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Archive for May, 2008

For the 48th Carnival of Genealogy the theme is: Mom, how’d you get so smart?  The challenge was to write about how Mom got so smart whether it was through book learning, self-study courses, or the school of hard knocks. 

My mother is primarily a very private person, and it took me three tries to write something that I think she would approve of just in case someone she knows reads this and tells her!  She hasn’t always been a hero to me – just ask my teen-age self 20+ years ago!  But as a mother with four grown children now, I look back on what my mother has endured over her 80+ years and realized just what a hero really means.  So here’s my take on what made my mother so brilliant in my eyes.

Highest School Attended: High School – received diploma in 1939.

 Domestic Skills: Learned the basics from her mother – cooking, cleaning, sewing, running a household

 

Parenting: Dr. Spock wasn’t around when Mom started having babies so she learned on the spot with some sage advice from her parents.

 

What College Might Have Meant: Had Mom gone on to college, she probably would have made one heck of a great CPA.  She could do bookkeeping and math in her sleep.  During her employment in Civil Service she moved quickly up through the job grades because of her accounting ability.  It also meant that later in life when she had to leave a job she didn’t want to leave, the company had to replace her with two people.

 

Unique Skills and Talents: Mom was the best seamstress I have ever met.  I didn’t say “designer”.  She could look at a pattern and know how to tweak it to make it fit a person the right way.  Shoulder seams where they were supposed to be (not halfway down the upper arms), the inseam just right (not too tight or loose), the hem perfect all the way around.  Nothing she ever made fell apart or ripped at the seams (unless the person tried really hard to rip it).  She’s the only woman I know who will walk into a department store, turn the clothes inside out to see if they are “made right”.  Most of the time – they weren’t.  She made most of my clothes when I was growing up.  I’d complain because I wanted to wear “store-bought” clothes.  True to Mom’s word, when I do that now – I see myself coming and going.  Most of my clothes became hand-me-downs to my niece, who is 6 years younger than me and some of those clothes I got back for my own daughters!  And the seams and stitching were all still in perfect condition.

 

Other Handicrafts: Mom wanted to knit so my dad bought her this big knitting machine that she had to take classes to learn to use.  But the things that she produced from that machine were amazing!  She taught herself needlepoint as a grown woman and that became a passion for her.  She didn’t just stitch “samplers” – she’d find the most elaborate needlepoint designs and when they were finished, had my brother frame them.  They truly are works of art!  She was also making all sorts of things when I was growing up: a Christmas wreath in pinecones or folded newspapers spray painted gold, hand painted Christmas ornaments, embroidered items, she’d arrange flowers like a professional florist – she was like that home decor goddess with the initials of MS – only BETTER!

 

Flying: Mom learned to fly when my parents lived in Japan (Dad was stationed there twice in the ‘50s).  At that time and in that place and thanks to the NCO Flying Club, lessons and pilot licenses weren’t that hard to obtain.  It was amazing to watch an insurance salesman almost fall off his chair when he asked her if she had a pilot’s license and went to mark the box “no” when she said “yes.”  He stared at her in amazement until she produced said license for him.  True, by then, she hadn’t flown in a number of years.  But it was still amazing and I was filled with admiration that she could “awe” someone else!

 

Fixing a Car: When Mom faced the future without a husband (or a male family member who knew much about auto engines), she enrolled in an Adult Community Class that taught basic mechanics to women.  No mechanic was going to pull the wool over her eyes.  It came in handy a few times when she actually showed the mechanic what was wrong for him to fix!

 

Pop Culture: If I hadn’t been a late in life baby, Mom would probably still be ignorant of so many pop culture influences.  I was (and still am) a huge fan of Alice Cooper.  Of course in the 70s, most parents thought he was evil incarnate.  I actually made my points clear enough that Mom not only likes some of his softer songs but watches him whenever he plays golf! 

 

Sports:  Mom played on her high school basketball team (still has the scars to prove it!), played golf for recreation, tunes in to pro baseball and college football and basketball games.  She is up on the all stats and knows who the up and comers are.

 

 

 

Religion: Mom was raised in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (which has since merged with the Congregational Christian churches to become the United Church of Christ).  She attends every Sunday that she is able to and has attended many adult Bible or study classes.  She’s served on the church’s council and as a delegate to their association and conference meetings.  She reads her devotionals every morning and has listened to or watched services on the radio or television. 

 

Languages: During their years in Japan, Mom learned quite a bit of the Japanese language.  I grew up hearing phrases that became standard vernacular in our household.  She learned more about the culture, language and people of Japan by living it.

 

Teacher: Without college or a degree, Mom couldn’t be a teacher.  Yet, she served as a substitute teacher many times at my elementary school and was a Girl Scout leader for many years.  My friends always wanted to be at my house instead of their own because Mom, through her words and actions, cared enough about them to teach them right from wrong.  Even after I’d left home for another state, many of my friends continued to visit Mom seeking her advice and counsel.

 

My mother may not have gone on to college or higher education, but she has learned through doing and experiencing.  If not for the low points in her life, she wouldn’t be the same person she is today.  If not for the happiest moments of her life, she wouldn’t have raised three children to “live today like it’s your last”.  She is a storyteller, a confidante, a friend, a teacher, a world traveler, a cook, a seamstress, a pilot, an accountant, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, and a wonderful Mom!

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Many of my family members have served in the Armed Forces at one time in their lives.  Most of them volunteered to serve their country while at least one that I know personally – was drafted at a time when big swooping changes were occurring throughout the nation.

My great-grandfather, James Emory House, was a member of Company “H” of the 80th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers during the War between the States.  He enlisted the day after Christmas in 1861 and was honorable discharged on May 27, 1865.  Three and a half years of his 82 years were spent marching through the South.  He was engaged in the famous Battle of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea.  At some point in his life, he shook hands with the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  During his time at Vicksburghe incurred a stomach illness that disabled him later in life.  It is unknown what battle scars he suffered that weren’t visible on the outside but ones he possibly lived with in his nightmares for the rest of his life.  To read his pension application papers, please go to Civil War Papers on my genealogy website.

Glen R. JohnsonMy grandfather, Glen Roy Johnson, enlisted in 1918 – just a couple months after his first son was born.  He went to Omaha, Nebraska for training as part of the Army Signal Corps.  In July 1918, he sailed for France during World War I and the troops were inspected by Gen. John J. Pershing.  Glen (or Granddad as we all knew him) was part of the 14th Balloon Squadron where observation balloons were taken 1-3 miles from the front lines to scout for army artillery.  The men in the observation basket would telegraph information down the cables to the sentinel on the ground.  It was extremely dangerous for an enemy shell could hit the balloon and cause the 38,000 cubic feet of hydrogen to become a raging inferno in an instant.  He survived France and was discharged in 1932 as a Private but he won a reserve commission to Quartermaster Corps eight years earlier in 1924 due to his Civilian work at what used to be called Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio (now Wright Patterson Air Force Base).  When WWII began, he again went into active service with the Army Air Corps which later became the United States Air Force.  He served through the Korean War and was released from active duty in the fall of 1953.  He retired from the Air Force in 1958 as a Colonel.  During his tenure, he spent three years in Weisbaden, Germany as a supply chief. (Photo above left is my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.)

Dad in UniformMy father enlisted in the Army Air Corps in November 1939, a mere 5 months after graduating from high school.  In August 1942 he was assigned to  Reykjavik, Iceland for 15 months as an airplane mechanic for the air transport command.  It was in Reykjavik when he first heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.  He returned to his hometown of Coshocton, Ohio on December 1, 1943 as a Staff Sergeant.  Between that time and 1953, he was stationed in Milwaukee and Great Falls, Montana.  Then he was assigned to Japan for three years and after two years back in the states in Columbus, Ohio as a recruiter, he went back to Tachikawa AFB in Japan for another three years.  While in Japan he was assigned to the 6400th Transportation Squadron.  Upon returning to the states after the last tour, he was stationed at Tyndall AFB outside of Panama City, Florida where he retired from the Air Force after 20 years of military service. (Photo at left is my Dad in uniform.)

 

Norman Amore receiving Bronze StarMy uncle, Norman Amore, entered the Army in December 1942 and was shipped overseas in March 1944.  In Germany his platoon leader was mortally wounded by enemy artillery fire, and Norman, calmly removed his wounded crew member to a station to be treated.  For that brave act, he received the Bronze Star. (Photo at left is my Uncle Norman Amore receiving the Bronze Star.)

 

 

 

Gail and Lloyd AmoreMy father’s two oldest brothers, Gail and Paul Amore, also served in the military. (Photo at left is my Uncle Gail and my Grandfather, Lloyd Amore.)

Three of my first cousins and a brother-in-law served in the Vietnam War.  Luckily, all four men returned home.  What they saw, I do not know. 

I am thankful that my relatives all came back from Wars and military service alive and in one piece.  These men served their nation honorably and bravely – never knowing what the next set of orders would send them.  They are heroes by being ready to defend our freedoms.  Freedoms that so many take for granted and so many in other countries struggle to attain.  These brave men and women who put on a military uniform, a police uniform or a firefighter’s suit each and every day to keep us safe – whether it’s from evil half a world away, down the block or that out of control fire in our garage – they are heroes and if not for them, we may not know the freedoms and happiness we have today.

As Memorial Day approaches, please stop and thank every hero you see.  Stop in at your local police or fire station to thank them.  Send cards and letters to the men and women around the world stationed far away from loved ones to say thank you.  Write a moving tribute about your hero.  Place flowers and flags on the graves of those who served.  Attend a parade, stand when the flag goes by and place your hand over your heart in honor of those who’ve helped keep us free.  And never, ever forget  

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Katie before her accidentBorn on September 20, 1864 in Stoney Creek, a township of Madison County, Indiana, Katie Blazer, would barely remember her father.  Frank Blazer died when she was just five years old leaving her mother to raise three sons and three daughters under the age of 14.  Katie’s grandparents, John and Martha Goul, lived nearby and quite possibly her grandfather was her father-figure as she grew.

 

At the age of 19, on the Fourth of July, 1883, Katie married John Lafayette Johnson.  A wedding photo shows Katie standing next to her husband in the stereotypical picture of the times.  She was tall and thin with her black hair piled on top of her head.  Her dress was dark, probably the one good dress she owned.  Owing to the holiday, there were probably more family members and neighbors able to attend the nuptials.

 

The couple’s first child, Letis, was born almost four years later.  In childhood he developed epilepsy which caused horrific seizures and an “insane” quality to his behavior.  A mother watching her son spiral out of control would have lent a pall over the happiness of the family.  What gossip was spreading throughout the township and nearby towns?  Katie had a very difficult time conceiving another child, and Letis was 11 when his brother, Glen, was born.

 

The younger boy became the object of Letis’ violence.  He tried to cut off the younger boy’s ear and another time through a brick through the chicken coop.  His actions were most likely due to not being able to control the violence of the seizures and feeling as if he was being swept down into a whirlpool of despair.  Katie and John, obviously alone in what they were feeling and dealing with, placed Letis in the Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth, hoping that their family life would find some normalcy. 

 

Eight years after Glen was born, the couple had the baby girl that Katie had always dreamed of having.  Unfortunately, Katie’s joy was short lived.  Mary lived only 7 months.  Their baby girl was gone – forever.

 

A few moths later a miracle came into their midst in the form of an angel appearing as a young, unwed mother.  The young woman had delivered a baby girl on the Interurban car in Fortville, Indiana.  At St. John’s hospital where she was taken after the birth, this girl saw Katie, who was visiting someone.  She pleaded with the dark-haired mother of two sons, to please raise her daughter.  The Catholic nuns allowed Katie and John to become the infant’s foster parents, although they never could adopt her.  The baby’s name became Eva – the baby girl Katie had waited for was finally hers. 

 

Five years after Eva arrived as their child, their first born son died at the Home of pneumonia.  Not only had they buried an infant daughter but now they had to bury their son.  Did they have immense guilt over his death or relief that he wasn’t suffering from the seizures and violence any longer?

 

Sometime between late 1921 and 1923, after her granddaughter, Mary, was born, Katie was driving a horse and buggy with her grandchild along side her when the buggy overturned.  The baby was fine but Katie broke her back.  Luckily, she wasn’t paralyzed but she had to remain bedridden in a back cast for a long time. 

 

While she was unable to move or get up, “gypsies” came in and cut off all of her long hair.  No one else was at home and able to stop them.  It’s unknown exactly what they wanted to do with it – other than sell it.

 

When Katie was finally able to get out of bed, she had a corset “cast” made that she wore to keep her back straight.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to walk without the aid of crutches.  The granddaughter who was with her on that fateful buggy ride, remembers that when she and her older siblings got into mischief, Katie would charge after them waving her crutches around and sometimes connecting crutch to child.  Her body may have been injured but her spirit wasn’t.  It is told that she could move as fast as any football running back even on crutches.  She also didn’t let the fact that she was a woman in the early 20th century stop her from doing exactly what she wanted.

 

After being up and around for awhile, she applied for a driver’s license.  Apparently she was through riding in a buggy!  She fought and won the right to be granted her license and then drove from Indiana to Ohio to visit her brother.  She was a woman ahead of her time.

 

Not many years later, in the early spring of 1930, she and her husband moved to the small town of Fairfield, Ohio.  The town subsequently merged with the neighboring town, Osborne, in Greene County, to become the city of Fairborn.  They moved into the home of their son, Glen, and his family.  Possibly Katie knew what no one else did at that time.  That she was dying.  Stomach cancer was going to kill her as that buggy accident couldn’t.

 

As she lay in bed unaware of her surroundings during the last days or weeks of her illness, the story was told that downstairs off the kitchen, the door kept swinging open and shut.  When her son, Glen, or her husband would check to see if someone had come in, they found not a single person.  Locking the door and returning upstairs to the bedroom where Katie lay, it wasn’t long before the door began swinging open and shut again making a banging noise.  It was thought that the spirits of her deceased parents could be coming for her to take her to the world beyond the living.

 

Katie died a couple months after arriving in Ohio – May 20, 1930.  She was laid out in the parlor of the funeral home in Fairfield for the local relatives and friends to pay their respects before she was taken to the place she had called home, Madison County, Indiana.  There she was buried in Maple Wood Cemetery near her oldest son and infant daughter and where her husband would join her in eternal rest nine years and eight days later.

 

Katie lived and died on her terms – not those set down by society or her family.  She will be remembered as a strong and determined woman – a woman that her great-granddaughter wishes she could have met.

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Here’s some more of my family statistics. 

My maternal grandparents – Glen Roy Johnson Sr. and Vesta Christina Wilt – had:Glen & Vesta

- 4 Children (the last was premature and died at 6 weeks)
– 8 Grandchildren
– 16 Great-grandchildren
– 16 Great-Great-grandchildren

Total of 44 Descendents!

 

My paternal grandparents – Lloyd William Amore and Ella Maria House -Lloyd & Ella Amore had:

  • 8 Children (the last was stillborn)
  • 14 Grandchildren
  • 35 Great-Grandchildren
  • 24+ Great-Great-Grandchildren
  • 7+ Great-Great-Great-grandchildren

That is a total of: 88+ Descendents!

 

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My husband likes to say that family trees should look like a tree (smaller at the top and getting larger as you get to the bottom) not look like a box!  That’s because he doesn’t understand what the fascination is to find out all the children of the 5th great aunt or uncle and their descendents.  I have tried to explain that sometimes when you find one of those far-reaching relatives that they might end up pointing you in the general direction of where your primary ancestors were living way back when.

For example I have the reunion minute book of the Johnson-Shively reunions beginning in the early 1900s and going through the early 1940s.  Most of the minutes are very stiff – except sprinkled throughout are a few death dates and marriage dates.  Other family names are mentioned.  Searching for some of the other family names made it possible to find primary ancestors.  If I hadn’t “branched out” (so to speak) I may still be hitting that brick wall.

As I was thinking about that this morning, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of the number of close relatives I have.  Here’s my family stats:

Grandparents – 4
Parents – 2
Siblings – 2
Children – 4
Grandchildren – 3
First Cousins – 16
First Cousins Once Removed (children of First Cousins) – 30+ (the plus is because I know one of my first cousins has some children but since he won’t correspond with anyone, I don’t know how many!)
Aunts – 5 (two of them died as infants)
Uncles – 5
Great-Aunts (sisters of my grandparents) – 7 (this includes 2 half-sisters of my paternal grandmother)
Great-Uncles (brothers of my grandparents) – 17 (this includes 1 haf-brother of my paternal grandmother)
(Update)
Nieces – 1
Nephews – 2
Great-Nephews – 2
Great-Nieces – 1
(End of Update) 

Maybe I’ll get to other relatives soon!  Have you counted up the number of close relatives?

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Help Needed

I am in need of what books or articles to read that detail life in small Indiana towns in the early 1900s – specifically 1916-1921.  I have TONS of letters that my grandparents wrote each other while they were courting (Easter 1916 – December 1916) and then letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother while he was stationed at Kelly Field in San Antonio in early 1918 through his service in WWI in France.  My goal is to incorporate their letters into a book about them.

To give a more rounded view of their lives outside of the letters, I really need to study up on what small town Indiana life was like at that time.

Have you read a book that provides enough historical and “mundane” daily life information that would help me in my quest?  Or know of some articles – online, in a book, whatever – that would be of help to me? 

Please leave your ideas in my comments or send me a link to your website that might have information for me! 

Thanks so much!

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I told you I’d give you tips on finding little known websites offering genealogy information!  Harold at http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com offers Midwestern Genealogy tips and sources.  Today his post is about Digitized Newspapers in Champaign County, Illinois.  If you are researching in that area, please go take a look at Harold’s post.

Once again, I thank all of you who are reading this blog – especially those who leave comments and leave a link to your genealogy site or blog. 

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Yes, YOU!  Where have you gone?  This post has to do with traveling or relocating somewhere besides the area of land you’ve always called home.  My challenge to you is to write about the places you’ve traveled or lived (or at least one!) and send me the permalink so I can share with everyone. 

A bit of background first: I was the baby of the family and not just because I was the last child born but because my brother was 21 and married and my sister was 16 when I was born.  My parents, brother and sister had already lived a family life way before I came along.  I was the “oopsy” baby.  Just when my folks thought they’d be empty nesters soon, wham – there I was!  My mother tells me my dad used to joke and say they’d put the dog in the house and the baby in the garage!  I’d like to say I can’t imagine what they felt like, but I can.  No, I didn’t have a “later in life” baby but we have been raising our grandson since he was 9 months old.  When he first came to live with us, I was almost the same age my mother was when she had me.  My children were basically grown – I had three left at home.  One starting college, one a year and a half away from graduating and a middle schooler. 

Back before I was born, my father was in the Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force).  My family lived in Japan during two tours in the 1950s.  They lived in Florida upon their return to the states the end of the 50s before my dad retired from the Air Force to take a civil service position and move to Southwestern Ohio.  The place I was born and raised.

As a young child, I’d see slides and pictures of my family’s travels and their homes in Japan. Yes, I was jealous.  I never got to live anywhere “cool” like overseas.  It didn’t matter that my sister told me she really didn’t have any close friends.  Why bother getting close with someone when you just picked up and moved three years later?  The place she calls “home” is the same place I call home – even though she was born in a Western state and lived in a lot of places prior to that. 

However, because of my dad’s job with the civil service, he had to go on lots of business trips.  Before I started school, Mom and I were able to travel with him.  So I got to see the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Empire State Building in New York City; and the Hancock building in Chicago.  One of my favorite memories is when we went to New York.  We saw the “Odd Couple” movie (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon) at the movie theater, walked along the New York city streets, shopped in the amazing department stores, and rode the city buses.  I saw Rockefeller Plaza.  We took a fairy boat ride around the Statue of Liberty.

Empire State Building

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

  

 

When I was a year away from starting (what my school called Kindergarten), my dad took a lot of vacation time and we traveled to Disneyland.  No, we didn’t board an airplane.  Nor did we drive straight there.  We took an overland excursion!  From Ohio we went to visit my aunt in East Central

Niagra Falls

Ohio first, then up to Michigan to my Uncle’s home.  We cut over to Canada to see the Niagra Falls from the Canadian side and then down to Montana.  My parents had lived there when my sister was born and their friends were still there so we spent a couple days with them.  Then on to Idaho where we saw the “Craters of the Moon” and then into Washington to visit my great-aunt and friends of my parents they had been stationed with in Japan.  We took a fairy boat ride to Victoria, British Columbia where the town looked to me out of a story-book.  Then down to Oregon and the great forests and into California.  We saw the Giant Redwoods, went to Marineland, Knotts Berry Farm, and then Disneyland. Me and Pluto!

 

 

Talk about feeling like a fairy princess.  It was more wonderful than anything I’d ever imagined.  I met Pluto, the three little pigs, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White! 

After a few days at the magical kingdom, we traveled south to the desert and stayed with another family my parents knew.  Saw my grandparents who were also traveling out west about the same time!  Then on through Arizona where the majesty of the Grand Canyon took my breath away and the beauty of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest enthralled me.  Up to Colorado to the Air Force Academy.  Through the midwest back home.Grand Canyon

 

 

When we got to Kansas I kept repeating that I wanted to see Dorothy’s house (Wizard of Oz).  So my folks picked out some random farm and told me there it was!  Of course it was real!  I had just been “over the rainbow” so I believed with all my heart that Dorothy had been too! 

So in the course of my very short life, I’d been to: Michigan, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.  Canada was the only “foreign” country I’d visited.

Since that time I’ve also gone to (or through!) Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  I live in Texas now.

I’d love to go to New England, the Dakotas, Virginia and Washington D.C.  For foreign travel I’d love to see Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and of course where my family lived in Japan. 

So where did you go?

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If I haven’t mentioned it here before, then I will now. I’m an avid scrapbooker!  I even have my own custom designed scrapbook business (Nana’s Novelties).  I’d give your the url link but my site looks pretty pitiful & I really need to revamp it (which means finding the time!)  Anyway – one reason I decided to get into the scrap for hire business is to preserve history for generations.  That’s my tag line “Preservation for Generations”.  Anyway, as I have been working on a project (won’t say what just now – wait another month!) – I’ve realized that my mind just isn’t what it used to be.  Trying to remember details about certain activities and events is like trying to find a small piece of glass in a pile of mud.  Everything is murky and not quite clear.  I’ve even gone back through emails I sent to people looking for details I might have written about – not many. 

My idea has more to do with journaling history as it happens.  I don’t keep a “journal” or diary.  I suspect it’s because:

  1. I really don’t have the time
  2. I figure I say enough in emails to other people (I keep the sent copy)
  3. By the time I get to putting down the details, it’s already too late

So I thought, what about just listing major points in a word processing format?  Yesterday was my grandson’s birthday and I want to list details of the day, what happened when, what he said, what we ate for dinner, what type of cake, etc.  I want to do that when special holidays or events happen as well.  What we thought about it, where we went, etc.

What this boils down to in relation to genealogy is someday your descendents are going to research you!  They will find the vital information – where and when you were born, where and when you married, your children, probably where you lived and how you earned a living.  They won’t know how you felt on 9-11 or how depressed you were when someone you loved died.  They – just as we do now – will be left to guess about all of that. 

I’m hoping by scrapbooking not only the special moments of my family’s life – but the day to day (sometimes humdrum) life, not only will my descendents have a better picture of the whole person but someday when my memory really does fail me in big ways, then I can look at the pictures and read the stories and have all of those memories come back to life.

How do you journal for history?  Leave me a comment with your ideas – or blog about it and send me the link.

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