Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September musings

It's amazing how the time flies by, isn't it? Hard to believe my last post here was in February.

I don't have much new to share. I just wanted to check in and assure everybody that I'm still here. Over the past year or so, I have gotten some questions about whether I'm still interested in the Pringle and the Simmons families. Of course the answer remains a resounding yes! The project has been going for about nine years now - almost half my life - and once you've been doing something like this for that long, it's tough to stop. Actually, when personal circumstances allow, I hope to move to Hastings or someplace nearby - and stay there for a very very long time. I feel sorry that it hasn't worked out yet, but I'm sure you all can relate to the fact that sometimes life throws us circumstances that we don't have as much control over as we'd like. But obviously the fact that I'm even considering moving is a testament to how the whole researching experience has shaped the course of my life in a rather dramatic way. I can't imagine myself ever quitting. I'm reminded of a quote of Carroll's that I decided to put on the home page of this website - "There is a feel about this town...once you have it, the thing is in your blood." He said it much better than I ever could.

I have two tidbits of news to share. I've been reading Larry Millett's book The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, which is a really invaluable contribution to the history of architecture in the Twin Cities. I found an entry devoted to some surviving Victorian rowhouses from 1886 from the 1200 block of Hawthorne Avenue; as you'll remember, in these three letters, Nellie was visiting residents of the 1000 block. The neighborhood was apparently quite upscale, which lends credence to the idea that Nellie's reference to Mary Hill was a reference to the Mary Hill, the wife of J. J. Hill, the (in?)famous Empire Builder. I also was able to read a little bit about Crocus Place, which is the street where Margaret Dunlop, Carroll's wife, grew up on. Apparently the houses there were originally numbered in the order they were constructed, rather than the order they came on the street. This obviously made for some confusion and the street was renumbered later on. The house that her parents lived in during the 1930 census (917 Goodrich Avenue) is actually listed in the guide. I'm hoping to get up to St. Paul to look at some of the houses in the neighborhood that have connections to the family. When I do, I promise to take lots of pictures.

This weekend (September 26) is the LeDuc-Simmons Country Market on the grounds of the LeDuc. It promises to be a fun event. I'll be there with Cloverly Images merchandise - my original digital photography, as well as some reproduction prints and notecards. I usually have a poster board with information about Carroll on it but it looks like it might rain or drizzle and so I'll probably not bring that out this time.

I saw today that the LeDuc estate is looking for a new site manager. If circumstances were a little different, and I was a little older, I would definitely think about applying! But since I can't, I want to help get the word out. If you are qualified or interested, or if anybody you know is, please contact the Dakota County Historical Society for more information about the position. Such a glorious house with such a glorious history deserves a caretaker who will love it as much as Carroll did. I look forward to meeting whoever gets the job.

As for what comes next for the website and for the project in general, I'm honestly not sure! But since the whole thing has kind of taken on a life of its own, I'm confident it will continue to evolve and grow. Once again, anyone who knows anything about the Pringle or the Simmons families is totally welcome to contact me. I would love to hear your advice, opinions, or memories, as always.

- Emily

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