While my husband Ray was growing up in Columbia, Tennessee, reading the great books his daddy recommended and soaking up Civil War history from his grandfather, I was growing up sixty-six miles away in Ashland City, where my daddy was making sure my brother and I experienced history.
My brother and I played often on the steps of Nashville’s full-size reproduction of the Greek Parthenon. Day outings in Nashville took us to reconstructed Fort Nashborough, where Nashville was founded, and to the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. The destination of another day trip was Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky; another was My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown.
On one of Daddy’s annual three-and-a-half-day vacations from work, we went to St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city founded by Europeans. Another year we went to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, where soldiers fired the first shots of the Civil War.
Neither of my grandfathers showed a particular interest in history, but my maternal grandfather once told me that our ancestors wore skirts. I feel sure he was talking about Scottish kilts. He often sang old tunes and now I’m sorry I didn’t ask him about them. They sounded like they came from the old country.
My paternal grandfather Daddy Leland told me about his paternal ancestor who lived in a cave in Nashville. I later learned that he was Timothy Demonbreun, a French Canadian fur trader who fought in the American Revolution. He was the first man of European descent to live in the area that became Nashville.
While I was in high school, my Great-Uncle Jack (Daddy Leland’s brother) and my Great-Aunt Stella took me with them to the dedication of a monument in a country church cemetery. It honored some of Daddy Leland’s maternal ancestors, the Winters. When a group of pioneers arrived to establish Nashville, they were among them. Though we rarely include personal stories in our history curricula, these two growing-up experiences prompted me to tell about Timothy and the Winters in America the Beautiful.
Today Ray and I are passionate about writing history. We stand on the shoulders of our daddies and granddaddies and we both miss sitting at their feet.
Our daddies and granddaddies planted seeds in our hearts as we were growing up. You are planting seeds in your children’s hearts every day. I’m so proud of you.
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed for sowing
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9: 10, NASB