Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hannah's Legacy

I'd like to thank and congratulate Southpaw (Holly Ruggiero) and Sonia Parham for entering my first Writing Prompt & Giveaway!  Southpaw is the winner of the writer's prize box and a writing prompt book goes to Sonia Parham.  I hope you'll visit their blogs to read their entries which were both very imaginative! I think you'll enjoy them as much as I did.

And now a little "back story" of the photo of Hannah's gravestone. . .

I came across this tiny little family cemetery in Vassalboro, Maine along the side of an old country road. From what I can deduct I have discovered the following: Hannah was the infant or young daughter of a Lieut. Benj. Williams (who died at age 33 on Sept. 9, 1829).  Her mother's name was Mary, as indicated on the possible marker of an older (deducted from the med-lg size of this marker) sister named Mary who died in 1825. Hannah also had a brother who died in April of 1829, he was listed as the son of Benj. Williams, his name also Benjamin, it appears he was 6 years old. I learned that her father was a member of the Maine militia and served in a local regiment during the war of 1812 when he was only 16 yrs. old.  It is possible that his father was a John Williams who served in the Revolutionary War. The large stone in the center appears to be the mother's marker, which is not legible except for the last name and a short first name. Another very small stone is set near the mother's grave which very likely did not have or need room for a name. Often "infant" was all that was given and a date.  In Hannah's little life there was apparently much death and mourning as represented by the identical weeping willow tree symbol on each of these family graves. 



Now that I have this information for my story, which I apologize I did not get to before, I've found my inspiration for a little tale I'll call "Hannah's Legacy".

        Near the edge of the wood lay a small plot of land dotted with a half dozen modest gravestones.  An old woman’s shiny hand palmed the images of weeping willow trees that were etched on the top of all six markers. Death. Mourning. “My years have been too long, and yours far too brief, my loves.”  She crouched down and with a feeble finger traced the letters on the grave of her namesake . . . Hannah.

       "Come Grandmother." A young woman extended a hand and helped this dear one to her feet - the woman who had had raised her and taught her to stand on her own.

       "I brought no flowers today to remember them by." 

       "Aye, but I have brought seeds with me."  Her granddaughter sprinkled seeds of Lupine in the damp soil and pressed them in to the ground with the toe of her boot with a gentle reverence.

       With glassy eyes Grandmother Hannah beheld the only survivor of the illness upon illness that had ushered most of her youngest son’s family into glory nearly two decades ago. “My how you take after my Ben, and not just in looks, dear.”  A smile lit the woman’s face and her eyes danced as if true scenes and not merely memories dallied before her. “I imagine Hannah would have looked near the same, though she seemed to favor your mother some.”

       The older woman’s arthritic thumb caught the tear that slid down Grace’s cheek. “Your twin would have been proud of you, for you are living your life well. It is an honor to you both, and a credit to your own name.”

By the way, genealogy research has lead me to some fantastic places to get interesting information on life in various time periods.  I find that censuses, military roles, etc. are an excellent source for names. Sometimes a mere name will capture my attention and create an image in my mind for a character. Often true situations, places, and events, as well, can produce some great ideas for writing.  Real circumstances have incited songs, hymns, poems, biographies, and novels.

What prompts a writing idea for you?  A picture?  A theme? A word?  A bit of news? Research? 


  1. Wonderful post as usual, Carla. Very touching, too. I can tell I'm going to love your book(s) as you say so much with feeling! Congrats to your winners. It will be fun to stop by their blogs:)

    I find census records very helpful in naming characters, too. Research, espeically books of historical figures like Martha Washington, spark ideas for me. Sometimes I read a tragic story of an American in history and want to give them a happier ending so rewrite their life.
    But inspiration can come from music, too. God is so good to give us so many sources!

  2. Congratulations to Holly and Sonia! Your research and story were most interesting Carla. I can just imagine the old hands tracing the cold stones. And the pressing in of the seeds - beautiful.

    I am such a visual learner, I'd have to go with pictures as my first choice. But sometimes it is a thought or word or music that prompts the written word for me.

    Blessings to you!

  3. Laura, you are so kind, thank you. Reading about historical figures so often gives me grand ideas, too! I'm not so musically inclined, though I wish I were, I imagine that is a great inspiration for you - especially the sound of a fiddle!

  4. Thank you, Lora! The feel of the cold stones, could have included that. I am a very visual person, too. Photographs, real life images, and artwork (especially historical art)are a fantastic muse for me. Yet, there are so many things to incite the desire to write. Sometimes just a breath.

  5. Thanks Carla and congrats Sonia. I love the prompt you wrote as well.

    For prompts, it varies, but pictures tend to evoke the strongest feelings.


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