Spirits of Grandfathers Past - The New York Times

Spirits of Grandfathers Past – The New York Times

Grouse Creek, Utah, is about as off the overwhelmed path as a town can be. To entry this sleepy neighborhood, you have to cross miles of dust and gravel roads over hilly terrain. A little two-pump fuel station is the town’s only commercial building, together with a Bureau of Land Management bunkhouse, a get rid of-like post business office, a smaller schoolhouse and a church.

In 2020 almost everything in Grouse Creek continue to feels like it belongs in a different time. Maybe the only issue that’s genuinely altered around the very last century is that the city has amplified in population. When the town was set up in 1876, there were just 20 adult men and a number of of their wives and kids. Today the populace stands at approximately 80.

What makes this city personal to my wife, McCall Austin, is that her wonderful-great-grandfather Valison Tanner and his brother were amid the to start with to settle in the neighborhood following taking cooperator herds to graze in the pristine meadows there. Her ancestors remained in city for generations and her father was born there, far too. Her Aunt Norma Jean nevertheless life there right now.

But what would make the city own to us as a pair — and what will make this story worth telling — is anything my spouse discovered last summer. Alongside with quite a few other folks, my wife has develop into pushed to reconnect with her previous and is an avid researcher of our family’s history and genealogy. Somewhere together that journey she stumbled on the personalized journals of my fantastic-wonderful-grandfather, James Chandler.

Remarkably, it was in just all those web pages that she 1st realized that James the moment lived in the little town of Grouse Creek, way too.

In 1888, James was a having difficulties schoolteacher searching for function. His search led him to the 12-12 months-outdated local community of Grouse Creek where by he offered to teach the 14 kids then living there. His journals say he did not know everyone in the city in advance of he arrived, but he notes that a person of the 1st people who provided his desk and his household to the weary traveler was my wife’s fantastic-fantastic-grandfather. The two adult males turned quickly buddies — speaking often, taking their family members to swim in the creek alongside one another. Valison’s family members the moment cared for James’s wife when she fell sick. The two males remained close till James accepted a teaching position in Bountiful, Utah, about 224 miles absent.

Out of reverence for our newfound shared record, my wife and I made the trek out to visit the town of Grouse Creek in August. As we walked by means of the tiny group, we assumed of our ancestors meeting there for the initially time additional than 130 yrs ago.

We considered of the previous, abandoned schoolhouse there and we ventured out to see if it was nevertheless standing. It was. An aged wood and stone creating with major beams sagging in just, the surrounding floor overrun by weeds and wild grasses. The making was abandoned when a new faculty was created farther up the highway.

My spouse and I stepped into the just one-room building and could virtually listen to the university kids laughing and could almost picture terrific-wonderful-grandpa James instructing at the head of the course.

In that moment, heaven didn’t come to feel like a extremely far-off spot.

I wondered what James would have assumed about his fantastic-great-grandson sitting down on a laptop back again in the summertime of 2007 in Costa Mesa, Calif., messaging a female he experienced just achieved on Myspace. And, no matter if he knew that awkward grandson would later marry that attractive lady and they would have four wonderful youngsters alongside one another?

And did he know that pretty lady would be the direct descendant of his excellent mate Valison? It was in that minute that I initially began to marvel if someplace beyond this mortal existence Valison and James could have experienced a hand in my wife and I meeting.

Of training course it may possibly all be a coincidence. But considering that that day I haven’t been ready to shake the assumed that my spouse and I just may possibly be a match built in heaven.

Daryl Austin is a journalist centered in Orem, Utah.

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