Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Breath, Eyes, Memory - Student family histories

The Blog experiment in an English 103 classroom.

We started with the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. It led to readings that focused on bringing marginalized voices to the center. Chief Seattle helped us to look into family histories and students interviewed family members and shared their stories.

Danticat gave us words and the students used them to look into society's structure and they examined the word "patriarchy."

The students also wrote extensions to the novel and some students rewrote the ending.


Michael Buchmiller
English 103 
Family History Story
Zachariah Hardy, was born in Belfast, Maine on 12 March 1779. He was trained to be a carpenter and ship builder. With his later family he heard the gospel and moved to Nauvoo, IL to join in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The first person they met upon their arrival at Nauvoo was the Prophet Joseph Smith with whom     they became intimately acquainted. Zachariah Hardy was chosen to be a bodyguard for the prophet and held this position until the Prophet's death.
At the time of the martyrdom of the prophet, Zachariah was among the first to reach the scene of the tragedy. This event threw the saints into grief and confusion until Brigham Young took command of the Church, determined to lead them west. Immediately they were caught up in preparation to move. Part of the preparation was building flat boats large enough for horses and wagons to board. These flatboats had to be ferried across the river. Originally because the Hardy's were carpenters and shipbuilders, Zachariah was called to go with the first company as rafts and bridges were needed to cross the many rivers going west which would be swollen in the early spring, but later because of his seamanship skills Brigham Young asked him to stay and run the ferry boat across the river to assist the fleeing saints who were being driven and persecuted by angry mobs.
On February 9, 1846 with the wagons lined up down Parley Street, his own family among them he began ferrying the wagons across the mighty Mississippi. He ran the ferry day and night for three days as he could not depend on help. On the night of February 11, 1846, a terrible storm arose. The chilling winds of winter swept down upon them with a force that rivaled the terror of the mobs. Zachariah never wavered from this calling. The next morning when the ferry had not returned, the found him lying on the ferry, his beard and hair matted with ice. He had a very bad cold that developed into pneumonia from which he died on the river bank with only a wagon bed covered and placed on the ground as a means of protection. In this same wagon-bed lay his sick wife, who had there delivered a baby five days earlier and their other five children, the wagon-bed being the only shelter the young family had.
As they dared not return to Nauvoo in the daytime, his brothers, Joseph and Lewis and brother-in-law, Abiah Wadsworth and a son, William took his body and buried it at night. This left his wife Eliza, along with six children, with very little to live on until spring. Emma Smith, the prophet's wife, opened her home and cared for them until Eliza was able to travel and then said, if she would give up her trip west with the saints she could have a home with them and she would pay for the children’s education, but Eliza refused.
          Lewis took his family with the rest of the Hardy and Wadsworth's to a small town about fifty miles farther on. Here they remained until the spring of 1849 when the moved to Council Bluffs. They started their journey west on the 10th of May 1851. Eliza's oldest son, William now being 16 years old they joined Captain Day's company, consisting of about 50 persons. Eliza had a small team and an old wagon in which she had all her earthly possessions. William drove most of the way, while the older children walked and pulled a cart and the two younger ones rode in the wagon.
         It was a long tiresome trip and Eliza was often so tired and footsore at night that she found sleep impossible, but she was never heard to complain of her sad lot, always ready with a smile and cheer for those around her. Their trip was uneventful.  Although, they were troubled by some wandering tribes of Indians and they often had to stop and repair bridges or build rafts to cross the swollen streams. All went well with them and they reached Salt Lake Valley which to them was indeed the "Land of Promise," September 18, 1851."

Emerson Malone

Since the 1820s, American settlers populated Texas, a land owned by Mexico, soon outnumbering the Texas-Mexicans themselves. Mexican dictator Antonio Opez de Santa Anna enforced new, strict laws to reduce the numbers of the colonized, including abolishing slavery. The American settlers rebelled against the new laws and began to seek independence beginning in October 1835, the month the Texas Revolution began. The most famous battle of the Texas Revolution was the battle of the Alamo. The siege is so famous because it is key to the creation of how Texas won its independence as a state.

My ancestry can be traced back to both Daniel Boone, the famous pioneer who explored and settled in what is now the state of Kentucky, and the monolithic battle of the Alamo in 1836. This story begins with Tabitha Callaway, the daughter of Jeremiah Boone and Flanders Callaway, was the paternal granddaughter of Daniel Boone. She married Abraham Darst.

Abraham and his brother Jacob Darst came to Texas while their seven siblings remained in Missouri. Abraham came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin’s second colony in 1829, while Jacob came with the DeWitt colony. Green DeWitt, of Missouri, had a contract to settle 400 families in an area west of Austin’s colony and west of San Antonio Road. The San Antonio Road was the route that connected Nacogdoches, Texas to San Antonio to Mexico City to more eastern parts of America. The DeWitt colony established the town of Gonzales, Texas. Jacob settled in this town and was one of the 32 volunteers from the town who fought and died in the Alamo.

Abraham and Tabitha begat five children, one of whom was named Lorena, born in 1811. Lorena married Samuel Damon in 1834 at Damon Mound, which became historically significant as the first white settlement in Texas. Together, they had six children. In 1873, Tyra Taylor Damon was born. He had two children: Bess Lucille Damon, and her brother, Leslie Damon who married Abby Coleman. Abby was later married a second time to Ernest Napoleon Malone. He was born in Provencal, Louisiana on March 28, 1892. This is my paternal great-grandfather.

Navarro, Daniela
English 103 
                                    My Family History
             My family history goes beyond a few generations.  I have met my great grandparents from my mother’s side, which have made me realize that we have it easy.  My great grandma had 16 kids, all of which she had to raise on her own.  The older kids helped raise the younger kids.  Of course, this was in Mexico, in a small town called Toyahua.  My grandpa was born in that town 67 years ago.  He was the oldest of the 16, so he had to raise his siblings and work at a very early age to help his mother.  He would milk the cows at dawn, so they would have fresh milk by the morning.
             My grandpa would tell me that how hard he worked for his family.  He told me about a time when he was coming back from milking the cows that he almost got robbed.  It was still dark out, when he was about 2 blocks from his house, when he spotted 2 suspicious men.  I guess these men were criminals.  My grandpa was on his horse, when these men pulled his legs, trying to pull him off his horse. He was frightened so he made the horse run as fast as he could all the way home.  He also told me the story of how he met “La Llorona.”  She was a ghost that would call for her children every night, crying her eyes out.  My grandpa met my grandma, in the market one day, and they decided to run away to a nearby village.  This was the village that my grandpa’s grandparents had grown up in.  A few years later, my mom was born, the eldest of 5.  It was the tradition that she had to help with the younger kids.  My mom was born on a bed of hay in a village that they named “The infiernito,” “the little hell.”  I imagine they called it the little hell for a reason. 
My dad’s family also came from Mexico.  His family was from a town called San Martin Hidalgo, in the state of Jalisco.  His parents were not a traditional Mexican family.  They were never close to their relatives.  My dad was born on a street called “calle 16,” 16th street.  His parents divorced when he was about 3.  His mother immigrated to America in search of a new life for her and her 4 children.  My dad, the only male among 3 sisters had it tough.  He had to work to take care of his sisters.  That was what his mother, and his grandparents expected of him.  My grandmother would send them money monthly, so they could eat and go out and buy goods.  My grandpa was never in my dad’s life until just recently.  My dad then immigrated to the United States when he was about 17, where he quickly accustomed to his new life.  By then my mom had also emigrated from Mexico, and settled into the same apartment.
           I am proud to say that I know where my family comes from, and I’m proud of the sacrifices that both my parents and my grandparents made to give me a better life and better opportunities.  Now, my brother and I are in college, working part-time and trying to figure out our future.                
Arlene Reynoso
Eng 103/ 8:00am
  My Grandmother
       My name is Arlene Reynoso, and I am 25 years old.  I was born in Santa Barbara California, but I was taken to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico when I turned 11 months. I was raised there until I decided to come back last year. Both of my parents are from the state of Jalisco, but they met here in Santa Barbara.  They got married because my mother got pregnant of my older sister.  Consequently my grandmother never gets along with my father.
                     I am going to talk about my incredible grandmother Josefina.  She is my mother’s mom.  As the matter in fact, she is the only of my grandparents alive.  I admire her so much; she is a symbol of strength and wisdom for me.  That is the reason I would like to tell her story in order to others get to know her.
                  She is 84 years old.  She was born on March 19, 1927 in the town La Milpilla, in the county of Teocuitatlan de Corona, Jalisco Mexico.  She is the only daughter in a family of five sons.  She only went to elementary school, but she did not finish.  She only did until 5th grade.  When she was a child, she always helped her father in the land work.  Her family has corn land and grassland.  Unfortunately, when her father passed away, he did not leave her anything because she was a woman; women for him did not need to have anything because their husbands suppose to give them everything they need.   She got married at the age of seventeen.  She was really in love with him, and got pregnant.  Unfortunately, eight months later, some gangsters killed her husband.  He did not even have the chance to know her son David.
                 Ten years after of the murdered, my grandmother got married again.  Her mother in law gave her an advice to marry with her husband’s uncle who was also widow.  She followed her advice and did it.  With this marriage she had three children, on of they is my mom Rosa Isela she is the middle one; also she has my uncle Martin who is the oldest and my aunt Patricia who is the youngest.  Their marriage last around eight years because my grandfather was so jealous and one day he beat her.  She decided to leave him even though in that time it was not well seen.  Marriage was suppose to last forever, until dead separated them.  She moved to Tijuana because she got a job there. She left her three children in her town to send them money, but the oldest one, David, went with her to help her work.  She worked out side cantinas selling chicken wings to people who were getting off of there.
             There she obtained a passport to come to California to buy and sell chickens.  One day, she came to California and decided not to come back to Mexico for better opportunities.  She arrived to the city of Santa Barbara where she found a job in a house.  There she cleaned, did the laundry, cooked, ironed, baby sit, etc.  She did not have a day off and have to work all day with that family.  She was like a slave.  She stayed at the garage with her son.  One day, the family she used to work, had some guests.  One of them found that about my grandmother situation, and tall her that it was not okay the treatment she was receiving.  She told her to get out of that place, and sent her with other people who could help her.  Later, my grandmother found another job as a housekeeper   with better payment and with days off.  She stared to make more money to send their children back home.
            Some years after, she paid someone to help her children come to the USA.  She worked very hard in order to her children went to school. She did not want them to pass the same situation as her.  She was illegal for several years.  Fortunately, she met U.S citizen man who offered to help her to be legal in this country.   However, they got married to start that process, he could not help her because he did not make the sufficient income immigration requires to support another person.  He passed away.  My grandmother sent an application to immigration and finally they accepted and became a US citizen.  One of the reasons she could make it is because she was married with an American citizen.  Another lost for her was her son David who was involved in a car accident, and died instantly.  She has never recovered of that.
            Nowadays, my grandmother is retired.  She spent some months of her time in Mexico and some months here in California.  She is really healthy and strong, she seems to have more energy than me, she never complains of anything.  She likes to be very active.  She likes to walk and go shopping.  I can talk with her of whatever I want.  That is the reason I admire her so much, I would like to be kind of her when I had her age.
Siobhan Crevecoeur
ENG 103          
My Ancestry
         My great grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland and experienced the famous Ellis Island routine. Though I don’t remember their birth names, I know my great grandfather was known as Al. B. White and my great grandmother as Myrtle White.
         My great grandfather Al opened a restaurant in New York City near the railroad tracks. This was not uncommon except for that all the other shops and businesses there were on the right hand side of the tracks because passengers entered and exited on the right side of the train. Al playfully named his restaurant “Al B. White’s Wrong Side of the Tracks” and set up shop on the left side.
         The restaurant thrived! Myrtle was a beautiful actress in local plays and performances on the stage. Their apartment was located directly above their restaurant and my aunt tells me stories about watching her grandmother Myrtle rehearse upstairs all the while smelling the delicious food be cooked downstairs.
         The restaurant still exists today in New York but is now a soulful jazz club style called “The Moonlight Lounge”. My uncle recently went to visit and the new owners really enjoyed the history lesson about how it all began. I’m very proud to have such a happy story relating to Ellis Island and my family’s journey into the United States.

Nico Cabildo
Family History
The history of my family has always been something I’ve been very familiar with.  Ever since I was a young boy my grandfather always told me stories of his own father and grandfather.  My great-great grandfather and grandmother met on the small island of Basilan in the southern Philippines.  My great-great grandmother came to the island pregnant and ready to start a new life.  In the province of Lamitan, Basilan she met my great great-grandfather, a lieutenant in the Filipino Army. They had seven children, 5 boys and 2 girls, including my grandpa.  When World War 2 came along my great-great grandfather died in the war alongside with his American allies. My grandfather, the second oldest of his siblings, was forced to grow up early and help keep his family together.      
When my grandfather was growing up he had a goal for success.  He did well in school and eventually went to law school.  After school he met my grandmother who worked in the postal office. My grandpa was a lawyer in his younger years and eventually was promoted to be the head attorney of the island.  My grandma and grandpa had five kids.  The first four were girls and my uncle was the youngest of them all.  My mom was the oldest of everyone.   My grandpa always made sure they would do extremely well in school.  He even made my mom and aunts major into the medical field so they can someday work in American.            
My mom went the island of Cebu to go to college when she was 17.  She studied physical therapy and was very successful in school.  She met my dad shortly after college.  My dad was studying to become a doctor at the time.  My mom got pregnant around the time my grandpa brought his entire family to the states.  The move separated my mom and dad.  My dad has his own family in the Philippines and is currently a professor. 
My grandparents, mom, three aunts, and my uncle all moved to Florida together where I was born shortly after.  After I was born we all moved to Minnesota for a year and eventually settled in Walnut, CA.  My grandpa’s brothers all lived in Walnut so our entire family was reunited again.  My grandpa’s younger brother Tony was the mayor of Walnut City a couple years after we settled in.  I started kindergarten in that city and at the same time my Uncle Ian, a skinny 19 year old, enlisted in the navy with high expectations and future opportunities.  He was in a fireman aboard the USS WASP.  I remember him coming home for a few short weeks and then leaving for deportation again.  When he got out of the navy he finished college and got a degree working with computers.  He currently works with the F.B.I in the cyber terrorism unit. 
My aunts all work in the medical field.  I don’t specifically know what their careers are but I know it’s something to do in that field.  They all married husbands working in the same field of work.  My entire family practically works in the medical field.  They’re all very successful so I know my family has high expectations with my future.
When I was seven my mom got a job in Bakersfield, CA.  The two of us moved to our new home for the next eleven years.  I consider Bakersfield my hometown.  It’s where I grew up and became the person I am today.  I started my second grade at Hart Elementary where I met some of my best friends that I still hangout with on a daily basis.  In fourth grade I started playing football and was very competitive with other sports.  At the same time I was always skateboarding for fun.  Once junior high came along I quit sports and started skating a lot more.  I played football throughout high school but always remained the skate rat I always have been.  My families always been by my side and that’s why I try to figure out so much about them. 


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