It's All Relative
How Grandpa begat a legend...

    In 1884, my great grandfather Augustus had occasion to visit Washington DC to carry support for Washington Statehood to the Territorial Commission. In those days, travel was hard, for there was no railroad link from the Olympic Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula, where Port Angeles was situated. The usual log route, as I recall from the local history, was raft or barge to Port Gamble. There was also a Mosquito fleet but service was spotty, so you had to travel by coach or shank's mare to Portland. It was a long and interesting trip, which Great Grandpa detailed in his beautiful handwriting in his diary; but it's beyond the scope here. It is relevant to say he conducted his business with some success, for Washington became a state in 1889.
    Trouble was he lost his return fare from Washington DC to card sharps, so he came back to Washington State under the same train cars he rode in on the way out. But along the way, he got some bad information, caught the wrong train, and wound up in Sheisburg, Mississippi, with a broken leg.
    In those days, people weren't heartless. A wainwright took him in, and Great Grandpa earned his keep in the wainwright's shop doing whatever woodworking he could do sitting down--usually on the shaving horse--for that was easiest on his ankle. Great Grandpa notes Mr. Mulner had a lovely daughter who nursed him, but says little else about her.
    In Grandpa's trunk were a dozen letters from Loretta Molner, ranging from chatty little notes, to gushing confessions of love, to a shy announcement of future expectations, to begging Great Grandpa to come back to make her an honest woman, to a desperate plea... well, you get the picture: Grandpa sowed a wild oat and wouldn't take responsibility for it.
    The final letter was a cool announcement that Great Grandpa was the father of a fine baby boy named after his papa, Elwood Presley--the alias Great Grandpa took when he was injured. He didn't want the name of a Washington Territory Statehood Representative in the papers linked with a vagrant injured in a low-scoring dismount from a moving train, so he borrowed the name of a bum he met in Virginia. If he had a desire to see the boy he could come to Tupelo, Mississippi, and ask for Loretta Presley, widow of the Presley deceased in a railroad accident.
    Turns out Elwood's grandson made a big name for himself in the music industry. I didn't even know we were related 'til a couple years ago.
    Hmmmm! I wonder what a second cousin's share of that estate would be?

. . . Forrest Addy

 

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