Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grandma and the Prince - Part 21 - Barbara Bretton

Congratulations to Cheryl C, my August winner. All I need is your mailing address and we're in business. Click HERE and you're halfway there!

I loved the title of Hillary Clinton's autobiography: Living History. Isn't that what our family stories are: history alive and real in a way no textbook could ever duplicate.

Here's another chapter from my Grandpa Larry's life, again in his own words.

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<--Grandpa's Uncle Billy, the one who lived in the log cabin with his grandmother Eliza

As told to me in July 1996 by my 100 year old grandfather, Loren McNutt. This is a verbatim transcript. His words speak for themselves:

I think my grandpa Henry was born in 1826. Born in Kentucky, exactly where I never heard. I never knew him very well. In fact, I do not remember him paying much attention to me at all. I was one of his youngest grandchildren and the few times I saw him, he was a white-haired old gent at my grandmother’s log cabin. He was not there very much as he spent most of his time in those days at the Soldier's Home in Leavenworth, Kansas In fact, he died there and I never heard anyone say anything about his death or funeral. But I guess he was a hardworking man because they raised six children and I guess he was pretty tough too as were most of the settlers in the early days of the Kansas Territory, They had to fight against pretty hard odds.

You see, in those days before the Civil War, the Territory was planning on being admitted to the Union and there was a terrific and bloody fight going on between the Free states and the pro-Slavery units in the form of guerilla warfare. Part of the settlers were pro-slavers and part were free-staters. The state was being overrun by guerillas being sent in by the pro-slavery people to try to force the people by fear when the election came up to vote to make Kansas a slave state. Of course, you know from history, they did not succeed in their effort.

Among the worst offenders was the guerilla band headed by Quantrill, a bloodthirsty villain who sacked and burned the town of Lawrence, killing all the men and teenage boys. That was about thirty miles from where my grandparents lived. My grandfather was a member of a group of settlers banded together under the leadership of John Brown, the abolitionist, and his sons.

My grandfather was not an abolitionist and most of the other men with him were not either. They were just fighting to protect their homes and not be pushed by fear into voting for something they did not believe in. Then came the battle of Osawatomie, a town where my only living sister lives today. I have read and probably you have too, that eastern historians refer to that battle as the Osawatomie Massacre. Well, it was not at all. It was an out-and-out battle between two groups. John Brown and his men caught the pro-slavery group on the hillside west of town; a battle ensued and the pro-slavery group were wiped out. John Brown was a zealot and inclined to be fanatical in his beliefs, but most of his men were not and they did not follow him to Harper’s Ferry. To show the regard for John Brown that the Kansans had for him, I say this.

Around 1910 or thereabouts, the State of Kansas decided to make the battleground on that hillside in the outskirts of Osawatomie a state park and name it the John Brown Memorial Park. They took down, piece by piece, John Brown’s old log cabin from a few miles west of town and erected it, piece by piece, on the battle sight. Then came the day of dedication of the Park and what a day! I was there. They brought a troop of Cavalry from Fort Riley and they camped on the battleground and brass bands came from Ottawa and Lane and the local Anti-Horsethief Association’s drill team and probably 15,000 people from the countryside showed up too. They escorted the guest speaker who was to make the dedication address.

It was Teddy Roosevelt! What a thrill for me. Late in the afternoon, after the speeches were over, he was escorted back to his train which was waiting for him. He went to the back platform of the rear car and the throng was allowed to file by to shake hands with him. I was among them. As I reached the platform, he reached down and shook my hand and it was definitely the greatest thrill of my life.

As the old saying goes, “I never wanted to wash my hand again!”

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Yes, I'm doing another book giveaway this month. Just leave a comment and you're entered.

And yes, I do have some books coming out over the next few weeks. The trade-sized reprint of SOMEONE LIKE YOU hits the stores next week and book #3 of my Sugar Maple Chronicles (magic! knitting! patterns!) will be available on November 2nd.

And again, you can always find me here and here and here.

See you next month!


Mary said...

I love that picture. I love looking at all the old pictures of my granparents and their siblings. I am the picture keeper so I have all the family pictures.

CrystalGB said...

What a wonderful story. It is so amazing that he met Teddy Roosevelt.

Laney4 said...

Teddy Roosevelt? Cool story! As always, thanks for sharing.

runner10 said...

Great pic. I love old photos.

cheryl c said...

Thanks, Barbara! :-) I am your August winner. Unfortunately, nothing happens when I click on the link. So here is my email address:

castings at mindspring dot com

gigi said...

How lucky you are to have such a history. Your Grandpa seems to have been a hard working man.
I don't know much about my descendants no one kept much of a history.

traveler said...

I enjoyed learning about your Grandpa. What wonderful stories you always have.

petite said...

Meeting Teddy Roosevelt must have been amazing and memorable. Great photos.

Estella said...

You always have such great stories! Imagine shaking Teddy Roosevelt's hand.

Michele L. said...

Wow Barbara! What an amazing slice of history you shared with us about your Grandpa.

My mom told me that her dad was a great baseball player. He played in the minor leagues with a Chicago team. I have a great black & white photo of him in his baseball uniform! It is so cool!
It sure is fun to find out about your ancestors!

I love the cover to your new book SOMEONE LIKE YOU! It reminds me of your book cover GIRLS OF SUMMER where you see a pair of legs on a dock. Such a beautiful, calming scene! Congrats on your new book!

Daz said...

What a wonderful story from your Grandpa. Thanks for sharing.

Alison said...

I love hearing more about your family - it's such a shame we can only get an episode once a month, but I guess you're busy doing other things!

Laurie said...

What a colorful history!

I'm looking forward to your November Sugar Maple Chronicles release.

I must get back to my knitting...I let it go for the summer...

Pat Cochran said...

Families can be so interesting! I love hearing about yours! Thanks
for sharing!!

Pat Cochran

Barbara Bretton said...

I tried to leave a comment yesterday but Blogger (for some reason) didn't like my credentials. (I'm death to electronic communication of all kinds.) Thanks so much for the comments. Sharing these stories is so much fun for me and the fact that you're enjoying them is delicious swirly icing on a gossipy family cake. Seriously: you're the highlight of my month!

runner10 said...

Great post. Love the old pic.