Asbury Archer – Family History Writing Challenge, Day 2

columbia-hotel
Postcard of the Columbia Hotel where Asbury was proprietor in 1914.

Day 2 of the #30FHWChallenge is to think of your ancestor as a character in a novel, and describe him or her in a few short paragraphs.

My 3rd great uncle was Asbury Archer from Noble County, Ohio.  Asbury was a teacher and a writer, publishing several poems and articles through the years.  I shared his poem about the mailman earlier this year in a previous post.  That poem, like all his others, are gorgeously written, epic in nature and grand in scale, just sweeping you away to another time and place.

However, when I think of Asbury, I get a bit melancholy.  His life truly IS like a character out of a novel – tragic and poignant, filled with sadness and despair but he continually muddled on, looking for validation but never truly finding it. He was so talented but never found commercial success as a writer. He ran the hotel where his sister was murdered by her husband and afterwards, he wasn’t allowed to adopt his orphaned nephews since he was a single young man. Instead, he had to place them in the county children’s home where you can only imagine what life was like for them there during the Depression.  I can’t imagine the guilt he must of felt leaving them there.  He returned home to take care of his ailing mother and managed the farm after his father died but after his mother passed away, he just sort of flitted from town to town looking for jobs.  He never married and died alone in his home of gastric carcinoma and alcoholism in 1935.

To me, he is like the greatest underdog in a book.  You root for him, you want to find that piece of evidence that shows he had some luck, love, money or fame but he never really does. He was such an upstanding man who tried to do the right things even when the world seemed to be falling apart around him – took care of his mom, wanted to care for his nephews, gave his sister and brother-in-law a place to live and work.  If I were writing a novel, I’d have given him a great big happy ending because of all the people I’ve discovered in my family tree, I feel he certainly deserved it the most.

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The Columbia Hotel building still stands but is now a hardware store.  © Copyright Jill Moore, September 2016
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