Sunday, November 29, 2009

Learning From the Past

Family Gathering
by Joseph Clark, British, 1824-1926

Please go here  and cick on the painting for a dramatic full screen view. It is so interesting to see the details of this painting, especially the realistic way the little child is resting her head on her Daddy's strong arm, and the loving way he is holding her; so much like home scenes today, where fathers are dedicated to their children.
It is interesting to look into family history and discover the way of the home. The past is rich with examples of life during times when it was more home-focused for the women.  When I look at these photographs, I think of the hard work they did, such as the process of washing clothes.

 The physcial labor of the home was much more time consuming, as so much of it was done by hand. Clothing was sewn, stitch by stitch, and everything had to be ironed, with an iron heated on the stove.  Today, homemaking is much easier and even a luxury, so I do not know why any woman would not want to be home doing that, instead of working for someone else. Homemaking is not all work, these days. It can include simple matters, such as selecting something to make a centerpiece on a table, or finding the right kind of ingredient in a grocery store, to go with a savory dinner. 

A photograph from my family album, my great-great grandparents. Their grandson and Grand daughter are my father and aunt.
John Houston Propps and his wife, Sarah Caroline Tackitt Propps( b.1852-d.1923)
Caroline was the only daughter of Pleasant Tackitt,(1803-1886) and Kezia Francis Bruton Tackitt,  of Texas
John Houston and Sarah Caroline Tackitt lived in the San Antonio area in Texas.

At first glance, old photographs do not seem to "say" much about the lives of the people. Just like the old paintings I have featured here, you have to look carefully to find the evidence.  A person might, for example, discover the style of suit or dress and figure out the date of that style, and perhaps find historical patterns for that clothing.  It is important to know something about your relatives and what they did, for you might find something worth immitating.

 It is even better if you can find out something about their spiritual lives and what they believed about things like honest labour, enterprise, marriage, fathers, etc. How was the home a centre of family life in those days?  It is good for people today to know something about the people that settled this land. It gives young people something to live up to, if they know some good things about the people that went before them.

 Lacking this, however, every one has the Bible, which gives the spiritual history of those who embraced the teachings of God. That is even more important than knowing the history of your own relatives, for no matter how they lived, it is most important to pattern your life, as a homemaker, after these divine teachings. 

While I have no diaries or letters or any oral history of the life of Sarah-Caroline, she left many clues that continue into the present. She had several children, and one of the daughters, Lillie, was my grandmother. Lillie was known as a little bird, flitting to and fro,  busily making a home for her family.  She used everything until it was worn out and when it was unwearable she made rag rugs from it. I have some of her more delicate handiwork: a set of crocheted pillowcases, made with the tiniest of perfect stitches, in the color pink (of course).  She raised 7 children, and two of her sons became preachers. When she grew older, her daughters took turns caring for her in their home, each, a month at a time. Sarah Caroline must have taught her daughter, Lillie, something, for in those days, you got your knowledge from your upbringing.  Sarah-Caroline was faithful to her husband and her home all the days of her life. It was not written down, it was passed down.   I think it is important to have something that you pass down, whether it be a value or a talent or a teaching, that future generations can look back upon. (I hope to post pictures of the pillowcases made by Sarah-Caroline's daughter, Lillie, here.)

Seated with the newborn is Lillie,  the daughter of Sara-Caroline, the dark-haired woman in the previous photo.   All the girls clothing was handmade by her, and the rug looks like one she made. I have the little gown worn by the baby.

Family and Mountain Home in Kentucky
Go Here and click on the image on that page, for a larger view.

This looks like one of the autochromes (potato starch) photos that I was talking about in a previous post. Notice the Daddy holding the hand of his child. 

Regarding the painting by Joseph Clark, please go to  and click on the picture and get a full screen view. Keeping the dates of the artist in mind, does anyone think that the black box on the mantel is a radio?  If not, what do you think it is?  The full screen picture is fantastic, so be sure to view it.


Anonymous said...

Yes, this is so true.

Anonymous said...

I love how in the picture the home is busy and lived in and not empty perfect as in photos of homes today. With Christmas decorating and crafting upon us my home definitely has the busy lived in look as well. :)

Anonymous said...

These pictures remind me of all that i have lost during my years away from home. The warmth of that uncomplicated, loving picture of family generations working to provide must only be a memory to some women. I remember my son saying to me on one rare day I was home 'I love it when you're home Mum, there's always a bowl of hot water in the sink'. Such a simple thing and a yet so missed by my son.
Unfortunatly here in the UK there appears to be even more of an insiduous attempt to breakdown the family than you have in the USA.
Christianity, suposidly the spiritual identity of our country is daily held up to ridicule and insult by politicians and the media and probably the 'Church of England' is as much to blame for this. Sad times.

Anonymous said...

I like the picture. It shows the family together: grandmother helping, husband minding the children, wife running the home, together. Unfortunately, it is not like that today for most families.

Anonymous said...

Working for someone else, even another woman, is not always pleasant, I can tell you that. When I did work, I always wished I was home where I could do what I wanted. It was freedom. I was my own boss. My husband was content to leave the running of the home to me, and he would help with housework, usually unasked! He loves our home, too.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Guard the Home is under Family matters. Click on :Who WIll Your CHildren Learn From".

Anonymous said...

This topic is close to my heart. While you are young, ask you elders questions; record their answers. I am at the age of the grandparent with only one surviving 'elder' who is now 92. I ask him even now from time to time family history questions. Write the answers down and keep them for the next generation coming up in your family. Not all will have an interest, but someone special will. They will greatly appreciate what you have taken care to do.

Anonymous said...

I guess I just realized our culture has taught us to look down on "messy" homes and to prefer the sterile look. Sterile means no one's home or no one's doing anything but watching TV! RB

Anonymous said...

I must comment on the painting by Joseph Clark. In addition to its being a very appealing portrayal of family life, I would like to point out that the little child (looks like a girl) on the father's lap seems a very natural pose, as do the depictions of each figure in the painting. It brought to my mind the pounding that men have taken at the hands of feminism. To hear them (feminists) tell it, fathers didn't even know how to pay attention to their children, especially their female children, in any meaningful way before women were...ahem!...liberated.

Just an observation. :o)

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The paintings are very evident of real life of the era. The dates of the painters cover the same time my great grandparents lived. I see them in black and white, and the paintings give me an idea of what their homes and clothing were like. I have found other paintings of fathers with children and will post them. Feminists try to portray fathers as stern and harsh, with no concern about their children, but photographs, film footage and paintings, show a warmth. THe movie "The electric Edwardians" showed a clip of a father holding his daughter's hand as they walked on a street in London. It did not look like the people were stiff and distant from one another rather it looked like they were happier and a lot more comfortable with people that we are today.

Anonymous said...

To the contributer from the UK, Australia and New Zealand are much the same, tragically, if not moreso. the English Speaking Commonwealth, and increasingly the subcontinent and developing world are all in need of dedicated prayer and lights in the darkness to show God's way home - literally! Let us pray for one anothers' nations and the millions of women therein, some blessed with the knowledge of God's will for them, others disinterested and yet others who seek ernestly to follow our Lord and Saviour given little to no encouragement from the pulpit. Let us pray, for through combined, conserted prayer, God can and does work mighty works.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

If you have not been able to be home in the first place, and just now getting started, you might feel there is a loss of time. However I think if you just began now to instill some family traditions and memories, such as the saying of the previous poster, you can have something to remember of your stay at home years. Your children will value that time more than any other, even if you have not been home in their early childhood. If you only had one year home with them, you can at least say "Lets make this an interesting year." You can learn about home living, together and it will stand out in their minds more than any other experience. You can take ahold of one year and live it the way you have always wanted to, having meals, shopping for food together, learning together, finding right values together. I know of a woman who homeschooled her daughter only the last two years of high school, and today, it is the thing that bound them together and made them the kind of family they wanted to be. It is better of course, if you can do this from the beginning, but if you have not, then it is better late, than never. Better to do it, than not at all. Sometimes just being home , even after missing out on many years, can erase the time wasted and make up for it.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Just a notice that the last week and into this week, I have had a really difficult time getting a post to stick. So if yours didnt appear, it is still there in the mechanics area , and I see it, , it is just that for some reason, my blogger is not cooperating with me.

Anonymous said...

I think feminists have portrayed a wrong picture of men and fathers back in the olden days, too (ignoring daughters, treating wives as chattel, which I'm sure SOME men did, just like SOME men do today, in this day of women's liberation).

Most of the very elderly men I know (in their 90's) respected their mothers, aunts, female cousins, grandmothers, sisters, wives and daughters very much, and tell tales of their exploits.

Very few women in the olden days really sat around in lace dresses reading books on window seats. Those kinds of women had servants.

I remember my husband's aunt, born in 1912, telling of how her step-father bought her an automobile and taught her to use it, when she was in her early 20's.

I don't remember any of these old ladies talking of having been oppressed. Why the feminists show worse-case scenarios of truly abusive homes back in the olden days and act like it was the norm, I don't know. Sounds like propaganda to me.

Anonymous said...

I think that the black "box" on the mantle is not a radio but instead a baking dish of some kind. You can see a pair of scissors hanging on the wall to the right and it makes me think that people likely "decorated" with the essential things that they had around the house.

Elaine Mott said...

I found this blog while doing a family history project. We too are related to Sarah Caroline Tackitt. We are related to her son Felix Hamilton (Harper) Propps. Love learning so much about our family history!

Elaine Mott said...

I came across your blog while doing a family history project for my son. We too are related to Sarah Caroline Tackett Propps. We are related to her son, Felix Hamilton (Harper) Propps. Love learning about our family's history!

Lydia said...

This is a very welcome and interesting connection, Elaine!


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