Thursday, April 16, 2009

Priscilla's Photo Keeps Me Busy

Odd how a life in the 19th Century that ended in 1892 has kept me so busy recently in 2009.

Although I surfed a bit (okay a lot) last night, I completely forgot it was Wednesday night--my appointed night to write. Never mind that I had a Wednesday doctor appointment and Wednesday evening meeting, I still forgot that it was Wednesday. That is okay. I was obviously too tired to write although I did write a paragraph on Facebook since some of my kids and grandkids congregate there and I like to see what they are up to just as I do all the wonderful bloggers that I follow.

Anyhow let me tell you why my schedule has been overfull. Codell Rodriquez, an area newspaper reporter, who was covering a program that the Trail of Tears Association board participated in at the John A. Logan Museum at Murphysoboro, heard me say I was looking for a photograph of Priscilla, the young girl freed from slavery on the Trail of Tears and who lived the rest of her life as a member of the Silkwood family in Mulkeytown.

As a result of putting my request in his story, Betty Baker, who descended from the Harrison family with whom Priscilla lived the last 16 years of her life after Mr. Silkwood died, phoned to say she had a photo. The photo taken in 1891 was a large gathering of the adult children and some grandchildren of Isham and Laura (Annear) Harrison. Betty's grandmother said the third adult from the left was Priscilla, who was considered a family member.

Codell wanted to do a follow-up story about our finding a photo, and I agreed since I was glad to help the TOTA with publicity before our April 26 meeting at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Morris Library, which is holding its rededication today of the remodeled library. Then Codell's paper moved his deadline up on him, and suddenly when I was supposed to be preparing for trip to Freeport, I was going to town for the interview and also passing photos on to Dr. Herman Peterson at the SIUC library, who made a special trip to our village to pick them up. (There were other photos of many members of Harrison family--unfortunately no individual picture of Priscilla.)

When I wandered into the kitchen Monday morning after our triip and Easter Sunday activities, I was somewhat shocked to see Codell's story on the front page. I have been covered up with emails and phone calls ever since. Some who phoned or wrote also descended from the Harrisons, some have Priscilla's hollyhocks growing in their yards, and some had been just been thrilled with memories stirred about Mulkeytown, and so forth.

I have Writers Guild tonight and it is a Critique Night, our first in 2009, and I don't think I have anything to share. Maybe I will find something. Anyhow I decided I better blog before I leave home for INR reading and trip to Carterville.

If you are interested in more about Priscilla, check the Southern Illinoisan story:

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