Rose, My Nan, the Log House, and Stories

My grandmother Nan was born in 1886, the same year Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter was born.  They both have the same name, too – Rose!  What a connection.  There’s more.

Nan as I remember her.

Nan when she was 14.
Just think- I not only spent time in her childhood home as a child,
I visited there when I was 14.
My granddaughter just turned 14.

Nan in 1909 when she was married.
Look at that hat and muffler!

My grandmother, Nan, has been my hero since I was a little girl.  I spent Sunday afternoons with her, and it was delightful.  No, it was more than that.  Nan filled me with stories, taffy pulls, and dressing-up.  She drove me and my sister in to Kresge’s, the five-and-dime, to spend a whole nickel on anything we wanted.  Sundays with Nan were the best.

She was born and raised in a log house in West Virginia.  Every time I read “Little House in the Big Woods” to my children at school, I think of Nan.

She told me all about that house.  I spent time there as a child.  I love that house.

That’s me, visiting the house in 2016.

Nan was a storyteller.  Oh, those wonderful stories and memories!  I remember her stories well, and my own childhood events have become the foundation for ‘Jennie Stories’.  Perhaps that is why I enjoy Pa’s stories in “Little House in the Big Woods.”

My first childhood memory is the sound of a train.  I was sleeping in this family log house, which by the way is in Lowell, WV.  The house today is known as the Graham House, named after a family member who built it, and is on the National Historic Register.  But, back then in the 50’s, my family still owned the house.  The history is thrilling; it is the oldest two-story log house west of the Appalachian mountains, built in the early 1770’s.  My grandmother, Nan, lived in the house until she was married.  She told me many times the story of Indian raids.  On one occasion the children were in the summer kitchen and ran to the house.  The boy did not survive and the girl was kidnapped. It took the father eight years to get his daughter back, trading horses with the Indians – hooray for family stories!  They are the glue that keeps us together.

As a child, listening to this story is much like my preschoolers listening to my childhood stories.  I know how that feels, and I, too, made those pictures in my head. That’s what children do when they hear a Jennie Story or chapter reading, like “Little House in the Big Woods.”

The sound of the old steam engine train whistling by as I slept at the old log house is one of my fondest memories. When I recently visited the house with my husband, my first visit since 1964, I immediately recognized everything. I ran up the stairs and felt along the wall beside my bed, as there had been holes for rifles to go through when fending off an Indian raid. The holes were still there, just as I remembered, and just as Nan had told me.

Is it the sound of the train that makes my memories crystal clear?  I think so. On the playground at school the far away sound of a train goes by in the morning. Often I have the children listen carefully, and then I tell them about sleeping in a log house and listening to a train.  Stories are the keepers of words and memories.


P.S.  With the Art Show coming soon, my love of art also started with Nan.  Stay tuned.

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Family, geography, history, Inspiration, storytelling, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Rose, My Nan, the Log House, and Stories

  1. Darlene says:

    We learn so much from our grandparents. They are our connection to the past. Your Nan was stunning. I love those old pictures.

  2. Ritu says:

    Our grandparents are so much of who we are.
    Lovely recollections, Jennie 💜

  3. Great story, thank you for sharing.

  4. A very deep going and wonderful remembrance, Jennie! Without grandparents, children find it difficult to develop. Thanks for sharing your memoirs, Jennie! Have a beautiful Sunday! xx Michael

  5. What lovely memories of your Nan. ❤️

  6. Smashing post Jennie, lovely to have had a Nan like that.

  7. Jim Borden says:

    I like when our senses, whether it be sound or smell, or one of the others, triggers a pleasant memory. Nana sounds like a wonderful woman, and how nice that you were able to spend some time at a house with such history…

  8. Family stories are the best stories! It’s great that the log house is on the National Historic Register, so that it will be preserved.

  9. What a wonderful post. From your grandmother’s younger years to the importance of your time with her, cheers to her role in your life. Well done, Eileen!

  10. Laura Hickmond says:

    Oh Jennie, this is wonderful!! Luckily, I have copies of those pictures too. What a rich history to have and share. How nice that you were able to visit the house ( and even go inside) in 2016— who is living there now ? I’m sure the the children treasure this story, as well as all the amazing stores you tell and those you read to them. Your little students are very lucky indeed!! 🥰❤️Love, Laura

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Jennie says:

      Hi Laura!! We were both so lucky to have Nan. I treasure those memories of her and the log house. The photos are terrific, many of which I got from you! My favorite is Nan at age 14- the same age as we were when we took the train to Lowell. Remember? Oh, the ride in the car with Ted Lively!

      On a drive back home from I don’t remember where in 2016, we decided to take the scenic route and drive by the log house. We pulled up in the driveway, and there were workmen on the roof. Steve said we couldn’t bother them, but hey, when would I ever have the chance again to see the house? So, I got out of the car and asked if we could see inside, telling them it was my family’s home. They were wonderful, and gave us a whole tour. I immediately found the holes in the wall for the rifles in case of an Indian raid. The panelling downstairs is quite nice, more so than I remember.

      No one lives in the house, as it’s a house to tour. Barclay told me years ago that she and Dick went to tour the house, and they were telling the docent more than she knew. Ha!

      I have another blog post I’m writing about Nan and art. It will be posted this week. Another walk down memory lane! And, it influenced me more than I realized.

      Love and miss you!!! 😍

  11. beetleypete says:

    What a character Nan was. Good to know she helped to turn you into the wonderful lady you are today.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      She was the salt of the earth, never an unkind word, a strong woman. Can you imagine losing your parents, siblings, both husbands, AND your children? She always saw the good and never complained. I just wish I had asked her more things…I think that’s our curse as we age, regretting not having asked our grandparents about their life. I’m lucky for the memories. And, thank you for your very kind words! Best to you, my friend.

  12. quiall says:

    You have the spirit of your grandmother and you wear it well!

  13. Pictures are like a time portal where you can visit your loved ones.

  14. joylennick says:

    How lucky to have such warm memories, Jennie. I was very lucky too but, sadly, no stories…Lots of cuddles and love though! Cheers. xx

    • Jennie says:

      Joy, I dearly wish I had asked Nan about more things, such as, “What was it like when you were a little girl?” Still, I am lucky, and she shared some wonderful stories. Yes, lots of love and joy, which is incredible from someone who had a hard life and lost everyone (including her children.) She was a strong one (she would talk about being from weak cloth or strong cloth) and always had a kind word and a smile for everyone.

  15. Following in your Nan’s footsteps–you do it so well, Jennie!

  16. A lovely memory of your Nan, Jennie.

  17. petespringerauthor says:

    I enjoyed reading about Nan. I never get tired of hearing about the influencers in someone’s life. I find the backstory or the “why someone is they way they are” stories fascinating. If we trace most children’s histories, it doesn’t take long to find the explanation (both positive or negative.) Maybe that’s why I blog about that topic so much. 😎

    • Jennie says:

      I feel exactly the same way you do. All those stories about people who influenced you, and why you are who you are, are in my blood. They light my fire, even in the smallest moments. Whether it is Nan or someone else’s story, that story is “it”. Thank goodness you blog about this topic, Pete. People need to read these stories. It gives them a ‘reason’. Best to you, my friend.

  18. Kendall says:

    What an incredible history!

  19. Lovely trip down memory lane.

  20. That’s an amazing family history, and story! I didn’t realize I missed hearing a train go by and honk until this past week-end when I saw and heard 2 trains going by. They’re pretty cool locomotives!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you liked the story, Deborah! Isn’t it interesting how the senses can trigger a memory, even from long ago? Trains will always be my favorite. Yes, they’re pretty cool! When we lived in Ivyland, PA in the early 80’s, the old stem locomotives went by, and I was in heaven. Family history is wonderful.

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is absolutely wonderful! I completely agree with you that “Stories are the keepers of words and memories.”

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  23. beth says:

    Jennie – this is wonderful! it looks like wp had unfollowed me on your site, but I found you and am refollowing you!

  24. CarolCooks2 says:

    What beautiful memories and they show how they have shaped you into who you are today our grandparents and family do shape our future in so many ways a delightful post Jenny with great images.. x

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Carol! Yes, the memories have shaped me in the best of ways. Today at school I showed children the picture of my grandmother when she was 14, and her log house. Our chapter book is “Little House in the Big Woods”, so this was a big deal and a connection for them. Jennie’s grandmother lived in a log house, like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  25. Annika Perry says:

    A post brimming with love, warmth and family, Jennie! 😀 Your Nan looks so glamorous and happy for her wedding and wow, those Sunday afternoons have been part of the strong foundations for your whole life. I love how the sound of the train runs through the post, that you listen for it with your students in the morning. Wonderfully evocative.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Annika! Sunday afternoons with Nan were the best. Yes, that wedding photo! And the sound of the train floods me with memories. I love sharing that with my students.

  26. Ruqia Ismat says:

    Beautiful recollections. Thanks for sharing.

  27. bosssybabe says:

    You look just like your Nan! I can feel your love for her in your words, thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us, too! I love hearing old family memories and seeing old family photos… so Interesting!!

  28. Norah says:

    What a beautiful memory to share. Memories like those make us feel snuggly, warm and connected.

  29. I remember you sharing about this log house before, Jennie. What a wonderful memory and story.

  30. Pingback: Rose, My Nan, the Log House, and Stories – Nelsapy

  31. loisfay says:

    I luv this story

  32. Pingback: My Grandmother Nan, and Art | A Teacher's Reflections

  33. YOU COULd write a book about Nan. . . .love Michele

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s