How I know about the lives of the Castles in Kentucky is an example of what I mean about being a bridge. My grandmother, who left her grandparents back in Kentucky in 1907, passed along to me a feeling that I knew them. She bridged almost two centuries by introducing me to her grandparents, who were born in the 1820s!
This is what she wrote about her grandfather, Goldman Davidson Castle:
"Sturdy type man--My first remembrance of Grandpa was about 1900-01. He let me try on his steel-rim "specks" (spectacles) and walk up and down their long porch to their log house of 4 or 5 rooms. The porch was boxed in on one end and contained the Castle, Kentucky Post Office.
"Large orchard back of house, cribs of corn, barn for horses, cows, sheep, hogs, chickens, and turkeys--Meadow for mowing in front of house. They lived there many years. I think all the children lived there as they grew up. After Frances Nickell died (childbirth), Dad brought 2-year-old Cora back to live at Grandpa's. About 1903 the Post Office was robbed and crib of corn burned. They were afraid to live alone and were getting up in years, so they moved in with us. I have some pleasant memories of the whole family sitting before a wood fire in Grandpa and Grandma's room after dinner listening to Grandpa talk.
“He had beautiful, silvery, wavy gray hair and blue eyes--These words describe him: pleasant, independent, honest. He and my mother organized the first Sunday School at Stacy Fork, Kentucky. I think most of the Castles were (hard shell) Baptists. They held their association meetings once a year--
“He chewed Star tobacco that he bought in 2-inch by 2-inch squares (sweet) with metal stars on it. He gave me the stars.
"The Castles had the reputation of having well-filled larders (pantries)--canned and dried fruits and vegetables, a smoke house, the ceiling bristling with hickory-cured hams--Grandpa was an artist at preserving meat and sausage--a barrel of kraut, a barrel of pickles, a barrel of sorghum, pounds of homemade butter with the imprint of a little jersey cow on the mold, jars of honey from the beehives in one corner of the big yard.
“In autumn, large holes were excavated in one corner of the garden plot, these were lined with straw and filled with potatoes, onions, turnips and apples, then covered with straw and dirt to a depth of no freezing. The whole family joined in this project of producing and preparing ‘our daily bread.’
“Wood, coal and kerosene gave us heat and light. We bought flour by the barrel, sugar by the 50# bag, had corn ground for meal at nearby mill. These are a few happy memories of ‘my old Kentucky home.’”
About her grandmother she wrote:
"Rachel Sergeant Castle was completely wrapped up in her husband. He was her world. Grandpa was very attentive to her-- He always bought her something when he went to the store. Her bureau drawer always had striped peppermint candy and sweet crackers in it. She shared with me sometimes.” (As I remember my grandmother telling it, her main memory of her grandmother Castle was that she usually didn't share.)
"Grandma Castle had gray hair combed straight back in a bun fastened with a 'tuck' comb. Basque fitting with full skirts, calico blue and gray with black for her best dresses. She smoked a clay pipe."
Note: See Wikipedia for a description of “Basque (clothing).”