Old fashioned story telling forms part of historical record

By Willa Wick in Community
Morris Langwisch shares a story with (left) Mable Williamson, Marion Bracken, and Shirley MacKenzie

Morris Langwisch shares a story with (left) Mable Williamson, Marion Bracken, and Shirley MacKenzie

Do you remember? That’s how most stories start when seniors or historians gather together. Mabel Brown Williamson led some lively discussions at the Drew Community Hall, reminiscing about “how things used to be.”
Williamson, who was raised on Lone Elm Farm north of Keady, has relatives in this area, so Drew wasn’t unfamiliar to her.
The 1960s saw many changes in the farming community. Things went large scale and most farmers moved into specialized production: beef, dairy, pork, poultry or cash cropping.
Mabel, who saw the ways of her youth quickly disappearing, promised herself that when she retired she would recount all her childhood memories of life on the farm, and get her family members to share their stories.
Although originally intended just for her own extensive family, Mabel’s book Barn Stories: A Social History of Farm Life, has captured the interest of many.
Excerpts were read from the book and all others were encouraged to share stories. The Zurbriggs of Palmerston, had just returned from visiting their ancestral roots in Switzerland. In their home town the sales barn has ended up in the middle because growth has surrounded it. The cattle sheep and pigs are still herded down the street to the barns on sale day.
Pictures are important to save. Bob McEachern, of Palmerston, advised everyone to write on the back of them all. Mr. Zurbrigg warned to be specific. He has old pictures which say, “the whole bunch of us a week ago Sunday.”
This was the 2nd annual Story Telling event sponsored by the Minto Heritage Association, and the event is proving to be a fun afternoon.
Each individual is unique, and every one does have a story.
Family history has to be recorded. Ordinary life is changing as quickly as farming. It once was beef, pork and fowl, now it’s bees, elk and ostrich.
Both Mabel Williamson’s parents kept diaries and set time aside each evening to write in them. It would be wonderful for future generations if we all could be so committed today.