Monday, January 2, 2012

Who is Selah?

Dear Uncle,
It has been brought to my attention that I should identify you.   I should have and I apologize for not doing so earlier. So for those who may read this in the future here are a few things about my Uncle.

Selah Beal  ( 1805 - 1889) was born in Lyme, Grafton, New Hampshire, 4 June 1805.  He was the son of James Beal (1762 - 1828) and Urania Tucker (1764 - 1848) of the Woodstock, Connecticut Tuckers.  Her father was Captain Stephen Tucker, her mother was Lois Lyon.

James and Urania Beal had 10 children, Selah being the youngest. If I were to guess at his apprearance, based on descriptions of Beal men who came in later years I would imagine Selah to be of ruddy complexion, dark hair, blue eyes and medium build. He probably stood at about 5'6". 

In 1825, at the age of 20 he married Sally Bishop ( 1804 - 1866).  In reading Selah's journal it was very apparent that he loved Sally very much. They made their home in Lyme, New Hampshire and both are buried in the town cemetery in the town center.

Selah was a student.  By that I mean he studied everything.  The weather, religion, politics, farming, if he was curious about something he studied upon it. He was a people watcher and had many a comment regarding folks he knew or met along the way.  He was very observant.  He was a pious man and a hard working man and seemed to have no mercy on slackers. 

He began his journal on June 4, 1833 with the following words: "I was 28 years old this day".  He was a man of few words. He seemed to have a sense of humor.  A remark in his journal of Sunday, June 23, 1833 : "Went to meeting heard Elder Cheney preach ...the singers met at 5 o'clock, by Elder Cheneys request I did not attend."  Selah mentions several times throughout the 33 years of his journal of his joy of singing.  Unfortunately he coudn't carry a tune and had to content himself by singing away from everyone else. But he never gave up hope of singing in the church choir.

The things that he wrote about were varied.  There were alot of comments about church which he apparently attended several times a week.  He was a teacher. It was interesting to watch Selahs progress in education as he taught the younger children in Lyme.  His spelling in his journal in 1833 leaned towards the phonetic, his grammar needed some help.  Throughout the years the more he taught the more he learned and the more educated he sounded.  His journal entries became more and more involved, his thoughts more expansive. 

The world had opened up for Selah and he was like a starving child eager to soak up as much knowledge as he possibly could.  He was a surveyor, a military man and a chronicler of the towns people and events. His journal is full of recipes for building materials, how-to directions for a number of different things from building to administering oaths of office, to how to read a compass correctly. He was a traveler and had travelled west to see the new Erie canal for himself. He may have marveled at the canal but he was more shocked at the people from "outside" his community. 

By the time I finished reading his journal I loved this man.  I had laughed with him, cried when his best friend died, shared his frustrations over business dealings and a lazy nephew.  His goodbye to his wife was heart wrenching.  I got to know his friends and neighbors, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.

He didn't know, this uncle of mine, when he wrote his words down that some 175 years later, a niece would read them, and feel them, imagine them as if they were happening right then.  He wouldn't know that that niece would pretend he was just out of reach but within writing distance, just to share with him as he had with her.

So there you are Uncle.  I hope this little description meets with your approval.
Your niece

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