Keith’s Sister: A Tribute to Miriam

Miriam Summer in Selah, WA


In writing this MacDonell blog I will mention my Aunt Miriam frequently, especially regarding the McDonald’s and the Barclay’s.  She wrote and prepared about 6-9 pages of notes on the family that I have in my possession.  She wrote them and probably did the research back before 1980 and maybe even earlier.  She was kind enough to send me copies of these notes in 1986 when I asked her about our family.  Along with the notes she sent other charts and pictures which I will share.  I wrote back and asked questions and she responded with more pages.    

It will make more sense for me to share bits and pieces of Miriam’s Notes and Family information as I progress through this blog.  In the post dated February 8, 2010 “Clan Donald.” I have a small part of a section of her notes included “The MacDonalds.” I think Miriam did a great job.  There are some minor mistakes.  There are vague statements she has written that have made it difficult to determine what she was talking about.  Those statements have made it a little frustrating because I can’t ask her questions.  I also wonder what lead her to focus on a particular piece of information.  She references books which I have managed to find and add to the family history library.     

Working with Miriam’s notes and charts, I have learned that when you do genealogy you have to be careful and explain why you used a certain source, or where you got that information.  If you are speculating or throwing out theories then you let the person know that it is a theory and this is why?  When you use a quote from a book.  You need to reference that quote carefully so if the person wants to go back to the source and review the information they can.  It is also wise to make sure you carefully craft a quotation.  Never add to a quotation or alter it at all.    

My Aunt Miriam was about 5 feet 2 inches tall.  She was a school teacher.  She never married.  She taught ninth grade English at the Franklin Junior High School in Yakima, Washington from about 1945 to her retirement in 1973.  She moved to Yakima about 1935 looking for work.  Later in life she traveled the world visiting Scotland, Ireland, England, Europe, Israel, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Guatemala, Hawaii, and Alaska.  She visited the Orient which included China, Singapore, Bali, Bangkok, Japan and walked the Great Wall of China.  She travel to Russia with my mother in 1972.  I will probably share some of those photographs which are not of the greatest quality.  I recently compiled a booklet of her travels along with burning several CD’s of her photographs.  I published it and gave it to the family for Christmas.  Miriam was deeply Catholic.  I have her rosary beads.  She traveled twice on what was called the “Holy Land Tour.”  She went with her sister Vivian  in 1973 and later her sister Jean in 1977.  This tour took them to Rome, Israel and Greece.      

I never sat down with her to talk about the family.  I was not ready in 1986.  It was not until 1998 that I finally plunged in and took off with the family genealogy.  Unfortunately Miriam died in 1997. She was 91 years old.  Her last years were not great, she suffered from dementia. Yes, I missed out again on asking questions.  Still, if I had not asked for the information back in 1986 I would have struggled.  She gave me a starting point.   I wonder what she would have thought about all the information I have gathered? She often said we were “dour Scottish people.”   Thank you Miriam your niece is very grateful that you pointed the way.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
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