Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw
In a recent conversation with my brother, the topic of family history came up. We’ve talked a bit about our shared history before, but this time it went deeper. Perhaps it is the passage of time, loss of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that makes one want to save or know what make us who we are. I’ve been the family archivist for much of my life, and I do admit, the research part is right up my alley. So this post is about not only my history, but finding your own.
I usually start with memories. I’ve shared some in past posts, so if I’ve told this story before, bear with me. I was fortunate to know my paternal great grandparents. My great-grandfather was from Germany, and passed away when I was about seven. I remember standing outside of our house looking toward the church where his services took place. My mother would not allow me to attend, saying I was too young. She was probably correct, but a future conversations with the woman who help raise her put it all in perspective. You see my maternal grandmother passed away when my mother was seven. There were six children, my mother being the oldest girl. At her mother’s service she saw her two younger sisters trying to wake their mother up at the service. Pretty traumatic so her decision to exclude me from the great grandfathers service made sense.
Stories of my maternal grandfather get quite interesting. He was either loved or hated by his family. Those stories are too lengthy to include here, but I do know he was basically raised by his sisters and spoiled terribly. He grew up in Kentucky, the western part, if stories are correct. At the age of five he was outside when a thunderstorm hit and he took shelter in a hollowed out tree. That tree was struck by lightning, and his right leg was bent as a result of that lightning strike. He spent years working for the railroad, a job he always wanted and loved. My mother always said I inherited my grandfathers BS degree. He could talk for hours on any subject and enjoyed doing so. (I’m not sure if I have the BS degree to the extent he did, but I do try.)
Next is ‘Ancestry’ and other published material, locating the nuts and bolts of the past. A book, “Families of Hancock County, Illinois” told the story of my great grandmothers father. He was born Jan 16, 1846 in Virginia and moved to Illinois and settles near Denver, IL. in 1874. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver,_Illinois He was a farmer for a while them moved to Carthage, IL. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthage,_Illinois He was one of the founders of the Marine Trust Company and was president of the Harmony Mutual Insurance Company at the time of his death in 1939.
Ancestry also allowed me to find my paternal grandfathers parents. They were also from Virginia, but moved to Illinois for a short time before returning to their native state. My grandfather was the only one who remained in the midwest. Some members of the family are still in that area.
My last stop is ‘Newspaper Archive’. Oh what a treasure trove that is, if you are willing to work at it. For fun I typed my name into the search engine. The stories that I found, well let’s just say, I don’t remember doing most the things they wrote about. Most of them were the vocal events I was part of. I do remember singing a lot, just not at all the places the article stated.
So now it’s your turn to find your history. It can be a fun and rewarding journey. There are many additional remembrances and pieces of families I have yet to find. One thing for sure, the memories are worth it. Some of the skills I’ve learned from this research have helped in the current projects I am working on. So to all who read this, happy journeys.
HOME FOR HIS HEART
also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History
Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/angelaraines-dorismccraw
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com