River Portal (East Portal), Colorado

I'm Irish & I'm a Mason...and I have a story to tell.

Sit By The River - Share My Journey

These entries document the stories of the men, women and children who lived at River Portal, Montrose County, Colorado while working on the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel - a historic pioneering project that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.

Please read from the first entry forwards as I tend to have my own writing style that's more like reading a book than an entry that can be read individually. Reading the posts separate from each other doesn't really convey the story properly. :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

I got on here today not to post anything because I really don't have an Easter photo or story to share.  I just got on to look at it.  Yes, I read my own posts sometimes.  I often even cry when I read them.  I'm what they call "Emo" - but isn't it natural that my own very personal heartfelt stories would move me to tears?  Even though the stories aren't new to me - they're still "my" stories and they're still written from my heart and soul.  They're the stories that moved me and I'm honored that they've touched others too.

Leslie Ann at "Ancestors Live Here" http://ancestorslivehere.blogspot.com/ initiated this award.  I add my thanks to Bill's! 

Bill at "Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories" http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
was kind enough to pass this award along to me.  He's been my strongest supporter - like a champion cheering me on.  Thank you, Bill!  He also shares my love of the "Liam" name.  ;) 

This is a very special award to me.  It means a lot on many different levels.  I'm thrilled to receive it because I don't think there could be a better compliment (except maybe Descendant Approved) that would make me feel such gratification!  Honestly - there have been so many times when I've felt the Irish eyes smiling down on me - felt that the ancestors were approving and leading me!   I've blogged about that.  Believe if you will - or don't believe - but I've been led by them on this journey.  They've held my hand and guided me.  I'm very proud to have my blog be "Ancestor Approved"!

As one of the recipients of this award I'm supposed to list ten things that have "surprised, humbled or enlightened me" about any of my ancestors.  I'm also supposed to pass this award on to 10 other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud. 

Wow!  ONLY TEN?!  I've had so many "moments"!  Narrowing it down will be a challenge - as will the honesty to "tell it like it is" for some.  Not all surprises are happy.  Some things that are humbling can be stories that aren't as pretty as others.  Enlightened?  Since every find is enlightening that's even more difficult.  I really can't separate these into the categories.  They're all surprises, humbling & enlightening for me. 

1.  Learning that my GGGrandmother had a marriage no one knew about AND that she had been involved in quite a scandalous incident.  Her second husband molested her 9 year old son.  Back then the name of the child wasn't protected in the media.  That woman is a hero to me.  I admire her strength and courage because she didn't sweep that under the rug as so many would have.  I refuse to sweep it under the rug either.  That wouldn't give her the honor she deserves.  She brought the authorities in and had the guy prosecuted. Her son was named in the newspapers and in the arrest and court documents.  In a tiny town it would have been quite the talk of tea parties!  What guts!  She did the right thing and I'm incredibly proud to be descended from her!  She went back to using her first married name and only some great research (by someone I paid) uncovered the mystery. 

2.  Finding out that my grandfather was born in Ireland - County Down, Northern Ireland to be more precise.  Wow!  I qualify for dual citizenship.  I'm Irish every day!  Didn't know that for most of my life.

3.  Finding out that my Irish Mason family emigrated from Ireland directly to Colorado where I now live - never having known that they were from Ireland - let alone that they had ever lived here.  I've come full circle in many ways!  I didn't know it when I moved here but I'm back where they started out in America.  Awesome!

4.  Finding out that my Irish great grandfather John Patrick Mason was a driller on the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel and lived at River Portal (East Portal).  That tunnel was a pioneering project & was quite an accomplishment.  That place is now part of a wonderful National Park - Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  So Proud! 

5.  Learning that I have at least two ancestors who fought in the Civil War - both on the Union side.  (I'd still like to find a Confederate since I lived in Virginia for several years and because I love Gone With the Wind.  )

6.  Learning that my grandfather really WAS born on a reservation!  Along with that one is the incredible feeling of humility and awe I felt when visiting a Native American cemetery in his birthplace - and seeing so many of his surname there.  They were the ONLY family in that tiny place who didn't see fit to claim their heritage - or they weren't really Native American like my Grandpa said.  Someday maybe I'll know the truth. 

7.  Finding out my other grandfather drowned 20 years (almost to the day) after my daddy drowned. 

8.  Learning that I had an ancestor who was among the first group to arrive in Jamestown - which preceded the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock.  Jamestown was the first successful English colony in America - and I lived right by it for several years.  So blessed!  Along with that one - finding out that I had other branches that started out right there on that same little peninsula - and that there's a church still standing that my ancestors attended (and sometimes got in trouble for NOT attending).  Being blessed to live in places that I later learned were deeply connected to various branches of my family. Serendipity!

9.  As my Grandma was orphaned at 12 - the eldest of 6 siblings - tracing her past step by step - and eventually finding the family cemetery and standing on the porch of the home she was living in before she and her siblings were placed in a Masonic Home.  I remember the tears and saying "This is for you, Grandma!"  She taught me so much about family!  It meant everything to her.  I knew she would approve of me finding her family roots.  

10.  Finding my stepmother - learning about her life & about the brother I never knew.  A widow at 16 - the day she & my brother came home from the hospital - her strength and courage have touched me deeply!  Her sacrifice & generosity in giving me the flag that covered my dad's coffin & the wallet he had on him that fateful day - HUMBLING indeed!   

 Now to the ten bloggers I'd like to pass this on to for their awesome work in doing their ancestors proud! 

1.  Bill at http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/

2.  Tom at http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2hriwH/destinationaustinfamily.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-newest-article-blogging-your-family.html/r:t

3. Emily at http://writingyourmemories.blogspot.com/

4.  Greg at http://www.lifetimememoriesandstories.com/who-are-lifetime-memories-and-stories/

5.  Sara Beth at http://www.lessonsfrommyancestors.com/

6.  Lisa at http://www.examiner.com/x-9778-Colorado-History-Examiner

7.  Colleen at http://cmjoffice.blogspot.com/

8.  Lisa at http://small-leavedshamrock.blogspot.com/

9.  Fiona at http://newtonlass.blogspot.com/

10.  Becky at http://beckyjamison.blogspot.com/


  1. I have awarded you the Ancestor Approved Award! Congrats! You can pick it up at Heritage Happens http://heritagehappens.blogspot.com/2010/04/ancestor-approved-award.html

    I see you have been awarded this before, congrats again!

  2. Thank you so much! I also love the name Liam and what a cutie too!!! :D