Saturday, February 18, 2012

About Matilda

DSC08019_edited-1 {photo of Matilda late in her life…very blurry, but lovely all the same…}

Matilda…I don’t know as much as I’d like to about Matilda, but she’s filled my thoughts for days now…

I do know she was an antebellum Virginia wife and mother.  Her husband was a well-loved country doctor, as well the owner of a large 1600-acre plantation.

Matilda Shepherd Young 11_edited-1 {Matilda in earlier years…none of my photographs of Matilda are very clear—none are originals, but I’m glad I have anything at all…}

The thing I love knowing most is that Matilda and her husband Absalom felt that slavery was wrong in every conceivable way…so they had only paid workers on their plantation, while those all around them were kept going by slave labor.  That’s a wonderful thing to know…

plantation {lovely Virginia plantation photo found online}

I know that she was brave and hardy. Giving birth to sixteen children and raising more than half of them to maturity in those days was no easy task.   She gave birth to her last child—my great-great grandmother, Sarah, during the Civil War…what images that conjures in my mind…more stories for other days…

I know she was quite a seamstress, making all the family clothing and household linen by hand.  Her daughter Sarah wrote,

DSC08018_edited-1 {beautiful cameo image and gilded frame found in Crafty Secrets’ “Creating with Vintage Patterns” CD}

“I can still see mother as she worked over her small spinning wheel.  She spun the thread and then dyed the yarn with herbs she gathered from the woods.  The only linen she purchased was that which went into my father’s shirts.  My father wore tailored suits, but my mother made everything else.  All the sewing was done by hand in her beautiful, precise stitches…”

DSC08025_edited-1 {my page was stitched with Matilda in mind…a good, old-fashioned feather stitch…but my hand skills are not in the same league as Matilda’s, so it’s a machine for me!}

I know that, after her husband’s untimely death shortly after the end of the war, she sold as much as she could, then left her home and all that they had for the far off territory of the Wild, Wild West, and a new life to be forged there…


…and I know that Matilda smoked a pipe.  A brown,  glazed clay pipe.


How do I know such a little detail?  Because it’s one of my most treasured possessions.  Carefully kept for over a hundred years by the women that came after Matilda…still shiny and nearly perfect…

DSC07994_edited-1 {the little, old clay pipe, gently placed in a box for years—was lovingly labeled by Matilda’s great-granddaughter, my great-grandmother, Estella}

Such an odd thing for my family, too, as we are a family of generation after generation of NON-smokers!  It actually tickles me no end to picture this little great-great-great grandmother of mine…


…sitting, perhaps back on that Virginia plantation porch so long ago, relaxing with her husband after a long, hard day…crickets chirping, fireflies lighting in and out of their large, ancient oak and sugar maple trees…pipe in hand as they talked into the night…

DSC08015_edited-1 {the newest page for my heritage story album…little snippets of Matilda’s life, just to remind me…}

Matilda…I wish I knew more about you, but maybe I know just a bit more than I thought I did…


P.S.  Sorry I haven’t visited or posted this week…got bitten by the big, bad flu bug!  Starting to feel better, though!  Hope you’re all staying far, far away from it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Bridal Shower


The beautiful, young Dutch girl fell in love.—deeply in love. The object of her affection was the village miller…he was handsome, he was generous, and he was poor.  He most likely had no money to speak of as he had the habit of giving anything he had to anyone he found in need…and the young girl loved this about him.

But she was the daughter of a very wealthy man…a man who looked down on the miller and those like him.  Someone like that would never be good enough for his daughter.


When the miller asked her  father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, the wealthy man flew into a rage—he forbade the young man  from ever even looking at his daughter again.  He had other plans in mind for her…a wealthy landowner who was very willing to marry the young girl.

She wept, she plead, but nothing could change her father’s mind.  If she were to go against his will, she would be forever disowned by him.  “If you go to nothing, he said, “you go with nothing.”


The townspeople, who all loved the miller for his kind heart and generosity, took pity on the pair.  Although none of the villagers were very wealthy themselves, they all had something to give the young couple who were determined to be together.

A procession of caring souls formed from the village to the mill—each one bringing gifts and good wishes to the pair.  The miller could scarcely believe his eyes, but the girl looked lovingly into those eyes and said, “He who gives everything will never be without.”

Dutch kiss_edited-1

When the procession was over, the couple was amazed at the pile of gifts so generously given…thanks were offered to all, and a joyous celebration began. 

The girls’ father, hearing all the noise coming from the village, went to see what all the fuss was about.  When he saw what the villagers had done, his icy heart melted…he felt so ashamed for all he had said and done.

Embracing his daughter, he gave permission to marry this man so obviously highly esteemed by all.  And to thank the village, a marriage feast, to which all were invited.


And the bride and groom lived happily ever after.

I love this sweet story—I’d never heard it before this week.  It is, supposedly, the over-400-year-old origin of our modern-day bridal showers…a time for friends and family to gather to bring gifts to the bride-t0-be, wish her well, and get her started off in her new life in style!

DSC07958_edited-1 {a little card made today for the bride-to-be…a lovely vintage image found on Pinterest…my favorite haunt!}

I was invited to one this weekend…a girl I’ve known since she was just 12 years old…now a lovely young woman who’s chosen a lovely young man.  Neither are wealthy, but both are kind and caring…

…and I really do think they will live happily ever after.


See you soon with something new…


{This is my adaptation of the lovely bridal shower legend, which can be found in various  forms and various places…here are a few…Version One, Version Two, Version Three}

Sweet vintage Dutch Valentines found online