Monday, March 8, 2010

Fearless Females #8 Grandmother Sigford's Love Affair With Words

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters?  Share an entry or excerpt. Thank you to Lisa at The Accidental Genealogist for the prompts for Fearless Females celebration of Women's History Month. Although I don't have a diary, journal or a collection of letters from my mother or grandmothers, I do have memories of wonderful words.

One of my early blog topics centered around My Mother's Poetry Book. The family love affair with words started with my mother's mother, Grandmother Sigford, born Agnes Laura Keyes. As I look back among Grandmother Sigford's folks, I think it must have been the influence of her father and his family. The Keyes were a well educated family for that time and place and from the handwritten wills that I have examined, the older men, who were raised in Tennessee, wrote with a fine hand. In eastern Oregon where my grandmother was born and raised, it was not unusual for Keyes young people to be sent to Salem or Corvallis for their high school education.

In about 1896, my 15 year-old grandmother left the family ranch outside of the small eastern Oregon town of Mitchell to go to high school in Salem, the state capitol. There she honed her love of words. I remember as a child that if I promised to be very careful, she would open the glass-fronted book case and lovingly take her high school Elocution Book from the shelf. She would then place the book on the kitchen table, which of course had been wiped clean. Then, if my hands were very clean, I would be allowed to look at the pictures, read the poems and stories, and -- once in a while -- she would read to me. Her voice was softer and more like a song during these sessions. I am so fortunate to have had these experiences. The images of those short moments have stayed with me all of these years.

In my collection of family treasures, I have my Grandmother's Children's Friend,which was given to her in 1888, as well as the poetry book she gave to my mother. I still mourn the loss of the wonderful Elocution Book that I remember from my childhood; it was lost due to water damage. However, I do have and will always have the love of words that my Grandmother gave to me.


  1. OH, how sad, to loose that memory/book. As usual, your post drew me in, you spin such wonderful stories.

  2. Oh, for the days when people studied elocution! Your grandmother's talent and passion for words was obviously passed down.