Tuesday, May 8, 2007


These past few months, I have had wonderful experiences that have made me more grateful for my heritage. A few months ago I started entering my genealogy and researching names and finding a few that needed work done. Then, my mom was cleaning out her apartment and turned four boxes of "genealogy" over to me for Amy & I to go through. Lovely. Well, over the past few weeks, I've sorted through and organized and really enjoyed it. Looking at pictures of people I know are related to me and wondering what their lives were like is magical. I even found one photo of a man who is a relative of mine with the exact same jaw structure -- no doubt taken from Grandma Hendrix's home after she died.

Then, this weekend I had two more fabulous experiences.

First, for months my Grandma Jones has been planning a day trip to Cherry, AZ, to show us where she grew up. So this Saturday, we trekked to Cherry - a small town between Phoenix and Prescott. Amy and I drove together as our hubbies both had to work. We only had 3 kids (Aidan went with Grandma Scott), but it was still a little rocky in the back seat!

When we finally got to the campground where we were going to picnic, Amy & I freaked out as we saw the temperature fall before our eyes. By the time we stopped the car, it said 42 degrees and it was sleeting (hmm, is that a word?). And I had almost worn shorts! Well, thank goodness my cousin, Jenny, had a some towels in her car and my other cousin, Laura, had a sweater she loaned to me. Picnicking with family we rarely see was a treat. And then we were off to see the sights. . . with Grandma as our tour guide. . .

Evan, Davyn, London, Ethan, Savannah, Amberlee, and Camryn

This is a pump made and used by my ancestors who stopped to settle in Cherry. John Allen & Julia Sessions (my Great-Great Grandparents) met and married on the way to Arizona. It makes me wonder, what made people finally stop and say "this is where we'll settle."

Here's a picture of all of us who came -

Me holding Savannah, Amy holding London, Grandma, Mom with Davyn, Corey & Rachel with Evan, Chris & Emily with Camryn & Amberlee, Mary, Larraine, Matt & Jenny with Gabby & Mia, and finally Laura and her son, Ethan.

Next stop: Cherry Cemetery. This was perhaps the most touching place. A cemetery full of my relatives. I love the aura of reverence and calm I feel in cemeteries. I was sure to walk around by Grandma so I could hear all her comments about who was who. She was very emotional as she saw graves of relatives and even some people she grew up with. One man, she said, was so handsome that she had a crush on him and hoped that her husband would one day look like him. I don't know if Grandpa looked like him, but I've seen his younger pictures and he was a catch!

Savannah at the entrance to Cherry Cemetery.

My Great-Great-Great Grandmother who crossed the U.S.,
leaving Illinois to settle there in Cherry, AZ.

London, Savy, Davyn, Mia, Ethan, Gabby, Evan, Amberlee & Camryn.

The cousins' kids at the grave of my Grandma's father, Hugh Gibson Allen. He was a runner in WWI who would run through the trenches to deliver letters and information -- a very dangerous task. Our family still has some of his letters that he wrote home when away at war.

Next stop: The Old Schoolhouse. This is where my Grandmother attended school with less than twenty other students -- Cherry is VERY small. I was surprised at how far away it was from the Ranch. Those stories ARE true about walking a mile in the snow . . . who would have thought! Interestingly enough, people still live in the schoolhouse today.

While we were stopped out front, Larraine came by our car and told Amy and I a story about when her Grandma & Grandpa took them to a social gathering down the hill and Grandma got so drunk that Grandpa left her there and took she and Donna home and tucked them in -- the only time she remembers him putting her to bed. My Grandma's mom was a little on the wild side.

Next stop: The Ranch.
This is the place where Grandma was raised and where my mom and her siblings remember coming to stay as children. It was a little decrepit, but still intact. As we walked around the groupings of little buildings, I could just imagine the bustle of ranch life. Each building had it's own function: a chicken coop, a root cellar, a barn for tools, etc.

The front door of the Ranch, where mom kept saying she remembered running in and out, in and out as a child. Just inside that door is a tiny little kitchen that made me grateful for my own kitchen equipped with modern appliances! I ask myself: could I have survived those days????

Grandma and mom (holding a very cold London).

Once again, the Jones Clan.

In the background is the Root Cellar that mom said scared her to death. She dreaded when Grandma Allen (my great-grandma) would asked her to get something in there. I don't blame her! All Amy and I could think of was -- "I saw something nasty in the woodshed!" -- for those of you who have seen Cold Comfort Farm.

The girls and I next to the Ranch -- those very walls that were (and probably still are) the home to numerous daddy-long-legs. I remember when I was young, hearing stories from mom about the daddy-long-legs at her grandma's ranch. Well, here I am, next to the daddy-long-leg walls!

A very cold Savannah who, shortly after arriving at the Ranch, got to wear my sweater since it was mighty cold and, like I said, Amy and I were so not prepared!

So that was our trip to Cherry - a walk through memory lane for Grandma and a journey into the past for all of us. It was more than I had expected.

Then Sunday night, Nate and I attended a ward fireside where a lady in our ward talked about her experiences in Nazi Germany. Amazing. When she finished, I felt so impressed about the importance of getting the information from these older people and learning about history first-hand before it's too late. What great stories they have for us!


Megan said...

That was really neat to read about. You should seriously post some of the old photos you've come across with genealogy. I've been dying to see them ever since you mentioned it a few weeks back.

Amy said...

I loved all your details Mandi. Can you add them to my post?!

Lillian said...

What a neat trip. It's great that you had a chance to see where your family came from.
Thanks for sharing your blog with me. It is so great to be able to catch up with you and see your sweet family. It has been a long time since our days together in La Bandera! I really was sad we only had a month together. But we had fun, right?
Keep posting!