Friday, May 29, 2009

"I Have Believed...Impossible Things..."


"'Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.  Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I--I hardly know, sir just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'" [Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5 by Lewis Carroll]

I went to a little private elementary school in the small town that I'm from in Texas.  We wore red plaid jumper uniforms over white blouses with Peter Pan collars, and to top it off, black and white saddle shoes
Alice Collagewith knee high socks.  It was a pretty good little school, and for the most part I was a good student.  However, every once and a while my Irish leperchaun would come out, and I'd get into some trouble.  [Hard to believe, I know.]  Many of these times I'd end up in the corner staring at the brick wall that was painted white.  [By the way, I like that decorative effect...]  Anyway, there was this built-in bookshelf that contained a large set of books.  Well, being the good student that I am [sarcasm], I became bored and decided to look inside one of these books.  To my surprise, there was an inscription that read "Donated by Mary Alice Truitt Blacketer".  The handwriting looked like my Gran's, but the only name I recognized was Blacketer...This was the first time that I ever saw her full name in print.  [You mean her name wasn't Gran Blacketer?]  As I've mentioned before Gran was Catholic.  So, of course, her first name was Mary.  [This is a joke for those of us who keep finding so many Mary's in our research.]    But  Alice?  Truitt?  Of course, later I asked her about the name Truitt, and she replied, "Dear [my Gran always started a story with this endearment], I am a Truitt.  It's my maiden name and Blacketer is my married name."  During the rest of her lifetime, I heard her mention this several times, and she'd always say it with a declaration of assurance..."I am a Truitt, " as if that explained everything.  [In my research later, I did find out what that meant...a story for another time.]  The name that has captured my interest right now is Alice.

"'Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice"[from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 2]

Not only is my Gran named Mary Alice, so is her mother, my Boo.  I even have a second cousin named Mary Alice.  Hmm...Just where does this name come from?  I never really thought much about it until I started researching my Boo's father [my great-great grandfather, Daniel Rook(e) Vaughn.  I wasn't looking for it, but I may have found the answer, but of course it's opened up some more questions...

Alice and Rabbit"The White Rabbit put on his spectacles.  'Where should I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.  'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'" [Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Chapter 12]

Daniel Rook(e) Vaughn was born in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw Co., Michigan in 11 Nov 1847.  The very first avenue of research on him was, of course, the U.S. Federal Population Census Schedule [accessed through Heritage Quest and].  I found him and his family in 1850 in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw Co., Michigan .  His father was B.H. Vaughn 29yo  born in Canada, and his mother was Susanna 28yo born in New York.  They had 3 children: Prudence (5yo), Daniel (3yo), and last [but certainly not least] was Alice (under 1yo).  So then I looked to the 1860 census, and I was able to find Daniel, but he was living with a family by the name of Rook(e), who I have since found out were his grandmother, aunt, uncle, and his aunt's future husband on his mom's side.  Though I performed many searches, there was no sign of his family from 1850.  It was if they had fallen down a hole...

"Down, down, down.  Would the fall NEVER come to an end? 'I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?' she said aloud.  'I must be getting near the centre of the earth'..." [Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Chapter 1]

I have since found Daniel's older sister Prudence.  She was living with a family by the name of Ogden in Shelby Co., Ohio [I'm pretty sure.], but I've lost her from there [possibly due to marriage, death, or moving out of the country].  As for the rest of the family, I have searched high, and I have searched low.  In looking at the history of the wee township of Ypsilanti, I did discover that there was a terrible fire in 1851 in the town proper.  However, there were no casualties mentioned -- just damages.  [Alexander Winchell, History of Washtenaw County, Michigan:... (Chicago: C.C. Chapman & Co., 1881), 1121. accessed through Heritage Quest Online].  So, I'm left with a missing family.  Were Benjamin, Susanna, and "baby" Alice casualties of the fire of 1851 in Ypsilanti?  Or did they succumb to some sort of disease?

Alice and Cat"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, " said the Cat.
"I don't much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
[Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Chapter 6]

I'm not sure what happened to Daniel's family.  I don't know why, but I always think of Daniel's sister as "my" Alice.  Maybe because she was so young...  The one thing that I know for sure is that I will never rest until I find "my" little Alice, for she has been on her adventure in her wonderland for far too long.  There have been three women named after her in my family [I think ;)], and it's about time that we found her.

Queen of HeartsAlice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said : "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.  "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.  Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
[Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Chapter 5]

[Note: All of the above quotes and original illustrations are from Lenny's Alice in Wonderland site.  The color illustrations are from Wikipedia.  All items are in the public domain due to copyright expiration.]


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