Our town is small, as I’ve mentioned before. Not only is our town small, our whole two county area is small. Let me tell you how small.
A few weeks ago a guy came from a town about an hour from our new house to talk to me about the possibility of installing ductless air conditioning and as he got ready to leave he handed me his business card. His name looked very familiar and I immediately knew why.
A couple months before his visit I had been packing to move to this house and I found a letter sent to me about 20 years ago (I know, I’m old) when I worked at one of the local newspapers (I started when I was 10. Wink.).
The letter was from a man who recognized a name I mentioned in one of my columns. The name belonged to my great-grandfather’s sister Molly Grant Manley. The man who wrote me was one of her grandson’s.
When the air conditioning man handed me his card, I saw his last name and realized he was related, somehow, to the man who wrote me the letter because his name was included in the letter. Long story short, the man who wrote me the letter was this man’s great-uncle and his great-uncle and grandfather were the grandsons of my great-grandfather’s sister. This man’s was named after his great-grandfather, who was a former bank president and well-known in his community.
I wrote a column mentioning Molly because sometime in the early 1900s Molly used her new engagement ring to carve her name in the window pane in a window at her parent’s, or brother’s home. That home was where I grew up and the window was still there when I was a child. We were often warned not to break the window because it was a family heirloom. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom to call outside to my friends and me: “Go throw that ball somewhere else, please. You might hit Molly’s window!”
Somehow Molly’s window survived all those years with children throwing balls and playing outside it. It even survived my dad almost shoving a rake right through it . Luckily he only hit the storm window that was installed in front of it.
When my parents moved out of the house and in with my grandmother across the creek they gently removed the window, wrapped it up in a thick blanket and took it with them. It’s now stored behind my grandmother’s safe.
While the ac man (hmmm, maybe I should call him my distant cousin from now on?) was here I showed him his great-great grandfather’s discharge papers from the Union Army which all of the grandchildren of my grandmother was given a copy of several years ago after she and I discovered the original under her bed. Grandma knew the document was there but didn’t really realize what it was until we unfurled it and read it closely.
Molly is listed as Mary on the paper but from what we understand she was always referred to as Molly, not Mary.
I can’t help wondering what type of personality Molly had to have to decide to carve her name in a window with her diamond ring. I always imagined she must have been pretty spunky and fun.
My distant cousin had to head back to work, I had to tell him later we can’t afford his system this summer (hopefully next) but he said his family was going to be very interested in my information about Molly.
Now that I think about it, I’d be interested in some information from them about the woman whose name was almost literally engrained into my childhood. Hopefully, we can connect someday soon and exchange what we know about our common ancestors.
For now, most of what I know about Molly and her husband is on the website for the Pennsylvania Apple and Cheese Festival because it is held at the farm they lived on all those years ago.
Looking at her husband’s photo and reading on that he died some thirty years before her in 1935 and that she was 92 when she died, my creative brain is also sparking and I’m thinking a story based (loosely of course) on her life might be fun to write someday. We will have to see.
(P.S. Molly’s husband looks a lot like our AC Man. Of course, that is his great-grandfather but still, isn’t the passing down of family physical traits interesting?)