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Odds and Ends

Writing a journal may seem a boring thing to do, but it can tell the story of a life lived.

This past week has had an air of the terrible,-horrible,-no-good,-very-bad-day story. Without going into details, it’s enough to say that, in case anyone noticed, I did not get my usual Thursday blog posted.

Please don’t worry, there is no physical or even long-lasting mental damage…just the frustration of huge projects that did not get completed and co-workers who moved on to greener pastures and the looming holiday that I cannot seem to get under control.

So, today, a few days late, you are getting a bag of odd sand ends of facts and thoughts. This may not be too satisfying for you the reader but will clear my plate for a continuation of family stories after the holidays! There are more adventures to come.

Some readers (well, one reader) wanted a little more information about Henry Crist, survivor of the attack and long journey home on hands and knees.

During and after a long recovery from his injuries, Henry became a salt-maker and acquired several parcels of land in the Bullitt County and Shepherdsville area of future Kentucky. As a land owner and respected businessman he participated in the act of creating the state of Kentucky, became a justice of the peace, was duly elected to serve in the state legislature representing Nelson County and later, Bullitt County. He went on to serve in the 11th Congress of the United States (1809-1811) and was commissioned a general in the Kentucky state militia.

Henry died in Shepherdsville, KY in 1844 and was buried there, but in 1869, the Kentucky Legislature elected to recognize his service to the young state by having his remains moved to Frankfort, Kentucky, the state capitol, where a monument stands in his honor.

I want to explain once again that Henry Crist is not a direct relative of mine, but the Crist family is related to mine by marriage and by long time association. I came upon the Crist story while doing research into my family, the Collings. At one point, I became very frustrated trying to account for one of the women of the family at a certain point in our history.

Family research is interesting and frustrating at the same time, but it is further complicated because the records of females mostly depends on the records of their fathers and their husbands.

I was delighted to finally answer an important question about my fifth great grandmother with the help of the Crist family journal or account book. For this reason, I have become a strong advocate for journaling.

A group of us talked about this in a writing workshop recently. Journaling is one of those activities which seems mundane and kind of useless at the time, but which records for all times the details of a life lived. I’m sure that Nicolaus Heinrich Crist had no idea when he started his journal, that one day over 200 years later, I would find one line written in that journal that would answer a burning question for my family (or at least for me).

Today, more than ever before, we have a problem with recording the details of ordinary lives. Living on into eternity we will have official records of the politics of the day, the wars we fight, the major disasters we experience. But where will future generations read about how we as individuals feel about those events?

I read in the Crist journal about how families suffered during the Revolutionary War and how it felt to have sons fighting, knowing that any news of their fate could take months to reach them. I read about the concerns of traveling into unexplored wilderness and setting off for a land only heard of in other travelers’ tales.

Nicolaus Heinrich Crist wrote early on in his journal these words: “I am going to write in my account book about me so if we die they will know who we are.”

I can’t think of a better reason to start a journal and would only change the word “if” to “when” to make it the motto of my own writings.


  1. Joshua Crist

    I’m a direct descendent of Nicholas Heinrich Crist. I learned about this account book a week ago and have been looking at the passages from it on the Internet. It would be nice to find it in it’s entirety one day. I really appreciate you writing about it in such detail. It brings me a lot closer to my roots than just seeing the names and dates of my kin.

    • Donna Nicholas

      Joshua, thanks for your comment. I, too, would love to see the actual account book. There are some discrepancies in some dates and facts and there are some who argue that the whole account book is a myth, but I believe it exists and is based in fact, some of which makes perfect sense. As I said when I started, the account book answers one of the mysteries of my family. Keep reading my blog and thanks again for reaching out!

  2. kpage

    Love the way you tell a story. Your writings let me imagine being there.

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