An eye tooth wrapt in paper

by little red pen

I’ve been reading some family history — an account by my great-grandfather of his pedigree, as he calls it. I think my grandmother typed it up, and I’ve left the spellings and capitalisations little changed; they flavour the account with the past. It starts like this:

Well, to begin, my Grandfather Peter Wilson died at the age of 101 years, and was buried in a very ancient cemetery called Ordiquill in Banffshire, Scotland, where his wife, my father’s mother, also is interred. She was about 97 years of age at death, I recollect as if yesterday being at her funeral, and probably was 5 or 6 years of age at the time. She was considerably younger than Grandfather, over 20 years I think. When the grave was opened, Grandfather’s skull was taken up and laid on the ground, my Father looked at it, took it up, and showed it to me, pointing out the fact that the teeth were every one sound and perfect, not one missing, and as even as if newly cut in a Dentist’s surgery. My Father took one of the upper eye teeth out of the jaw, wrapt it in a little piece of paper, and gave it to me, asking me to keep it in memory of my Grandfather. This I did for a good many years, keeping it safely in a little writing desk until my brother Robert or Alexander was leaving for Canada, when I gave the tooth in exchange for an old watch, which by the by went for about an hour only.

I fancy one of those old-fashioned gravestones — lying flat on the grave — marks it.

Yes, indeed. That’s how to write history.