Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - A Genealogist's Favorite Kind of Gift

What could be a genealogist's favorite kind of gift? Well, I can't speak for all genealogist's, but for this one, it's when someone happily shares their hard work and research with you.

A couple months ago I got a surprise package in the mail, a manila envelope from my Aunt Becky.

It was filled with 53 pages of paper, some hand-written, some type-written. She had written out a history of our family based on her own memories and conversations she had over the years with her parents. She had made copies of everything and mailed it to me.

I had no idea she had done this! Truly, what a gift!! In the note she sent with the pages, she made the statement that it wasn't "hardcore genealogy" but she hoped it would add to the family history I'm doing.

What I hope she realizes is that what she gave me is the most valuable part of doing a family history. Names and dates and number of children is fun for filling in a database. My OCD loves filling in empty fields in a software program.

But a database is not a family history. The stories she captured - THAT's what's important.

What's important are little tidbits like this about my grandfather William as a young boy in Indiana:

"Tony, Peter and some friends went in the woods and found a whisky still. They came back and got William to show him. William was around eight years old. The still was covered with a tent, around six by eight feet, that was painted green to camouflage it in the woods. A revolver was hanging inside. The boys swiped the tent and left everything else. They came back about a week later. Everything was gone. This was during Prohibition."

Or this tidbit about my grandmother Ann:

"When Ann was born, her mother told her there was a snow storm which dropped 2’ of snow and she had jet black hair which curled around her finger and hung down. She looked like a little doll."

Or even this, a wonderful little tidbit about my mom:

"Once during a hot summer day, Deborah and Maria Capp began to fan themselves and each other with some pretty green leaves. The leaves were poison ivy. They were covered in poison ivy. The girls were liberally covered in calamine lotion. They then ran after the other neighbor children to scare them."

So, thank you Aunt Becky!! These pages are priceless and I am very grateful to have them!


  1. What a wonderful treasure! I'm happy for your good fortune.

  2. The best kind of gift. And such neat stories!

  3. Oh, what a treasure trove of family history you've received! I hope you'll continue to share the stories with us. Your ancestors sound very interesting. I agree with you about the importance of stories to family history. For me, I think it's the best part.