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The Importance of Memoir

What treasures do you keep hidden in your memory that future generations would love to uncover?

In my blog, I have already told how I found the story that was to become the framework of my novels, but it bears repeating.

A hundred years ago, a man named Arnold Stewart wrote down his grandfather’s oral story of John and Susan Dean. Stewart’s grandfather was Adam Dunlop Dean, who had been 8 years old in 1832 when he attended the funeral of his grandfather John Dean.

No doubt, the story Adam recounted to his grandson had been told to him by his father William and perhaps other aunts and uncles. It is as near to the truth as we can ever come because it is as much of the story as John and Susan wanted their children to know.

In his account there is an explanation of why the family left Ireland to come to the New World, but no explanation of their earlier moves. This makes sense because William Dean was 12 when he came to Nova Scotia. He would have remembered life in Ireland but probably very little of what had happened in Scotland and nothing at all of what had happened in England. Those stories, recounted in Exiled in Eden, are purely conjecture on my part.

I was just lucky that Matthew Burris came across Adam’s story and published it in My Pioneer Ancestors in 1948 to provide me with an unbroken written thread that reaches back through 6 generations and more. But if Arnold Stewart had not written it down in the first place, I would never have learned of it.

Break open your treasure chest, and polish up those treasures!

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