Luciel Rairigh’s “One Small Garden”

Luciel Rairigh, my great, great, great aunt, appears to have loved writing poetry. Having only one small box of her mementos and writings, I can only piece together the little bits of her that I have: She was clever. She was beautiful. She was organized, and she loved to write.

Each poem had both a rough draft and final copy included in the small box. It was fascinating to see her process- picking and choosing her words to suit her meaning. It’s a reminder to creators that first drafts often aren’t good enough- so keep refining!

One Small Garden: Rough Draft


It’s unfortunate that I don’t have the dates for all of these poems, but I can estimate the early 1900s based on her lifespan. It’s clear that she took her work very seriously based on the amount of effort she made to proofread and perfect her writing. It is also clear through her works that she had a love and devotion to God.

One Small Garden: Final Draft Transcript

Each heart is one small garden
With many plants growing there,
God is the master gardener;
But we must assist in it’s care.
The flowers of kindness and love,
Of purity, forgiveness, and prayer,
Are the ones the Master has planted
And helps us watch over with care.

When weeds grow in this garden
He helps us to pull them out:
Not only those grown large and tall,
But even each tiny sprout.
The unkind look, the impatient word,
Yes, these are the tiny seeds —
Greed, deciet, and selfishness:
They are the ugly weeds.

Then how about these plants, we ask
Surely they are not wanted here?
There’s sorrow, disappointment, and heartache,
And here’s one burden and tear.
But He sighed as He answered sadly,
Ah, yes, we must leave a few there,
They keep the soil soft and fertile
For all of these flowers so fair.


One Small Garden: Final Draft Original

The final draft is beautifully written. The fact that I can clearly read and transcribe it after over 100 years was especially enjoyable.

I have a few more poems to share at a later date, so if you enjoyed this one, please check back in from time to time to read more about and from Luciel.


Coming Soon: Family History, Poetry, and Illustration

Life can sneak up on you when you least expect it. I visited my family in Indiana this month, and Dad asked if I wanted to help go through my grandparents old boxes to help him sort things out. We pulled dusty box after dusty box into the living room, plopped into recliners, and started sifting through way more history than I ever dreamed I’d see.

My grandpa kept everything. Everything. Journal after journal, diary after diary dating back to before 1900. And it made sense. I felt like I fit in. My great Uncle Mervin kept little homemade drawing booklets of birds and trees; my grandfather painted and crafted; and my great, great, great Aunt Luciel wrote poetry.


What amazed me more than anything, was not only did Luciel write it, but it was here. My grandfather had several of her poems. This girl was born in 1907, and I was holding handwritten poetry from her.  I was almost afraid to touch it. The writing was, for the most part, legible. Her penmanship was beautiful, and almost every single poem had both a rough draft and a final draft included in a small leather box.

Included with these was a letter to New York asking them to publish her poetry.

I don’t know entirely know what it would have been like to be a woman writer asking to be published in the early 1900s, but I like to think that she was very bold and brave. After some searching, I don’t see any of her work online, or much anything about her other than family tree research. Just looking at the picture of her as a young girl though, I see the same secret humor and wit that I always saw in my grandpa.

It touched my life in a way that I can’t completely write out to “meet” her in this way. I decided that in the coming weeks I am going to write about her poems and share them with the internet. If she wasn’t published before, now, in some roundabout way, she will be. People can enjoy her work over 100 years later and see it from both similar and different perspectives.