Friday, March 6, 2009

You'll Always Come Back ~ The Poet:

Yesterday I visited my cousin Peggy, to show her some images I'd found of the first Dutton homeplace, here and in Virginia.
She surprised me with a letter, written by her grandfather, William Perry Cundiff. Describing exactly how Peggy and I are cousins still requires a complex map - suffice for now to say that her grandparents were 1st cousins, and the genetics of the Cundiffs and Duttons are and were quite intertwined, both before and after Wiliam Perry's time.

When I started work on You'll Always Come Back I thought I would be able to pick and choose my subjects. History is a different sort of plan ~ some individuals, however interesting their lives might be, leave little trace upon the earth behind them.
Others, dull as dishwater perhaps, leave plenty. What I hadn't expected to find amongst my deceased relatives was a poet. William Perry Cundiff certainly was one, as these two artifacts show. Peggy had given me the poem about waiting some time back, not knowing who had written it. Her later discovery of the letter in rhyme shows the same hand, and is signed.

An inclination to poetry - could it be genetic? Or just a result of the repeated intermingling of two families who were bookish?

I haven't made out all the words yet - W.P. uses two forms of "e" & sometimes uses an "f" for and "s" as was the practice of that time. Besides these two documents, all I know of him are these photographs from Lucretia's little leather-bound album of tintypes, and that he worked at one time as a whiskey taster.


Mary Beth said...

Nature? Nurture? A blessed combination of the two might prodcue the poet.

Speaking of blessed, do you realize how amazing it is that your family kept so many letters and pictures. Those of us with "sensible" forefathers who cleaned that attic and the barn are left with cold dead Census figures, court records, and tax lists. ( Could I be more green with envy?)

Thank you so much for posting the letter and poem. Fun to read them!

Dan Dutton said...

Yes - I do realize the blessing of having a packrat gene! There was a bit of a jaw drop on finding these two documents tho - the letter in particular is the sort of artifact which is often deliberately destroyed.

I thought about transcribing the texts to post as well, but decided maybe others would have the same fun & frustration I'm having in trying to decode them. That's part of the process in working with things of the past.

What's awful is that within my lifetime, when "The Old House" burned, many letters and documents of the 1800s were lost. Sigh! (I don't know why I sigh, since I've got more material than I can give shape to now!)

Mary Beth said...

If you're at all like me dear Dan, you sigh because you want it all!

Dan Dutton said...

That's it, exactly!

Today I made some photographs of Dutton Hill that I'm hoping will lead to landscape paintings of how it might have looked in the 1800s. I'm planning to do at least one of the battle - so lets confer. Most likely the people in these paintings will be too small to recognize, but I'm sure to include your ancestor, somehow!