|Special Guest Star |
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.
www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html Her backlist is available from Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.