Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Treasure Found

Last night I spent hours on the phone researching my family. It started because of the brain donation for my mom. (She recently passed away from a combination of problems all brought on by paranoid schizophrenia.) The Brain Bank sent me a questionnaire to fill out with things I couldn't know about her childhood and early adult years. So I called on family.

What a fascinating evening! I spoke with 2 uncles and an aunt, my dad (divorced from my mom since I was 4), and a family friend that had known my mom since she was 10 years old. They all did their best to fill in missing details, however, I tapped a gold mine of memories that led to other questions and discussions.

In the not too distant future, I plan to write a book about my grandparents unusual love story. The memories of my relatives began to fill in some of that information. I have 2 books ahead of that one, but I took careful notes. I have most of the information I need for my mom and now I have a treasure trove of anecdotes about other family members too.

Some of these things will help me create deeper characters, some will add humor, and others will create a cast of characters around my hero and heroine. But how cool to find out my maternal great-grandfather was a "strong as a horse" blacksmithing, farmer who was very intelligent. He also had a nasty temper and chased one of my uncles around his farm in a haywagon for using his personally made hand tools! I can so picture that, lol! Can you see a gangly teen zipping around out buildings and through the crops on rocky farmland being chased by an ornery, spittin' mad grandfather, snapping the reins at the horsedrawn haywagon, totally intent on beating the living tar out of that boy!

My paternal great-grandfather was born in 1843, served in the Pennsylvania 77th during the Civil War, loved kids, and lived on his brothers property (in a little house) in his old age. He died in 1930. My grandfather was born in 1883. I knew him well. He died 6 months before his 100th birthday. My mother wasn't born until he was 60. I came when he was 81. He actually told me stories while I grew up about threshing, old-fashioned church, and sang me old songs from his youth.

If you write historicals, have you had the opportunity to interview the elder members of your family? If you write contemporary, have you used family anecdotes to deepen your characters? If you don't write, have you had great talks with the older folks before it's too late and all this great detail is lost in history? I encourage you all to go interview everyone you can. Write it down somewhere for future generations. Find pictures and label them. (For instance, my daughter found out she looks exactly like her great-great-grandma Amelia. How cool is that?!)

Go forth and discover:-)



  1. Love it. Genealogy is one of my hobbies. It has been since I was in high school writing down the family stories my maternal grandmother shared.

  2. How cool, Angie!

    My sister interviewed my grandmother for a college project. We all have a copy of that tape (somewhere!). She was an inspiration.

    Now I've got to find that tape!


  3. Too cool, Angie. God is so good at making blessings out of tragedy.

    You need to get started on that book, though. I can't wait to read it.

  4. I've been researching genealogy since 2000. I love the mystery and intrique of discovering the lives of my ancestors. All my family lines have been in America since the Revolutionary War.