Why Writing about Family Stories Matters

Writing about family stories

Writing about family stories brings family history to life.

I am so pleased to have Laura Hedgecock, our guest blogger, to share with us why writing about our family stories matters.

There’s no question that documenting your family history is a gift for future generations. That gift doesn’t have to stop with names, dates, and places. You can bring your family history to life by writing about family stories.

I’m passionate about this because I’ve been on the receiving end of such a legacy.

My Story

Our-Old-WillowThe silhouette of my own family tree used to look more like the willow that lost limbs in every storm than the archetypal oak.

On my father’s side, we had precious little information, owing not the least to the fact that our grandmother claimed to be an orphan. (That’s a whole different story.) The opposite was true of my mother’s side of the family, where my aunt had traced ancestors back to about 1500.

However, the ancestry information paled in comparison to my grandmother’s Treasure Chest of Memories—an old spiral notebook filled with a lifetime of writings. It included childhood memories of relatives, stories of her children as they grew, and family stories. Her stories ground us—all fourteen of us cousins—not only to her, but also to each other and our common history.

 Writing about Family Stories Forms Connections

Writing about family stories connects family members on a visceral level. In contrast to facts, narratives can help family members—including future ones—to their ancestors. These stories matter because they convey traditions, personalities, and relationships. They can also fill in the gaps of our research.

For instance, when I see “Charles Crymes” on a family chart, I think of my grandmother’s words, “I remember Cousin Charlie Crymes and how jolly he could be….”

Writing about Family Stories Helps Us Understand History

I learned all about the Great Depression in school. However, I came to understand it through family stories of going hungry and scraping by. Our family stories are a way of teaching our children (and other family members who might have dozed off during high school) history through the lens of our genealogy.

Writing about family stories of immigration, migration, and service to God and country bring history alive. Perhaps more importantly, family stories of doing the right thing or coping under difficult circumstances allow our ancestors—and us—to be there to teach and share long after we’re gone.

Family Traditions are part of our Personal Stories.

Whether we love them or hate them, family traditions are part of who we are. We may not observe family traditions or cook the same recipes, but they are part of the forming of our formative year. So are the stories that were told at every family get-together. These stories need to be written down and shared.

Start Preserving Your Family Stories

Writing about family stories makes your tree accessible.

Writing about family stories makes your family tree more accessible.

You can’t always fill in the missing branches on your family tree. However, you can make the branches that are there accessible to your loved ones. By writing about family stories and memories, it’s as if you’re adding a tire swing or little boards up the trunk to make it easier to climb.

 

LAURA HEDGECOCK is author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life (coming May 2014 via Cedar Fort Publishing’s Plain Sight Imprint) and blogs about telling stories and sharing memories at TreasureChestofMemories.com/blog. Laura would love to connect with readers via TwitterFacebookGoogle+, or Pinterest.

Laura Hedgecock, Author

Laura Hedgecock, Author

Thriller Thursday: Self Surgery

Are there murders, bizarre accidents or other thrilling stories among your family history? Tell us about them through words and pictures during Thriller Thursday. This is an ongoing series by Anne Kruszka at Gene Notes.

This is not someone related to me but it belongs in Thriller Thursday, and maybe a relative might be researching and stumble across this post.
Robesonian Newspaper
Trenton, MO
November 7, 1957
Ancestry.com

[Transcribed]

Trenton, MO-Gilbert McCulley, 49 used a pocket knife to cut of his left hand when it was caught in a mechanical corn picker.

McCulley, working alone on his farm near Galt, Mo., said he shouted before resorting to the knife.

  He then unhooked his tractor and drove three-quarters of a mile to his house.  A daughter called a relative who brought McCulley 20 miles to a hospital in Trenton.  His condition was reported as fair.

Wow!  Self-Surgery!  I could never imagine doing this…but he had a supernatural strength that came across him and he survived a tragic accident of losing his hand.

Copyright

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Remembering 911

Me at the United Nations, 2010

      September 11th was a tragic day in America’s History.  September 11 is the day  we memorialize those who lost their lives to terrorism. It is a day that will never be wiped away from our memories, nor from our Country’s mind.  I pray for all those that lost their lives, and the families and friends that had to endure the loss.

     On this day September 11, 2011, I celebrate my father’s life as this was the day he was born.  He is no longer with us, but I must remember the good times and the wonderful lessons he taught me.  Daddy, I miss you tremendously, and you are always in my heart.

Me & My Father, Walter Porter

     This is my 101 post today!  It has become a habit now that I post daily, and it is almost second nature for me.  One of the things I wanted to do was to write daily and I told myself I would do this daily until it became a habit.  I am proud of my persistence.  One thing for sure my father said to me is that I could do and would do anything I put my mind to do, and he was correct.  I think now I will not feel guilty if I take a day or two off from blogging once in awhile.

     Anyway, I am giving myself a break today from writing and will be sorting and organizing my papers instead of writing.  Sometimes it is just good to relax and take it easy and that’s what I will do.

     I hope you all have a wonderful day.  Let’s keep our country in prayer and spend time with our families, because they are most important.

Happy Birthday Daddy!



Copyright

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Sympathy Saturday: Alice F. “Peters” Moore

     I am currently researching the Peters, My mother’s paternal side of the family.  I have located various death announcements and In Memorium Announcements in the Washington Post Newspaper via Ancestry.com.

     I found my Great Grandfather’s niece Alice F. Peters Moore’s Memorium in the Washington Post dated October 26, 1964.  Alice was the daughter of Yancey D. Peters who was the brother of my Great Grandfather, George Washington Peters.  I have more success locating my Great Grand Uncle’s direct line decedents than my own grandfather’s.

     Alice Peters was born in March of 1899 in Washington D.C, and died on October 26, 1954 in her hometown of D.C.
     According to this memorium Alice’s sisters Carlotta & Gladys and her brother Ralph were still living in 1964.  

Family Churches Part #1: Mt. Hermon Baptist Church (UPDATED)

     When I began researching my family history, I was very much interested in the churches that my family attended throughout the generations, as this was the place where families gathered to worship, socialize, to be baptized, held communion, were married, eulogized, and many times buried in the church cemetery.  The Family Church series will be a post that I talk about, discuss and share a family church, and possibly its history if available, and the family members that attended this place of worship.

     A few weeks ago, I posted a funeral card of my father’s (Walter Porter) half-brother, Leroy Porter.  To read, click (here).
     The funeral card mentioned that Rev. Leroy Porter accepted Christ as his Savior and United with Mt. Hermon Baptist Church at a young age.  Well, I was curious as to what the church looked like and its history.  After locating the number of the church in Mt. Hermon, Louisiana, I called. A lady answered the phone, stating she was the secretary (Diane).  I inquired as to the church’s website, but there was none. After telling Diane who my family was and that they had been members of Mt. Hermon, she stated that there had been many Porters that attended the church for years but there were no remaining family members.
     I let Diane know that I was interested in receiving history and a picture of the church if there was anything available.  I gave Diane my address and a few weeks later, I received a picture of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church (below) but have not received the information of the church history.  I hope that I will somehow get the info at a later date.
Mt. Hermon Baptist Church
Porter Family attended for many years
      Facts about the location of the Church:  According to Wikipedia, Mt. Hermon is an unincorporated community of the Washington Parish of Louisiana.

     Mt. Hermon, LA is is bordered by Mississippi and about 6 miles away.

     I also followed up since this post with a Thank You card because whenever anyone gives you information it is very important to say Thank you, and show some gratitude.

UPDATE

After all of this effort, I discovered that I had the right name of the church but the incorrect location.  I went online to see if I could find more information, and discovered the church that I had pinpointed as the family church was predominately Caucasian and I was looking for an African American Church.

Diane, the secretary had a conversation with the church clerk, who happened to be the church historian and was a Porter, stated that they never had a Leroy in their family.

My search is still on, and even though this post is incorrect, I want to keep it up, so that other’s will know that all research done is not always accurate, and sometimes must be re-checked.  There are so many churches with the same name, locale must always be checked too.