WIN #1 The Early Years

In an earlier post I introduced the writing program WIN – Write It Now. There were a couple of readers who nibbled at the idea so I thought I would plunge in and forge ahead.

To encapsulate the essence of the previous post – WIN is the acronym for Write it Now – it is not a creative writing course and there are no critiques.  It’s purpose is to encourage us to write our life’s stories – not just the events but our reaction to the events; not just the people who have populated our lives, but the little insights or tales that will bring them into focus for our children and later generations.

Because, when we go, unless we have written them down, our stories go with us.  Or perhaps you have an aging parent, aunt, grandparent – time is of the essence, to glean what you can of all the wonderful stories that decorate their lives.

The founder developed an outline to help us tap into these memories and family stories.   It is not intended that we necessarily write on every point; they are merely an aid to help nudge the memories loose, to give us a starting point.

So, for those that wish to join me on the journey, the first sessions are on the Early Years. Here are the prompts to awaken your memories and hopefully start you on your way.

1.  Where did your ancestors come from? When did they come? Where did they settle?

2.  What early memories do you have of your mother?  What did you learn from her?

3.  What about your father – your early memories? What did you learn from him?

Remember, the goal is just to write it, now, in whatever words come.  If you would like to share it, please leave a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t wish to share it, just a comment that you did indeed Write it Now would be great.

I chose to write about my ancestors. This is my story:

Journey to Upper Canada

In the green countryside of Ireland in 1794, 34-year-old Stewart Grafton married Mary McCool, ten year’s his junior, and before 1795 was over their first child, Thomas, had been born. Then events intervened to change the course of their lives.

In the last decade of the 18th C there were two rebellions in Ireland.  The better known rebellion took place in 1798 in the south but there was also a Presbyterian revolt in the north two years earlier, in 1796.  Stewart and Mary suffered during this period—their barns were burned and many cattle were shot.  Rather than start over in Ireland, they chose to follow one of Stewart’s brothers, and thus in 1796 Stewart, Mary and their infant son, Thomas, embarked for America.   Some say to a cotton plantation in South Carolina, others suggest Tennessee and North Carolina but they apparently picked up their lives and prospered. Stewart became a Justice of the Peace.

One hopes that the next years went well as they continued to raise their family, which by 1812 had increased by two sons and four daughters.  Then events again intervened to reshape their lives.

Relations between the fledgling United States and the United Kingdom were strained and War was on the horizon.  Dissatisfied, Stewart sold his plantation and left the Carolinas for Upper Canada.  Using mules and pack horses for transportation they journeyed 1600 miles through rough country, over 500 miles of which was still wild Indian Territory.  They reached the Niagara River May 1, 1812 to find guards posted and all communication across the river forbidden.  So they reverted to that age-old method of motivation and bribed the guards with “a gift of gold”.  It had the desired effect and they were rowed across the river in the darkness of night while their pack animals swam across with them.  They resumed their journey through mud and snow and on the sixth of May reached Little York, now Toronto, but then containing just two stores and two taverns.

Nearing York they stopped at a tavern at Stony Creek.  The proprietor, one Caleb Hopkins, persuaded them to spend the Sabbath with him.        Thirteen years later Stewart and Mary’s son, Thomas, married Caleb’s cousin, Hulda.

Stewart Grafton could be considered a rebel, perhaps—taking flight to Upper Canada as a loyalist to Britain—and conversely, a rebel in America.

My 4x great grandparents, Stewart and Mary, are buried in Necropolis Cemetery, Riverdale Park, Toronto in Section D, lot 62.


13 thoughts on “WIN #1 The Early Years

    1. I’m so pleased. Please don’t be intimidated. It’s just putting down whatever we have. It’s often surprising how much we know that we didn’t know we knew. In my case I have a match made in heaven because my sister loves genealogy research.
      AND, some of my predecessors had my same interest and took the time to – yes – write things down.


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