Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dear Araminta

{For the inspiration link-up at http://thewriteandthewrongword.blogspot.com. Write (hand-write or type) a letter to someone you've never met as part of the February Letter Writing Campaign. Letter writing is a lost art in this world of social media, texting, and short-hand.}

Dear Araminta,

It’s been a long time… 126 years, to be exact.  It’s been that long since you saw the sky, the trees, and  breathed the still, stifling air of a Georgia summer.  That number shocks me… could it really have been that long ago?  I only found you a few years ago, and you are as real to me now as you ever were then.

You fascinate me, Araminta.  I could call you Grandma, but I won’t… you are so much more than that.  You are an enigma, a woman of mystery, and I don’t want to reduce you to someone’s grandmother, wife, or mother… you saw enough of that during your lifetime.   I know that you lost your parents at a young age; that you were probably seen as a burden to be married off as soon as possible.  I know that you married young, and took on the identity of Mrs. J.H. Dunn, farmer’s wife from Georgia.

It was your name that drew me in at first.  Araminta… so lovely, and like nothing I’d ever heard before.  When I mention you (and I do, often), my husband looks at me with mock horror and says that it’s a good thing our daughters were born before I found you, otherwise there would be a little Araminta running around.  He doesn’t find your name quite as beautiful as I do.

I wonder if it is normal, in the process of researching your family history, to become attached to one particular person?  Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t, but I am certainly captivated by you, Araminta, and have been since the day I ‘found’ you and realized the inherent mystery in you, and the unexplainable connection I felt to you.

Did you know that those census-takers who visited your home butchered your name every time?  And that when you died there in Van Wert, your name wasn’t spelled properly on your tombstone?  It infuriates me, but I try not to let it get to me… I know that not everyone in rural Georgia was as smart as you.  I know from the census documents that it was you ‘just a farmer’s wife’ who knew how to read and write, and that many in your area (including your own husband) did not.  I try not to be upset with my Grandfather, or the stone-carver responsible for your memorial.  Maybe they did the best they could.

I don’t know where you came from.  I don’t know who your parents are, or what your life was like before you married my Grandfather.  I know that you were orphaned, you married young, and died young.  I also know one more thing:  you are my personal goal.  I will find out one of these days what your life was, who you were, and where you came from.  I will make sure that everyone knows that you were more than just a farmer’s wife.

That is my promise to you, Araminta. 

Your 3rd Great-Granddaughter,


  1. Beautiful! The name, the feelings behind this letter...all of it. Just beautiful. I'm from Georgia and am endlessly fascinated by my family history as well. I feel inexplicably drawn to my great-grandfather, though I never knew him.

    I loved this letter. I loved the richness of history behind it.

    Thanks for linking up!

  2. And in your research, may she live forever. I hope you do find all the things you are missing about her. Also, I have no idea why all software, starting with Google, thinks I'm in Prattville, Alabama. I'm in Montgomery, which is a good 20 miles away and the larger city by far. (I'm noticing your sidebar that says who is visiting and from where).

  3. I've always liked that name too, although I have no personal connections -- just a lot of English novels.

    You can find so much fascinating stuff when you look back into family history!