Excerpt of source material for my story 'Roots and Wings'
Autobiography of Priscilla Merriman Evans
I, Priscilla Merriman Evans, born May 4, 1835, at Mounton, New Marberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales, am the daughter of Joseph and Ann James Merriman. About 1839, father move d his family from Mounton up to Tenby, about 10 miles distant. Our family consisted of father, mother, Sarah, aged six, and myself, aged four. Tenby was a beautiful place, as are all those Celti c Islands, with remains of old castles, vine and moss covered walls, gone to ruin since the time of the conqueror. Nearby was Castle Hill, with its old castle, most beautiful in its decay. It was moss and vine covered, and most beautiful in its architecture. Near it, and in fair condition, was a building belonging to the Castle, which was fitted up for a school. It was
called the National School of Tenby. When we were settled in our new home, we girls were sent to school, as children were put in school very young. There was a path leading up Castle Hill to the school, and another leading around the beautiful old moss covered Castle down to the seashore, where the children played in the sand and gathered shells at intermission. The children also loved to wander around in many rooms of the Castle, but shunned the lower regions, or basement rooms, for they had heard weird stories of dungeons and dark places, where in early times, people were shut up and kept until they died.
Besides reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic, we were taught sewing and sampler work was done in cross stitch, worked in bright colors, on canvas made for that purpose. The designs were churches, houses, trees, lawns, animals, flowers, etc. We were also taught the Bible. I was greatly interested in school, but was taken out at 11 years of age, or in my twelfth year, owing to the illness in our family. I was a natural student, and greatly desired to continue my studies, but mother's health was very poor, so I was taken out to help with the work. My sister, Sarah, continued school, as she did not like housework and wished to learn a trade. She went to a Mrs. Hentin and learned the millinery trade. Mother's health continued poor, and she died at the birth of her eighth child, Emma. I had many duties for a girl so young, caring for my sisters and brothers. While Sarah was learning millinery, she would sometimes wake me in the night to try on a hat, one she was practicing on. She learned the millinery business then went up to London, opened a shop of her own and was very successful. She married a gentleman by the name of James Harris, who was devoted to her, and followed her to London. She died at the birth of her fourth child.
Mother died on the eighth of November 1851, when I was 16 years old. The responsibility of the family rested on my young shoulders. I remember an incident which happened when my sister and I were quite young. A Russian Gypsy came and wanted to tell our fortunes. Among other things, the gypsy told my sister that she would learn a profession, and that she would grow up to be a great lady, dressed in her silks and satins, and live in a beautiful home in la large city. She told me that, owing to my good heart, I would not have the opportunity to become like my sister, and I would have to work and help others, and eventually I would cross the Great Waters. I had forgotten all about the gypsy's fortune telling until I had been in Utah some years, when my sister sent me, among other things, a beautiful black silk dress pattern and many beautiful things to wear, which were too nice for my circumstances. She sent presents to me by missionaries who visited London, and to whom she was very kind. I remembered then, the gypsy. My sister was a grand lady in London, and I had crossed the Great Waters, to America, "The Land of the free, and the home of the brave," and was happy in my growing family and rejoiced with my husband and family in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This autobiography is the source material for my historical fiction short story "Roots and Wings"
If you are interested in writing ancestry stories, please see my contest "Roots & Wings Contest - CLOSED" for some great prompts to get you started.