I hope this letter finds you and your family well. Sorry it has been such a long time since I last wrote to you. My daughter has been trying to get me into sending virtual letters on the computer and though I have made some progress, there’s still nothing like physically creating and sending a letter! To me it is a shame that the new generation might never send a handwritten letter in their lives. I guess everything is going to be ‘digitalised’ soon enough and perhaps it will make the world a better place.
I actually do have a reason why I’m writing to you and not sending this by email, it’s because I wanted to include these photographs, part of a land map and a letter I found the other day in my father’s deep chest. I’m sad to say the chest has been sitting in the attic gathering dust and being forgotten about instead of being put to some good use. It seems like much of the items from our time are being rejected by our grandchildren. Not like when we were younger and our grandparents’ relics fascinated us.
I was walking in the woods yesterday, just like I had done a million times before, it was for no reason, other than to get out of the house for a bit and away from the missus – she’s still fine and going strong by the way, but I leave much of her care in the hands of the nurses and my daughter. I find it much easier and less stressful. It felt like the first day of spring, with the sun in an almost cloudless sky, dappling through the just sprouting tree leaves. Grass and wild flowers peppered the ground, whilst the earth felt drier. I hadn’t planned a route; I was just wondering and reflecting.
Oh, you’ll remember how we use to run through the trees playing some game or just to cool down, laughing at everything and scaring all the animals away. We would paddle in the brook, play ‘Pooh Sticks’ on the bridges and gather wild flowers to take home for mother’s dressing table or the front windows. Those summer days seemed endless and we never thought we’d be so old like we are now nor have children of our own. Everything was easier, quieter and natural back then. Sometimes when I go into the woods now, I’ll sit on a bench or tree stump and imagination myself young again. I make myself believe we are playing hide ‘n’ seek and I am the one counting. My brothers, sisters, cousins and friends are all hiding and the air is filled with laughter and hurried footsteps. Those precious days.
I crossed the bridge you use to call The Fairies’ Bridge and sadly it has been replaced by a metal structure now, which looks nothing like the wooden steep arch we use to skip across and sing allowed to the fairies on. There used to be an old wall which ran alongside the path and no one could see over. Do you remember that? It would grab our curiosity for a few moments and then we’d be off on other adventures. Well, yesterday I found a gap in the wall, which is badly tumbling down and discovered what had laid behind it all this time.
I had to fight my way through over grown bushes and trees, then the ground became slightly different and nature less wild. A large space had opened up before me and trying to defend themselves against the ever encroaching nature were some gravestones. At first I thought it was just a pet graveyard or the resting place of one rich family. However, stepping fully into it and looking around, I spotted the sloping roof of the old stone building we had sometimes played in. Of course, I did actually know this until I had made my way over and further explored the area. I found what might have been the remains of other buildings too.
Going back into the graveyard, I wondered about and tried to look at some of the names on the stones. Most of them had disappeared and the few I could make out had no meaning to me. However I came across, what seemed to be the ‘newest’ set of the headstones and they could still be read. On three of them I found our family name and that of some other relatives. I jotted them down in my notebook and I’ll write them out for you now.
Mary Joneson, born 1882, died 1932.
Fredric Joneson, born 1878, died 1924.
Their son; Jimmy, born 1904 died 1910.
Bethany Joneson daughter of Mary and Fredric, born 1908, died 1948.
Her husband; Edward Joneson, born 1906 died 1939
Their son; John, born 1933, died 1948.
James Jonesson, born 1883, died 1920.
His wife: Elizabeth Jonesson, born 1885, died 1940.
I suspect that like me, you don’t recognize the names, but I did some more research and I did find out that they are from a branch of cousins who died out. Though as you can see from the photographs, it seemed that our parents and grandparents did know them as the names and dates match up. The map, you’ll find I’ve marked a few things on just in case you decide to take a look yourself- though please feel free to give me a call and I’ll happily accompany you. The stone building was actually a small village church. Though I never would have believed that without seeing the photos of it! As for the letter, you’ll find it as deeply interesting as I did. It was written by Bethany to our great aunt Eliza. I’ll have to see if there are any more in my father’s papers, though I fear they might have been lost when we emptied the house.
I’d be delight to hear any light you can shed on this. It has inspired me to keep digging and get a family tree made. I still can’t believe that we never knew about the graveyard, it looks like a place we would have just loved.
Hope to hear from you soon,