thegenealogygirl


14 Comments

Grandpa Costello’s 1932 Buick

V, Barbara, Amberly

Auntie V, Aunt Barbara, and Amberly at Barbara’s home in Spokane, Washington.  13 March 2018

 

Last week I was able to spend some time with my GrandAunt Barbara and my Auntie V at Barbara’s home in Spokane, Washington.  We had a good time together.  Aunt Barbara shared lots of stories, photos, and other family heirlooms with us.  I have so much to preserve from that visit.  It’s exciting!  One of my favorite finds was a grouping of photographs and stories about Grandpa Costello’s car.

 

COSTELLO, John & Mary by his car

John & Mary Costello standing next to Grandpa’s 1932 Buick

 

Grandpa Costello bought a 1932 Buick right off the showroom floor.  Apparently, Grandma Costello wasn’t too happy about that.  Grandpa babied that car – a deluxe model complete with flower holders in the back seat – he would park it in the garage that had a dirt floor, but every time he took it out he would dust the entire car.

 

COSTELLO, kids in John's car, 1932

Costello children in their father’s car – Dan, Vince, and Virginia

 

When Aunt Barbara was dating Uncle Dan, Grandpa Costello still had that car.  So Barbara rode it in.  When Grandpa Costello could no longer drive, the car was sold to some friends of Aunt Virginia’s.  Dan was very upset by that because he really wanted that car.

Years later, Dan and Barbara flew in Dan’s plane to somewhere near Ione.*  There was a car show near the airport and in that car show, there was Grandpa’s car!  His actual car, not just the same model.

 

COSTELLO, Dan standing by John's car

Dan Costello standing next to his father’s car in 1974.

COSTELLO, John's car in a car show in Bonner's Ferry, 1974

 

Each time I visit my relatives from an older generation I learn new details about my ancestors.  Each and every trip is so worth it.  I LOVE the picture of John and Mary standing next to Grandpa’s car!!  What a treasure to add to my small “John Costello” collection.

 

COSTELLO, John's car pictures from Aunt Barbara

 

I used these photos along with the audio of this part of the interview to create a video using Animoto.  I’m toying with purchasing a plan with Animoto and created this video as part of my trial.  Have you used Animoto or a similar service or program?  Which do you prefer?  I tried using Adobe Spark but there were far too many limitations with the audio.  I have lots and lots of audio files that would work nicely in a video and definitely want flexibility in the audio files I can use.  Here is my video:

 

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!

 

 

*{Ummm, can I just say that I wish I had asked about Dan’s plane and flying?  I was so distracted by the car stories that I missed that tid-bit…}


27 Comments

52 Ancestors – Finding Andrew Brown’s Parents

Thankerton-Gardens-00027

Thankerton, photo by Frieda Oxenham, used with permission. Originally posted here.

 

Short lives, lived by people with common names, before civil registration began, are difficult to trace.

Difficult, but not impossible.

My fourth great-grandfather, Andrew Brown, led one of those short lives, with a common name, before civil registration.  Learning his story seemed impossible when I first began researching my Scottish ancestors many years ago.  But it was not, in fact, impossible – just slow and difficult.

For many years, the only trace of Andrew came from the records of his wife and children.  Until I found him on a marriage record, the first record I found in which he appears for an event about his own life.  As years passed, additional bits and pieces were gathered.  Some were promising, others confusing, and plenty were missing.  Last year I found a handful of records that tied it all together.  But I was still missing two highly desired documents.  Just last week, I found one of those two records.  The remaining item, still missing, was for his child.  But the record that was found helped clear up some mystery surrounding that child.  So now it is time to tell the story of Andrew Brown from the beginning.

 

A Challenging Beginning

 

Andrew Brown entered this world in 1828 at a disadvantage.  He was born to unmarried parents at a time when illegitimacy was considered shameful.  His baptism record states:

 

Brown       James Brown in the parish of Liberton and Margaret Thomson in this Parish a natural son named Andrew born August 18th bapd Decemr 21st 1828″1

 

Natural son.  Not lawful son.  A slightly kinder way to say that Andrew was illegitimate.

My Scottish family members were poor.  They were usually laborers, servants, or miners.  There were many illegitimate births in the Scottish branches of my tree.  Those children, precious to me, but labeled and shamed, were often raised by grandparents.  The mothers did not always go on to marry.  The stigma had a lasting effect.

But for Andrew, his birth did not prevent him from being raised by his mother.  Nor did it prevent his mother from marrying.

Six years after Andrew’s birth, his mother Margaret married John Baillie on the 17th of October 1834 in Wiston and Roberton, Lanark, Scotland.2

While discovering that marriage cheered my heart, finding Margaret, John, their children AND Andrew living together in Wiston and Roberton on the 1841 Census3 filled my heart to bursting.  Not only did John Baillie marry a woman who would have been labeled as a fornicatrix, but he welcomed her young, illegitimate, son into their home.  In my family, that is unprecedented and has been matched only once more.  At least, in the records I have found so far…

 

Beginning His Family

 

On the 15th of June 1849, Andrew married Mary Robertson in Wanlockhead, Dumfries, Scotland.4    Andrew was living in the parish of Wiston, Mary in the parish of Sanquhar.  A record for banns can be found in each parish.5

Mary was older, but exactly how much older is difficult to determine.  In reviewing the records of her life, she has an approximate birth year that ranges from 1821-1827 making her somewhere between one and seven years Andrew’s senior.

Andrew and Mary’s first known child is William Brown, born in about 1849 in Muirkirk, Ayr, Scotland.6

In the Spring of 1851, Andrew is found living as a servant in the household of David M Lapraik in Muirkirk and working as an agricultural laborer.7  Mary and William are also in Muirkirk, living in the village.  Mary is listed as a handsewer.8  Both Andrew and Mary are listed as married despite being in separate households.

Andrew and Mary welcomed their second child, Alexander Robertson Brown, 27 September 1851 in Pettinain, Lanark, Scotland.9  I hope this move provided a job and living arrangements that kept the family under the same roof.

Exactly twenty-five months later, a third son, Andrew Brown, was born to Andrew and Mary on 27 October 1853 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.10  On the baptism record for Andrew, son of Andrew, an address of Mainz is listed.  This becomes very important in the quest to find Andrew Brown’s death record.

At this point in 1853, Andrew and Mary have three known children – William, Alexander, and Andrew.  In FamilySearch, there is a fourth child listed for Andrew and Mary.  A daughter named Catherine, ID# KNHZ-Z8V, who is listed as being born in 1854 in Scotland.  I can find no trace of Catherine.  Is she really their daughter?  I don’t know.

 

Death & Leaving Mary to an Uncertain Future

 

Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days after the birth of Andrew, Andrew Brown dies on 26 October 1854 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.11  That record holds little information and reads:

 

Octr 26        Andrew Brown, Mains        aged 25

 

With the overwhelming number of death records for an Andrew Brown born in 1828, the address of Mainz/Mains was a crucial detail to tie this death record to my Andrew Brown.

Twenty-five years is a short life.  Andrew spent his years as an agricultural laborer or ploughman.  For part of those years, he lived in the beautiful area of Covington and Thankerton as seen above.  I am glad to know he lived and worked in such a lovely place.

His death left Mary as the widowed mother of at least three young children.  She would go on to have a daughter named Christina Greenshields Robertson, twenty-eight-and-one-half months after the death of Andrew.12  Like Andrew, Christina was illegitimate.  For many years, other genealogists listed Christina as a Brown, daughter of Andrew and Mary.  But she was not.

Like Andrew’s mother Margaret, Christina’s illegitimate birth did not prevent Mary from going on to have a second marriage and additional children.  But that is Mary’s story, not Andrew’s.

In just twenty-five years, Andrew was able to experience work, marriage, and fatherhood.  I hope that he experienced joy.  I hope that he loved and was loved.

At the end of his life, Andrew left behind a widow and at least three sons.  Those three sons would go on to give him a large posterity.  The last time I counted in 2014, I knew about 169 descendants of Andrew.  As of today, I have identified 188 descendants.  There are likely many, many more, but Andrew left behind sons with the surname of Brown and tracking everyone down has not been simple.

Thank you, Andrew, for being part of my story.  And thank you for helping me find the details of your birth, childhood, and adulthood.  I felt your nudges and now your story has been told.

 

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!  Have you considered joining the 52 Ancestors challenge?  You can learn more here.

 

 

Thankerton photo originally posted here.

 

 


  1. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 21 December 1828, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 24, p. 24 of 130. 
  2. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for John Baillie marriage, 17 October 1834, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 109, p. 109 of 130. 
  3. 1841 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Wiston and Roberton, enumeration district (ED) 1, page 14, line 920, Newton Toll, John Baillie Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 January 2018); citing Original data: Scotland. 1841 Scotland Census. Reels 1-151. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  4. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849 in Wanlockhead, Banns registered in Sanquhar Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 848/ 20 196, p. 196 of 209. 
  5. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 123, p. 123 of 130. 
  6. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  7. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 4/ 11, p. 11 of 15, line 10, 36 Hall, Andrew Brown in Household of David M Lapraik; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  8. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  9. Pettinain Parish (Lanarkshire, Scotland), Old Parish Registers OPR 653/1-3, p. 66, Alexander Brown baptism, 2 November 1851; FHL microfilm 1,066,603, item 3. 
  10. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 5 November 2010), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 6 November 1853, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/00 0020 43. 
  11. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Deaths and burials (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), entry for Andrew Brown death, 26 October 1854, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/ 20 66, p. 66 of 66. 
  12. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), birth entry for Christina Green (Greenshields on image) Robertson, 12 March 1857, Pettinain in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 653/ 6. 


27 Comments

52 Ancestors – ALL the Babies of Mary Brown Wood

unknown infant

photo credit: Michelle Jones, used with permission

 

Late last week I began to organize myself to finally write a post about finding the parents of Andrew Brown, my fourth great-grandfather.  But the thing is, I noticed something about his oldest son William that made me wonder if William is actually his son.  That set me off down the rabbit hole.  All of the chasing through twists and turns led to me learning all about William’s daughter Mary Brown.

And that, my friends, led me to set aside Andrew and then William to tell the tale of Mary Brown Wood.

Mary Brown is my 1st cousin, 4 times removed.  Before last week, I knew very little about her.  I can sum that knowledge up in these few paragraphs:

 

Mary Brown was born 17 December 1870 in Carnwath, Lanark, Scotland1 to William Brown & Janet Lorimer Fulton.

By the tender age of 3 months, she was living with her family of four, 15 miles from the place of her birth in Lesmahagow, Lanark, Scotland.2

At the age of ten years, she and her growing family of eight were now living 13 miles from Lesmahagow in Hamilton, Lanark, Scotland where Mary was enrolled in school.3

Then at the age of twenty, Mary is found still living at home with nine of her family members in Bothwell, Lanark, Scotland.  A mere 3 miles from Hamilton.  Mary is simply listed as a coal miner’s daughter on the census.4

 

And that was all that I knew about Mary.

 

Her name is Mary Brown.  That is the female equivalent of the John-Smith-needle-in-a-haystack that we all use as the example of the nearly impossible research problem.  Of course, researching John Smith, or Mary Brown, isn’t actually impossible, but a lot less fun and easy than researching – say – Julius Augustus Caesar Austin (an actual direct line ancestor of mine).  It’s slower and harder and there is a lot more room for error.

Years ago, when I last worked on cousin Mary, I hadn’t been motivated to slug through record after record of Mary Browns, all the while paying for each and every view on ScotlandsPeople.

But last week, when I suddenly wanted desperately to find the death record of Mary’s father William – a record that is still eluding me by the way – I dove into Mary and each and every one of her siblings whose names are oh-so-similar to John Smith.

Along the way, I discovered something that focused me right in.

 

Mary was missing babies.

 

Missing babies are very difficult for me to ignore.  When I know that they are missing, or suspect that they are missing, I CAN NOT let it go.  Such was the case with Mary and her missing babies.

It all started with an Ancestry member tree.  Mary had a hint and one of the trees seemed to be substantive.  You know, there were actual sources and full place names.  😉  In this tree, Mary had a spouse and six children, as well as one new census record.  Mary’s family on that tree looked like this:

  • Spouse:  William Wood, b. 1872, married 2 February 1894 in Bothwell.
  • Son, William Wood, 1895-1915
  • Son, John Wood, 1897-
  • Son, Hugh Brown Wood, 1900-1957
  • Daughter, Annie Wood, 1902-
  • Son, Edward Brown Wood, 1907-1925
  • Son, listed simply as Private to indicate that he is still marked as living.

That is a lot more information than I had.  So I set about using it as a guide as I purchased records on ScotlandsPeople to verify this new-to-me information.

And verify is what I did.

Mary Brown did marry William Wood.5 She did have children named: William, John, Hugh, Annie, Edward, and as it turns out David.

This Ancestry user tree and FamilySearch were in pretty close agreement.

But I still hadn’t answered my William Brown question, so I went looking for Mary Brown Wood on the 1911 census.  It took some work to manipulate the search terms and filters to find what I needed, but eventually, I got it.  And what did I discover?

Mary Brown and her husband William Wood were the parents of William, John, Hugh, Annie, David, and Edward.  But Mary was listed as the mother of 8 with 6 children living.6

 

There were two missing babies!

 

And since I CAN NOT ignore missing babies, I was up late.  I used what I knew about the Scottish naming pattern, I looked at the spacing between the children, I timelined each address from the records I already had.  And then I began the painful, and not-at-all-cost-effective process of tracking down those babies.

{at least it’s a wee bit less needle-in-a-haystack-ish to search for Wood than it is to search for Brown…}

The first missing baby was actually the first born baby.  He wasn’t too hard to imagine because there was a telling two+ year gap between Mary & William’s marriage and the birth of their son William.

Most of my Scottish folks have more like 3-6 months between marriage and the birth of the first baby.  Plus, the first baby I knew about was named William.  William should have been the name of the second son.  They were missing an Alexander – William Wood’s father’s name.

Sure enough, Mary Brown and William Wood had a son named Alexander Wood who was born 17 March 1894 in Bothwell, Lanark, Scotland7 – a respectable 13 whole months after their marriage date, I might add.

Sadly, Alexander lived for only 11 months.  He died of pneumonia on the 26th of February 1895.8

But then I stalled out.  I knew the other missing baby had to have died before 1911, the date Mary was listed as the mother of 8 with 6 children living, but I could not find the other missing baby.

I bought far too many records that did not belong to my Mary and William.

I changed my search terms, places, and dates.

I only had one daughter so far.  Annie.  But Annie is the name of William’s mother.  I was missing a daughter named Janet – for Mary’s mother.

I found one.

Janet Brown Wood died 24 December 1912 of bronchitis and heart failure.  She was only a year old.9

My heart broke for Mary Brown Wood.

Her precious daughter, named for her own mother, died on Christmas Eve.

Worse still, she died in 1912.

That meant there was another baby yet to find.  One who died before 1911.

But that baby eluded me.

Instead, I found Mary Wood, born 29 August 1913 in Cowie, Stirling, Scotland.10 Mary lived a little bit longer than Alexander and Janet, dying at 18 months of meningitis on the 4th of January 1915.11

Oh, Mary.

How many more babies did you lose?

At this point, I went back and looked for babies who were born and died before 1911 and finally found the baby that had pushed me to keep searching and led me to find Janet Brown Wood and Mary Wood.

There was another Alexander Wood.

Alexander was born 16 April 1910 in Cowie, Stirling, Scotland.12.  His life was the shortest.  He didn’t even live a full two months, dying 6 May 1910 in Cowie.13  His cause of death was infant debility.

In the end, although not really the end because there is more to do, I discovered that Mary Brown Wood had 11 children, that I have found so far:

  • Alexander Wood, 1894-1895
  • William Wood, 1896- 1915
  • John Wood, 1897-
  • Hugh Brown Wood, 1900-1957
  • Annie Wood, 1902-
  • David Wood, 1905-
  • Edward Brown Wood, 1907-1925
  • Alexander Wood, 1910-1910
  • Janet Brown Wood, 1911-1912
  • Mary Wood, 1913-1915
  • Mary Wood, 1915-

Four of those children died as infants.  Three of them right in a row.

But are there more?

The firstborn daughter should have been named Janet for Mary’s mother.  Is there another Janet?  Were there any more children after Mary Wood born in 1915?

I have so much more to do!

But Mary, I found those two missing babies, plus three more.

They are no longer forgotten – no longer “unknown infant”.

They are known to me and I have told their story.

 

 

 

 


  1. “Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQ95-VLY : accessed 8 December 2014), Mary Brown, 17 Dec 1870; citing Carnwath, Lanark, Scotland, reference, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 6,035,516. 
  2.  1871 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Lesmahagow, enumeration district (ED) 13, page 10, household schedule #46, lines 20-23, Townfoot, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1871 Scotland Census. Reels 1-191. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: CSSCT1871_146. 
  3. 1881 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Hamilton, enumeration district (ED) 18, page 43, household schedule #426, lines 10-17, 13 Ann Street, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1881 Scotland Census. Reels 1-338. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: cssct1881_260. 
  4. 1891 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Bothwell, enumberation district (ED) 2, page 44, lines 22-25, page 45, lines 1-6, household schedule #246, 35 Baird’s Sq, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1891 Scotland Census. Reels 1-409. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: CSSCT1891_224. 
  5. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), marriage entry for William Wood and Mary Brown, 1894, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 4. 
  6. 1911 census of Scotland, Stirling, St Ninians, Bannockburn, Cowie, p. 26 (stamped), No. of schedule 160, lines 16-23, 22 Wallace Row, William Wood Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018). 
  7. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Alexander Wood, 1894, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 90. 
  8. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Alexander Wood, 1895, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 41. 
  9.  Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Janet Brown Wood, 1912, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 166. 
  10. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Mary Wood, 1913, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 356. 
  11. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Mary Wood, 1915, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 2. 
  12.  Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Alexander Wood, 1910, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 134. 
  13.  Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Alexander Wood, 1910, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 53. 


22 Comments

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.

 

Family Reunion Bingo Games

 


24 Comments

Piles and Piles of Letters – JOY!

IMG_5317

Just a small portion of the letters.

In early December I was given all of the boxes of photos, journals, albums, letters, and memorabilia that had been kept by my Grandmother.  It was a joyous day and the joy has just kept spreading itself all over my genealogy loving heart these many months.

I was given the boxes, in part, because I was looking for a handful of specific photos to complete my family Christmas gift.  I was in a hurry and quickly went through every single box gathering what I needed.  It was almost painful to be in such a hurry.  There were soooooooo many unbelievable treasures in those boxes and I wasn’t able to soak much in.  I had a deadline.  As I was digging I found a shoe-box of letters.  I gave them a cursory look and thought, “Awesome, Grandma and Grandpa’s letters from WWII and their missions.  I can’t wait to go through these later.”

Well, in early Spring I pulled that box out and was devastated when I realized that it contained letters from my Grandpa’s friends and extended family.  Don’t get me wrong.  I knew they were special too.  But I know that my Grandparents wrote to each other for 5 years and that my Grandma kept all of those letters.  Where were they?

I was stressed.  I wondered if a box had gotten lost or if someone had pulled out the letters thinking they would do something with them.  I asked my uncles.  No one knew anything.  I decided before I completely panicked I needed to comb through all of the boxes again.  Much more carefully.  Just in case.

So last week I started going through the boxes again.  I found and rediscovered so many cool things.  Several boxes in, I found a binder filled with letters.  But they were from the 1960s while my Grandpa was getting his doctorate.  A cool find to be sure, and something I was hoping hadn’t been lost, but still not the letters I was searching for.

As I worked my way through every box, I got down near the end and pulled a box onto my bed and was completely baffled about the fact that it was taped shut.  What on earth?!  Somehow I had totally missed one box.  My heart started to pound.  I noticed a note on the side that said letters.  Could it be?

I opened the box and started shouting for joy!  Total and complete joy.  I was staring at 4 shoe-boxes FILLED with letters.  Plus several bundles that weren’t in shoe-boxes.  There are hundreds and hundreds of letters.

Sweet relief!

I am a bit embarrassed that the letters had been in my bedroom for a few months and all that time I had been worrying about them being lost forever.  Oh boy.

Once they were discovered, I started organizing.  It wasn’t hard because my Grandma had already bundled them by months.  I just had to get the months in order.

Next I started filing the letters in my new Hollinger boxes and folders.  I filed away until I ran out of paper folder inserts.  I need to order more.  Lots more.  It’s going to get expensive.  I wonder if my family members would want to chip in…?  I’m going to need so many before I am finished.  But I digress.

The letters cover a 5 year time period beginning when my Grandpa went off to basic training for the Marine Corps.  They follow his service in the Marine Corps and then cover the time while he was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand.  During his mission my Grandma also served a mission in California.  There is also an entire shoe-box of letters from my great-grandmother Naomi to my Grandpa.  I was so surprised and delighted by that discovery.  She left no journal, no personal history, and she died very young.  I feel like I’ve been given such a gift.

I plan to digitize the letters and share them with my family.  I may post them here, I need to ask my uncles how they feel about that.  Once everything is digitized, I will publish a book for my family members.  Well, maybe more than one.  It’s A LOT of letters and may need to be broken up.

Here are my questions:

1 – Should I include all of the letters in one collection chronologically?  Or, should I separate them and have one collection of letters between my grandparents, one collection of letters from my great-grandparents and one collection from extended family and friends?

2 – If I separate the collections for the purposes of the books I will compile, should I still share the letters online in one collection?

3 – Do you have any tips for dealing with a collection of letters this large?

 

I can’t wait to get started!  Happy Monday.

 

 


16 Comments

Tell Me a Story – “So this is Margaret, so this is Margaret”

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story Challenge :

Choose a person.  Then do any or all of the following:

  • Make a list of the top ten stories about this person, a word or phrase will do.
  • Choose one story and tell a compelling, short version that will interest your family members in one minute or less.
  • Tell a more detailed version of that story including photos if you have them.

Note:  You can read about my inspiration behind this challenge here.  I’ve decided to reverse the order in my post.  If you are reading this, you like stories so I’ll start with the full story, then the bite-sized story to hook my family members, then the list of ten stories.

 

Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson, looking left

My Grandma, Mary Margaret Ellis

My grandparents met and started dating in High School.  My Grandpa graduated at the height of WWII.  He knew he would be drafted so he enlisted in the Marine Corps right after graduation.  My Grandma wrote to him and waited for him.  She finished high school and went on to graduate from college (I think Weber College) with a degree in science.  My Grandpa served two years in the Marine Corps and then the war ended.  He was home for a time before he left for New Zealand on an LDS mission.

Grandma had been waiting for a long time.  She had enjoyed her high school and college days but she had more time to wait before Grandpa would be home.  She was 19 years old and she decided she wanted to serve an LDS mission.  She met with her local church leader and together they filled out mission paperwork and sent it into Salt Lake.

Her request was denied.  It’s totally understandable though.  At that time a woman had to be 23 to serve an LDS mission.  Well, she didn’t take no for an answer and sent in papers again, once again requesting to serve a mission.  And once again her request was denied.

She had just turned 20 years old when my Grandpa’s brother Darrell died.  She attended the funeral with her future in-laws.  She was invited to ride in the family car to the cemetery.  She was in the car when President David O. McKay walked up to it.  He greeted my great grandparents who introduced President McKay to my Grandma.  He took her hand in both of his and as they shook hands he said, “So this is Margaret… so this is Margaret.”

The very next week my Grandma received a mission call in the mail.  She was called to serve an LDS mission with one stipulation – she had to return home early.  She had to return home one month before my Grandpa so she could plan their wedding.  She was able to serve for about 14 months in the California mission.  In the many boxes she kept are photos from her mission and a few other items she saved including a letter from her mission president praising her hard work and love for the people in her mission.

My spunky Grandma was a missionary at a time when few women were serving missions and she did it 3 years younger than was allowed.  The more I learn about my Grandma the more in awe I am of her many talents and her great strength.

 

One Minute Story

My Grandma sent in mission papers twice when she was 19.  She was told she had to wait until she was 23 – the current minimum age for sister missionaries.  She met President David O. McKay just after her 20th birthday and got a mission call in the mail the next week.

 

Top Ten Stories List for Grandma

  • Cabbage Patch Dolls, Pound Puppies, can stools, quillos, and more!
  • The movie file
  • Identical feet
  • “You missed a B♭.”
  • Road map brain – travel map trip
  • Our last lunch
  • The Last Christmas Party
  • “I really need to write these things down…”
  • Pouring over her scrapbooks
  • Grandpa’s bracelet, grandma’s curls
  • “So this is Margaret, so this is Margaret.”
  • Two VCRs

 

Note:  My grandparents told me this and a few other stories about their interactions with President McKay several times.  I loved hearing them tell me stories.  This one has been on my mind because my oldest boy is currently waiting for a mission call.  The system says he has been assigned so we are just waiting for that big white envelope to arrive in the mail any day.  Don’t worry – he meets all of the criteria so he will not be kindly told to wait until he is older like my Grandma was.  😉


7 Comments

Tell Me a Story – First Refrigerator

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story Challenge :

Choose a person.  Then do any or all of the following:

  • Make a list of the top ten stories about this person, a word or phrase will do.
  • Choose one story and tell a compelling, short version that will interest your family members in one minute or less.
  • Tell a more detailed version of that story including photos if you have them.

Note:  You can read about my inspiration behind this challenge here.  I’ve decided to reverse the order in my post.  If you are reading this, you like stories so I’ll start with the full story, then the bite-sized story to hook my family members, then the list of ten stories.

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman is my 2nd great grandmother.  She is my great grandmother Naomi Skeen’s mother.  She died long before I was born so I have no memories of my own to share of her, but I interviewed her granddaughter years ago and she shared a story about Grandma Skeen that I love!  Here is that story in the words of my great Aunt Marilyn:

“Grandma Skeen raised chickens.  She gathered the eggs, cleaned them, candled them for blood spots and sold them to a grocery store in Ogden.  She bought her first refrigerator with her egg money.  When they delivered it Grandpa told them to take it back but Grandma said, “Now Joe they are going to bring it right in here.”  She was a feisty little (5 foot) lady.”

Because this fun story is so short I don’t need a shorter version to tell my family.  I did not make a story list for Grandma Skeen since I am not working from memory trying to list stories I don’t want to forget.

I think this sweet little story does serve as a great reminder that we need to interview our oldest living relatives before we can’t.  We need to interview them and preserve that interview on paper, or as a video or audio recording.  I treasure the family gems like this one that are in the interview with my great Aunt Marilyn.