I have an aunt that has become a favorite of mine. She comes and has dinner with us at least once when I am at my parents for a visit. The family documentation now is at a staggering 800 + pages and is quite the talk of the family. Aunt Susie always enjoyed the stories so I thought it might be nice to do one for her. She was a Chatley before she married my father’s brother. Her family was in the funeral home business, so I figured there should be plenty of information to start with. I already had access paid for on line so there wouldn’t be any cost involved.
I started with what I knew and worked backwards. Her dad had an unusual name of Otho and it could be found spelled as Otto and mispronounced by just about everyone. As I hunted I gathered newspaper information and copies of photographs and added them to the pile. The census information turned up more family and I was off and running. With about 2 days worth of work I was heading for 45 pages.
After purchasing a small binder and poking holes in my pages I loaded into the car and headed for my mother’s for vacation. Aunt Susie stopped down for her dinner with us and I mentioned I had something for her. Handing the booklet over to her I watched her face. She opened the cover and her face went from complete surprise to a huge grin. She told me I couldn’t have given her anything nicer and jumped up to hug me.
When she went home that night she sat up and poured over the pages, reading and digesting all of the information. She even called her son to tell him about the gift.
I find most people don’t know where to start and with a little push in the right direction they are off and digging on their own. I did a quick history for a friend that has her meeting with her relatives from various parts of the state once a year, she divides up the tasks and hands them out. They have lots of things to talk about at their family reunions now.
Christmas is coming and along with the shiny new gifts, include a trip down memory lane for your friends and relatives. There might even be a big ol’ hug in there for you too.