President’s Letter: July 2010

Dear Family,

I’m in Ohio attending a Montessori training for teachers of adolescents this summer. While researching for a project on the U.S. Western Migration, I opened up the book Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lilian Schlissel.  The purpose of the research was to find information we could use to act out roles of people who migrated to the West.  We were practicing how if our students imagine themselves as people in the history they are studying, they will not only learn the history better but will gain a sense of themselves in the progression of mankind.

Here is a passage I came across:

Marriages on the frontier were often made before a girl was half through her adolescent years, and some diaries record a casualness in the manner in which such decisions were reached.  Mrs. John Kirkwood recounts that her brother Jasper decided to get married Christmas Day but was unable to find a minister or justice of the peace to marry him:

“The night before Xmas, John Kirkwood … the path finder stayed at our house overnight.  I had met him before and when he heard the discussion about my brother’s Jasper’s wedding, he suggested that he and I also get married. I was nearly fifteen years old and I thought it was high time that I got married so I consented.  Jack Kirkwood volunteered to go to Bethel and get Rev. Glenn Burnett … He came back with Elder Burnett early in the afternoon.  Shortly after he arrived, my brother Jasper and his girl, Mary Ring, who had just come from Missouri, stood up and were married.  Immediately after the ceremony had been performed, Jack and I stepped out and Elder Burnett married us.  No one knew that we were going to be married and they all were very much surprised.  I remember that we had a mighty fine wedding dinner and a big celebration.  One of the things I remembered best about the wedding dinner was a pie my mother had made from dried tomatoes.  You need not turn your nose up at it either for it was mighty good.”

Marriages arose out of a sense of mutual congeniality and the conviction that a man and woman together were necessary to do the work of living on the frontier.  Both young men and young women were free to follow their inclinations, and weddings were made expeditiously.  The young couple was expected to set off on their own, sometimes with a ‘chivaree’ or communal celebration, and sometimes with only a tomato pie.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey, Lillian Schlissel, Schocken Books NY c.1982 pg. 45

My first thought was, “I know these people!”  Of course, these were the memories of Charlotte Matheny Kirkwood.  That certainly made it easier for me to role play and relate to the history we were studying and my connection to Charlotte’s family also brought my colleagues a little closer to it.  Even without a personal connection, though, this passage offers a chance for adolescents to more clearly examine their own present day identities and responsibilities by reflecting on the past.  Connecting with our past improves our future.

Does anybody have the recipe for dried tomato pie?!

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the Reunion when I get back to Oregon.

Thank you to all who helped out at last year’s anniversary celebration.  This year the council has made one change and we have a treat for the kids:


This year instead of the raffle, the Family Council has decided to have a good, old-fashioned, country store.  Preserves or fresh bounty from your garden, hand crafts, plants and seeds, books, and items that would have been raffled off will be sold in the Country Store all during the Reunion in the interest of allowing more time for visiting.  So bring your “egg money” to spend on treats and treasures.  And bring your items to donate to the store.  If you were the lucky winner of one of the many books in the raffle last year and want a new volume to grace your coffee table, consider donating back last years’ copy and buying a new one at the store. Or do you have books, cd’s, or dvd’s that might be of interest to family members that you’d like to find a good home for while helping out the Family Association?


Arnie Young’s family, William S. Cooper descendants, will be bringing a piñata for the kids in recognition of Jasper Matheny’s life on the plantation in Mexico.

See you there,


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