Lord Love a Duck

Ship "St. John"

Ship “St. John”

There once were three brothers, from England did flee
Sailed on the St. John in good company.
Our line comes off George, ten progeny past,
Begetting the Chatfields of which I am cast.
They’re an interesting bunch, left their mark in the world
With a wide path to follow—a history unfurled.

Why bother to gather this family so long?
“What does it matter? They’re all dead and gone!”
To answer that question I gave it some thought…
“It matters to me,” and then I was caught.
Some tasks are for money—this one was for love—
And I often seemed guided by invisible glove.

This clan fills my dreams, drops me clues here and there;
I pay close attention, seek out others who care.
Dead ends we do reach: “Where oh where is this kin?
Relax. They’ll show up! They all want to be in!”
So off on the hunt, searching records and such
We piece it together with finishing touch.

We find bibles and wills and records of war,
We find letters and pictures and essays and lore.
Herein are the brothers, the sisters and aunts
The fathers and mothers—their stories and haunts.
They built railroads and ranches, grew potatoes and rice,
Left a heritage rich with their work and advice.

The trail heats with Isaac some hundred years back,
He—father of Grandpa, the black sheep of this pack.
Isaac lost his son Wirt, Dell’s death caused great sorrow,
Clark buried Louisa but soon married Miss Morrow.
Next we have Ida—with no trace—disappeared…
Found drowned in the river as her family had feared.

My favorite was Ora, a girl of sixteen—
Eloped with her cousin—caught betwixt and between.
Her beloved was Clara, ten springs older than she—
Made headlines in Denver with a tad too much glee.
Then along came Ray Sawyer—played the organ in Reno,
Wrote a book about gamblers, dice, blackjack and Keno.

His arrest hit the papers for dabbling in crime
Though we failed to find out if he ever did time.
“Lord love a duck!” cousin Aura did write
When I sent her the news of Miss Ora’s plight
Along with Ray’s photo and news clipping besmirched,
“Good gracious!” she piped, “what a scandalous search!”

Chatfield Coat of Arms

Chatfield Coat of Arms

The spouses and children—I’ve taken a look
And determined they all should live on in this book.
For if not for their presence we wouldn’t be here
With the grant of their legacy to hold very dear.
Droopy eyelids, bad kidneys—yes, those we did get—
Along with not speaking to half of our set.

They all made a difference, these men and the wives
To better their country, their families and lives.
Their spirits survive in our hearts and our hands,
Gifts of courage, of music, of their love of the land.
Strong women, good men—these Chatfield’s can toast,
Tis an honor and privilege to be part of this host!

Catherine Frances (Clemens) Sevenau
Jan 2007

Share this:


  1. FInd A Grave link to Levi Tomlinson Chatfield (1813 – 1848), my g-g-grandfather and father of Isaac and Clark. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=32478571

  2. A poet too? My heart be still. How you can turn the family genealogy into supurb poetry is truly genius. I thoroughly enjoy your elegant writing Catherine.

  3. Brock Arner says:

    Such a talent you are, you continue to amaze me.

  4. Catherine, I love the lilt of this piece. I feel the waves rise and fall, all part of the same sea. My friend Nan just wrote me saying thanks, that my writings remind her how important it is to tend to weaving the strands of our lives together. Now I thank you. In the big view, the scandals and the ordinary day all have their place in our wealth. xo Carole

Speak Your Mind