I grew up in a family of six, with my parents, three younger brothers, and few relatives. Certainly none that lived nearby. My parents did not share family stories or photos. Not really. There were slide shows of our own family vacations that we all enjoyed, but nothing historical. I guess they were too busy working and raising us up. It wasn’t until I undertook my first genealogy project, in my 30’s, that I discovered, on my dad’s side, that I am from a long line of Quakers. Including Quaker Loyalists (wrong side of the Revolutionary War, maybe, but fascinating nonetheless) and prominent Quaker ministers. My dad, a Christian minister himself (later a VA chaplain), had no idea, despite the fact that there was only one generation separating him from full-on Quakerism. I guess his family didn’t share much either. (The last generation was largely disowned for marrying outside their faith and such, which is bad, but not as harsh as Amish shunning). Maybe I’ll write more about that for Father’s Day.
My mom was quite interested in my genealogical pursuits as well, offering up unsubstantiated but tantalizing “facts” and bits of lore I’d never heard before in my life, such as:
Francis Robbins went to the gold rush and was never heard from again.
John Hankins’ father’s name was Tom, and his mother was a 4th wife.
Jennie Lawrence was Ethel Robbins’ step-mother and sister-in-law at the same time.
And my personal favorite:
Oh…by the way… Emma Lawrence’s real name was Minerva Jane Kibby.
Say what, now?
Gifts I Got From Mom
My mom loved reading books, figuring out puzzles, and perusing maps – me too! These are ideal genealogist qualities — gifts — that she passed along to me, along with a sense of curiosity and wonder, and a belief in myself and my abilities. Along with a few keepsakes, of course. She was always eager to learn about my latest discoveries, and I am grateful for the two genealogy research trips we were able to take together before she died, ignorant of what was to come all too soon. She loved to travel — me too! — and another trip I am grateful for was our trip to Paris, just us two.
Together we visited libraries, city halls, and distant relatives in KY, TN, IL, and IN… and, on another trip, CT and MA. And we visited graveyards, which meant walking around in nature, which she loved — me too! Graveyards are quiet and often quite scenic. I just noticed I am saying “graveyard” instead of cemetery. I suppose it’s because the kind we visited were often rural and quite small and informal. Like in a cow pasture. No, I’m not kidding.
After she died, I lost the will to continue my research for several years. I also got “downsized” from my telecommunications career of 21+ years, moved to another state, and got busy with my new professional organizing business, which she never knew about, but would have loved, being rather organized herself and generally approving of everything I did. It wasn’t until I’d been organizing for a decade that I became a certified photo organizer, which dovetailed with my interest in organizing legacies, which brought me full circle back to family history research. I am enjoying spending time again on my own research, and have discovered that I love researching for others as well. (See FAQ: What the heck does genealogy have to do with organizing?)
I think she would be thrilled for me to use this photo of us reading together, one of my favorites, to draw attention to my Family History Research Services. Thanks, Mom!
Do you think it’s a little late to be writing about my mom if want to sell genealogy services? Especially as a Mother’s Day gift for your mom? Well, it’s not. Because family history never ends. And I offer gift certificates. And it’s never too late. Well… it’s a great gift for many occasions — birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, etc. — but nothing is certain. Don’t wait. And it’s also never finished. There’s always a new branch to discover on your family tree!
What gifts did you get from your mom?
Are you curious about your family tree? Are you the family historian? Are there any family mysteries I can help you solve?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below!
Copyright 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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