Published 9:09 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2003
By By LYDIA GRIMES - Features Writer
Keep journal to record events in your life
First of all, I want to make a correction to the Liles material that I covered in June 4 issue. I left off one of the children of Regina Juett Liles and Earl Weaver Harold. There was a fourth child, Louise Liles Harold who married Broox G. Garrett. It seems that I had a page missing in my material. I appreciate being corrected.
I want to take a break this week from the same old name and date routine that makes up a big part of genealogy. Names and dates are very important but sometimes they get a little bit boring. I believe that the answer to this problem is to spice up the material with personal stories. The big problem is that sometimes with you have no stories to go with the people you are writing about. Time has passed and no one bothered to take pass them along. Some things can be found to tell you about the time and the surroundings of an ancestor, but it would be so much more interesting to something personal about them.
I will give a couple of examples from my own family history that will illustrate what I mean. I have told you before about my great-grandfather, William Marshall, who fought in the Civil War at Fort Morgan during the Battle of Mobile Bay. History tells us much of what happened there and I have to rely on recorded events to tell me much about what it was like for him in that situation. About the only personal thing I have to go on are the confederate records found in the state archives in Montgomery. I did note that he had an arm that he had either injured before going into the artillery or injured at Fort Morgan. With that information I asked my mother if she remembered anything being wrong with the arm. She did remember that it was withered and he wasn't able to use it like he could the other arm.
Another example concerns my great-great-grandmother, Nancy Judah Metcalf. She was born in 1827 and in the 1880s, she and most of the family moved to Texas. Her daughter, Laura Ann, had married my great-grandfather by that time and stayed in Alabama. All my mother knew about Nancy and her husband, Henry, was that they moved to Texas. it was only after I started doing my research that I found some descendants in Texas. Nancy had lived in the home of my contact's grandparents and some of her stories were known. That gave me an insight into my ancestor that I never had before. Even some of her characteristics came through. I remember telling my mother's oldest sister that she reminded me of her ancestor.
Now the best thing is first hand knowledge of an ancestor. Most people get interested in genealogy just after the one who knew everything dies. My suggestion to anyone is to talk to your older relatives and get their stories first hand. When you become one of the older ones, pass your stories along. I have begun to fit into the latter category.
This is an example of one of those. My home community church built a new church building some years ago and saved the old pulpit to be used in the Sunday school classes. As time went on, it was decided to get rid of the old pulpit and that is where my mother stepped in. I never knew it while I was growing up, but the pulpit had been made by my grandfather. My mother loved her Papa very much and she wasn't about to let something he made be put out to pasture. So she had someone bring the pulpit to her house and there it sat until after her death. It was an ongoing joke with my brother and I about Mama and her pulpit which she had placed in the den.
When my mother died, there was some discussion about what to do with the pulpit. My sister-in-law got an expert to check it out and he suggested cleaning it up. He did that and delivered it to my brother's house. It was beautiful. My brother put it in the corner of the dining room and back lit it with a lamp. He placed the family Bible on the top and then placed his Mason tools on top of the Bible.
It is now a conversation piece as well as being a thing of beauty. We have had several laughs about the whole thing and I guess Mama is very happy if she is watching us. She would be very pleased that we saved her pulpit.
These are the types of stories that need to be written down and passed on to future generations. They aren't really important in the big scheme of things, but will be important to someone someday when they are wondering about what Grandma was like. Take notes, write things down and listen to the elders tell their stories. Someday someone will be glad you did.
I think it is great if you keep a diary or maybe a journal in which to put things that you hear or remember. Someday someone might be interested in where you were when Jack Kennedy was shot or what you were doing when you heard about 9-11. It makes for better reading to put some of this kind of material in with your names and dates. It makes people seem more real when they fit into history.