Home life

‘Dropped Dead!’ (What was the Editor Thinking?)

It’s interesting to read old newspapers. You never know what tidbits of information you will find that brings history to life. Even if the article has to do with death.

deadTake this one that appeared in the front page of the May 2, 1884 issue of The Clare County Press about the death of Rebecca Rulapaugh.  I ran across the article while doing some research on another topic, and the headline and subhead made me want to read it.

Dropped Dead!

Sudden Demise of Mrs. Rebecca Rulapaugh at the Dinner Table Tuesday.

In the Best of Health one Minute and the next a Corpse.

Mrs. Rebecca Rulapaugh wife of John Rulapaugh who lives north of Clare, died very suddenly on Tuesday. The family had just taken their seats at the table for their midday meal when the wife and mother fell from her chair to the floor. Her husband immediately went to her assistance and she was placed upon a bed but she expired almost as soon as she was laid down. The deceased had been feeling as well as usual Tuesday morning and she was subject to no trouble that the family knew of. Her sudden death was a great shock to her family and friends. She was 57 years of age and leaves behind a husband and seven children to bear the loss…

When I first read the piece my first reaction was one of laughing atRebecca the headline.  However, one would expect Rebecca’s death would have devastated her husband and the entire family.   After all, Rebecca was only 56 and had been in the best of health-or so it appeared.  We have no other information on the cause of death but do know that Rebecca was buried in Woods cemetery in Clare County thanks to information posted on “Find a Grave” by someone with the username of twkistle.  Her husband John would join her in death two years later at age 64.  Whether his wife’s death was a factor in John’s passing, we do not know. 

What did John and the family think when they read that article? Were they horrified at the wording?  Or was this just considered the norm a century or more ago.  Maybe the Rulapaugh’s didn’t have the time, money or desire to read the paper, and so never saw the article.  This is not the first time I’ve run across articles that have seemed to sensationalize a death (if, in fact, this is what the editors intended)  Yet, I wonder what was the goal of using those headlines and subheads and did they regret their decision later.  We will never know. However, is does make me wonder, what were they thinking?

Categories: Clare County, General, History, Home life, Michigan | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Social Media in the 19th Century

Social media is not a recent invention.  Twitter, Facebook, and even blogging are just the latest means people have used to spread the word about themselves and learn about their neighbors.  (And, of course, there’s gossip, a form of social media that has been around forever.)

Newspapers have also been good sources of information.  Back in the 30’s and 40’s Hedda Hopper dished dirt and spread the word on Hollywood celebs.  And in rural communities in the days before the telephone made it easy to communicate and the Model T made it easy to get around, no self-respecting newspapers would have been without a column with information on the local community’s goings ons.  While the content they printed was pretty tame, they did provide a way for people to learn about their neighbors. 

Map of Clare County circa 1885

Railroad map showing small communities in Clare County, MIch. While Dodge and Mann’s Siding appear on the map, Dover does not since it was not on the rail line. Dodge is located approximately where the letter “g” is in Moore’s Siding, northeast of Clare. Dodge is also the site of the Clare County Historical Society museum complex.

The Clare Sentinel was one of those newspapers with such a column that ran on a weekly basis.  Below is part of one column that shows the news in the communities of Clare communities of Dodge, Dover and Mann Siding.  Only Dodge* is still in existence. 

While 100 years ago or so, the column provided readers with news, now the column provides us a window into the general life of Clare County inhabitants.

*What is somewhat noteworthy is that the column appeared less than a month after a big fire that struck Dodge and its giant mill and burned for three days.  The mill was never rebuilt and eventually, Dodge disappeared from maps until the late 1940’s.

The Clare Sentinel
April 26, 1894

Dodge

  • Mr. Joseph Carrow was out of town on business Friday.
  • Mt. L. M. Shumway was out of town Thursday.
  • The doctor has been somewhat under the weather the past week.
  • After a few days absence on business, H. Derail is again in town.
  • The party at Wm. Bolier’s was a pleasant affair.  All report a jolly time.
  • Master Herma Dehart went to Midland Tuesday where he is to spend a portion of his vacation visiting relatives.

Mann’s Siding

  • Boltone and Stillwill were visiting friends and relatives in Mt. Pleasant last week.
  • Will Davis has moved into his new house. It is hard to tell how long he will live there because he is always on the move.
  • The quilting bee at Mrs. Boulton’s was a success to the letter and all agree in saying they enjoyed themselves.
  • A heavy snow storm visited this part Friday night.
  • An uncle of Hiram and Silas Brown is visiting them
  • Charley Dingman who has been visiting parents and friends for the past three weeks returned to his home in Traverse City .
  • Miss Laura Walters visited Mrs. Leonard on Friday last.

Dover

  • We think the time that Elder Rogers occupied at the Eagle belonged to the Lord, not to the people.
  • A great many ladies enter Mrs. L. B. Lyons shop but scarcely none come away without a new hat. Her prices are within the reach of all. Butter and eggs are taken in exchange.
  • The mill is still running.
  • Mrs. Wm. Parrish and daughter called on Mrs. L. B. Lyon last Friday.
  • Harry Beacon has the quinsey.  (note: a throat infection)
  • W. L. Lyons is making a nice improvement to his store.
  • Geo. Dennis has moved in his new house.
  • One of Mrs. Donley’s children is quite sick.
  • D. Denno and wife were in Clare Tuesday.
  • A.    N. Whitlock has purchased a span of horses from a man in Farwell.
  • Mrs. L. B. Lyons was the recipient of a new sewing machine from her father. It is nice to have a kind father.
Categories: Clare County, History, Home life, Michigan | 2 Comments

The Amish in Clare County

Amish3If you were to guess the decade the Amish established a presence in Clare County, what would be your answer?

  • Maybe the 1890s after the lumberjacks had left and farmers moved in?
  • Or the 1930s during the Great Depression when farmers moved to new areas looking for inexpensive farmland and new opportunities?
  • Perhaps after WWII when suburbs began to sprout in rural areas once containing the Amish, hiking the cost of farmlands beyond what young Amish couples could afford? 
  • The 1980s, because it took them that long to travel that far north by horse and buggy?  

The answer IS the 1980s, but not due to any reason related to horses or buggies.

Amish 1Although Amish have been in Michigan since 1895, and there were even Amish settlements in mid-Michigan that did not proper (Coleman, 1911-1913), it wasn’t until 1980 that Amish settlements started in Clare and Gladwin counties.  Although it’s not known exactly what brought the families from Ohio, a local history book called “Amish Society,” by John Hochstettler, a member of the Amish community,  mentions two reasons for the Amish coming to mid-Michigan,  including the fact it was becoming difficult for younger Amish to purchase farms in traditional Amish communities and there were  some unspecified conflicts with church ministers among some congregation members.

 Whatever the reasons, the first Amish resident in Clare County, according to the community’s local history, was Roy J. Yoder from Holmes County, Ohio.  Before coming to Clare, Yoder had investigated Michigan’s thumb area then came to mid-Michigan looking at various properties in Gladwin county before settling on land northeast of Clare.  In the spring of the following year, a second family moved to the immediate area and other families followed, beginning what is now the Clare Settlement.

Growth continued until, by 2010, there were four communities near the City of Clare, each with its own church and school, and led by its own bishop.  The Amish continue to move north with families now located both east and west of Harrison.  Currently, there are about 1,000 Amish living in the county.  (Amish tour and shopping)

About the same time, the first Amish settlement near Clare was being established, another group of Amish from Hardin County, Ohio purchased farms in Gladwin County and a large community developed in the Gladwin and Beaverton areas.Amish map

There are approximately 13,000 Amish in Michigan residing in 38 separate communities and 98 church settlements.  (Michigan’s Amish  population increased 115 percent between 1991 and 2010.) Because the Amish have no churches, instead meeting in homes, an individual community has to be small enough so meetings at homes are practical, yet large enough to be viable.  A church community has approximately 30 families (120-200 people) headed by (usually) a bishop, two preachers and a deacon.  The school has one or two teachers serving the students of that community who attend grades 1-8, which is all the schooling required by the Amish.  Community is paramount in both orders and its members operate under the Orndung, or consensus of the community.

Michigan has two orders of Amish: The Old Order  and New Order. Neither allows the driving of cars but the two orders differ on allowable technology (i.e., cell phones, power lawnmowers) and church discipline, with the New Order being more lenient.  There may also be some differences in the Orndung from community to community but because communities want to be in communion with one another and can risk being shunned by neighboring communities, the Orndung changes slowly and usually in conjunction with other neighboring communities.

Speaking of shunning, in their late teenage years Amish young people make a decision whether to be baptized into the Amish community.  Approximately 25 percent of all Amish either do not join the order or leave it after joining.  Those who choose not to become Amish are not banned or shunned.  They are welcome to visit the community and their family and friends can talk to them.  Shunning is reserved for those Amish who take the vows to be members of the community and then break those vows.  It is this process that helps keep the community strong and single-minded.

The Amish pay property taxes and income taxes.  If self-employed, they do not have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.  However, if they work for an employer, they do have to pay those taxes, even though the Amish do not use either of those social programs.

2010_Feb_Harrison_Amish_buggy

Amish FAQs

The Amish in Michigan, by Gertrude Enders Huntington (2001, Michigan State University Press)

Categories: Clare County, Gladwin, Harrison, Home life, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Putting a Face to History

Charity and Chancy Root1 (2)One of the amazing things about historical research is that it can get personal.  That’s personal as in meeting people and not just learning facts and figures.  Another amazing thing is how one bit of research can branch off and head in another totally unintended yet fulfilling direction.

Take the Root family of Hatton, Michigan. T hey were the subject of a blog post a couple of weeks ago that sought to connect the now dead Clare County town of Hatton and two Root children buried in the township cemetery.  The two died several years apart before the turn of the 20th century during a time when Hatton itself was dying.  The town died because the lumber industry that had sparked its birth and life was over and most of the town’s 200 residents had moved on, including Chancey and Charity Root, parents of the two deceased children.

I visited the kids’ graves earlier this year and became curious why the parents were not buried near their children in the family plot.  A huge stone with the word “Root” carved on it seemed to indicate would be the final resting place of the entire Root family.

In the course of my research, I contacted Virginia Braun, my mother-in-law and a gifted genealogist to see if she could tell me what happened to the two elder Roots.  She immediately wrote back recommending I visit “Find A Grave (findagrave.com).  It was there she had found the Roots’ finally resting place in a cemetery in nearby Gladwin County.  Even better, she found photos and a family contact.

So I emailed that contact who was also the source of the Root family material.  The contact, Ken,  wrote back immediately, providing death certificates for the two Root children along with additional photos of the parents, Chancey and Charity Root some of which are shown below.  (It also appears Chancey was married before but not sure if that union resulted in children or how long it lasted.)

Chancy and Charity Root- editedFrom a few of the photos I saw, Chancey looked happy or at least (as in the photo at left) had a gleam in his eye. None of the photos shows his wife smiling. Not sure why.  For sure, a woman’s life had to be hard, especially she was generally tasked with all the housechores, and they had to be many given she was raising and cooking for what might have been a family of 12.   Adding to her sadness was the fact that at least two of their children died at young ages.

During our emails back and forth, Ken did ask something of me:  He wanted to know if I could find out any information on a Delbert Root and whether a tombstone in the Hatton cemetery inscribed with the letters DEL might be the gravestone of Delbert.

DEL tombstoneI again turned to my mother-in-law who found a Delbert on the 1910 census when he was 16 and still living at home, which was now in the northeast corner of Clare County, near Gladwin County. Virginia also told me about Rootsweb  (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com),  part of Ancestry.com, saying that was another wonderful free source.   (The fact that both the family and the Website share the same name is a coincidence.)

She added that she did not find a Social Security death record for Delbert.  “Looks like he didn’t marry and no one filed for his death benefit,” she wrote.  So it’s possible he died young.  Because the stone in the photo is not in the Root family plot, I doubt the grave belonged to Delbert Root, but until evidence is found elsewhere, it’s difficult to say where Delbert is and who DEL was.

As for Chancey and Charity, may they rest in peace.  Delbert?  The search continues.   And who knows who might help me this time around and where that help may come from?

Categories: Clare County, History, Home life, Life, logging, recreation, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Divorce in the Country

Attorney: The child that was born, at the time was it born dead?
Plaintiff: Yes, just at that moment, but if we had help it wouldn’t have been born dead.
A: What did your husband say he was going to do with the body of this child?
P: Feed it to the hogs.
A: Did you object?
P: I was too sick.

Transcript of divorce proceedings
Circuit Court for the County of Clare
Harrison, Michigan March 28, 1922
Honorable Ray Hart, Circuit Judge, presiding

Lizzie Pom
vs
Anson Pom

For some people, the “good old days” on the farm conjures up a vision of mom and pop working together to raise a passel of little ones, bringing in the crops, going to church every Sunday and fending off evil bankers, clouds of locusts and an occasional tornado or hailstorm.

And sure, there were wonderful marriages among country folks that lasted for decades, Imagesometimes out of love, sometimes mutual respect and often out of need. But life almost 100 years ago was not always idyllic. In fact, in some households, life was sheer hell. Take the Pom family that once lived in Hamilton Township in the northeast portion of Clare County. (Note: Even though this case is in the court records and can be found in the archives of the Clare County Historical Society, I have changed the names.)

In March 1922, Lizzie Pom addressed the court concerning a marriage she wished to end from Anson her husband of 10 years, a husband by the way, who had disappeared years earlier. This is the way it happened, according to the court proceedings:

A: What time of day was it that he left home?
P: It was in the afternoon sometime.
A: Did he tell you where he was going?
P: No sir. Well he had said he was going to leave home and get some money to pay off the mortgage on the place.
A: On this particular day, did he tell you where he was going?
P: No sir.
A: Did he take any clothes with him?
P: No sir.
A: Did he change his clothes before leaving?
P: Yes sir.
A: Where?
P: The boy came from school and the cows were out of the gate and Floyd didn’t see why he didn’t put the cattle in the barn and feed them, and I says, “he must be out in the barn or out to the neighbors. I haven’t seen him since meal time.” So Floyd put them in the barn and there Anse had changed his clothes and left his old clothes.
A: You found his working clothes there on the barn floor?
P: Yes sir and when we went upstairs afterwards to see if his new clothes were there, there, they were gone. He had taken them through the window because we found a window that had been closed, open.
A: Did you ever get any trace of your husband from that time on?
P: No sir.

According to testimony, there’s had not been a happy marriage. Although the worst incident seemed to have been the time when Lizzie was pregnant and having a difficult pregnancy but Anson had refused to allow her to see a doctor. And on the night she gave birth and was very ill, he had still refused to even get up and it was only after she begged him to at least go to a neighbors for help that he had gone out at all. Even then, he stayed at the neighbor’s house until she had done all she could and the baby was dead and she had returned that Anson went back home.

At the time of the proceedings, Lizzie was probably in her late 40s or early 50s. This had been her second marriage. Her first had lasted 20 years and resulted in three children, two of which survived. Lizzie and her first husband had divorced and he had remarried within two weeks.  When asked the ages of her children by her first husband, Lizzie said she knew Floyd, who had been living with them at the time of Anson’s disappearance was now 21; however, she didn’t know the age of her daughter who was now married. And despite the problems associated with the first child in 1913, Anson and Lizzie had conceived a second that was born four months after Anson had left.  Her name was Myrtle. After Anson had left, Lizzie’s father- and mother-in-law had come to live on the farm, a farm they held title to. Lizzie had lived with them until they had both died. Now she was hoping to not only get divorced but take title to the farm, which included more than 70 acres.

Apparently, the Pom family had a penchant for running away. Anson had apparently run away two times before but never this long. And his brothers had both run away from their homes. One of them, Al, was gone seven or 10 years before returning.  Attempts had been made to locate Anson but no one had heard from him, not even his parent’s after he had disappeared from the barn.

The court talked to numerous witnesses and in the end, granted Lizzie’s wishes.

Note: My mother-in-law is a crack genealogist and I passed the transcript to her and asked if she might be able to find out what happened to the Lizzie afterward. She not only did that, but found out about Anson as well, including the fact that he was institutionalized for a time–something that was not too surprising considering the testimony.

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, Home life, Michigan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes to Begin a New Year

I month of so ago I completed a small group study sponsored by Brown Corner’s United Brethren Church north of Clare. It was called “One Month to Live,” based on a book of the same name by Kerry and Chris Shook. The premise behind the book was a simple one: If you suddenly knew you only had 30 days left on this earth, what would be your priorities during those final times? And shouldn’t we live life now based on those priorities whether we have 30 days or 30 years? I wrote about the study in a previous post.

Anyway, each of the 30 chapters in the book began with two quotes from well-known or not well-known (at least to me) individuals and pertained to the subject matter of the chapter. I found myself savoring many of those quotes to the point that I typed up the ones I found most meaningful (about 25 of the 60 quotes) and have posted them by my front door. Those quotes appear below and they are in the order they appear in the book.

Do I have favorites among them? A few, and I have highlighted those. Take a read through them and see if they speak to you as they did me. You might just want to post one or two by your front door or on your mirror to review on a daily basis. And have a good year.

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.
Alan Sachs

I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending, that haunts our sleep so much as the fear…that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived.
Harold Kushner

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
Diane Ackerman

You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.
William Shedd

He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass. George Herbert

He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
Martin Luther King Jr.

The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
Elie Wiesel

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Carl Buechner

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. John Southard

Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.
John Southard

He became what we are that He might make us what He is.
St. Athanasus

There lives in each of us a hero awaiting a call to action.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
Maya Angelou

How does one become a butterfly?…You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.
Trina Paulus

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain but we can avoid joy.
Tim Hansel

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
C.S. Lewis

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters to large for some of us to see.
C.S. Lewis

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
William James

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for that faith is to see what you believe. St. Augustine

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Henry David Thoreau

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
Jim Elliot

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
Eleanor Roosevelt

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
C.S. Lewis

Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t. Richard Bach

Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending.
Carl Bard

Categories: Clare County, Home life, Life, Michigan | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Almost Time for Flannel-Lined Blue Jeans

Iflanneljeans graphic am a big believer in flannel-lined blue jeans during the winter months. They are one of the best ways to survive a Michigan (or any other northern state) winter.

Why? Because cotton jeans seem to attract the cold and the wind whips right through them. But flannel-lined? Ahhh, the flannel feels warm against the legs, especially when you have skinny chicken legs like mine. And the flannel helps combat the cold north wind. Furthermore, you can wear them indoors as well as out and dial down the thermostat a bit. But even if you don’t lower the inside temps you won’t overheat and drop from heatstroke. Lastly, no one knows you are wearing them. The stiffness of the cotton fabric helps the jeans keep their shape. (I have worn flannel-lined docker pants and they don’t look nearly as good, although I am at that age where I’d rather be warm than look stylish.)

I’ve gotten mine from Penney’s and Eddie Bauer (when on sale) but the Duluth Trading Company has them at a good price. So, if you are looking for a gift to give or need to put something on your holiday gift list, think flannel and think warm.

Categories: General, Home life, Michigan | Leave a comment

Christmas Music Already–oh the Horrors

Stopped in yesterday (Oct. 26) to my neighborhood Family Dollar store in Harrison, Michigan. As I wandered the aisle I heard “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” a great hymn. I was humming along thinking how nice it was to hear a Christian hymn in a store when suddenly the thought struck me: I wasn’t listening to a hymn, I was listening to CHRISTMAS MUSIC. In October. Days before Halloween. I grabbed my purchase and headed for the cashier. As I paid for my purchase I commented on how terrible it was the store was already playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC. “I’ll be tired of it by Christmas, that’s for sure,” she growled.

That’s the Christmas spirit I thought as I headed out the door, wishing the cashier a “ho,ho ho, as I left.

Categories: General, Harrison, Home life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Interviews: A Great way to meet People

I’m new to this area. A new full-time resident anyway. I bought a place in the woods between Harrison and Gladwin about seven years ago and came up here with friends and family on a fairly regular basis during all four seasons. I enjoyed hiking and biking, hunting and fishing and learning about the local history, which I find fascinating.

Now, due to changes in my life (mostly unexpected and unwanted), I live up here Marty's home inthe countryfull-time. The nice thing about it is that I get to enjoy the beauty of mid-Michigan and the friendliness of the people seven days a week. I still love it here. I find I am less stressed when I drive, take more time to enjoy the sights and talk to residents, something I didn’t have the chance to do when I was a Sunday trunk slammer. The downside is it is hard in middle age to get integrated into a new community, meet new people and find ways to keep busy.

Record and Clarion logoConducting interviews for The Gladwin County Record and Beaverton Clarion helps me in all those areas. At least once a week I get to sit down with someone from the Gladwin community and find out about them and about the new place I call home. In the short time I’ve done this job I’ve met a man who races motorcycles on ice, a man who seasons sausage, a woman who directs 4-H in the county and a recently retired State Police Fire Marshal who had some great stories to tell. More than people to interview, I’m making one new friend a week. As a result of one interview I’ve decided to join the local Lions club. I will not be racing motorcycles on ice, though.

I’ve also learned a lot about this area, why people live here, what they like about it and why they call it home. And although I do like talking to the people I am called upon to interview, actually transcribing the interviews is a bear. I’m not the greatest typist in the world and I need to carefully type the 3,500 – 4,000 words of the interview into a Word document and then pare them down to 2,000 – 2,500 words while ensuring the text remains accurate, flows easily and reflects the personality of the subject. I have to say I have a greater respect for Barbara Walters and David Letterman now. Interviewing is not as easy as it seems.

I hope people like the result: The people I interview; the readers of the paper; and of course, Stephanie Buffman, the editor, and Mike Drey, the publisher of The Record and Clarion. I appreciate them giving me the chance to write for the paper; I also appreciate the plug they put in each week concerning this here blog.

I hope this gig turns into a real life, full-time job somewhere in the area, and sometime soon. I love Gladwin and Clare counties but, love alone won’t pay the bills. However, in the meantime, I wrote, I transcribe, I volunteer my time (Mid-Michigan Home Care and Clare County Historical Society), get involved with a nice local church I’ve found, and count my blessings–a good way to spend time in this area I now call home.

If you have someone in Gladwin County you’d like to see profiled, drop the editor an email at Sbuffman@thegladwincountyrecord.com. New friends are always welcomed.

Categories: Clare County, Gladwin, Home life, Life, Michigan | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My Painted Turtles Hatched-Well Kinda

baby painted turtle in handWay back on June 25, I watched a painted turtle lay eggs on a sandy hill outside my window in Harrison, Michigan. I had never seen that happen before and I was enchanted and watched it from start to finish. I even took the female back down to my pond afterward so she wouldn’t have to walk all the way back. I wrote about it in the post soon afterward.

Then I waited. And waited some more. I knew it could take anywhere from 30-to-80 days for turtles to hatch (a lot depends on temps). Every once in awhile I checked the site but 30 days soon turned into 80, and early summer turned into late summer and still and nothing.

My cousin, who is a herpetologist (it’s good to have one of those in the family) told me at our family reunion on Labor Day to wait another couple of weeks and then dig up the nest and see what was there. She said that sometimes the female gets so scared when someone comes around while she’s laying eggs that she does not really lay them, just goes through the motion.

Five turtles So I waited. And waited some more. And then on Sept. 22, I grabbed my shovel and dug. Carefully, hoping I wouldn’t chop any  eggs– or turtles–in half should there be any. I was not even sure what I would find. And after about four shovelfuls of dirt I hit paydirt. Or should I say a squirming mass of turtles about six inches down in the warm sand. Five turtles to be exact. Well, maybe six but I was so excited I could have lost one when I scooped them up. They were about an inch in diameter and the spitting image of their mom. Although they seemed happy at first to see the sunlight and me, they soon did their turtle thing and pulled back into their shells. I placed them down in the grass, then on the concrete and then in the house on the kitchen floor and took a number of photos of them. And then…well, I was suddenly at a loss on what to do. Maybe I shouldn’t have dug them up after all. Maybe they were getting ready to hibernate. Maybe they were now as good as dead because I HAD dug them up. Maybe I had sealed their death warrant.

I tried to call my herpetologist cousin but she was not available. So I decided to just let them all go. After all, the water was still warm, the sun was still bright and at the very least they could get a bite to eat (assuming they knew how and what to eat) since I was plumb out of turtle food.

So I took them to the edge of the pond on my property and placed them on a stick one-by-one at the water’s edge. And, one by one, they came out of their shells, launched themselves into the water and set off swimming as though they had been doing it all their lives. And then they were gone.

It was very cool.

Categories: Clare County, ecology, Harrison, Home life, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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