Thursday, July 17, 2014

Consider the Possibilities

When an ancestor disappears after any particular record and I've come to the end of the line of obvious searches I stop and imagine the possibilities of that ancestor's life.  What might have happened next?  Where might he/she have gone?  Thinking about the possible next steps of a person's life may help me find more information about him/her.

For example, I have only two records for my potential ancestor, Werner Frommann.  They are a ship's manifest and an 1860 census record.  (I've already searched for him in the 1870 U.S. Census but did not find him.)

From the manifest I learned
  • his country of origin (Hessen)
  • from where he sailed and ship name (Bremen, "Julius")
  • his age (54)
  • his previous occupation (weaver)
  • with whom he travelled and their ages (Maria, 21; Johannes, 16; Anna, 12; Elisabeth, 7; Heinrich, 5; Caspar, 4; and Christianne, 23)
  • his port of arrival (Baltimore)
  • his arrival date in the U.S. (August 4, 1856)
  • his intended destination (Greenville)

From the 1860 census record I learned
  • where he was living (Hickory Township, Mercer County, Penna)
  • his age (58)
  • his occupation (miner)
  • his country of origin (Germany)
  • with whom he was living and their ages (John, 20; Henry, 10; Casper, 7)
  • who his neighbors were (but have not yet compiled a list)

Imagining the possible next steps an ancestor may have taken will give me ideas about other possible sources of evidence.  I may not find him in any of the places I search but my search will have been deeper, broader, and more extensive.

Below are possibilities about what happened to Werner Frommann and search ideas.

He may have died.  Search
-> probate records in the county and state where he last lived
-> probate records in neighboring counties
-> orphan's court records because he may have died without a will
-> local newspapers for accounts of his death
-> local newspapers for announcements regarding his estate
-> for a gravestone at Find-A-Grave or Billion Graves
-> for his name in cemetery indexes

He may have returned to Germany.
-> Are there emigration records for the U.S. in the 1860s?

He may have moved from the county and/or state.
-> perform a broad search in any of the major search engines

He may have changed his name or the spelling may have altered because of pronunciation.
-> search with broader name variations

This is my initial list of possibilities for this ancestor.  I will choose what I think is the most likely possibility and begin those searches.  If he's not found after those, I'll continue through the list.

Do you do this when searching for an ancestor, too?  What other places and possibilities do you consider for a  ancestor whose trail disappeared?  What possibilities have I missed for Werner?

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Written on Paper - Book of Me

We practiced form by making capital-sized, continuous ovals across the width of the paper, first in a clockwise direction, then counter-clockwise.  We were not to raise our
pencils as we formed those as-perfect-as-possible ovals.  We practiced lower case ovals in a similar manner.  Then each letter had its turn for practice, each repeated across the page, each separately formed.  I competed with myself each time we practiced handwriting, hoping to improve each letter and make it look just like the example.

None of my grade school papers survive.  The only evidence of my early handwriting abilities is this Elementary Certificate from The Peterson System of Directed Handwriting.  My mother loved saving certificates, bless her heart.   

During my senior year of college while working on a B.S. in Education, I was required to take a handwriting test.  I was shocked to learn that I'd failed.  At left is handwriting of about the same time.  You can see that my letters wouldn't have matched the standard:  the tall letters and capitals were too short.  I thought the writing was fine then but looking at it more objectively now I can see why it failed.

These days my handwriting is usually a combination of writing and printing, especially if I'm in a hurry or making a note just for me.   I can write more attractively and usually do when sending a note or letter with a greeting card, but most of my writing consists of notes to myself so I write for speed and ease.  I find it takes more effort and some extra time to write beautifully. 

One recurring thought as I was compiling this post was this:  if I had been a census taker I would have printed everything and all words would have been legible.  At least I like to think that's what I would have done.  But maybe I would have just put the information down as quickly as possible.

A year ago I shared a post showing signatures of some of my literate ancestors and x's of some of my illiterate ancestors.  Times have changed since the mid-1800s when many of my ancestors were illiterate.

Times are changing again.  I have heard the rumor that handwriting is currently not being taught to public school children.  I was discussing this with an acquaintance and he commented that there wasn't really a need for children to learn to write since most everything was typed.  I objected and he asked me why children should learn handwriting.  I told him my thoughts:
  • Learning to control a pencil and form letters helps improve manual dexterity and fine motor skills.  
  • It teaches patience and the success that comes after effort.
  • Learning to write and read handwriting will allow children to read writing written decades ago, such as handwritten family history documents (which turned out to be an important point for him).
  • Those who know how to write will be able to sign their names.
Another thought came to mind later:  I think being able to write by holding a pen or pencil in hand and manipulating it to form letters into words written on paper is half the requirement of being literate.  I don't think it's enough to be able to type letters and words on a computer.  (But then I'm a little -- okay, maybe a lot -- old-fashioned.)

Perhaps handwriting is outmoded and an anachronism but I don't want to believe it and I hope it's not true.

This is another post in The Book of Me series, created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.  Thank you, Julie.

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who Is Werner Frommann - Mystery Monday & 52 Ancestors

Werner Frommann is my mystery man of the moment.  Who is he?  Where is he?  But he's not the only mystery man:  several other Frommanns travelled with Werner from Hessen on board the ship, "Julius," destined for Greenville, arriving in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 4, 1856.

Werner and the other Frommanns who appear on the ship's manifest are 
  • Werner Frommann, 54, male, weaver
  • Maria Frommann, 21, female
  • Johannes Frommann, 16, male, weaver
  • Anna Frommann, 12, female
  • Elisabeth Frommann, 7, female
  • Heinrich Frommann, 5, male
  • Caspar Frommann, 4, male
  • Christiane Frommann, 23, female

I believe my John Froman (of the intestate court file) is the Johannes on this passenger list.  I was ready to claim Werner as his father -- because certainly the age was within range for him to be John's father -- but realized that doing so would be assuming too much:  no relationships are stated on the manifest.  However, I do assume these individuals knew each other since they are grouped together on the manifest, and I think they are probably related.

Based on the ages on the manifest, the birth years of the individuals would be:
  • Werner, born ~1802
  • Maria, born  ~1835
  • Johannes, born ~1840
  • Anna,  born ~1844
  • Elisabeth, born ~1849
  • Heinrich, born ~1851
  • Caspar, born ~1852
  • Christiane, born ~1833

To which Greenville were they headed?  There are Greenvilles in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Alabama.  I'm certain they were headed to Greenville, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Several of the travelling companions, the males, with Americanized given names, appear in the 1860 U.S. Census in Pennsylvania.  Werner, John, Henry, and Casper Fromann, all the appropriate age, are there.  They are living in Hickory Township, Mercer County, rather than Greenville.  Hickory Township is south and slightly west of Greenville.

But where are the females from the ship's manifest?  I've been unable to locate them.  Little 7-year-old Elisabeth would not yet have been married in 1860 at the age of 11.  Young Anna, 12 in 1856, could possibly have married at 16.  But what about Maria and Christiane?  It was too early for marriage records in Pennsylvania.  They could appear in a church marriage record.  Or one of their children could appear in a death certificate which identifies their mother by her maiden name. 

After the 1860 U.S. Census only John, Henry, and Casper can be found in other records.  What happened to Werner, Maria, Anna, Elisabeth, and Christiane?  Will I ever find them? 

The search for the surname Froman in newspaper archives does not return "clean" results when searched with OCR.  It finds "from an island in Greece" or "from an early age" or "from an" followed by any number and variety of words.  The results for Frommann searched with OCR are not much better.

Search results on FamilySearch and Ancestry are interesting.
  • Frommann yields these variations:  Friedman, Freeman, Freyman, Freedman, Fremont, Frauhman, Freemount, Frieman, Freiman, Freeseman, and Fruman.
  • Fromann variations include Frontz, Vroman, Vronn, Fromm, Vroom, Vrooman, Fromme, Froman, Frohm, and Frum.
  • Froman returns Fromann, Froemke, Fromm, Fromme, Frum, From, and Frohm. 

It's possible I'll eventually find some document to support the relationship between John and the others on this ship's manifest.  I return to Werner Frommann every once in a while, always with hope. 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  Thank you, Amy.

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Bowl of Peaches and Two Memories - Sentimental Sunday

When I was very young our family took annual travelling vacations.  I remember being carried through the Smithsonian Institution when I was between two and three years old, looking down at big glass cases seeing unfamiliar objects.  And when I was between three and four, my parents forgot my Teddy on a trip to Niagara Falls.  I was inconsolable.  A new, larger-than-Teddy panda came home with us, but he did not console and he never took the place of Teddy.

I think travel in my toddler and pre-school years was too much for my family.  For the next several vacations, until I was six or seven, they rented a cottage on Lake Milton where we spent a week or two each summer.  To my young heart, those summer vacations were perfect.  When we resumed travelling vacations every August, we visited places like Amana Colonies, Iowa; Greenfield Village, Michigan; and Mammoth Caves, Kentucky. 

In those days there were no credit cards -- at least not in our family -- and checks weren't widely accepted outside the area where the writer lived.  That left my father with the need to carry cash for all expenses:  gas, hotel/motel, meals, souvenirs, and any possible emergencies.  To know how much to take he probably estimated the amount of each necessity per day and then multiplied it by the number of days we would be gone, then added an extra sum.  (My parents were very, very private about money and financial situations so it's always a guess how they managed finances.)

On one vacation I remember the pleasant surprise of having sliced peaches for breakfast at a roadside rest stop.  It was a beautiful, fresh, crisp, dewy morning.  My mom sliced peaches into a bowl, added a little sugar, and I ate.  Delicious! 

The memory goes just that far and no further.  My dad probably bought a bag or a basket of peaches at a roadside stand earlier that morning.  It's possible that my mom, frugal and prepared as she usually was, had packed a few plates or bowls and some forks and spoons.  Other options for breakfast may have also included cereal or bread and peanut butter, but I don't know.  My memory stops at the bowl of peaches eaten at the picnic table.  I have no memory of my age, the year, or where we were. 

A few years before my mom passed away we were talking about vacations and I recalled and shared this memory.  Her response surprised me.  In effect, she said, "Oh, that was an awful time.  Your dad felt so horrible.  We were running low on money and there wasn't enough to buy breakfast at a restaurant." I felt sad that my father felt horrible about a breakfast picnic of peaches and that my mom remembered it as an awful time.

My mom's response reminded me that each participant has a different perspective -- and memory -- of the same experience, and probably different responses, feelings, and thoughts about the experience.  My brother and sister were probably on this vacation, too.  They may have no memory of peaches for breakfast, or they may remember even more than I do. 

When possible, I think it can be helpful to find someone else who participated in the same event and learn what they remember.  It could be especially helpful when talking with parents and grandparents to talk with their siblings also.  Who knows what other interesting information might surface and how much fuller the story of the event can be when compiled from several different perspectives.

How about you?  Have you ever discussed an event with a sibling or parent who, you found, had a very different perspective and memory of the event?

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Sarah R., Creative Commons at Flickr, jazzijava via photopin, license here.


--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Of Widow Catherine (Saylor) Froman - 52 Ancestors

Catherine (Saylor) Froman is one of my paternal great-great-grandmothers.  No stories about her survive, no objects her hands touched, no recipes.  To my knowledge, the only things that survive of her life are her descendants and a handful of records which very briefly tell of her life and existence.

Catherine was born on June 5, 1844, probably in Rhineland.  With her parents and other family members she immigrated to the U.S. sometime between 1846 and 1852.  Imagine that voyage:  being a young child on a ship for several long weeks, or being the mother of that young child!  They settled in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

My first certain acquaintance with Catherine was in the 1870 U.S. Census which reports that she was 28 years old, living in Pymatuning Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, John Froman, and five children ranging in ages from 1 to 7 years:  John, 7; Jacob, 5; Lizzie, 4; Theressa, 2; and Adam, 1.  Also in the home were a 25-year-old domestic servant named Catherine Botany, and an 18-year-old coal miner named Casper Froman. 

Within two years of that 1870 census, Catherine had given birth to one baby, Gustave, in 1870; become a widow; and given birth to one more child, Kate, in 1872.  Certainly life must have been difficult for her when one thinks of her raising 7 children without a father in the home.  Her husband's death left her with only a parcel of land, a few household furnishings, and no funds to keep a home and family.  How did she earn money for food and clothing when her children were young?  What was her source of support, both financial and emotional?  How did she manage?  I imagine her demeanor for a time after her husband's death similar to the mother in the drawing above. 

Census records tell little else about her:  she was a housekeeper, she never remarried, and she was probably illiterate.  About her young family they tell only slightly more.  All of her children attended school and learned to read and write.  By the time her oldest son, John, was 17, and the next oldest, Jacob, was 15, they worked in the coals mines and attended school.  Both activities may have been part-time or seasonal.  Their incomes must have been a great aid to the support of the family.

By 1890, four of Catherine's children had married; by 1900, all but one.  Her oldest son, John, remained unmarried until 1910, and Jacob, her second son, had become a widow by 1900.  The 1900 U.S. Census records Catherine and many of her children living in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  Both John and Jacob lived either in the same  house or next door to their mother her entire life.  The other five of her children lived nearby during the rest of her life.  By that fact alone I can't help but think that Catherine's family was close-knit. 

When she was a little older, there were the briefest notes in a local newspaper of the time.  From the December 8, 1912, issue of the Greenville, Pennsylvania, The Evening Record, we learn that,

"Mrs. Catherine Froman has returned to her home in Stoneboro after an extended visit with her sister, Mrs. Adam Lengerman."

And in the July 26, 1916, issue of the same newspaper, we read,

"Mrs. Catherine Froman of Stoneboro, is the guest of her sister, Mrs. Rosa Lingerman, of Canal street."

I'm working to identify Rosa.  She may be a sister or a half-sister.  I just beginning to research to gather Catherine's family of birth and her half-brothers and -sisters.

Catherine died on December 20, 1928, at the age of 84.  Her cause of death was organic heart disease.  She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Sandy Lake Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

She died without having written a will, but left a $50.00 Liberty Bond, and three-fourths ownership of a house and the property on which it sat.  There should be property records for transfer of land sometime between 1872, when she acquired ownership of part of the property her husband owned, and 1920, when the census reports that she owned the home in which she lived. 

After examining all the records I've been able to find, I imagine Catherine less as the woman in the drawing above and more as a strong and capable woman and mother who endured hardships and survived.

Other posts about Catherine:
A Close-Knit Family - Mappy Monday
The Best Thing About An Intestate Court File

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's call to her readers to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  Thank you, Amy.

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Close-Knit Family - Mappy Monday

I can't help but think that despite being a widow -- or perhaps because of it -- Catherine (Saylor) Froman somehow managed to raise a close-knit family.  Her seven children were all born within 9 years of each other so it makes sense that they would have become each others' friends and playmates in childhood, not to mention the probable need to work together, physically as well as emotionally, for the good of the family.

Until adulthood or marriage, the children lived with their widowed mother in Pymatuning Township on the west edge of Mercer County.  At marriage, they moved to their own homes.  The daughters married first:  Elizabeth between 1881 and 1883; Tressa in 1885; Catherine in 1888; and then the sons:  Jacob in 1889; Adam in 1895; Jacob again in 1898; Gust in 1898; and finally John in 1910.

Searching through four decades of census records fosters the image of a close-knit family.  The 1900 U.S. Census, the first after most of the children had moved from home, finds Fromans in and near Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  Stoneboro is a small community in Lake Township on the eastern side of Mercer County, whose town proper consists of less than 2 dozen streets.


In 1900, I found
  • John, Jacob, and their mother, Catherine, in Lake Township, E.D. 146, dwelling 36, family 36
  • Gust Froman in Lake Township, E.D. 146, dwelling 36, family 37
  • Catherine on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 167, dwelling 13, family 13
  • Elizabeth on West Mercer Road, Stoneboro, E.D. 167, dwelling 208, family 209
  • Tressa on an (unnamed street), E. D. 167, dwelling 231, family 232
  • Adam in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 157, about 2 miles east of Stoneboro

Sandy Lake is a smaller village than Stoneboro, situated about 2 miles northeast of Stoneboro.  The village had its own enumeration district during the census years in this post.  Surrounding Sandy Lake is the township of Sandy Lake where most of the land was rural farmland.  Adam was in the township of Sandy Lake, not the community of Sandy Lake.

In 1910, I found
  • John in Lake Township, E.D. 163, dwelling 30, family 30
  • Jacob and his mother, Catherine, in Lake Township, E.D. 163, dwelling 30, family 31
  • Gust on unnamed street in Stoneboro, E.D. 184, dwelling 126, family 135
  • Elizabeth on Strawberry Hill, Stoneboro, E.D. 184, dwelling 191, family 202
  • Tressa on Strawberry Hill, Stoneboro, E.D. 184, dwelling 187, family 198
  • Adam in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 175, dwelling 62, family 65
  • Catherine in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 175, dwelling 134, family 140  (Catherine and family had moved)

In 1920, I found
  • John on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 94, dwelling 131, family 136
  • Jacob and mother, Catherine, on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E. D. 94, dwelling 132, family 137
  • Gust on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 94, dwelling 136, family 142
  • Elizabeth on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 94, dwelling 138, family 144
  • Tressa on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 94, dwelling 106, family 106
  • Adam in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 77, dwelling 122, family 122
  • Catherine in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 77, dwelling 57, family 57

Elizabeth Froman Proud died in 1927; her mother, Catherine (Saylor) Froman, in 1928.

In 1930, I found
  • John on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 43-78, dwelling 88, family 88
  • Jacob on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 43-78, dwelling 89, family 89
  • Gust on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 43-78, dwelling 73, family 73
  • Tressa on Linden Street, Stoneboro, E.D. 43-78, dwelling 67, family 67
  • Adam on Hittle Avenue, Greenville, E.D. 43-25, dwelling 233, family 239
  • Catherine in Sandy Lake Township, E.D. 43-53, dwelling 99, family 100

Greenville is located nearly 20 miles west of Stoneboro, still in Mercer County.  Rather than Adam having been the forgotten son, Tressa (Doyle) Wilson may not have known him because visits may have been less frequent.

Most of the siblings seemed, over the years, to gravitate to Linden Street in Stoneboro -- all except Catherine and Adam.  Perhaps it's the times in which I live when people move every few years, and move away from parents and siblings, that causes me to be so surprised at the proximity of the Froman siblings' homes.

By the 1940 census all of the siblings were gone.  Just as they'd been born within 9 years of each other, they all passed away during a 9-year period.  

No stories have been passed down so I have no knowledge of family dynamics among these Froman siblings.  How I wish I did!  But all things considered, they continue to impress me as a close-knot family.

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

The Best Thing About An Intestate Court File

The best thing about an intestate court file is that all siblings are identified; and so are the children of deceased siblings.  Perhaps it was a legal requirement that all children be accounted for so that no one would miss out on a potential inheritance.  Or perhaps it isn't true in call intestate court files, just in mine.

At right is a page from Catherine (Saylor) Froman's intestate file in the Orphan's Court of Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  (You can click to enlarge it and read more easily.)  Not only does it give the names of the children but it also tells where they lived at the time the case was opened.

Catherine (Saylor) Froman is my paternal great-grandmother's mother.  The line goes like this, beginning with my father:  Lee Doyle -> Gust Doyle -> Tressa (Froman) Doyle -> Catherine (Saylor) Froman.

I had already discovered the names of all Catherine's children in her husband John Froman's intestate court file.  The children were young when Catherine became a widow but by the time Catherine died all the daughters had married and their married surnames are given in this file. 

Catherine's oldest son, John, or J. F. Froman as he signed in the file, was appointed the administrator in Catherine's case.  Initially he was required to post $100.00 bond but later, before the sale of Catherine's part of a house, he was required to post $2100.00 bond which he did, in part, with his brother-in-law William Doyle and nephew Gust Proud.  The money was returned when the case was closed and John had fulfilled all of his administrator's responsibilities.

One of the unfortunate circumstances of  intestate court files is that there may be nothing to inherit.  I can't help but wonder if, nearing the end of her life, the deceased person knew she had nothing of value to pass on to her children, thought it not worth the time, effort, and cost to make a will.

Catherine's debts included a cemetery lot ($141.00); digging a grave ($10.00); funeral director ($340.00); flowers ($3.50); headstone (estimated cost $200.00); expenses of administration ($150.00).  Total of debts $844.50.  Others were listed in an earlier document in the file.

The inventory on Catherine's personal property included only one $50.00 Liberty Loan bond.  Her real property was three-fourths (originally stated as half but amended in later papers) of a house and the land on which it sat, appraised at a value of $1050.00 and sold to her second son, Jacob, for that amount.  The money was to be used to pay her debts.  Jacob's siblings all signed agreement to the sale.  Before the sale John was required to post notices and advertise the private sale in a local newspaper.

From what I can tell from census records, Catherine and her son, Jacob, lived in the same house on Linden Street.  It would make sense that Jacob's siblings would want him to have the house instead of having it sold by auction to a non-family member. 

This brings me to another great thing about this intestate file.  There are two "Joinders" on which each of Catherine's children and the children of her deceased daughter had to sign their names.  I now have two signatures of my great-grandmother Tressa (Froman) Doyle.  In both she spelled her name Tressa.  Tressa's husband, William, also signed his name in several places.  It's true the copy is not dark but it's clear enough to see Tressa's and William's signatures.

Catherine Froman died on December 20, 1928.  Her case was opened on July 1, 1929 and closed on April 7, 1930.  An intestate court case seems to require more attention and time from the administrator than when a will is probated.  I imagine the trips John and possibly others made from Stoneboro to the Courthouse in Mercer; the signatures he had to obtain from his siblings; arranging for the home and property to be appraised; and taking care of notices and advertisements in the newspaper -- details and responsibilities all fulfilled to the court's satisfaction.

This intestate court case of Catherine's was processed almost 50 years after the case of her husband, John.  It's amazing the difference a typewriter made -- no transcription needed other than what I wanted to add to RootsMagic.  Though 50 years apart, the process was similar and, for a family historian, the results fruitful.

If you've used intestate court files before what was your experience in finding family history information?

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Good Reasons to Tell Family Stories - Sentimental Sunday

Sometimes I tell family stories on this blog.  As often as I can I tell those stories to my daughters or any other family members who are willing to listen.  I think of it as sharing my interests, connecting with my ancestors, and learning about history.  But it turns out I may be doing even more than that.

A few weeks ago I read an article in The New York Times which discussed recent research about the importance of telling and retelling family stories, also called the family narrative.  The article was written by columnist Bruce Feiler who shared results from studies done by psychologist Marshall Duke and colleague Robyn Fivush.  They wanted to know if children who knew about their family's history were better able to handle challenges than those without a background of family narrative.

The results strongly indicated that children who have heard and know the stories of their parents, grandparents, and others in the family -- even if the stories aren't always success stories -- are more capable of dealing with what comes their way in life.  They found that those children in the study
  • had a sense of control over their lives.
  • believed their families worked together successfully.
  • adjusted better to stress and its effects in their lives.
  • and were aware of being part of a larger family circle.

I especially appreciated this article.  I grew up in a family where stories were not told.  I can't remember a single story either of my parents told me when I was a child about their own childhoods, about their siblings, parents, or grandparents.  All the stories I've been able to gather I've learned as an adult and most have come from aunts, cousins, and other relatives.  (There was the grandmother's book that my mother partially completed for one of her granddaughters which came to light about 5 or 6 years ago; and there was that tape recording my father made which my mother inadvertently taped over about how he left the farm and became independent -- made after I was out of college....)  I suspect that having heard the stories when I was a child would have bolstered me in difficult times in my own life; may have brightened my day a few times; could have transformed my sense of me alone against the world; and would have helped me adopt a broader picture of family.

I'm pleased to learn that the family stories I'm sharing may be of more benefit to a broader audience than just me, may do more than just give me personal satisfaction from learning about my ancestors.  It's really possible that the stories may help my children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews become better able to face and overcome challenges.

Maybe, in our heart of hearts, we family history bloggers knew there was more to telling the stories of our ancestors than just words on a monitor.  Those stories knit our hearts and the hearts of our children with our ancestors and create bonds of love and offer support in an unusual way.

You can read Bruce Feiler's article in The New York Times at "The Stories that Bind Us."  He is the author of several books about families.

--Nancy.

© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.
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