Pete of the Hill
Back in 2006 my brothers and I sold our parents home after my Dad had passed away. Prior to selling the house we cleaned out the attic. Through all of the sorting there was a trunk hidden behind the chimney that was very heavy. We lugged it to my garage for storage. It wasn't until this summer that I finally opened it up and I sorted through it.
As I was sorting, I found the original unpublished manuscript that my Mother had written and finished in 1983 (my Mother passed away in 2000). It is a memoir of her immigrant grandparents (Pete and Emma) who settled in an area around Oquawka Illinois. The story begins and ends through the eyes of my Grandmother and her sister, from about 1853 to 1983.
I had remembered that it was my Mother's secret desire to have this story published, but back in 1983 it was more difficult to do than it is today. She had one rejection and became a little downcast so she put it away and it was all but forgotten.
The thought occurred to me to self-publish it and give it to my family members as a surprise Christmas gift. But as I was retyping it to send to the publisher, I really got caught up in it and thought it was a sweet story that had some things to be told.
If one is looking for profound writing, they might be dissappointed. But if one is looking for a story that is told in a sweet and simplistic way that tells of some profound moments in American History, it may be enjoyed.
The story tells about what life was like back in the mid to late 1800's around the Oquawka and Monmouth Illinois area. It tells a little about my Mother's two Uncles who were in WW 1, things my Grandparents had to endure during the great depression and my Mother's two brother's who fought in WW 2. She writes a little bit about F.D.R. and what a mad man Hitler was. Sometimes the simplicity of her writing almost reads like an older childrens book, but sometimes simplistic is good.
The story has some mishaps and adventures of Emma and Pete's childen when they were young and the story follows them into adulthood. There was sometimes sadness and tragedy. The story touches on the untimely and shocking death of my Grandmother's younger sister. She also writes about my Grandmother's brother who took his own life in the timber around the Oquawka area.
I was only 12 years old when my Great Uncle committed suicide. I do remember at the time how tragic it was, but it wasn't until I reread the story that it struck me so sad. I guess as one gets older we sometimes develop empathy. (Although it is not mentioned in the story, my brother told me he had been a runner in WW 1 over in France. He must have been very brave.) It is my hope that this part of the story may bring awareness to someone suffering pain, whether it is mental, physical or both.
I will be the first to admit I am not an editor. There may be some grammatical and spelling errors (due more to myself than my Mother.) My Foreward and Preface in the book are embarrassingly amateur. But if you can overlook all that, it is a sweet and poignant 65 page little story told from the heart of a women who left behind a hidden family treasure.