Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Write Your History Challenge - Guest Blogger Caroline Clemmons

Today at 4 Writers, we welcome the entertaining Caroline Clemmons to our corner of the world. Welcome Caroline, thanks for dropping by!


Special Guest Star
Caroline Clemmons!

Hi, my names is Caroline Clemmons and I love family history. No, I don’t mean endless pedigree charts of names with birth and death dates. Who cares if we’re related to Queen Elizabeth or Lizzie Borden?  I mean the real history part.

I am the historian for my extended family. I collect all the anecdotes I can find--the interesting stories of who did what when and why, no matter how scandalous. Actually, I have to admit the scandalous tales are more interesting. I’ve published two books: one on my mom and her family and one for my mother-in-law. Now I’m at work on a more industrious tome for my dad’s family, with help from my brother.

In addition to locking those tales in for perpetuity, I’ve been amazed at some of interesting things I’ve discovered. Remember how boring it was to learn dates in history classes? But if you learn, for instance, that your ancestors fought in the American Revolution and the details of their involvement, that part of our country’s history becomes real to you. Reading about it goes from chore to family story. I have an autograph book from 1860-1871 that covers the time a woman in my family was at an academy for young ladies, through the Civil War, to just before her death from childbed fever eleven years later. That time became real for me.

I’m not saying your history changes who you are. Nowadays most people don’t care if your ancestors came on the Mayflower, were here to greet them, or came on an Irish coffin ship. We’re valued by the kind of person we’ve become.  Sure, being born wealthy is nice--not that I’d know--but we value people for how they manage whatever talents they’ve been born with.

Here’s a challenge for each of you. Set up a PC folder for Family History. Start with the names of those ancestors you know and write them down. Nothing formal, just start telling the stories your family passed down or those you remember. Then ask older relatives to tell you what they remember about growing up and stories their parents told.

Geri Foster, one of this blog’s owners, amazes me with the wonderful stories she tells. I could listen to her for hours or days. You have stories, too, funny ones and sad ones and some barely believable. But who’s going to know these wonderful stories from our family’s past if we don’t record them?  As writers, we can even fictionalize them and turn them into books.


Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventure. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. Her current releases are available at The Wild Rose Press at www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html Her backlist is available from Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.


  1. Greta ideas, Caroline. I'm fortunate enough to have a family history of my father's side of the family that was compiled at least forty years ago by a member of the clan who became a Mormon. She interviewed the then living historians of our clan and there are a lot of stories in the book, which is all hand-typed in a spiral form. Wouldn't give anything for it.


  2. Hi Caroline, I'm lucky in that my grandfather on one side appeared for four episodies on a local history TV show - decades ago. I painstakingly transcribed the transcripts and printed them up. Then my aunt on the other side interviewed my maternal grandmother. Again, it was all on tape and I transcribed it. It's wonderful reading their histories (and their family histories). I guard those transcriptions dearly, because they bring a personal touch to my "background."

  3. Bobbye and Cindy, so nice to see you. Jenn--pearls of wisdom? LOL Family history stories are one of my soap boxes. One of the reasons is that I remember listening to my grandmother and her eldest brother talk when I was a child. I regret that those stories are lost to the family because no one wrote them down. Many years later, when I questioned my grandmother, she was in her late 80's and only remembered that her family had to leave Scotland because they supported the wrong king. Her brother had died by then and no one else remembered all the stories either. So sad to lose all that rich material.

  4. Great post and idea. One of my grandmothers left her husband, started living with her brother-in-law (husband's sister's husband), had a child by him, then they were finally both divorced and married. We don't think of our ancestors that way...lol, I would recommend people watch the TV show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" So far, two people have discovered bigamists in their past...

  5. Hi Caroline! (Geri waving frantically) So glad you are here. I enjoy your family stories too, as well as Ashley's. You gals are so put together it makes my family history sound...well boring! But I love to hear about the past. I was told this would happen once I turned older than dirt. Guess I'm there.

    Thanks again

  6. With the revisionists writing history books today, it's imperative that we write of our time in this world, so that our children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren really know how we lived, what we thought, and what really happened during our lives. Thanks Caroline for reminding us of this.

  7. Caroline, I really enjoyed your post. Like you, my kindred spirit, I love history and have been doing family research for over 25 years now. I love deciphering the past on a personal level and learning about my ancestors and my heritage. And it's fun...like detective work where one clue leads to another. For other readers of the blog, I've seen the books Caroline published on her family history. They are so beautiful and destined to be a treasured keepsake for generations. ~ Ashley Kath-Bilsky

  8. Hi Caroline, You might remember that last year I gave my mother a digital recorder. She took an hour every afternoon and recalled childhood stories that involved her many cousins. I transcribed them; printed enough copies for each of her surviving cousins and the eldest child of those who had already passed; added cover pages and folders and shipped them back to Mom. The families were thrilled with the unexpected gifts. It was fun reading their comments. So many said they immediately sat down and read their whole copy, crying and laughing, and remembering other things that happened.

  9. Great post, Caroline! My brother is our family historian and he's found some priceless tidbits...AND some things that would probably be best shoved back in the closet. ;-)

  10. Wonderful Post, Caroline. I remember my grandmother just talking about how my grandfather courted her in a horse and buggy. Just one small tidbit gets your mind wondering about how your ancestors lived. Thanks for sharing.

  11. My cousin has been doing this with our grandmother for several years--she says getting Grandma to tell her about her childhood or the early days of courtship and marriage to our grandfather is like pulling teeth but she's amassed a nice pile of stories for all us cousins to hold onto. Priceless.