Mary Meighen (portrayed by Vicki Benson), center, is visited by Meighen's sister's grandchildren of at least three generations, Mary Carlson, at left, and her daughter, Emily, as they enjoy a visit in the Meighen kitchen at Historic Forestville. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP
Mary Meighen (portrayed by Vicki Benson), center, is visited by Meighen's sister's grandchildren of at least three generations, Mary Carlson, at left, and her daughter, Emily, as they enjoy a visit in the Meighen kitchen at Historic Forestville. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP
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The village had a return of its grand-people. 

And a stitch in time jogged Mary’s memory.

 “I was brought here as a kid,” said Mary Margaret Carlson, a resident of Forest Lake, Minn.

She stood in the Meighen kitchen at Historic Forestville last Saturday, Oct. 18, surveying the artifacts on display and the housekeeping items in use as part of the vintage village’s Apple Butter Day program and for everyday living history interpretation. 

She began chatting with Mary Meighen (portrayed by Vicki Benson) about how she’d heard the stories and seen the leaves on the family tree.

Carlson’s family tree has roots that brought her to the place where the real Mary Meighen, her great-great-aunt, spent her days tending the household she shared with her husband, Thomas Meighen, son of Felix Meighen, one of Forestville’s co-founders. 

That’s when she garnered Benson’s attention and gave cause for the living history interpreter to depart from portraying her character and ask some serious questions.

She inquired as to who Carlson’s Forestville-associated relative, Sarah Broderick, was because there are very few relatives of the original residents who can be identified and who actually return to cross the 1899 bridge and wander through the Meighen Store and tour Thomas Meighen’s home. 

Carlson explained, “Mary Broderick Meighen lived here and Sarah Broderick was a sister to Mary Meighen.” 

Benson concurred, “Mary Broderick Meighen was born in England and came over to the United States.”

Carlson confirmed that Mary’s sister, Sarah Broderick, also came to the United States. 

She further explained the family lineage and what her interest was in returning to Forestville, and Benson retrieved Mary Meighen’s genealogy from the Historic Forestville interpretive staff office, finding that Mary Meighen’s sister was listed as “Sadie Broderick,” which didn’t quite match Carlson’s account until Carlson recalled that Sarah was more often called “Sadie.”

She cited that Sarah “Sadie” Broderick married William Fitzgerald and the Fitzgeralds had three children – Richard, Frances and Margaret.  Margaret married Clarence Borsch and the Borsches had two children – William and Marlys.  William Borsch married Dorothy Walla, and the Borsches had three children – Nancy, Steve, Jeanne and Mary Margaret, now Mary Margaret Carlson, whose daughter, Emily Rose, 12, is the youngest great-great-granddaughter of Sarah “Sadie” Broderick Fitzgerald.

Locally, family names that have roots, ties, strands and stitches to Forestville’s original and eventual citizens include the Meighens and Fosters — David Foster of Spring Valley and Blake Meighen of the Lime Springs area – as well as some Grabaus, Gartners, perhaps some Winslows and a few others.

It was a special treat to have someone actually come to share their ancestry in person, something the interpretive staff is pleased to experience, especially out of the blue on a Saturday afternoon.