Back row-James Harrison Coombs, Sarah Frances VanSciver Coombs, Mabel VanSciver Coombs Sever, Newton Stockton Sever, Middle row-Susanna Fenimore, Caroline Drinker Fenimore Sayre, Elizabeth Fowler Coombs, unknown man, Front row-Helen Fowler Coombs Browne

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Celebrating Ralston's life!

I am passionate about my ancestors! Some of them are especially dear to my heart, and I am happy to say that one of my favorite relatives is being recognized for the truly remarkable man he was.
Several months ago, I was contacted by an artist named Duke Riley. He was hired to create an exhibit on Petty's Island for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He found my research online on my great great grandfather's brother, Ralston Laird and decided to focus his project on Ralston! This really is a dream come true for me. I am so grateful that Duke has brought my ancestor to life, he is the perfect person to tell Ralston Laird's story to the world.
Ralston Laird came over to the United States from Donegal, Ireland in the early 1850's. He first lived in Philadelphia then moved to Petty's Island which is between Philadelphia and Camden New Jersey. He lived there for over 50 years and was proclaimed the "King."
Ralston and his wife had ten children--four of his daughters were born deaf. The girls eventually attended the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, three of them married deaf men they met at school. The newspaper photo above shows Ralston as an old man by his home on the island with his ferocious dog Prince. Prince was a guard dog who protected Ralston's deaf daughters. With all of Ralston's family trials, he was kind and helpful to other families, especially fellow immigrants to his island.
Thursday night, February 4, 2010, my family and I will be attending the opening for Duke's incredible project at the Historical Society. If you would like to read more about about Ralston's life, Duke's project and his other work, I have provided links below.
http://www.philagrafika2010.org/artist/duke-riley
http://dukeriley.info
http://citypaper.net/articles/2010/01/28/duke-riley-pettys-island-philagrafika
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/duke-riley/open-letter-to-hugo-chave_b_435921.html

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