“How Came We So,” Narrative Family History

Editor’s Note:  Katelyn Walzer’s “How Came We So” draws upon unique family history and years of research.  The photo, accompanying this work, shows members of Walzer’s family, from past generations.  Though this is a work of narrative, it is based upon a true story of her family’s American Dream.

As we walked down the beaten dirt road, the children carried and pulled the trunks while I cared for the baby. We were nearly half way to Boston, England. We had only five miles left of walking until we would arrive. My mother had traveled along with us, helping both me and my six children when we needed it, and she never complained. Ten miles in all, we would walk from our hometown Friskney, to Boston so we could then get a ride to our ship in Liverpool. It was not my choice to put our family through this; it was my husband William’s. But of course I understood why we had to leave, and I understood that this was and had always been his dream and would provide better opportunities for our children.

 Once we had made it to Boston, we had sore feet and sore heads, but nothing was more sore than my heart when I looked at my mother. I could not fathom leaving her behind. It was one of the hardest things for me to do, it distressed me to think of her walking those ten miles home all by herself. But I had to stay as strong as I could for the children, as they were much more confused and worried than I was. We found a small townhouse to stay in for the night. The children settled quickly, while I stayed up with my mother. We just talked about simple things. She reminded me to not worry about her, and that she would be fine on her own. She told me to just focus on the children and to keep them happy. We eventually dozed off into the silent night.  

The next day, once we all had awoken, we prepared for another day of travel, fortunately, we wouldn’t have to walk as much. We took a small carriage that would take us directly to the docks of the ship. The trip itself was a long, rough, and bumpy ride, but the children were able to pacify each other with quiet little games they had invented. My mother would take the baby when I couldn’t get him to settle. It was times like these when I was emotional at the thought of never seeing her again. Soon enough we had arrived in Liverpool. The strong smell of the dirty salt water made my eyes begin to sting, reminding me of the rough days ahead. The carriage pulled up to the docks and dropped us off. After I paid the driver, my mother huddled us all together and told us that she had a great surprise for the children, and for me. She presented us all with gifts. The girls, besides myself, had gotten red beads that they were to make bracelets out of when we reached the United States, and the boys were given marbles to roll around on the boat’s floor. As the children showed each other their new treasures, she glanced over at me and handed me a bundle of cloth. I carefully unfolded the blankets, and to my great surprise, was her black teapot. It was a beautiful gift that was given to her by her mother, my grandmother, as a gift for her wedding. I was astounded when I realized it was being presented to me. 

As we boarded the ship, I clutched my new teapot and  turned to look to my mother standing alone on the dock. I prayed it wouldn’t be the last time I saw her. I let my eyes roam over the town of Liverpool, and muttered a goodbye to my home and mother. With that final goodbye I wiped the tears from my cheeks and I turned to enter the ship. 

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