I posted this photo last Sunday for Mother’s Day because it features two special moms in my family (my great-grandma and grandma). I am sharing it again today because of what is behind them: the house.
This photo hung on the wall above my grandma’s kitchen table for years. Grandma would often glance at the picture and smile while we chatted, played cards, or had something to eat. The photo sparked Grandma’s memory, and a family story or tidbit from her past, relatable to the current activity or conversation, would follow. Regardless of what the memory was, Grandma would always have this to say in conclusion: “You know, your grandpa’s family moved into that house several years after this photo was taken, and that is where he grew up.” Grandma loved making that connection.
Recently my mom and I came across a folder in our Clontarf archive labeled 300 Cashel Street, the address of the house in the photo. The folder includes notes, hand-drawn house plans, photographs, and copies of property deeds. Nearly twenty years ago, we began looking into our Clontarf, Minnesota roots with the ultimate goal of writing a book. We love to research and have done tons of it throughout those years but have not yet written the book. There are many explanations (excuses?) for this, but the scale of the project is somewhat overwhelming.
So, we decided to start small. We will use the house on Cashel Street to tell part of the story. We are not sure what this project will look like, but we are motivated to take the excellent research we have done out of the archive and shine a light on it. What can this little house on Cashel Street tell us about early twentieth-century life in a Minnesota railroad community? Stay tuned to find out!