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Uncle William

By John I. Blair

(See pic below)

When he was born in Cornwall,
Baptized at Saint Columba’s church
Where family sat in carved pews,
Stiffly dressed for Sunday mass,
Mad King George still sat the throne,
Napoleon ruled in France.

Not even in his teens
He journeyed with his family
Aboard the Hope of Philadelphia
First to Baltimore and then
To raw frontier,
Missouri, County Pike,

Where drafty cabins, angry Indians,
Rough uncultured settlers,
Harsh accents, sounds and smells,
Must have made the New World
Frightening at times
For twelve year olds.

And suddenly his parents died.
Leaving him, his brothers, sister,
Stranded there so far
From all they’d known,
Somehow surviving,
Helped by caring strangers.

Will grew up and married,
Farmed the soil, had children,
Moved to Illinois,
Built a house upon the prairie,
Lost a son and then his wife,
Reconsidered life,

And sailed for California,
In 1856 a catalyst for dreams,
A golden land for fresh beginnings,
Where he became a rancher,
Reinventing self yet once again
Five thousand miles from Cornwall.

And his children’s children’s
Children’s children’s children
Live there still, more native
To the place than most around them,
Roots sunk deep into the land, the home
That William finally found.

©2010 John I. Blair

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Below: William Veale's tombstone


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