Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's a gift!

I admit it. Sometimes I can make an "April Fool" of myself. Just for a laugh! But sometimes I don't have too; God does that for me, and I'm O.K. with that.


Sometimes the sky opens up and God; or whatever superior being you believe in, drops one in your lap and says: "Here you go, this is from me, I thought you might need it. I hope it makes you happy... See you next time; have a nice day!"

Thats the way I felt when I was transcribing a letter from Robert Gilmour to his wife Mary written in 1865, when he mentioned a friend of his back in Ireland named John Selfjudge. He was a Shanachie. (Pronounced: sha na key.)

I thought to myself, "Self, this is a gift, you just couldn't make this one up!"

It seems that I did however, because the other day when I was searching for Robert Gilmour's Naturalization Papers on "Footnote.com". I found someone named John Selfridge, so I returned to the original letter to check my transcription: It seems that unbeknown to conscious me, I made that one up! (Or as I prefer to believe: God helped me make it up....)

I'm going with this one though. I have come to think of him that way. After a year of knowing him as John Selfjudge in my mind and in my manuscript, I don't think I could change his name at this point. I think he would be happy with it; having been a tale swapper. He would appreciate the literation, savor the irony, enjoy the contradiction, tasting the gift of it in his mouth as if it were a dram of "whisky" and "...feelt the waff o it!"

I've never been good at creating believable character names for my stories. They always look made up to me.


For some time now, I have been searching for a married last name for Robert Gilmour's older sister: Eliza or Elizabeth Gilmour. Trouble is, once a woman came to this country and married then took her husbands name; she pretty much dropped out of the census data. She is a character in my novel, and at this point I was ready to attempt in my own inadequate way to make one up.

The only thing I knew about her was that she once told my Grandmother that she disliked being called "Lizzie" so naturally I shied away from that.

Then I got this E-mail from my 3rd cousin Barb. She sent me a table which I will attempt to use when I go to Killaloo to trace our ancestor's birth data. (I'll try Barb, honest I will!) In the table was some data from the 1880 census, that she found about Elizabeth's name, when looking for Robert's Mother Jane (Glynn) Gilmour. (spelled Gilmore in the census data) Barb found them both in Freeport, Cumberland, Maine:

I looked at it and said to myself: "This is a gift!"

It seems her married name was "Lizzie Coffin" and her husbands name was "Silas Coffin". O.K., so I was a little creeped-out at first. I mean, I have an ancestor named "Coffin"....

My daughter saraH reacted in a similar way. First she said"Eww". Then she added: "Thats creepy, but in a cool sorta way!"

So I'm thinking: "Yeah, thats right... It's a gift! I never could have made this up!" It's like a character from an old Vincent Price Movie, or a Steven King Novel, or better yet, A Spaghetti Western!

I'm rolling it around in my mouth right now... I'm appreciating the literation, enjoying the contradiction....

I only hope that ol' "Silas Coffin" doesn't turn out to be an Undertaker... I don't think I wanna taste irony of that! It might be creepy, in a Rod Sterling sorta way....


..."Here you go, this is from me, I thought you might need it. I hope it makes you happy... See you next time; have a nice day!"


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