The Great Famine

The Backstory

In the practice of Life-as-a-Craft, Element 1: Family & Personal Heritage concerns itself with understanding the heritage of previous generations that came before us, who they were and where they came from. In our present generation, heritage refers to the world around us that affects us. Where we come from, who we are, and the lives we lead. 

A great many of us know very little, if anything about the people in our family tree who lived in previous generations. Not even their names. Will it be the same for future generations down our own family tree who will not know our names? 

Or will we leave something to remember us by, a legacy from our lifetime they can use in their own lives. Will they speak our names?

My lack of knowledge about my own family heritage was not very different than most people I know. Perhaps a story told at a family gathering, or an artifact like a photo or something someone once owned was about it. 

Beyond that, except for the few facts inscribed on scattered census and civil documents buried in the archives of cities and towns, and the passenger lists of old shipping companies long extinct, my ancestors' lives were invisible. Or so it seemed at first glance. 

Then like all artifacts of human history hidden by time, the unremarkable fragments of pale ink arranged in columns and rows on old ledger pages from a previous century, revealed themselves to be threads in the life tapestries of these ancestral people.

Of Leather & Stone is an imaginary, but fact-based account containing three personal memoirs, as if written by my ancestors’ own hands, in their own voices and personalities, compiled from more than three decades of original research examining the historical records of my ancestors, the Town of Milford, Massachusetts, and eyewitness accounts of the people, places and events of their lifetimes'.

It is a record for future generations of their recollections, reflections, and their experiences of the historical events and news stories of the day that shaped the world they lived in, and their lives as craftsmen ‘Of Leather and Stone.’

"Theirs was the common fate of common people. Forgotten by time until one day, their names are spoken again by the living."


Charles Paul Collins, Autumn 2023


collins gravesite
irish round tower
ambrosini gravesite

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