“Life, like leather, can be stiff and unyielding, then turn supple and soft, can be shaped and trimmed only with skill and patience, and only then result in a finished work of high quality to be proud of, and beauty to be admired.”  - Cornelius Collins, 'Of Leather and Stone'

The Great Famine

The Backstory

One day in 2013, after many years of tracing my family tree, I drove with some family members to the town of Milford, Massachusetts, where our first relatives in America settled, worked, and are buried. 

We visited their grave sites, those still visible, spoke their names and remembered them. But we still knew nothing about them. My ancestors left no personal diaries or literary works that I could find during my decades of research. 

What if they had kept diaries or penned memoirs? What would they have written about? What did they think, and what was important to them?

Except for the few facts inscribed on scattered documents buried in the archives of cities and towns, and on old passenger manifests of shipping companies long extinct, their lives were invisible or so it seemed at first glance. 

Then like all artifacts of human history hidden by time and in plain sight patiently awaiting someone to brush away the dust and take a closer look, the unremarkable fragments of pale ink arranged in columns and rows on ledger pages, revealed themselves to be threads in the life tapestries of these ancestral people.

Compiled from decades of original research examining the historical records of my ancestors, the Town of Milford, Massachusetts, and eye witness accounts of the people, places and events of the time this engaging, fact based, account comprises three fictional memoirs as if written by my ancestors’ in their own voices and personalities, recounting recollections and reflections of experiences and historical events, and the news stories of the day that shaped the world and their lives ‘Of Leather and Stone.’


Charles Paul Collins

collins gravesite
irish round tower
ambrosini gravesite

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