Sunday, January 11, 2015

Before the Beginning...

I began genealogy research back around 1996 with my mother.  We both began with installing Family Tree Maker and putting in everything that we knew.  We started hitting the local library to see what we could learn and even took my Dad down to Salt Lake City to experience the Family History Library.  It is easy to say that we began our research on that date, but truthfully it started much earlier than that.

Betty (Mom) lower left with her sister, Joan and mother Capitola. - at 1949
My mother spent a lot of her early years around her grandmother and grandfather and had the opportunity to learn family stories first hand.  She was always interested and involved with her grandparents and was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with them.  They helped make my mother the person she became.  So essentially, Mom became a storehouse of information and that process didn't stop.  When she married my father, Mom quickly became an important member of Dad's family  I remember her telling me of a visit by her father in law (Frank Johnson) at one point where it was just the two of them.  She said that they sat at the kitchen table and talked about his family.  Mom got out a piece of paper and wrote down what he told her.  That piece of paper became the foundation of most of what we knew about my Grandpa Frank's family.  Mom remembered Grandpa thinking that his family history didn't quite measure up to Grandma Marian's family, so he felt surprised when Mom asked him.  We soon found out that his family was just as impressive as Grandma Marian's, but that would have taken us much longer to find out without the groundwork that my mother had done.
Dad with Grandma Marian and Grandpa Frank - abt 1957

Like my mother, I spent a lot of time listening to the stories of my family members.  I can remember as a child, sitting at the feet of my great grandmothers (Mom Friddle and Granny Shearer) and my mother's godmother (Aunty Jones).  These three ladies were born 1894, 1890, & 1889 respectively. Their stories about riding the stagecoach during their youth in the Lewiston area always stuck in y mind.  It was rather astonishing that it took a full day of travel to travel the same distance that took us 25 minutes in the car.  Later as a junior in high school, I remember getting the opportunity to ask my Grandma Cappy and Grandpa Gwen about their lives during the depression.  As Mom and I began researching, it was my turn to question my mother about the family stories that she had heard as a child.  For several years, we had my great uncle to question as well.  He always said that he didn't know that much, but he knew much more than he thought.

I had my Grandma Marian up until a few years ago and learned a wealth of family stories from her. She took a lot of joy out of the information that Mom and I found and later the information that I found...and participated in our research as well.

So now I have become the storehouse of family stories. Mom passed away almost 10 years ago, all of my grandparents are gone and many of the older family members are no longer with us  There are still a few living and I still try to take the opportunity to learn from them.  However, much of what we have found has been dependent on a lifelong interest in our family stories...and if Mom and I had never sat down and listened to the stories of our older family members, perhaps we wouldn't have the wealth of family history that we now have.  Even though my mother is no longer here, I still think of the genealogy research as "ours" because Mom and I began the journey together.  Before we began that research, we had several lifetimes of stories to start that journey!