“UNCONSECRATED GROUND” (2) ~ Postcript to “Katie 1903” . Novel .

“UNCONSECRATED GROUND”  (2) … POSTSCRIPT ”                                                                                         Wonders of the www

I never cease to be amazed at how intimately the internet can connect us – sometimes with inevitable sad results, but more importantly and more frequently, with surprising, happy, amazing results.

I first learned of my great aunt Katie Dietz’s 1903 death, in 1988 when I met Velda Gilbert. Velda told me the sad story.

I was haunted by Katie’s story. How did she become pregnant? Who was the father? Was is it unrequited love; was the man married; was it a rape? What happened to him – did he suffer any repercussions or did he go on to marry, have children, and live !?

Also, I was haunted by the thought of an unmarried great-great aunt, single at 29 years of age, living on a rural Muskoka farm with her immigrant Dad and a brother. No woman to talk to – Mom dead a few years earlier, sisters dead or married and away to raise their own families. How lonely for Katie. No cars. Walking, or horse and buggie, the only mode of transport for reaching a train station, or visiting family a few towns away.

CARRIE DIETZ ROBERTSON abt 1890-95 – Katie’s older sister & my paternal grandmother
Abt 1915 Front - Katie's sisters: 'Ettie' (Margaret Dietz Wise), CARRIE DIETZ ROBERTSON & Minnie Dietz (who was injured in the swing accident as a child - see April 8, 2013 blog about Katie - 'Unconsecrated Ground'). Back - Unidentified man & woman.
Abt 1915 Front – Katie’s Sisters: ‘Ettie’ (Margaret Dietz Wise), Grandma CARRIE DIETZ ROBERTSON & Minnie Dietz (who was injured in the swing accident as a child – see April 8, 2013 blog about Katie – ‘Unconsecrated Ground’). Back – Unidentified man & woman.
Abt 1912 - Katie's brother Conrad Dietz, wife Aggie holding niece Margaret Robertson Haughton. Behind - Carrie Dietz Robertson. I do not know who the other 2 women are (back L & far R)
1912, almost 10 years after Katie’s death – Katie’s brother, Conrad Dietz, wife Aggie holding niece Margaret Robertson Haughton. Behind – Carrie Dietz Robertson. (I do not know who the other 2 women are, back L & far R)

Katie’s story to me was symbolic of all women who found themselves isolated, pregnant, not understanding much about how their bodies worked; feeling the intense social and religious intolerance and disgust for an unmarried, pregnant girl or woman, with no blame placed on the man involved. The unfairness of it still stuns me, causes my teeth to clench and my chest to tighten.

Now in 2013, one hundren and ten years following Katie’s suicide, another connection, this one due to the internet, and Katie is once again talked about and remembered …….. 

  • “Hello Linda,
    I came across your story entitled,” Unconsecrated Ground“, today. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone else, other than my family, knew about Katie, so long after the fact. Well written and presented.

    I was in Germania in 2007 visiting family and I walked down to have a visit with Katie. I don’t recall seeing the stone there anymore but my wife says there was a small portion still visible, the rest having sunk into the soil. I felt very uncomfortable with the fact that she was buried down in that corner all by herself. Times were different in those days I guess. Still!! You do of course know the whole story I assume? Very tragic.

    My great great grandfather Heinrick Gilbert was the first internment in the cemetery in 1872 and the land for church and cemetery was donated by my great grandfather William Gilbert. The big old house across from the Church was the original Gilbert homestead although the old section of the house had been torn down in the 1970’s.

    I am kin to Susannah Dietz who married a first cousin , Valentine Schinbein. Also , my uncle Bob Gilbert often spoke of friend Billy Dietz. Nice chatting!
    Gary Gilbert

    PS: Aunt Velda is still alive at 97 years old.”

    • It is so wonderful to hear from you Gary. You have no idea. This again validates Katie’s existence. And to learn that your Aunt Velda is still alive – so very wonderful and amazing. Please give her a hug from me & tell her how very much I appreciated the serendipitous moment when I knocked on her door and she was there and so willing to share the incredible story of Katie. It has always haunted me. I am so pleased that you touched base. You mention Susannah & Billy Dietz – I have William b 1875 who lived on the farm with Adam & Katie when all the rest had gone, married, etc. But who are Billie & Susannah? Who were there parents – Conrad’s line? May I share your note on my story?

      Gary said yes, so there you have it – the world wide web bring together unlikely people and stories.

    See original post: “Unconsecrated Ground” . Good Blood . Katie 1903 .” posted 2013/04/08 https://inknpetals.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/unconsecrated-ground-good-blood-chapter-1/              




CONFINEMENT . ‘Good Blood’ . Letitia 1938 .

King - May's embroidery 1916 jpeg

As I stumble through life, I often gain reassurance from the mental image of my genes descending from a long line of noble women and men. That was due to the persuasive words my maternal grandmother spoke to me at the cusp of my womanhood. She often reminded us: “Now always remember, you come from good blood.”

When Grandma Letitia May (Wood) Kincaid said this, the words were not necessarily an admonition to uphold a good family name. They were a beacon, lighting my way during life’s difficulty and uncertainty. If the truth be told, it was probably Letitia herself, and not her words that guided me. For she was strong without ever trampling on the toes or the dignity of anyone. She was calm but she confronted obstacles with a quiet, deliberate, determination.


North Bay . March 1938

The baby was due any day. It would be her tenth since 1917.

King 1915 Lettitia May individual portrait copy

Letitia May, before her 1916 wedding, & the 1938 birth of her 10th child

“I’ve been having babies for twenty years!” The thought suddenly stunned her as she placed a neat pile of newspaper in the kitchen wood stove to sterilize them. She had waited until the wood burned down to flaming embers.

Letitia May was making ready for her home-birth. A half hour later, she used her oven mitts to remove the hot papers and insert them into cotton cases. This would make the papers more comfortable to lie on, when her time came. And when her water broke, the padding would protect her bed. May knew well enough to be properly prepared for the inevitable combination of bodily fluids – the blood, urine, feces and amniotic fluid, all natural results of child bearing.

Other preparations were necessary, as well. She would call Nurse Ryckman, the midwife, who would come for May’s confinement. Even though she was a trained midwife, Nurse Ryckman would not deliver May’s baby. May always called the doctor to carry out that procedure.

May laughed at the old-fashioned term, ‘confinement’. There really was no such thing any longer. “And thank heaven for that.” she thought.

She remembered when she had the first few children, she was confined, imprisoned really, in her bed for two entire weeks. Medical experts of the day, advised that it was unhealthy to be up and about any earlier than that. “Day three is when the milk comes in. On the ninth day, there is a danger of hemorrhage”.

This time she would be up and about, but she would take it easy for a week while Nurse Ryckman tended the baby’s bathing and dressing. Her job would also entail helping May with her bed baths, and cleanse her bottom to reduce the possibility of infection. She would do the daily laundry and prepare meals for the family. But, feeding the baby was May’s responsibility.

“I’ll lay down as I always have when I nurse”, May thought. “It’s the only way to get some rest especially when sleep is in short supply.”

Over the past weeks, May prepared a layette. She refused to allow poverty to be an excuse for not providing her new baby with a new wardrobe. Hand-me-downs would begin later. Purity Flour bags and Atlantic Sugar bags were plentiful and made of sturdy cotton, but several washings softened the fabric so it was suitable for a newborn. An imaginative housewife could find a plethora of uses for those cotton bags, May thought with more than a little pride. She used the bags to make pillow cases. Then she delicately embroidered lacy scallops around the open end. She then ironed them without a wrinkle. She made these often. Every bed in the house had pillow cases made just that way. And it was these flour bags May used to cover the newspapers that would pad the hard kitchen table, or protect her bedding when ‘her time’ came.

King May 1970 - crochet jpeg

Letitia’s beautiful crochet edge

The layette she worked on would consist of six soft flannelette nighties with gathered necklines, two dozen new diapers, and six receiving blankets.

May sat in her comfortable wooden rocker, the colour of tea not steeped over-long. This was where she sat to create her handwork. The rocker came from Ernie’s parent’s first home in Sturgeon Falls, Northern Ontario, back in 1883. May was ‘feather stitching’ the neckline of the nighties. It was quicker and easier than smocking. The pink and blue threads would extend across the front of the wee nighties.

“To cover both possibilities!”, she thought.

As her hands flew, the smooth, silver embroidery needle punctured the soft cotton with sureness and precision. The three strands of pale embroidery floss created meticulous, V stitches like rows of crossed-wooden fencing punctuating a snowy field. While she decorated the first nightie her thoughts indulged in rare flight from the harsh and exhausting demands of the present. For unknown minutes she luxuriated in remembering random snippets of her past.

“At sixteen, I was off to North Bay to become skilled in a trade”, she laughed to herself … “A tailor’s apprentice. Then came my first position in Mr. Duncan’s Tailoring shop.”

“Never mind” she thought, “the training has held me in good stead. This new baby will have a well made layette and the older children are learning to do neat, even stitches.” She laughed to herself, recalling the recent pouts when her girls, Jean and Mable, were told to rip out their less-than-perfect stitches and begin again.

Her thoughts wandered to the wedding picture of Ernie and herself up on the piano. Their wedding, performed by the Presbyterian minister, took place at her mother, Sophia Wood’s home in South River, a small village without sophisticated businesses, like photography studios found in larger centers. So, two weeks after the wedding, May and Ernie had a commemorative portrait done at a studio in North Bay. In it, Ernie sat, looking dapper and well-groomed. He wore a black suit with a white shirt. The stiffly starched collar arced down like a birds wings cradling the wide silver tie. It was knotted precisely, then bunched out softly below. May recalled that Ernie had purchased the tie from Mr. Duncan for the occasion. Mr. Duncan always brought in handsome ties from Eaton’s in Toronto, to go with the suits he tailored in the shop. Some were modestly priced. Others were made of fine silk.

King - Ernie, May Wood Wedding 1916 jpeg

“Ernie looked quite like Prince George – attractive and dignified”, she mused. May considered that more than a decade later, her husband was known as ‘Duke King’. His railroad buddies on the TNO Railroad (Temiskaming & Northern Ontario) called him Duke because he was so sharp and well-groomed. They had even jokingly presented him with a prize for being the best looking man on the TNO. The prize was a briar pipe nestled in a black case lined with red felt.

Her wanderings returned to the wedding photo, to the image of herself standing behind Ernie, just over his left shoulder. She had sewn the white organdy blouse, as gossamer as a butterfly’s wing. It had a small, rounded collar and it tucked in to her long black skirt made of the finest worsted. It fell in soft folds from her narrow waist.

She remembered the mixed emotions of that day and her commitment to doing her best with whatever life would impart.

“And impart it did”, she thought. “Here I am, 20 years later, about to have my tenth child. I dare not even think of how tired I am.”

May began stitching the second nightie. Her delicious solitude would extend until two-year old Inez woke up from her nap. Then everything would begin to happen at once. The end-of-school-bell at Brook Street School would ring, releasing scurrying children like a river from a dam. Six year old Jack would announce his arrival followed by Mable who was nine and Jean, ten, each banging doors behind them. Next, would be the senior contingent – her High School children, full of mischief and baloney. Alvin, in Grade nine, Don, sixteen and Viola seventeen. May’s oldest two children were women now. Evelyn, was nineteen with a good job at Patton & Kennedy’s Real Estate office.

“And here I am”, she thought, “having another baby when several of my children are old enough to be doing the same. This is one of those thoughts best not to dwell on!”

How their lives were changing. How satisfying it was to be raising this clan of bright, responsible beings. But too, how tiring it all was. Though May did not allow herself to complain, even in her mind, or a smoothly run household would be an impossibility. She dared not consider, am I happy? Am I making a difference? What is this all about? May believed that self-indulgent thoughts such as those were counter productive. They robbed you of the steel in the belly you needed to carry on with life and the living. They prevented you from helping those worse off.

So she never dwelt on happiness, whether she was or she wasn’t. She simply did what was required, to feed and raise a large family and she did it competently. She thought that if she did dare take a moment to consider her own happiness, she supposed she would say she was happy. Happiness was a choice, after all. And she had long ago decided that the alternative was unacceptable. Besides, this was the path she had chosen. Now, her task was to make it a smooth path with order, contentment and perseverance.

“To thine own self be true” she advised her children and your decisions will be right for that time and in that place. She had lived by that belief and it had stood her in good stead. It was a guiding light, like knowing she came from good blood, from stalwart, stoic women who did what needed to be done in their lives.

May surveyed her handiwork on the second nightie. Feeling the softness with her finger tips evoked a longing for the child that soon would be here. She folded it lovingly and put it aside. She picked up another and as she stitched, she planned the logistics of twelve people living within the walls of this home. Soon, two adults and ten children, would be contained within this small area. In her thoughts, she mulled over the situation as it now was and what changes would have to be made.

“The five oldest girls have the largest bedroom upstairs. The three boys have a smaller room facing the garden. Ernie and I will have little Inez and the new baby in with us in the third and last bedroom. After Myrtle’s wedding, two year old Inez can move in with the rest of the girls and the baby will stay with Ernie and I.”

That settled, May continued to embroider the baby’s nightie as the aroma of stew wafted up from the kitchen. Today was Monday, so that meant left-over roast from Sunday. At noon, she had chopped up the beef, plenty of fresh potatoes, carrots, onions and celery and placed everything in a large covered roasting pan. She poured the wonderful gravy from yesterday over everything and put it in the hollow legs of her family.

As she stitched, May considered their busy lives at home and in the community. Ernie often worked double shifts at the TNO and May did the cooking, laundry, sewed household linens and clothing for the children and herself, as well as breast-feeding and caring for each baby that come along.

In addition to their school work and their jobs, the girls cleaned the kitchen, bedrooms and living areas. The boys chopped the firewood and carried it to the basement. They emptied the ashes and took them outside.

Outside of the home, May belonged to the Women’s Circle at church and Rebecca Lodge which advocated ‘Friendship, Love and Truth’. Ernie was an Elder at Calvin Presbyterian Church with all the duties that entailed. He was committed to Oddfellows’ Lodge whose motto was ‘Educate the orphans and relieve the distress’.

May considered those philosophies and the ethics inherent in believing them and putting them into practice. So many families were suffering financial hardship in the aftermath of The Great Depression, still taking its toll. Even with his own nine children to feed, Ernie took time off work when an emergency arose. She remembered his recent visit to a newly widowed woman to chop wood for her so she could keep her house warm. She recalled meetings with lawyers on behalf of widows whose husbands died without wills. With money supplied by Oddfellows’, Ernie bought groceries for needy families. “And,” May thought, “We don’t have a car, so he walks!.”

As she considered all these good works, she worried about his capacity for evil. She felt ambivalent about this man who was her husband. She was proud of this part of him, but was horrified at other beliefs he held.

A few years before, her strongly opinionated, WASP husband joined an organization, a brotherhood new to Northern Ontario … one that she had long heard about in frightening stories originating in the United States. There wasn’t much information about this new group but Ernie felt the ideals of the Ku Klux Klan aligned with his own in regards the ever-growing, ever more vocal, French community in North Bay. May expressed surprise that there was a Klan group in Ontario. She didn’t know much about them but thought they were only in the States. May thought their philosophy was at odds with the other community-minded, benevolent organizations to which Ernie belonged.

“We’re against the Frogs, not against the Niggers.” he explained, as though that made it alright – as though it justified his beliefs and his joining the Klan. It just made May feel sick.

May and Ernie had words several times about this, but to no avail. In the bottom dresser drawer, lay the hated, tell-tale, white cotton uniform. May cringed at the thought of it being in her home. She was mortified when her husband became involved. She knew many of his railroad friends felt as he did but May could not accept this. It ate at her. She decided for her own sanity and for the children, she had to keep her head high and keep up an illusion of family unity. But she hoped Ernie would come to his senses before anything alarming happened to impact their family.

She thanked her lucky stars, the day he was frightened into quitting the group. He had thought the local members were an harmless bunch … until he read in the paper that a man had been murdered in the Bracebridge area. The murder was attributed to the Klan. Suddenly, Ernie realized that this was much more than he had bargained for. He did not believe in going to those extremes to show his disapproval of the French population within his midst.

Even as she stitched for the new life within her, May shuddered. She took several deep breaths and soon began to relax knowing that sad part of their history was mercifully over.

May looked at the nightie now decorated in pink. She switched the thread in her needle to blue and wove in and out creating precise tiny stitches. Both colours ensured the gown would work for whichever gender the new baby would be. She knew she had to clear the cobwebs of scary  thoughts from her head and heart. She had to focus on the good in their lives. Her thought wandered to the routine matters of the family.

She had always been frugal. It was a lesson well taught and well learned. But she considered their family fortunate nonetheless. There was plenty of food on the table and good leather shoes to wear. That thought made her chuckle as she visualized Ernie’s weekly Saturday routine. Always meticulous, he lined up shoes for the entire family, near the furnace in the basement. Then he polished each ’til they shone like new pennies, all ready for church the next day.

May was thankful that Inez continued to sleep. “It must be the cool, fresh air coming in the window.” she decided.

She stopped stitching, laying her hands in her lap for a minute while her thinking and planning continued in the quiet of the afternoon.

“Considering everything”, May thought, “We’ve done well. So many worries. So many people to consider in our family. And I am proud of every one of them.”

She recalled the plethora of sayings that had become Ernie’s mantra. She thought she should stitch them into a sampler and hang it for everyone to see:

“Honesty is the best policy”

“Experience is your best teacher.”

“Your reputation is much easier lost than gained.”

“Honour thy father and thy mother.”

Ernie brought laughter to the table when refusing a plate of lamb, saying,

“The wool gets caught in my teeth.”

His intolerance was clear when he admonished the older children,

“A girl that smokes will do anything.”

He exhibited gruffness as he spewed,

“When you wear lipstick, it looks like a horses ass inside out.”

“Veal is nothing but unborn calf.”

But May also thought of Ernie’s gentleness, when he saw that one of the children was sad.

“Smile,” he would say, “you look like a motherless foal.”

And when he once talked of his own death, he told the family, “When I die, don’t everyone dress in black. Wear your bright colours. Red will be fine.”

May stirred her own values into the morality soup as well.

“You are the captain of your own fate.”

“Never criticize a man ’til you walk a mile in his shoes.”

“Judge not, lest you be judged.”

May felt this one had particular significance to her, in light of Ernie’s past association with that dreaded organization.

May wanted her children to feel pride in themselves, in their family and in the traits they had received from those who had come before.

“You come from good blood”

she regularly reminded them. May hoped they would carry that knowledge with them through life. And her favourite, Shakespeare’s immortal words,

“To thine own self be true.”

Laughter bubbled up from within, as she thought of the words of wisdom she imparted to her daughters,

“Keep your knees together and you won’t get into any trouble.”

Despite, or perhaps because of their child rearing techniques, the children were happy and responsible human beings. That was most important to May.

May heard Inez beginning to whimper in her crib. Solitude and stitching had come to an end. She folded her embroidery, pleased with the progress she had made this afternoon, not only with the embroidery on the six nighties, but with the plans she had finalized in her mind. The burden of resentment she often felt for Ernie’s dangerous escapade, began to roll off her shoulder. She felt free for the first time in a couple of years to accept the man she had married, with all his flaws and all his goodness.

She knew that, together, they could continue to face all the challenges and enjoy all the blessings that life would offer. She knew too, that soon, when the baby’s difficult trek into the world began, Ernie would take his usual place, as far away as he could from what was transpiring upstairs. He would sit motionless on a wooden chair in the cellar, hunched over, elbows on his knees, his hands over his ears. In front of the grey iron furnace and the coal bin, he would wait, hope and pray that all would be well. He would hope too, that the cries of agony would not reach down the two flights of stairs to his solitary perch. May knew this was where he hid out. Don and Alvie had teased their father about his escape the last time, when Inez was born.

A smile crossed her face.

“Everything is ready. I can go into labour now. Tonight, I’ll take a couple of heaping tablespoons of castor oil in a tall glass of orange juice. Then I’ll ask Myrtle, Evelyn and Vi to go with me for a long walk. That will get things moving!”

“Soon, we will be twelve.”

King - Ernie, May & Family abt 1938 jpeg

Letitia and Ernie with their ten children.


There is no intention to be disrespectful in the use of terms within this short story. Many of those words were commonly used at the beginning of the last century. And ‘political correctness’ was unknown until the last two or three decades. Language has evolved, and some people have become wiser, but in the interest of conveying that time and place … that small, rather isolated, tough railroad town, I chose to use the language used by some people when I was a young child .

Letitia May was gentile and considerate. I never heard her speak a harsh, derogatory or slang word. Ernie, however loved to bluster and shock, when he wasn’t being a thoughtful neighbour carrying out his many community services. 


SIFTING OUT THE LUMPS . ‘Good Blood’ . Bridget 1954 .

Sifting Out The Lumps

Sifting Out The Lumps


This had been home to five generations in the same family. The bones of the hundred-year-old house were foot-thick stones quarried right there in Dundas Valley. Crumbling mortar wound its way between the stones like a shallow creek in a rock-bed. At some point, a wooden addition was added to her front. This is where Bridget and Chas raised their four boys, the house squarely set on King Street, in Dundas, Ontario.

A century earlier, in the 1850’s, Chas’ maternal great-grandparents, Mary and Michael Burns, saved each dollar Michael earned as a cooper, or barrel maker, to build this house. Mary brought a hollow china statue from Scotland … a rougish Scottish Highlander decked out in his plaid. Tilted on his head was a flat wool cap centered with a red pom-pom. They called him Scottie. What made this figurine a story passed down through seven generations was Mary’s creative use of Scottie. He became their bank. Mary stuffed hard-earned bills up his middle, until there was enough to build their home.

SCOTTIE - Paupst, McGrath, Burns


Main Street in Dundas consisted of a few, modest stone or wood-frame dwellings and a dirt road. There were no sidewalks. Gardens flourished at the side or in back of each home yielding enough beans, peas, turnips, carrots, potatoes to be put down to carry each family through the winter. Mary and Michael even planted two chestnut trees. Or did they seed themselves? But, in any event, chestnut trees grew for a century and towered in their back yard, spreading overhead like majestic fans.

When Mary and Michael died, their daughter Mary raised her children there, then her daughter Mary did the same. And so it went, generation to generation. This was the home where Chas was raised. The aging stone edifice was like a member of the family, an aging Grandam who had served the generations well. It had seen their children born. It laid out their dead, and hidden within its stone walls, there existed a legacy of laughter and sadness.

Mary Burns + Wm McGrath

Generation 2 ~ Mary Burns (daughter of Mary + Michael Burns) + William McGrath

Ernie + Minnie

Generation 3 ~ Ernie Peters + Mary ‘Minnie’ McGrath (daughter of Mary Burns + William McGrath) 

After Chas and Bride married in 1936, his mother built a new brick home next door in which to retire and gave the dowager to the newlyweds.


Generation 4 – Chas (son of Minnie McGrath + Ernie Peters) + Bridget

By this time, roads were widened and paved. Sidewalks installed, taking away from front yards, so now homes often butted up against the sidewalks. Throughout their formative years, Chas and Bride’s four sons cracked, peeled and open nuts which fell from those tall chestnut trees that grew from seedlings a hundred years earlier when their great-great grandparents built the house in which they now lived. The soft, prickly green coverings of the chestnuts, once removed, exposed perfection of smooth-as-velvet mahogany shells. Those plentiful chestnuts covering the yard like a bumpy blanket, provided many hours of play and mischief for the boys.

And Scottie was still in evidence, on their grandmother, Mary Burns McGrath’s piano in the brick house next door. Scottie was always in view, always watching over the family.

The century-old home provided a plethera a memories. But it was like an aging dowager that dished out both humour and horror. Through the nineteen forties, decrepitude attacked the crumbling Grandam who had, by now, lived to a ripe old age. In post-depression, small-town Ontario, Bride and Chas, with their family of boys, did not have the monetary wherewithal to renovate. As a result their house dissembled into disrepair.

Her home was also the bane of Bridget’s life.

Her exasperated mantra told the tale, “This house is so old, it doesn’t keep out the cold. It just sifts out the lumps!”

Rats from Desjardins Canal and the nearby open dump, frequently found their way through openings in the old, foot-thick-stone walls, where mortar had crumbled away. Gavin tells of once using his pajama top to “bag” a rat and of Chas running out of his bedroom, stark naked, broom-in-hand, to divert one that was jumping for Gavin’s gonads.

The chill within those stone walls was another horrific but now laughingly told part of the memory pool of the four boys. Hot water bottles were placed in their cold beds to provide fleeting warmth. But one night, John’s fell out of the bed he shared with his brother, Gavin. In the morning, it was frozen solid on the floor.

bridget denvir paupst, charlie, greg, john, Jim Paupst

Generations 4 & 5 – Bridget + Chas abt 1945 with three of their four boys.  The youngest was not yet born.

Education and laughter were an obligatory part of survival at ’41 King’, as well as a dose of Celtic eccentricity and drama. Bridget was the Celt. Being intelligent and being tall were prerequisites for inclusion into her club. She foolishly forgot that her husband Chas and her one son John did not possess her tall-Duffy-genes. Despite that, she lined the boys up, back to back, to measure who was taller, as though that indicated a measure of their worth. The obsession with height and the back-to-back ritual was imposed upon anyone who crossed her threshold. Bridget was proud of her boys and did not hesitate to recount their charm and superiority to any available ear. Bride also bragged about the son who was not so tall since, in her psyche, even height placed second to accomplishment.

The family was poor. There was no furnace, only a space heater in the living room with pipes running across the dining room to the outside. One cold winter night, John, in trying to capture a little warmth, turned the heater to its highest setting. A pipe exploded and soot, accumulated for years, spewed forth, covering everyone and everything with its velvety black blanket.

Bride, responded in a deservedly dramatic outburst, “Mother of God, this can’t be happening!”

John remembers, “I got shit from everyone, even the squirrels.”

Their home had one cold water tap, no bathtub. Hot water was available only if heated on the stove. Hygiene for the family of six consisted of sponge baths or a run next door to Nana’s for a real bath. There were no closets, no doors, neither on the bathroom nor the bedrooms. An ineffective curtain provided only occasional privacy. But privacy was not a requirement in the life of four rambunctious brothers. In fact, each would take turns whisking the curtain open at the most inopportune times. As a result, Gavin is still obsessed with privacy. He locks his bedroom and bathroom doors to this day, seeking what was denied him in youth.

As mentioned, poverty was a fact of life.

Jim recounts, “We were so poor that if I didn’t wake up on Christmas morning with a hard-on, I wouldn’t have had anything to play with!”

Within the stone walls of the century-old home there was plenty of food on the table, Irish blarney and upheaval. The tumbling-down home afforded a most unlikely genesis for four successful young men. That stone dowager, that aged Grandam, sifted out lumps of self-pity and sloth, and in their place incubated eccentricity, outrageous humour and success. And today, decades later, the memory of Scottie resonates in the minds of the four brothers, a symbol of perseverance and frugality.


COME IN AND ROCK THE BABY . ‘Good Blood’ . Bridget 1925 .

Denvir - 1920s young Bridget on tree trunk, in Dundas

‘Come In and Rock the Baby’ was previously published in “Many Women Two Men, Stories & Poems”, Anthology. Pub: Dove Tale Press, Kitchener ON, 2001


When we visited Bridget in her later years, she would sit in her wheelchair, sometimes looking regal, other times dejected and disheveled. Her personality was as diverse as her appearance. Out of the blue, she could spew a phrase so malicious that it drained from you all anticipation of a lively and loving afternoon visit.

But my overwhelming memory is of her intelligence, quick sense of humour, raucous laughter and her handsome, commanding presence. Bridget had always been articulate and informed. She could talk easily on any subject and she knew how to keep a conversation lively and hilarious, often interjecting outrageous and intentionally argumentative opinion.

Bridget Duffy Peters was my mother-in-law. She died at age 86 in 1995.

Five years later, in February of 2000, my husband Gavin and I drove to his home town of Dundas to visit sprightly and wise Aunt Mary. Mary was Bridget’s sister and she had just turned ninety. Two other sisters, Teresa and Ita stopped in. Chatter erupted in earnest as the sisters each talked louder than the last. Marvelous mayhem.

That was when I heard the story of their family’s immigration, and the part my mother-in-law Bridget, played in their Atlantic Crossing.


Bridget was usually talking, laughing or arguing about one thing or another with her teenaged sisters Mary, Margaret and Rosaleen, but not today. Today would bring an end to the fear that had been a constant companion for two weeks.

Bridget Duffy, who turned ‘sweet sixteen’ three weeks before, was tall for her age and proud of her long shapely legs. She moved with sureness, giving the impression that she had important business to carry out. She drew attention with her large, pleasant face, wide, smiling mouth and bright eyes that didn’t miss a thing.

Bridget realized that, a month before, she could not even conceive of how far away Canada was, nor what a transatlantic voyage would entail.

“Troubles always come in threes,” Bridget said to no one in particular. “Except if you’re a Duffy!”

***** Down, Northern Ireland with nine of her ten children, ages seventeen to three. It was June 12, 1925 and they were traveling without their husband and father, Robert John, who went to Canada months before to find work and a home for the family. Before they were to leave, nineteen year old Bobby was injured when a tractor overturned, trapping his leg. So he remained behind to recuperate.

That was the first of the troubles.

For generations, the Irish Catholic Duffy clan lived in County Down, east of Belfast. Robert’s ancestors lived on the lyrically named farm, Ballynarry, or in Gaelic – Ballinarries. But Mary and Robert had their own 50 acre farm down the lane from Ballynarry on Black Causeway Road. It too had its own identity – Legnegopogue, Gaelic for Valley of the Little Horses but through the years it was Anglicized to Legnegoppack. Legnegoppack was a low, long, rambling stone house with dirt floor. It had two bedrooms, a kitchen and a scullery where they churned butter. Sleeping arrangements for ten children were simple. The babies slept with Mama and Papa and the rest slept together. Outside was a water well and an outhouse. They farmed wheat, oats, potatoes and flax.

Emigrations had been so numerous, so painful and final, that many families were having wakes for those moving to ‘America’. Mama would have none of that. However relatives dropped in every night before the departure. All the Duffys, Caseys and friends who were just like family, arrived to chat up memories and laugh and wish the family well. The tea kettle didn’t stop boiling for a month.

Every evening, without any clear announcement, everyone present dropped to the floor, in unison, to say the Rosary. One of the visiting uncles was given the honour of beginning. Nightly, the prayers lengthened until the trimmings, the personal prayers for family members, took longer than the obligatory Hail Marys of the decades.

The morning they were to leave, Uncle James and Uncle Mick came up from Dublin. They drove Mary and her children for the last time along Black Causeway Road. It was a narrow, winding path bordered by hedgerows. Bent old trees, planted perhaps when Papa Duffy was a boy, popped up through the hedges. Ivy wound up the trunks and dripped like icicles from the branches. The trees and ivy formed a canopy overhead which felt like magic. Even though she wasn’t superstitious, Bridget imagined leprechauns all around. The wharves at the port of Belfast had ropes as big as your leg, lying coiled on timbers surrounded by a bobbing forest of ships masts. The smell of fish blew in on the breeze. The cousins said farewell for the last time. Mama, holding the hands of the two youngest, three-year old Ita and five-year old Vince, boarded the tender followed by an ascending row of offspring. Their tender, a small vessel that carried passengers and supplies to a large ship, headed east across the Irish Sea toward England.

They were leaving everything and everyone familiar. The eldest Duffy child, Bobby, remained back in County Down because of an injury. Nana Casey was elderly and ill. Mary, the eldest daughter, (named after their mother) was eighteen and leaving behind her boyfriend, Frank McGee. The sadness was oppressive.

“We might never see Nana or Ballynarry and Drumroe, or the Cruck and Kilclief or the Ards, ever again.” Bridget remarked to her sisters, as the tender continued its passage through the English Channel and into the port of Southampton.

* * *

The brand new White Star, RMS Aurania looked as big as a city to Bridget.

“It is one of the Cunard line.” people said as though that meant something.

The Duffys boarded June 13, 1925 and set sail to begin a new life. Bridget imagined there would be one large, open sleeping area on board, but, in fact, there were clean staterooms with bunks for four to six people. By the first evening, Mama couldn’t eat. She wanted only tea and brought that up. She became so weak she couldn’t even stand up. Miss West, the English stewardess, said she had seen a lot of seasickness but Mama really had it bad.

Mama becoming ill was the second thing that went wrong.

There was a playroom on the third class deck. Adults could not go up to that next level, to the next class, but the children could. So they banded together and went up on the elevator. It was a bright place filled with things the Duffy children had never seen before. Eight year old Teresa loved the big rocking horse. She raced to the playroom early each morning to be the first at her favourite toy and hogged it without remorse. But, Bridget thought, Mary and I can’t go up often. We have to take turns staying with Mama.

“The playroom is crawling with kids, all sorts, all languages,” Mary whispered with a sneer. Mary was the shorter of the two, with a small head of straight brown hair pinned back. She had twinkling eyes, a bubbly laugh and a ferocious temper. She hated the entire trip.

“There is nothing but sea and sky, sea and sky,” she complained over and over.

One day, Miss West called, “Come quickly. An iceberg!”

It seemed large but, even so, she said it was probably twenty miles away. Up close, it would have looked like a mountain towering over the ship. On another day they saw a seagull.

Mary grumbled, “Big deal!” But Bridget knew it meant they were getting closer to land.

Then Ita, the baby, became fussy. So Mary and Bridget had to take care of her and Mama.

* * *

On June 21, eight days after leaving Southampton, the Aurania cruised up the St. Lawrence River into the port of Montreal, Quebec. But none of the passengers could disembark until the next day. They all felt like cattle, being examined, separated and practically tagged. Some of the other passengers were from unfamiliar lands such as Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and the Duffy children figured they were luckier because at least they spoke English.

Mama became confused from being sick for so long, so Mary took care of her purse to safeguard the important papers. There were two islands where the ships could land … Sept Isle or Gros Isle. On Gros Isle, the sick and dying were taken from the ship.

And that was when the third bad thing happened.

Three year old Ita flared up with mumps. Stunned, the Duffys had to disembark onto Gross Isle.

“That was why she was so fussy on the ship.” Bridget said to Mary.

Nurses examined everyone again. One of them told Mama that Mike, Teresa and Bridget had to stay two weeks in quarantine with Ita. That was because they had never had mumps, so they might also be contagious.

That was the fourth bad thing …

And number five came right on top of it!

Mama sat down and explained that she had to go on ahead to Dundas, in Ontario, without her four quarantined children.

“I will be taking Mary, Margaret, Jim, Rosaleen and little Vincent,” Mama said.

Mary Duffy did not have enough money to stay in Montreal for two weeks. She had only enough for the train tickets for all her family, so she had to leave the others behind. She attempted to reassure the children that they would be well taken care of by the nurses. She gave Bridget the train tickets for her, and her three younger siblings, Mike, Theresa and Ita.

“Bridget, I know in my heart you are smart and you are dependable,” Mama said. “You will manage just fine.”

Bridget remembered when she had not been very dependable back in Legnegopogue. She had loved playing with her skipping rope. But, invariably, Mama would interrupt her fun by calling, “Bridget, come in and rock the baby.”

Bridget recalled, “I was always so angry at having to stop skipping that I’d say to myself, I’ll rock that baby all right! And I did. ROCK ROCK ROCK! I used to jump on the cradle and rock the bejeebers out of it.”

And Bridget remembered when Teresa was little, Mama would say, “Take the baby for a walk.” She would push the buggy to the top of the knoll, give it a hearty shove which sent it, baby and all, rolling unaccompanied down the rocky road where it veered off into the bushes.

These recollections made Bridget feel guilty. Mama trusted her. She felt nervous but gradually began to think that she really could do this. Teresa was nine, with dark curls, flawless Celtic skin, cupid lips and blue eyes that looked repeatedly to her big sister for reassurance. Bridget could tell Teresa was counting on her.

Continuing to assess her situation Bridget considered that her pudgy brother, Michael, with his thick, dark hair and freckles was nearly fifteen, so he would be a help. He is strong, so he can carry Ita, she thought. Their three-year old sister, Ita, was a sweetie with short blond curls.

With what must have been an unbearable ache in her heart, Mama hugged the four children. “God love you over and over,” she said with each hug. Then she walked away.

Bridget stood as tall as she could. She couldn’t speak because of the lump in her throat. The other children were crying and yelling, “Mama!”

* * *

The four children were alone in the quarantine ward of the hospital.

They were there for two weeks. Many other immigrants were stranded, too. Bridget began talking to some of them, because that is what Duffys do. Talk. Gradually, over the next couple of days, it began to feel like a community. Bridget felt a little safer, despite being lonely for Mama and the rest.

One day the doctor said Ita was better and there was no longer danger of Mike, Teresa, or Bridget succumbing to the mumps. Bridget felt ambivalent; happy that they were able to leave but fearful of embarking on the their journey alone.

A government man took the children to the train station in Montreal and helped them board. This was the first train they had ever seen. It would take them to Toronto, then Dundas.

He gave them money for the trip, saying, “It will be enough to buy your supper tonight and your breakfast and lunch tomorrow, if you are careful.”

Safe in their seats, the rocking of the train helped the children relax. They loved the rhythmic clickety clack of wheels on tracks, steel on steel. It was like a lullaby. Soon, a man who worked for the railroad, a black man with a red cap and a kind face, stopped by their seats to collect their tickets. They sat silently, watching him move along the narrow, swaying aisle. That was the first time they had ever seen a Negro.

Once it was dark, Michael lowered the thick window-coverings, but lifted off the sill just enough to peek out. Sometimes, when the train passed a town, there would be a few lights twinkling. They curled together, two by two and slept on facing seats. The next morning, the train slowed as it pulled into Union Station.

Then the next bad thing happened.

Not as bad as the others, but it was scary nonetheless. They had to wait three hours all by themselves, for the train to Dundas.

To the four youngsters, Union Station was cavernous, with ceilings higher than the big churches at home. Crowds of people were milling about, scurrying in every direction. Others were sitting and reading or napping on wooden benches. The children searched for washrooms. Cautiously peeking through the huge arches to the toilets, Bridget looked around in wonder.

“I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,” she said. “Everything is marble. The walls and the floor are all white and clean, even with so many people using them.”

In the station restaurant, they ordered toast and milk. When it was time to leave, they approached one of the many Red Caps that were easy to spot in the crowds of people. One helped them board the right train.

“It will take about two hours to get to Dundas,” he said, helping Teresa, Bridget up the steps, then Michael, who was carrying Ita.

Bridget felt grateful to Michael for his calm and quiet strength the past two weeks.

“I’ll always love him for that. He’s the dependable one,” she thought.

* * *

In the middle of the afternoon, they arrived in the town that was to be their new home. Bridget gathered their belongings and climbed down from the train with her three younger siblings. They proceeded in a cautious cluster into the train station.

The station was one room of wall-to-wall high windows surrounded by wide wooden frames. A small, fair-haired young man, not much older than herself, stood at a closed-in counter. He wore his CNR uniform with pride. Later, Bridget learned that CNR was for Canadian National Railway. Bridget approached him to ask directions to Bullock’s Corners.

“Just go up the mountain road,” he said, pointing to his right.

The band of four children proceeded out the front door and onto the boardwalk, hoping that they would be able to find their way.

Bridget looked behind her and, in her thick Irish brogue, called, “Are ye coming?”

Michael carried Ita, asleep in his arms. Teresa held tightly to Bridget’s hand and the children set out tentatively but with inbred stoicism. No one had come to meet them, because no one knew when they would arrive. Bridget trudged up the steep, narrow dirt road, her jaw clenched to hold back tears. She would not cry.

She willed one foot to move ahead of the other and looked about. On her right, the mountain, so close it nearly touched the arm of her old wool coat, was densely covered in bushes the colour of new summer green. Then she turned her head to the left and gazed over the valley below. A few houses nestled together as if commiserating. Another time, she might be able to enjoy the view, but not now. She had never set foot in this town nor on this road until this afternoon. She had not even set foot in this country until two weeks before.

She continued up the side of Dundas mountain, her three younger siblings in tow, joined like tired, brave puppets. Over the past two weeks the four never bickered. They had often been afraid, but more afraid to show it. They had bolstered each other and become one unit.

Near the top of the mountain, Bridget saw a boy on a bike, and again asked directions to Bullock’s Corners.

He continued peddling and yelled, “Across the footbridge and through the green.”

“Sure and those are helpful directions! Holy Mother help us find our home soon. I’ll never again believe anyone who says ‘Bad luck comes in threes’. Comes in sixes, is more like it!” Bridget grumbled.

Trying to give her older sister encouragement, and to keep her own fears at bay, Teresa looked up with big eyes and a sweet smile.

With an Irish lilt in her voice, she said, “You’re a smart cookie, Bridie. You’ll find it.”

The encouragement worked, for Bridget, who had been uncharacteristically quiet since they left the little railroad station in the town, looked down at Teresa, then back at Mike and Ita. She began to chatter animatedly, about their time aboard ship, what their new home would be like and about seeing Mama and Papa again! With renewed vigor and a bounce in their step, the children continued to the top of the mountain road.

Secretly, Bridget felt proud and grown up. She had not let Mama down. They were all fine. She knew that, good luck or bad, she would be all right here in Dundas.

“Aren’t we Irish used to troubles, anyhow?” she laughed.

She knew that soon, with Mary, Margaret and Rosaleen at her side, the eldest Duffy sisters would let everyone know they had arrived.


“UNCONSECRATED GROUND” . ‘Good Blood’ . Katie 1903 .

Wildflower Bouquet From My Grandchildren - watercolour by LRP
Wildflower Bouquet From My Grandchildren – watercolour by LRP


Unconsecrated Groundwas previously published in “Many Women Two Men, Stories & Poems”, Anthology. Pub: Dove Tale Press, Kitchener ON, 2001. Also published in “ROBERTSON Lineages & Memoirs – Genealogies For My Children & Theirs”

Germania 1988

As I turned off the highway onto a gravel road winding through dense, Muskoka woods, I could not have imagined that the next hour would haunt me for years.

I was on a quest to find the village of Germania, where for years, my father enjoyed happy visits with his mother’s family.

Now, I pictured what it must have been like for my ancestors a century ago, a landscape riddled with rock, root and mud, treacherous to wagon and humanity. Near their community they would have constructed a corduroy road by felling trees, each about six inches in diameter and laying them side by side. This would have provided easier, but bumpy, passage.

It seemed isolated here, unlike the scenic lakes of the tourist haven a few miles to the west. I sucked in my breath at my first glimpse of Germania. Pride of ownership was clear by the scattering of neat, brick homes. On the right was a play-house size church and a quaint cemetery surrounded by chicken-wire fencing. A plaque beside the front door read, Germania German Lutheran Church, built 1876. So long ago, so many stories, I thought.

Germania Lutheran Church
Germania Lutheran Church 1988

Although I had never been here before, I had a feeling of coming home as I parked my car on the grass in front of the church. I opened the wire-and-post gate to the left of the church and walked toward the graves. My heart fluttered like a hummingbird as I read the old headstones nestled in the grass. They were gray with rounded tops. They seemed natural in this place. Some tilted, giving them a look of weary permanence. Their weight in the lush green-blanketed soil was causing them to sink. Some were barely above ground. Others looking old and worn yet nevertheless managed to stand tall. I eagerly read and familiar names began to emerge. Annie Dietz, Minnie Dietz. The largest stone monument in the center of the cemetery was in the shape of a cross.

Headstone of Adam + Willhelmina Dietz - my great-grandparents; Germania cemetery.
Headstone of Adam + Willhelmina Dietz – my great-grandparents; Germania cemetery 1988.

The fading words carved into the stone read;

DIETZ, Adam born July 25, 1832. Died June 11, 1907.

His wife Willimena, died May 24, 1901, age 66 years.

These were my great-grandparents. My father was the youngest of eight children and missed out on much of the family lore. He didn’t even know his grandparents’ names, knew them simply as Grandma and Grandpa Dietz. I had to learn if anyone nearby could tell me more about my family.

I walked across the street and knocked on the door of the brick bungalow. An elderly woman, trim and neat, opened the door. I explained my mission and asked if she knew anything about the cemetery and, more specifically, did she know anything about the Dietz family buried there. She smiled and introduced herself as Velda Gilbert.

“I knew the Dietz family when I was a child,” she said, pointing to where their farm had been across the street, just beyond the small wooden church.

Velda and I chatted like old friends, she reminiscing, me prompting the memories. She offered to take me through the cemetery and tell me what she knew. I said I had just seen the family headstones, but she assured me there was more to see. Velda led me to the far, southeast corner of the cemetery, a secluded area overgrown by grass and weeds and shaded by a large, old tree.

“I want to show you something,” she said, pushing grass away with her wrinkled,
misshapen hands. She revealed a curved-top gravestone sinking into the ground, difficult to
see. I knelt to read and moved my fingers over the roughly carved letters worn by a century
of wind and rain. If there was more lettering, it was now below ground level, but I could clearly read:

Katherine Dietz, 1903 aged 29 years.

The site of this stone, so alone and untended, felt eerie. That was how I learned of Katie’s headstone, far removed from the others, in the unconsecrated part of the cemetery. Ostracized in death.


“Everyone called her Katie.” said Velda.

I knew from Census records that Katie was my grandmother’s sister. My dad never knew of this aunt. Her name was never spoken in the family.

“I will tell you the story,” said Velda.


Katie 1903

Katie lay on her side, her knees tucked near her chest, her hands clutched tightly under her chin, tears wetting the cotton pillow case. Weeks of worry and fear had left her with a numbing feeling of hopelessness.

“How could this have happened to me? I am twenty-nine years old. I should have a husband and a home of my own by now. My chances of that are forever gone. I fear what Papa, my family and even the neighbours will think of me. What can I do? I wish Mama was here. I need her.”

Katie’s mother died just two years earlier and was buried in the nearby cemetery. Katie still lived on the family farm with her father, Adam, her brother William who was two years younger, and Minnie, her 24-year-old sister.

The realization that there were changes within her dawned slowly. She did not know much about the intricacies of her body, nor of conception and pregnancy. Such topics were never discussed. Even her mother’s pregnancies years before had not been acknowledged until they were too large to hide. Married women sewed dresses in such a way as to camouflage their pregnancies. There were layers of gathered skirting across the back and sides, and a secret panel at the front to allow for the inevitability of a thickening waistline. This hid an early pregnancy and provided fashion flexibility when one dress was all a woman could afford.

Her body’s rhythm, its changes and needs were the extent of Katie’s enlightenment about her ‘private parts’ and their functioning. She thought ‘that part’ of the body was aptly named because she wondered about, and guessed at, thoughts too private to be voiced.

At first, denial soothed Katie when her consciousness began to admit the possibility of a child growing within. As days grew into weeks, fear became so invasive that she constantly felt smothered by the weight of worry.

Katie had always hated that time of the month. Years ago, some of the bold girls at school  called it being on the rag. Katie’s rags were hidden in the back of her tiny, doorless cupboard. In a futile attempt to hide the tell-tale indications of their embarrassing use, they were folded neatly, stains turned in. Each month she scrubbed them, up and down, across the ribs of the washboard in an old metal scrub pail in the shed. Even lye soap and scalding water lugged from the wood stove, could not entirely fade the blurred crimson outlines.

She had always hated the messiness of this part of her body. And she hated the Purity Flour bags, cut up for this purpose. The rags bunched up between her legs and with each step, they schemed to escape their designated place inside her bloomers. With each step, the delicate skin of her inner thighs became painfully chafed.

As each day passed without needing her supply of rags, Katie’s horror increased. She prayed  she would need to pull them from their hiding place. Even as she clutched her hands together, she knew within her soul that her prayer would not be answered.

Katie didn’t feel she could confide the horrible possibility of a pregnancy to her sister, Minnie, who had her own grief. Minnie had a deformed back. When she was a child, their older sister Carrie was pushing Minnie on the rope-and-board swing. The child fell off and landed the wrong way on a stump protruding from the ground. Life had been cruel to Minnie.

DIETZ SIBLINGS Back - Katie, William,  CARRIE. Front - Minnie in wheelchair. (youngest 4 of 8 siblings)
DIETZ SIBLINGS Back – Katie, William, CARRIE. Front – Minnie in wheelchair.   Youngest 4 of 8 siblings. Photo much earlier than CARRIE’s 1898 marriage.

Nor could Katie burden her older sister Carrie, living in nearby Bracebridge, busy with her two small children and expecting her third in as many years. Besides there really was nothing to talk about. Being pregnant while a single woman was sinful, unacceptable. Everyone in this village and even surrounding villages would always think of her out-of-wedlock child as a bastard and many would not hesitate to use that cruel word. Katie herself would be shunned, her family humiliated. Going through with this pregnancy, in this place and time, was simply unthinkable.

Growing up, Katie had enjoyed much laughter and camaraderie within her family. Her parents had been honest, hard-working German immigrants who instilled in their children a high moral code, deeply felt Lutheran beliefs, a robust work ethic and self-discipline.

“I’ve let them all down.” Katie cringed, experiencing unbearable guilt and shame.

After weeks of fear, then hopelessness, she lay weeping on her bed without anywhere to turn.


Fall set in, bringing with it the chill of coming frost. Katie didn’t seem to notice. She left the farmhouse and crossed the fields where bales of hay were drying golden on this clear day. Pausing at her mother’s grave she touched the cool stone. Cowed by a numbing sadness and terror, she walked on. Tears dropped down her coat and blurred her view as she tripped through shorn hay and dense underbrush. With determination and a sense of purpose, Katie continued on until she reached the water. Without a pause at the water’s edge she waded out into the lake. Her dress and petticoats, her warm wool coat, the high practical leather shoes, served as an anchor that pulled her under the surface of the water.


Nov.29, 2013, see:   “Unconsecrtted Ground 2 – Postscript to Katie 1903 . Good Blood . Wonders of www .” at … 




DETAIL, Inside Front Cover of Book - Ink & Watercolour by LRP
DETAIL, Inside Front Cover of Book – Ink & Watercolour by LRP

“You Come From Good Blood.”


Over and over, Grandma Kincaid told us, “You come from good blood”.

She wasn’t telling us that we had blue blood, but that we each had the innate strength to pick ourselves up when we fell. She was telling all her large family that much was expected of us and that we could overcome any obstacle with the grit and perseverance in our genetic make-up.

‘You come from good blood.’  The simple, repetitive litany made me feel proud and reluctant to disappoint my family. It inspired me. I believed it. I descended from generations of strong, hard-working, mostly honorable (but inevitably flawed) people.

Knowing I came from ‘good blood’ allowed me keep my head above water when life’s difficulties were shoving me beneath the surface.

LRP 2006

Journal Sketch - Ink & Watercolour by LRP
Journal Sketch – Ink & Watercolour by LRP

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”  


My Genealogy Search

I long believed it was necessary discover my own roots and those of my husband. This was possibly, in part, due to Grandma’s teaching. But, also, when I began to have children of my own, I knew I needed to discover which of my ancestors’ genes were replicated in me and in my descendants. Knowing the past, helps us understand the present.

In my four genealogy volumes, I wrote a note to my descendants, present and future. It read, in part:

“My wish is, that learning about your ancestors will enrich your lives and give you insight into some of your own traits and feelings. My hope is, that knowing your lineage will give you a sense of belonging. It will help you feel less alone in this increasingly impersonal and madly rushing society, and where nuclear families are often scattered throughout the world.”  

The stories throughout GOOD BLOOD depict moments in time, moments in the lives of my family, past and present. The stories are primarily about women … and a few men.  I am in love with their stories.

“Listen for other voices in the Cosmic Fugue.”


I have listened for other voices and recorded some of them, and I have felt the impact of those voices in my life and the lives of my children. We better know ourselves when we understand (or try to understand) others.

Courage, resilience, a sense of humour and a positive attitude are repetitive traits found in most of the following stories. Their voices illustrate that courage is often required in the extraordinary as well as the most banal moments of ordinary lives. Without it we are lost.

Listen.    And read …

Linda Robertson Paupst . August 23, 2001 . rev 2013 .

 Genre of ”GOOD BLOOD”

 is Creative Nonfiction 

That means I have augmented and embellished the accounts of the lives of family and ancestors in order to create hopefully interesting stories filled with their thoughts, emotions, intentions. I have changed the names of the charactors to protect the innocent and the guilty.

I do not mind my washing being hung out to dry (see my Memoir, “Decades”, for that), but others may not feel the same way.

Journal Sketch - Ink & Watercolour by LRP
Journal Sketch – Ink & Watercolour by LRP


SECRETS . ‘Good Blood’ . PREFACE .

Four Volumes of  "LINEAGES & MEMOIRS - Genealogies for My Children & Theirs .." PAUPST, ROBERTSON, DENVIR, KING, by LRP
Four Volumes of “LINEAGES & MEMOIRS – Genealogies for My Children & Theirs ..” PAUPST, ROBERTSON, DENVIR, KING, by LRP



I despise secrets for the harm they can do. Secrets have allowed evil to be perpetuated in societies and within families. Yet most secrets are no more than an inevitable part of life’s ups and downs. Everyone, no matter how good, honest or well-intentioned, will, throughout his or her life, make wrong choices. That is part of being human. I believe our ability to overcome our wrong choices is one of life’s greatest lessons.

We do posterity a disservice by hiding the examples of our missteps. The world is becoming more complicated and difficult. Our children and theirs need to know that you can make a mistake, make a wrong choice and be stronger and better for it. They need examples of those of us who erred and are nevertheless worthy of respect because we survived and led productive, happy lives. But that is my philosophy and it may differ from that of yours.

Realizing that – which secrets are mine to tell? Some are far enough in the past that those involved are no longer here to give permission. If alive now, would they condone the inclusion of their secrets in the stories I am writing, as a life lesson for us today? Many secrets were considered scandalous or immoral in an earlier era, but today, would be considered neither immoral nor scandalous by most thinking human beings. Would our ancestors, if alive now, make different choices today? Would they even consider those choices secrets today?

As the author, I must choose which secrets I will tell.

Some I may regret, but as my Grandma King taught me,

“To thine own self be true”.

So, in four genealogy volumes I included all I knew, with a few exceptions. But those too will creep into the creative non fiction stories I am working on. Non of the secrets are hurtful, but I originally omitted them in the family histories because of a very few skeptical, untrusting relatives. Though to be clear, most relatives, near and distant were enthusiastic and unconditionally supportive. My thanks to all of them.

Following are stories, based on true happenings or real people, but some I have fictionalized, or rather, I imagined what might have occurred. I have filled in many blanks and filled out copious details in reliving those people, times and events. And I had wonderful experiences living their lives as I imagined them to have been. This is Creative Nonfiction.

Grandma King often reminded each of us in her large family,

“You come from good blood.”

The repetitive litany inspired me –

It convinced me that my genetic makeup contained the strength of generations of strong, hard-working, mostly honorable (but inevitably flawed) people.
It kept my head above water when life’s cruelty was shoving me beneath the surface.

I pass Grandma’s wisdom on to my progeny.

Now, enjoy the stories … and many (until now, and many newly created) secrets.