Thursday, December 24, 2009

Traditions at Christmastime

Saturday was our family Christmas party. We have had this particular tradition for about 40 years. I know I can count on my sister’s homemade rolls (the size of a small loaf of bread!) and ham; Brian’s crab dip and the fudge made from my mother’s recipe.
I can also count on the chaos of a dozen or so children assembling gingerbread houses from milk cartons, covered in sticky icing that lets the candy gumdrops slide right off if you aren’t careful. Sometimes spitting is involved, used to settle a disagreement.
Then there is the tree. We pick a family member to lead the children in Christmas carols in front of the tree, while we adults look at the bubble lights and the ornaments that are our favorites. There is always one child that is a little shy and needs a hug from their grandmother, or an out-of-tune aunt or uncle who will chime in on their favorite verses.
And then it is time for the gifts. At Thanksgiving, we have picked a name from a hat, and for this party everyone has wrapped their name gift and piled it under the tree until there are so many it seems the tree will be lifted right off the floor! The children have of course spent much of the afternoon finding the gift with their name on it, and speculating on what it might be from a distance, since we have a “no touching” rule.
The level of excitement is at its peak when we end our caroling and ask a child to hand out the gifts. Everyone must wait to open theirs until every present is handed out.
And then the big moment arrives – the signal is given, and the air is filled in seconds with shreds of wrapping paper amid the exclamations of surprise and pleasure.
Every family has their traditions; whether Christian or not, holiday or not. Imagine how perhaps my great-granddaughter would enjoy reading this little note about our family celebration. A wonderful gift to your children and grandchildren would be for you to take the time this year to write down what you recall from your childhood traditions, and share it with them next Christmas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Alanson Tracy

Faithful readers may recall previous entries about an Alanson Tracy, and others in that family. This entry is about a descendant who had moved on from Scipio, then fought valiantly in the Civil War. Dying of his injuries, he returned to Scipio for his eternal rest.
This Alanson Tracy was 24 when he died, single, and a Lieutenant in the 3rd Michigan. The Scipio Clerk’s book says Alanson was born in Scipio in 1838. He was a Lieutenant in the 3rd Michigan Cavalry. He mustered in as a Lieutenant in October of 1861. He was single, and his father was Calvin Tracy. The Clerk Book says that Alanson died in Cincinnati of disease in June of 1862, and is buried in Scipio, Cayuga County, NY.

We know a little more due to the generosity of his descendants. They have shared a photo of Alanson, which we have on display right now in the History Corner at Scipio.
A dashing young man in his uniform with the bars on his shoulders, Alanson is the very embodiment of our romanticized idea of a Union soldier in the Civil War. We also learned that his mother was Lucilla, and that he was born at the Tracy homestead at Sherwood, Cayuga County, NY on September 15, 1837. He died June 18, 1862 of injuries received in the US Army before Corinth, Miss. and is buried in Aurora, Cayuga County, NY.

He had been living in Detroit at the time of his enlistment. Corinth, at the junction of the Memphis and Charleston and the Mobile and Ohio Railroads, was recognized by both Confederate and Federal Commanders as being of such strategic importance that the village was occupied by one or the other of the forces from 1861 - 1865.
Following the 2-day battle in April 1862 named for Shiloh Church, the Confederates were forced to withdraw to Corinth.
Following Shiloh, Corinth became a vast Confederate hospital center. Hotels, churches, residences, warehouses, and the college were filled with wounded; but, more troops died of sickness and diseases than wounds.

The Tracy family was one of the first to settle here and make Scipio their home. Search this blog for “Tracy” and you will find a few previous entries that demonstrate their importance in the early Scipio community.