandfather's adopted sister. I was introduced into the family when I was four and a half years old. My mother had died giving birth to her fifth child. My parents rented a house from your great grandparents. My mother was pregnant and on her way to the Ternesses to pay the rent. She tripped on a broken sidewalk near their home. Mother Ternes told me she saw her and went out and put a pillow under her head and called for help. She was taken to the hospital and died that afternoon. She was only 26 years old.
In the summer of 1911 I was taken by my aunt to a cottage on Hickory Island. I played in the water and on the beach with some other children until nap time. I was put down for a nap, when I awakened my aunt was gone and I found myself in a strange place without a single familiar face. At four and a half this can be a devastatingly traumatic experience. It was for me.

Anthony Ternes, Edith Mary Madeline's adopted grandfather
Mary Ann Horger, wife of Anthony Ternes, and Edith Mary Madeline's adopted grandmother
If I could find stuff like this at a garage sale, I think I'd start going instead of running as fast as I can in the opposite direction at the thought.

She also had an enlighted attitude about families and people, which I try to keep in mind when I uncover the less pleasant or tragic side of my ancestors.

If any family tree is shaken hard enough I am sure it will produce stories of heroes and horse thieves. Lives to be proud of, lives to imitate and some to regret. Your family tree, no doubt will be the same, so I think it is wise to remember that we are totally responsible for ourselves and our lives but we owe no debt to the past.
Isn't she wonderful? I'll share more, I promise. 

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