2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 40 (Sept. 30 – Oct. 6): Harvest
I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.
If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!
When I first read “Harvest”… I thought Harvest Moon… which recently appeared in Connecticut on September 13th this year… and on a Friday! In researching the name, I learned it was so-named because it rises almost at sunset resulting in an abundance of extremely bright moon light. And what does this mean for the farmers… it aides them in harvesting their crops for a longer day, but it also signals that summer is ending.
We often think of “harvest” as the ending of summer… although harvesting for farmers actually never ends. From the moment the sun rises… and often even before… a farmer’s work is never done! They work the field to ready it for planting… they nurture it… and then they reap its bountiful harvest! Both of my grandfathers were farmers, as well as their fathers; my grandfather McKinley farmed somewhat on a larger perspective.
Granddaddy McKinley farmed to pay for his land, while also harvesting food for his family… it was all he knew. He had farmed on his father’s farm from the time he was old enough to work in the field… holding the plow and reigns of the work horses. Big families were needed in those days… and they all worked the fields. My mother often faked fainting spells to be carried out of the cotton field… which was one of grandaddy’s largest crops. Her brother, Leroy, hated to plow, but being the only boy, he was needed. Mama remembers how he grumbled whenever he was behind the plow, but in the letters he wrote home from the war, he often mentioned how he wished to be behind the plow one more time; he never made it home from Germany as he was killed by sniper fire during the war.
While grandaddy farmed larger crop fields like cotton, wheat, corn and soybeans, grandmamma harvested the family garden to supply them with food during the year. She canned everything out of that garden and what wasn’t canned, was kept in the family root cellar for preservation. While my mother felt she was only a poor “dirt farmers daughter”… she was always well fed! The harvest on the McKinley farm was very bountiful! My mother never bought any produce in the grocery stores… we always came home after visits with several bags of fruits and vegetables. Besides the produce, there were many fruits on the farm which produced. Blackberry bushes grew all over… which they harvested every July… grandmamma made blackberry pies, cobber and my favorite… blackberry jam! Everytime I buy a jar today, I think about that waiting jar she always kept on her kitchen counter for me.
Their fruit trees of apples, pears and peaches were bountiful all summer and yielded many jars of jam and fruit to last them until the next harvest. I was told recently that there were also two figs trees on the farm… grandmama made her famous fig cake from them. Unfortunately they must have withered away by the time I was old enough to spend time on the farm as I never ate a fig until I married and moved to Connecticut.
Grandaddy Bryan and me on his plowing mule
On granddaddy Bryan’s farm his harvest was on a smaller scale as he also worked in the hosiery mill, but he did have three small fields he worked. He grew corn, all types of vegetables, watermelons, and even peanuts. Cousin Paulette remembers helping him in the field and he’d put a watermelon in the “creek”… for when they rested under a shade tree… granddaddy would bust it open and they’d eat the heart. I remember him harvesting vegetables more so than granddaddy McKinley.
After pulling the peanuts up, Paulette and grandmama would, again, sit under a shade tree and pull the peanuts off to be washed and dried… life revolved around shade in the hot Georgia summers! Granddaddy did, what he often called, truck farming. He’d load up the car early in the morning, and and drive around Union Point selling fresh picked corn, green beans, and watermelons. He never believed in picking vegetables until they were to be used and even when he knew someone was coming to pick up an order… he’d wait until they arrived before heading down with his satchel slung over his shoulder, ready to pick their order. He believed fresh should always be freshly picked!
We never left granddaddy’s house without a mess of fresh corn just picked, along with an early morning harvested watermelon for me. (Granddaddy Bryan with great grandson Charles Bryan)
Sunday dinners were always from the freshest vegetables picked in the early cool of the morning… I can still close my eyes and envision that bountable table filled with harvested veggies of creamed style corn, black-eyed peas, butter beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, fried okra, and mashed potatoes. If granddaddy and I were lucky… grandmamma made us a sweet potato cobbler earlier that morning also! Those dinners were special… and I sure wish I had a photo of that back porch dinner table… instead of a memory in my head.
The “famous” back porch where we ate dinners in good weather. Grandmamma and Granddaddy Bryan with me, my son, Stephen, and daughter Melissa.
Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!
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