Peek-A-Boo, I See You: 1000 words

Does a picture really paint a thousand words?  For me, a picture paints a thousand memories.  There are many things that I only really remember because I have pictures to document.  I saw some pictures in my daughter’s album Sunday of 10-12 of us seated around her dining table with Mad Hatter hats made from paper bags that we had created and decorated.  I looked at that picture (and I was in it) and realized I had absolutely no recollection of the event!  She was the only one with a picture.  It made me wonder how many other wonderful and crazy events in my life are missing from memory because I was not carrying a camera.

After all, isn’t that why we take pictures?  To remember?  We all have a few pictures of ancestors we never met, and priceless those are to us.  I have two favorites, one of my Grandma Bronson who I knew well, and one of my Great-grandma Wilcox who died before I was born.

Marguerite Wilcox Bronson with baby, Beth

Marguerite Wilcox Bronson with baby, Beth

Not only is this a precious picture of my Grandma Bronson taken in about 1913/14, but it has an interesting story.  We have pieced together the information that was handed down, but only Grandma knows all the facts, and she has been gone for over 40 years.  Bottom line, she was young when she had this baby, and the baby was raised by Grandma’s parents.  My dad didn’t even know of the existence of this older sister until he was almost an adult.

Eliza Snow Lyon on the right and her sisters

Eliza Snow Lyon on the right and her sisters

Grandma Bronson’s mother was 20 years old, living at home with her family in Salt Lake City in the late 1800’s, when a young man from Omaha – Charles Emery Wilcox – came to Utah to work on the new streetcars.  Eliza’s brother had a rooming house and Charles was staying there.  Who wouldn’t be smitten by this beautiful young lady?  And of course the rest is history.

Now with everyone packing a cell phone, we have no excuses for having no pictures – unless you are like me –  the one taking all the pictures.  And I don’t do selfies – short arms, big head, short neck – these all shout “say no to selfies.”  So if I am going to be remembered through pictures, I have to make sure I hand off the phone/camera to someone else occasionally.  I think through the years I’ve managed to capture the real me!

A glimpse into my life through picture - the good, the bad, the dorky!

A glimpse into my life through picture – the good, the bad, the dorky!

But one of my pet peeves is that with all the digital photos, most are on a phone, a computer, or a backup system.  They are often not printed out and put in books anymore – and I think that’s a shame!  I love when my grandkids gather around my photo albums to laugh, chat, and remember.  After all, that’s what photos are for, right?


Diggin’ Up Roots: dig those stories

One of the most interesting events for me and my sister was to attend the Innovator Summit Challenge at RootsTech where four entrepreneurs presented their ideas for genealogy technology.  It was done kind of like “Shark Tank,” but in a more gentle manner!  All four of the ideas were so good that it was hard to vote for just one, but the audience was asked to do just that.  The panel also voted.  Each of the four participants was awarded a cash prize, but the grand prize winner was StoryWorth, a company based in San Francisco.  The premise of their website is simple – “Each week, we email your loved ones a question about their life.  All they have to do is reply with a story, by email or by phone.  We save their stories on your private site and email them to your family.”  It is a great way to get your family to write their stories and the first month is free.  After that the pricing depends on the length of the service and the number of storytellers involved.

If you don’t want to use their service, it is still a great idea that you might be able to handle on a smaller scale with your immediate family.  It would be more time consuming, but it could be done.  Or just let StoryWorth do it for you!

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There are so many great stories buried in our families, and probably many of them will stay buried unless we make a goal to do something about it.  StoryWorth is a great way to get started.

Knick Knack Paddy Whack: give the girl a room


STEP THREE:  I really wanted to display photos and saw a great idea for doing this in the archive room.  My husband made some wood frames for sheet metal so I could attach photos with magnets.  We distressed the frames and painted them a flat brown.  I was able to change out the photos frequently and give all the ancestors their moment on the wall of fame

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog photos sheet metal frames magnets

The finishing touch was the family tree I designed.  It not only displayed my ancestors, but also my husband’s.

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog family tree apples basket swing leaves

The three baskets were for each of our three daughters and their families.  The swings indicated which side was for my ancestors and which side was my husband’s. I asked my daughter, Brenda, to paint the tree on the wall, but she had a better idea – torn paper!

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog family tree apples leaves basket swing

I eventually transferred the tree to a piece of heavy, clear vinyl and held it on the wall with thumb tacks.

I loved this little archive room and my grandchildren spent lots of time there.  But some items were missing — the trunk, my mother-in-law’s table, some vintage lamps, the tools, and other larger items.  And I kept finding more heirlooms that I had forgotten about.  What to do?  My family knows I love change, in fact I thrive on it, so watch for my next post, the final (maybe) installment of Knick Knack Paddy Whack.