Ever wish you'd written down all those stories your parents and grandparents told you about your family history? Well, if you remember any of them, or have any of your own, this is the place to put them. Show us your old family photographs and tell us the stories of the people in them. What was important about them? Who did they love, what was their biggest accomplishment? Did something amazing / tragic / unexpected / wonderful happen to them that got passed down through the generations? We want to know!
My favorite family story is about a spinning wheel that is kept in our dining room. Rather odd place for a spinning wheel, but the history behind it is quite wonderful. My great great (great?) aunt on my father's side lived on the border between Kansas and Missouri during the civil war, much like my family does now. If you are unfamiliar with the time period, I'll give you a (very) brief history.
Missouri proclaimed themselves to be a slave state while Kansas sided with the Union as free state. This caused what is known as the border wars, where people from both sides would terrorize, steal, rape and destroy neighboring cities. Both sides were brutal, with Jayhawkers and Bushwhackers both harming and killing innocent people.The word Jayhawker came from a mythical bird that cannot be caught. At first, the term was applied to both the pro-slavery and abolitionist rebel bands. But, before long it stuck to the anti-slavery side only. Those that favored the Confederacy soon earned the name of Bushwhackers, because they primarily lived in the "bush," or country, and their legs "whacked" the bushes as they rode. Both sides would eventually include semi-legitimate soldiers, and even grudgingly acknowledged by the Union and Confederate forces. However, other members of these two groups were simply bandits who had a quasi-military excuse for ambush, robbery, murder, arson and plunder.
~ Legends of America
This was the era of William Quantrill
, whose band of outlaws and marauders grew to over one hundred by 1862. That is the same year that he and his followers attacked several different cities in Kansas, burning and destroying homes and businesses, and attacking men who got in their way.
When Quantrill rode into my great aunt's town many homes were destroyed, along with anything in them. Family legend has it that, for whatever reason, my great aunt did not leave her home even as many of the local men hid from the attackers. When Quantrill came to her home, he told her that she could take two things out before it was burned to the ground. She took her spinning wheel and bed linens, and considered him to be a true gentleman for his actions.
Whether this story is true or not, we will never know. Nearly 150 years have passed since that time, and many generations have come and gone. Yet because of one story from one woman's history, the spinning wheel remains in our family to this day.