This is a very good question and one I assumed would be the first asked. Years ago when switching ISPs the need arose for a name for my new email address. To select a name, I jotted down words that resonated with me… not simply me, but more of the me I fancied myself to be. Let’s face it, you may be dealt a specific hand to play in life but the beauty and the art of the game is how well you learn to play or in my case, bluff! Back to placing the Bic crystal to paper… panache, charisma, élan, beauty, charm…. That’s it. Charm. I love this word.
Charm what? Charm1964. No. Charming1? No. OrganicCharm? No. No. No. So I did what any impatient, er… resourceful, yes, resourceful writer does when faced with a creativity funk, I googled it. Amazing what you learn when you randomly google words. “Charm of the Caroline” is a species of tree, a beautiful tree, and what a beautiful name for my email. Ok, so it’s a little long, but the uniqueness and alliteration couldn’t be beat. And then I did the unimaginable. In my impatience to set up the new account (is there a theme here?) I inadvertently set up my email account incorrectly. Upon fixing the problem I learned “CharmoftheCaroline” was taken, and I was advised to pick another name. Taken? Yes, by me! Oh, the horror! I was so deflated! My perfect name, the one I already had visions “branding” for a line of ladies distinctive millinery and personalized stationery, was gone forever. No other name would do!
After a slight pause of self-pity, it occurred to me; add an “s.” Ok, so it’s a bit longer. At this point what does it matter? Never to do anything shyly or demurely anyway, my email wouldn’t be a single tree, it was the whole, enchanted, “Charm of the Carolines” primeval woodland!
To add to the appeal of the plural name, recollections of my father’s genealogy research started forming clearer thoughts in my mind. The Joneses migrated to Tennessee in 1835 from Union County, South Carolina... Jonesville, to be more accurate. My great-great-great-grandfather Jones was 60 years old when he and his sons set out to stake land in Tennessee newly available after the relocation of native Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes in 1835. Leaving a married daughter behind in South Carolina must have been difficult and their correspondence is one of my family’s treasures.
Additionally, my beloved grandmother, Ernestine Lee Shackelford Jones, descended from sturdy Shackelford stock in North Carolina. I love hearing stories about this woman and will share more with you in future entries, but to sum it all up neatly… I feel I am a unique collaboration, even if only a little, of all the hearty, resourceful, talented, intelligent, spiritual and adventurous men and women whose DNA is embedded deep in the marrow of my bones. It’s evident I’ve inherited my grandmother’s prominent nose, also various pieces of her china and silver. I’ve inherited my grandfather’s interest in art and entrepreneurism, his affection towards animals, and his professional portrait as a young child. Is it possible to inherit other traits from my ancestors as well?
I aspire to honor the vision and the sacrifices of my ancestors who forever changed the strength and appearance of our family tree by moving their families and few possessions to Tennessee, one of the most beautiful and prosperous foothill gardens on earth, for nothing more than the opportunity to create a beautiful life. I aspire to share with you in these pages the harmony in which I live with their influence and presence as they continue to whisper in my life today, what I call “the charm of the Carolines.”
Inspiration for your Belles Lettres:
Who are your grandparents, great-grandparents? What traits do they possess that you admire? How can you cultivate these traits in your own life?
What interesting stories have your grandparents or parents shared with you? Feel free to send me stories and pictures of your “Tennessee history.”