Well, I am back again. I guess I have committed myself to this rocky-chaired venue. Oh the pleasures of living in a small town where most businesses close their doors at 6pm. The good news is that my delicious tea (Earl Grey with milk – no fanciness) totalled $2.05. I can definitely commit to that.
I must admit that this weekly ritual has reawakened my excitement about the history of the Shaws, and I hope that it has ignited a spark of interest inside of you. And as much as I may complain about living in a small town, please understand I wouldn’t change my circumstances for the world. I consider myself very blessed to be living so close to the land on which the histories of the Shaw family were born, and doubly blessed to be able to visit my grandparents each week, armed with a physical copy of my latest blog post and an unending list of questions.
For those of you who are not yet interested in or impressed by the accounts previously revealed, your fate may be determined in the final section of MacMurchy’s article. Perhaps the story of Thomas and the kettle just wasn’t enough. Perhaps you need a story that pits man against beast – Thomas against a bear. Hooked yet? Read on.
“Livestock was more valuable than gold to the early settlers and in a few years Mr. Shaw had a pair of pigs living in a pen on the farm. One day a bear [A BEAR!] broke into the pen and the pioneer saw this animal make off with the young swine. He chased [YES, CHASED!] it [THE BEAR!] with an axe but was unable to recover his precious stock.”
Unlike the story of Thomas and the kettle, this story seems to have failed the test of time. When I asked Grandpa Shaw about the story’s validity, he admitted that he had never head it before. I’m not entirely sure how to interpret the story’s absence amongst the memories of my family, but it certainly does not discount the possibility that the event happened. Bears inhabited the area during Thomas’s lifetime and when I consider the constitution of the Shaws living today, I have no doubt that given the same circumstance one of them (I mean us) would have done the same thing. Mind you, a bear would have to take off with more than a pig for me to make a move. I am, after all, paralyzed in fear approximately twice a year at the prospect, and inevitable reality, of helping my family move Dad’s cows from one property to the next, despite being armed with the most aggressive looking stick I can carry. And cows are herbivores!
My point in sharing the story of the bear with you is not for its obvious shock and awe value (though it does have this effect). Instead, I believe that its recorded existence points to the true value of MacMurchy’s article, and Lorne’s role as family historian. Despite the inclusion of questionable dates and events that I have indicated with asterisks in previous posts, the narrative about the bear that appears in “The Shaw Family of Nearby Banks” may have been lost to time if it had not been for Lorne. And for this, I offer a heart-felt thank-you. I feel that Lorne and I would have bonded over our mutual interest in Thomas’s (and Isabella’s) life in Canada. And to think that he knew Thomas leaves me speechless, and rather envious. Oh to be a time traveler… Perhaps I will have figured out how to achieve this by my next post.
Source: MacMurchy, J.T., “The Shaws of Nearby Banks.” The Enterprise Bulletin. Sept. 6, 1972.