thegenealogygirl


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Family Reunion Bingo Games!

Reunion at Lagoon 1926

Isn’t this photo awesome?!  This Family Reunion photo was taken at Lagoon* in 1926.  The family gathered are the descendants of my 2nd great grandparents Frederick William Ellis and Susan Kaziah Davis.

My family still holds three different reunions today.  They look a little something like this.

14774109640_a783c1edfa_o

Great Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

I really love family reunions but one of the main challenges is getting everyone talking to each other.  It’s easy for the siblings and first cousins, but second cousins and cousins from different generations?  Not so easy.  Everyone experiences the same silly obstacle – they feel dumb asking people’s names.  We always have name-tags available but hardly anyone puts one on.

Well, last summer I was in charge of the Rulon and Naomi Peterson Family Reunion.  Rulon and Naomi are my great grandparents.  This reunion is held every summer in late July or early August and includes 4 generations of my family.  I love to see and visit with my Grandpa’s younger siblings.  His brothers remind me so much of my Grandpa that it takes my breath away for just a minute, in a good way.

But all those younger cousins, understandably, gravitate to their grandparents, parents, and first cousins.  I wanted to shake that up and get people interacting more and remembering our family members who are no longer with us.

So, I made two bingo games that required asking people questions.  I had good prizes too.  There were lots of little party favor type prizes for Bingos like stretchy frogs, bouncy balls, suckers, lip balm, packs of gum, etc.  Then I had a few big prizes for the first 5 or so people who earned a blackout – a cool water gun, two $10 gift cards for lunch, and a few other items I’ve forgotten.  In all I spent about $90 from the budget.  And every penny was worth it.

This was the easy Bingo game:

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

As soon as I explained the game to the first children to arrive, they instantly starting running around asking everyone the answers.  The adults who were trying to remember things, had to talk to each other about it too.  Lots of good family conversations were going on.  After several kiddos exhausted this Bingo board, they moved on to the harder game.  This one was about our deeper family history.  This entire side of my family are LDS, so you will notice that reflected in both games.

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

I really loved the conversations that both Bingo games generated.  We heard some family stories and facts that I had never heard before – and that is saying something!  There was an awesome feeling during this whole reunion as we had dinner and talked, and filled in our Bingo cards.  Our focus was on our family members and we all felt their love and presence with us that night.

After dinner I wrapped things up by sharing that I had recently come into possession of a large collection of family letters including a box of letters written by Naomi.  This is a special treasure for all of us because she died very young, with one child still at home, and left no journals or personal history.  But those five years of letters she wrote to my Grandpa include so much of her heart and life.  I read this little story from one of her letters:

From a letter dated Friday, October 13, 1944, written by Naomi Peterson to Ronald Peterson:

“I must tell you about Janice and Marilyn.  We went in to Lienhardt’s to get the candy last night and when we came home Marilyn’s new robe was over the back of the chair by the telephone.  It looked wet and on further examination I found a pool of water under the chair.  This morning Janice stated to laugh saying she had never seem anything so funny in her life.  Marilyn had filled the bath tub for her bath.  She and Janice were standing by the mirror.  Marilyn says things just to make Janice angry – rather smart you remember.  Janice gave her a disgusted push and sat Marilyn in the tub robe and all.  Her feet were hanging out and her head against the soap dish.  Janice said she went in very gracefully.  Marilyn says there is going to be a big splash one of these times.”

What a treasure.  It was a joy to see everyone’s eyes light up as I told them about the letters and shared this story.  It was a great reunion with a very simple set of activities.

 

If you have a family reunion coming up, I wholeheartedly suggest you consider making your own version of Family Bingo.  Everyone loved it and they were used again at a smaller reunion for one of my Great Uncles and his family.  I also emailed copies to everyone who couldn’t attend including answers for the second Bingo card.

 

If you would like to use my docs as a starting point to make your own, here they are:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

And if you are related to me and are curious about the answers, here is the copy with answers:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingo

 

I will just add one more tip – I did not put a limit on the number of prizes.  I also didn’t worry a lot about the prizes.  The kids knew I had created the game, they would come to me and show me their card and I would send them over to choose their prize.  Some kids made a serious haul, but it kept the conversations going all night.  Plenty of adults and teenagers played too – and took prizes.  I made sure I had a Costco sized bag of High-Chews as backup in case we ran low on prizes, we did use the High-Chews and got very close to running out of everything.

 

Have you ever been in charge of a Family Reunion?  What activities have you enjoyed at Family Reunions?

 

 

*Lagoon is an amusement park here in Utah that started out as a place for bowling, dancing, and eating.  The first thrill ride was added in 1899.

 


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Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection

Utah_St__Livestock_Assn___Booth__John_E___Schramm__Clemm__Peterson__Rulon_P___Shot_4

Yesterday, while reading a post from the NGS blog, I noticed a link to a Utah photo collection that is new to me.  It’s the Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection.  I clicked on over to check it out and discovered this cool photo of my great grandfather.

This photo was taken 1 February 1957.  These fellas were somehow connected to the Utah State Livestock Association.  My great grandpa, Rulon Powell Peterson, is on the right, holding his hat and wearing glasses.  He was a very successful cattle rancher.  The other two men are named as John E Booth and Clemm Schramm, but I don’t know which one is which.

I did a little perusing of the collection and didn’t find anything else related to my family.  The collection is hosted by Utah State History.  They have a few other collections.  If you have any Utah family, you may want to check it out.

And once again, I am so thankful that I quickly read a post listing various online collections.  You just never know what you might find in some obscure online collection.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a surprisingly delightful genealogy discovery today!

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Visit With Grandparents

PETERSON, Rulon, Janice, Ronald and Joseph Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Rulon Powell Peterson, Joseph Skeen; front l-r: Janice Peterson, Ronald Peterson.

PETERSON, Naomi, Marilyn, Janice, Petrina and Evan Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Naomi Skeen holding Marilyn Peterson, Jane Zina Petrina Folkman; Front: Janice Peterson; lying on the ground: Evan Folkman Skeen.

I found these two photos in my Grandmother’s collection.  Rulon and Naomi were the parents of Ronald, Janice, and Marilyn Peterson.  Joseph Skeen and Jane Zina Petrina Folkman were the parents of Naomi and Evan Folkman Skeen.

I am very curious about these groupings.  I wonder who came up with the combinations and what their reasons were?  Either way, I love seeing multi-generational photographs like these.  Such a treasure.

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Cowboy in the Making

PETERSON, Ronald on horse - smaller for FT

That cute little fella is my Grandpa, Ronald Skeen Peterson.  His dad was a cattle rancher.  Grandpa worked on the ranch for many years.  Great Grandpa got him started out riding horses at a young age.  How old would you guess he is here?

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Peterson Home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home with color edits

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home with a few edits

This is the home the Rulon & Naomi Peterson family were living in at the time of Darrell’s death.  It is located in Roy, Weber, Utah.

In the history of Naomi that was compiled by her oldest daughter Janice, Janice captioned photos of this home with this statement, “A lot of good memories were made in this home.”

It looks like a happy, well cared for place.

I tried to bring the colors back to a truer version but this was a close as I could get.

When I come across photos of ancestral homes – even in the recent past – it makes me realize I don’t take photos of my home nearly often enough.

 

Have you photographed your home lately?


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Uncle Darrell – Part XII, Final Thoughts

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, chin in hand

My great uncle, Darrell Skeen Peterson

I never knew Darrell, or Naomi, and I have very few memories of Rulon.  I can’t add any facts, memories or insights into Darrell’s life or the circumstances surrounding his death.  I do, however, want to end his story with a few of my thoughts and what I plan to do next.

I lost a child once too.  Under very different, horribly traumatic, take-your-breath-away painful circumstances.  A baby that was not mine by birth but that lived with us from the time he was 10 months old until he was 20 months old.  A baby that we were told we could adopt.  Until the shocking day when he was taken away, moved to another home, and adopted by someone else.

In the horrible aftermath of the storm, when I was the saddest I have ever been, I remember thinking often about my great grandmother Naomi.  I knew a little bit about her loss.  I knew the bare bones version of the story of Darrell’s death.  I had the funeral transcript, Rulon’s personal history, and the histories written by her daughters.  I had read them.  I knew that she had been heartbroken and that her health never recovered.

What I really wanted were her words.  I wanted to hear her own complete heartbreak and know that I wasn’t going crazy.  I wanted to know that it was possible to be in the depths of sorrow and still have hope, still know that God loved me.  And I wanted to know that not from myself but from seeing it in my great grandmother’s own writing.  I wanted to feel her sense of life moving forward and joy coming in the morning – whenever my morning would be.

I didn’t know that there were any records that existed that were written by her.  I didn’t know if she kept a journal or had written letters.  But in that time of sorrow so deep, loss so overwhelming, when the love and support of my family and friends could barely register let alone reach my aching soul in a meaningful way, it was my great grandmother’s comfort I wanted.  And I didn’t get it.  Not for a very long time and not until well past the need had subsided to a dull ache.

I hope that this collection about Darrell – his life, his tragic death, his family member’s reactions to it all – will someday help one of Naomi’s other descendants.  Because child loss is not new, and unfortunately it happens with cruel regularity.

I hope her honest reactions will be a comfort to someone in their darkest hour.  A lifeline from the past reminding them that they will get through it no matter how painful the way.  An example of enduring faith, hope, and love for God and his promises.  And sadly, an acknowledgement that weathering the storm changes the boat.

I am so thankful for Naomi.  I’m thankful that I have been able to collect so many pieces of her story and Darrell’s. She is one of my heroes.  I want to make sure her story – particularly this part of it – is available to all of her posterity.

Which brings me to what I plan to do next.

First, I have been adding each item to both FamilySearch and my Ancestry Tree.  I am also compiling all of the information, photos, newspaper articles, excerpts from other works, etc into a book.  Once I have a rough draft I will share a copy with Darrell’s three living siblings so they can review it, add any thoughts or insights, photos etc.

I’m going to take a class in May on Publishing Family Histories.  I know the teacher well and know that he shares several different publishing options in the class.  I know he has identified several publishers that allow you to create a nice hardbound book that is printed one at a time for a reasonable price.  This way family members can order what they want without me dealing with collecting money, writing a big check, shipping books and all of that.  When I make my decision on who I will use to publish, I will share it here.

I also need to go through my Grandma’s boxes again to see if there is anything else in them that belongs in this collection.  I know there are letters from my Grandpa’s mission in there.  I need to organize them and see if any letters mention this part of his story.  I hope to be finished and ready to publish before our Rulon and Naomi Peterson family reunion in early August.

And last, thank you to my readers for your kind, thoughtful comments as I’ve shared Darrell’s story.  I know I don’t usually devote extended periods of time to a specific family member, but his was a story I wanted to tell.  Your support made the journey even richer.  Thank you.


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Uncle Darrell – Part XI, Family Reflections

Rulon Peterson History

This is the cover page of my great grandfather’s personal history.

Over the years, various members of the Rulon and Naomi Peterson family have recorded histories of themselves or other family members.  Many of those histories mention Darrell and his accident.  I also recently reached out to the three remaining family members and asked for some insight and memories.  Below are a collection of those thoughts.

  • Rulon Powell Peterson is Darrell’s father.
  • Janice Peterson Child is Darrell’s oldest sister, 2nd child in the family.
  • Marilyn Peterson Ellis is Darrell’s older sister, 3rd child in the family.
  • Lowell Skeen Peterson is Darrell’s younger brother, 5th child in the family.
  • Wayne Skeen Peterson is Darrell’s youngest brother, 6th child in the family.

 

From “Personal History: Rulon Powell Peterson” (pg 52-53):

“Then in 1947 tragedy came to our home and family.  Darrell had been working with me as I was trying to put a hair brand on some old bulls I had just brought in from Stone, Idaho.  Marilyn came running and asked him to take her to the Bamberger so she could ride to Ogden and get her music lesson.  It seems the Bamberger was late so he took her to catch the street car at 35th and Washington Avenue.  On his return home there was a Bamberger freight train on the track.  It passed by on the west track going south just as Darrell approached the crossing.  Not seeing the late Bamberger passenger train coming from the south, Darrell attempted to cross and was on the track when the train crashed into him.  I have often been thankful that he didn’t suffer for I believe his death was instant.  I blame the driver of the train for he said, “I could see he wasn’t going to stop,” and I asked “Why, then, didn’t you stop?”  Passengers in the train said he slowed the train for an instant and then darted forward.  What extreme sorrow was ours.  It was the first break in our family or even my father’s family.  Naomi was away at the hairdressers.  I gathered my children together and we kneeled down and asked the Lord to help us as we broke the news to Naomi.  Her sorrow was almost more than I could stand.  Mine was intensified by seeing her great grief.  I felt like I just wanted to get out from under the burden of grief.

“President Beus came and suggested the General Authorities should be notified.  It was shortly after I had become President of the Stake and President Beus suggested that inasmuch as Elder Spencer W. Kimball was the visitor who had been in our Stake and set us apart that he should call him and ask him to speak.  When we had assembled in the Riverdale Chapel and Elder Kimball and others were on the stand, in walked President David O. McKay.  With President McKay were Sister McKay and two of his sisters, Sister Morrell and Sister Ricks.  Elder Kimball, recognizing that we would want to hear from President McKay, had cut his remarks short but it still was a long service.  With a chapel full and a score of Darrell’s schoolmates standing in the aisles, President McKay reminisced about his boyhood associations in my grandparents home and referred to them as Aunt Ann and Uncle Peter.  His remarks, as well as those of others were very comforting.  Darrell was a very good student.  His school principal spoke and said, “Darrell was a straight A student except for one subject, music.”  When he approached Darrell about upgrading his music he said, “Oh, I enjoy hearing the others sing.”

“The grief seemed more than we could bear.  Naomi blamed herself for allowing Darrell to drive.  Darrell was a very good driver.  He had driven trucks around the feed yards driving for the men when they were feeding cattle.  This he had done since he was nine or ten years old.  In those days they were not so demanding of driver’s license for youthful drivers.  Continued worry and grief were in large measure responsible for Naomi’s premature heart affliction.  When Dr. Brown gave her digitalis to regulate her heart he didn’t tell her it was to be for the rest of her life.  She improved and was quite good as long as her medication lasted but a while after she ceased taking it she became ill once more.  This time it was much more severe and Dr. Brown warned me of her condition and said, “It may be ten days, two years, or ten years,” and ten years it was.  During this time it was a constant worry and many a night when I couldn’t hear her breathing I would reach over and touch her and she would respond, “Don’t worry, I’m all right.”  She had never been told what Dr. Brown had told me but I’m sure she knew and realized her condition.  How choice she was and what a blessing she had been to me!  When President Clark spoke at her service he said Naomi was an angel and truly she was.”

 

From “Naomi Skeen Peterson” by Janice Peterson Child (pg 2, last two paragraphs):

“In 1947 our brother, Darrell, was killed in a car-Bamberger train accident.  It was not far from our home.  She was getting her hair done at the time.  Darrell had taken Marilyn to a piano lesson in Ogden.  Marilyn had thought she had missed the Bamberger and so Darrell had taken her so she would not be late.  He was just returning when apparently he saw a freight train go by and assumed the lights which were still on were for the freight train.  The sun was shining in his eyes enough that we guessed, he did not see the train coming on the other track.  He was hit by the Bamberger that Marilyn was to catch.  Darrell was only 14 years old.  He had a bad heart also and couldn’t do physical work.  Therefore, he was taught to drive the trucks to help the ranch men.  Mother blamed herself for breaking the law.  She always thought it was her fault that Darrell drove that day.

“From this period of time Mother’s rheumatic heart condition started giving her problems.  Dr. Brown, her physician, had told her she had a heart murmur when she was younger from rheumatic fever.  That did not stop her from doing the hard work she did.  The stress of Darrell’s death was too much for her heart.  She had small strokes and ill health.  The heart specialist told Dad with her type of heart condition she could drop over sometime and that is exactly what happened.”

Janice goes on in her account to tell the story of Naomi’s death.  It’s wonderfully detailed and deserves its own post.

 

From “Memories of Naomi Skeen Peterson” by Marilyn Peterson Ellis (pg 3, last paragraph):

“Mother suffered terribly after Darrell was killed by a train at the age of fourteen.  Those were dark days in our home.  Then, I believe, as a result of the stress of Darrell’s death her heart fribulated and her health deteriorated from that time on.  She died 10 years later at the age of 52.  What a loss!!  Our family was never quite the same again.”

 

From a Family History Interview of Marilyn Peterson Ellis (conducted in about 2005):

“Darrell and I chased each other some times but he had a sweet nature and used to sit and visit with me while I cleaned the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.  He told me about movies he had seen.  It left a terrible void in my life when he was killed.  He was 14 – I was 16.”

 

From an email from Lowell Skeen Peterson, 22 March 2016:

Darrell was very popular in school, as he was elected student body secretary and many of the students came to the funeral.  He had a bad heart so he was not able to play on the school team.  He would watch practice, and as I recall, he commented that he was content to do that.  He had reddish hair and freckles.

 

From an email from Wayne Skeen Peterson, 22 March 2016:

Here are a few insights about Darrell and the accident.

Darrell was athletically inclined though his heart condition kept him from full participation.  However, he could shoot the basketball, in a shot from the corner, with great accuracy as his friends would feed him the ball.

The accident with the train happened at the crossing just below our property about two blocks from our home.  Alan Zaugg, the foreman on the ranch, was the first to hear and know of the accident and immediately contacted Dad who may also have heard the crash.  I was sweeping the driveway of our home when Dad pulled up in his pickup truck and told me that Darrell had been in an accident.  He then proceeded in the house to tell mother.  Not knowing that he had died in the accident, I went upstairs to my room and prayed that he would be alright.  I now know that indeed he was alright as his spirit lived on and remained close by and was felt in our home where we had the casket for a time.  I was nine years old when the accident happened but remember that day and experiences as if it was yesterday.

Darrell had a very kind, loving, and gentle disposition.  He did all that he could do in the way of work on the ranch.  He milked our cow slowly as he was able.  I always accompanied him with that chore and carried the bucket of full milk home as we walked together.

I loved Darrell and felt closer to him in my formative years than to any of my brothers or sisters.

Thanks for remembering him.

 

to be continued…(one more post)