Thursday, May 14, 2009
Last summer, Lynn Monroy and I met at the Colorado State Archives so Lynn could look at the handwriting of some of the people I'm researching. Lynn took copies of the documents with her to analyze the handwriting. Yesterday I received an e-mail from Lynn with the analysis of Wilburn’s handwriting in a court document. My husband, John, read it and asked, “Haven’t we read this before?” I answered, “No, we haven’t.” Then I realized that Lynn had captured the characteristics we had come to know in my great-great-grandfather! Amazing!
I have two documents that reveal Wilburn’s personality—a letter he wrote to the Rocky Mountain News in which he defended his honor during the Lake County War and his obituary. The traits that Lynn discovered in his handwriting are the very traits that show up in both of these documents.
Lynn wrote that Wilburn was protective of his image; willing to talk about himself when comfortable or with the right audience; the authority figure – “If someone tried to tell this man what to do, they would be wasting their time.” He was a lover and re-enforcer of the rules; set high goals for himself; helpful and kind; and could be argumentative, but was careful when and why to argue.
As a writer, this is the trait that intrigued me the most: “He had literary writing ability OR at the least, a huge lover of stories woven by words. If he didn't write, he loved the way words worked together. Would love to read or recite or orally pass on stories.”
We knew of this trait, too. The writer of Wilburn’s obituary wrote of spending hours at a time listening to the Judge discourse on the events of the early history of the state. “The Judge was never boastful of the part he performed in working out these changes, but he always was interesting, and often eloquent in his description of scenes of danger and trial with which he had evidently been most intimate.”
As I write and tell the Judge’s story, my goal has been to write it in a way as interesting as the story itself. It seems the Judge told stories in the same manner. Hopefully, some of his interesting and eloquent storytelling will filter down to his great-great-granddaughter.