Writing A Family History

You probably have scrapbooks filled with images of your ancestors. You may be lucky enough to have one of their diaries or a crumbling letter written almost a century ago. Your family may have told you their stories, and you’d like to write a family history.

Your first step will be to do research. Finding information is much easier than it was twenty years ago thanks to Google and the Internet Archive. Second, check your facts, because some of your genealogy may be wrong. Was your Aunt Mabel right about how much land,  how many children, or where your grandparents were born?

 

old paper

WikiTree
Dr. Increase Mathews WikiTree Profile

While doing research on my family, I found many genealogical sites had misinformation. Sometimes, I couldn’t remember where I had found the accurate information, so I became a genealogist on WikiTree. This allowed me to record these sources for easy reference. I love this feature of WikiTree! The genealogists there are very helpful and friendly. It’s easy to ask questions and get answers on the G2G forum. Every profile is a collaboration. I recommend you add your family tree to WikiTree. Best of all, it’s free!

For example, the image on the left shows a portion of the Sources section on the profile page for Dr. Increase Mathews (Matthews). I’m fortunate to have been able to find so much historical information about  my family’s history. Future generations will thank you for doing the research!

 

You’ve finished discovering accurate details. What’s next? Organize your information and start writing. This is the hardest part. Don’t worry about having perfect punctuation. This can be fixed when you revise. Your family history should be more than facts and historical dates.  Make it interesting. Ask yourself (and imagine) what difficulties did they encounter? How did they overcome these.

Set time aside each day and write something! Don’t make the mistake of revising right away. Wait until you’ve finished writing your entire novel, then set it aside for a few weeks. When you return to it, you’ll see it from a fresh perspective. Next, ask for beta readers to read your historical family history. They’ll be able to help you pinpoint any problem areas.

My Research

Marietta College has a collection of business documents and letters written by Increase’s older brother John Mathews. Historian Irene Nau included a sentence from a letter from John to Increase in her summary of these documents. I wanted to know more about this letter and if there were any other personal letters available, so I contacted the Special Collections Department. I received PDF files which were images of typed transcripts of several personal letters contained in the Historian Samuel P. Hildreth Collection. For one of these letters, the transcript only noted it was sent to “M”. I have been unable to determine who the recipient was. From the contents, I surmise it was written to someone in New England. In this missive, John shares his thoughts on the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion. I found it to be an interesting insight to this time period. The following except is the opening quotation for my next novel.

An Excerpt from
The Mathews Family Saga Book 2

“It is to be much regretted that Government did not take the measures they are now pursuing at an earlier period. Besides saving vast sums, it would have given a weight and dignity to the Federal Government that would have tended greatly to check the licentiousness and opposition to Government unfeverable in this country, and I really believe that the present insurrection in the back counties of Pennsylvania would never have existed, had not the slow and ineffectual prosecution of the Indians have given them a contemptible opinion of the strength of the Government.

“The idea that the Atlantic states, particularly the Eastern, are unfriendly to the population and prosperity of this Country is prevalent and has an unfavorable operation on the minds of these people, and the extreme reluctance Government have observed to enter into the Indian war, but too well supports the opinion. However, I hope the result of this campaign will convince the western inhabitants that the protection of Government will be equally & impartially extended to all.

“I hope too Government will take prompt & effectual measures to suppress the insurrection in the western parts of Pennsylvania. They are a factious and ungovernable set, principally Irish, or Scotch-Irish as they are called here, or their immediate descendants. I feel a little flash of national pride in observing that the American-born inhabitants of this Country whose father or grandfather never felt, nor hardly heard of, oppression are much more governable and have more confidence in Government than the Europeans, who cannot divest themselves the idea that Government & the people have separate interests.”

John Mathews
1794 letter written at Fort Washington

Does She Think of Me:

A Birth Mother’s Journey to Forgiveness

Memoir author Cathy Williams-Thrun’s book is available on Amazon. “You’re not permitted to see your child at birth.” The nurse was cold and stern as she draped a curtain across the teenager’s midsection. The baby’s cries echoed off the cold operating room walls and boomeranged back to the girl’s shattered heart. Wiping the tears from her eyes she desperately clung to her baby’s fleeting shadow, cast upon the thin fabric that hung between them.

An unplanned pregnancy at seventeen, and the feeling they had nowhere to turn, forced a young couple to make a decision they would regret for the rest of their lives. Although Cathy and Joey had their entire future planned to eternity, nothing could have prepared them for this fork in the road. One decision, either way, would change the course of their love forever.

The pounding of her heart dances in rhythm to the methodical passing of time. How could nineteen painful years drag on like an eternity, yet suddenly fade in the blink of an eye? Anxiously waiting for the phone to ring Cathy accepts the unknown. Her future happiness depends on the questions she yearns to have answered.

You can find out more about this memoir author on the Cathy Williams-Thrun website or on Facebook. Send her aTweet on Twitter or send an Instagram. You may ask her questions at Goodreads Author Cathy Williams-Thrun.

Cathy’s Interview

You prefer (1) to people watch OR (2) bird watch?

It’s no secret in my family that I love to people watch. I don’t do it to criticize or pick out flaws. There are so many stories hidden deep within their souls that are never written. The tired young lady with three kids in tow leaves me asking if she is single, does she have support, can she feed her children. The senior all dolled up with bright clothing, earrings to match with her favourite red lipstick makes me ponder why I lack the confidence or feel too old to wear that neon pink shirt I love so much that hangs in the closet. I find the process very thought provoking.

Nice way to look at life!

What provides more inspiration to you: (1) art OR (2) nature?

I believe growing up in a rural community in Newfoundland, Canada near water, farmland and fields as far as the eye can see has made me a lover of nature. Whenever I would feel lost, sad, or needed clarity of mind, I would sit by the ocean. It’s the best therapy for what ails you.

What a lovely description of Newfoundland!

Do you prefer to read (1) an e-book OR (2) a paperback?

Oh my gosh, a paperback definitely. As much as I love holding a book in my hand you can’t beat the smell. Someone once told me it’s just the ink to which I replied, “Not to me. It puts me in my happy place.” The magazine rack in the grocery stores is a challenge for me to walk past without picking up a magazine and running my nose through the centre pages while inhaling deeply. Just glorious!

Here’s to your happy place!

Are you (1) a morning person OR (2) a night owl?

I became a night owl when I had children. Once they were tucked in for the night at 8pm a calm fell over our home. I hated to go to bed because it was me time and I dragged it out until midnight or 1am. It gave me time with my husband as well as time to read, knit, sew, do crafts, soak in the tub or watch a great chick flick over a glass of my favourite wine.

Everyone deserves me time!

You prefer to watch (1) a sunrise OR (2) a sunset?

When my husband and I were dating, we worked the night shift which would end as the sun was rising. It was beautiful but then as mentioned when the kids came along I turned into a night owl. As much as I love sunrises the night owl prefers sunsets. A beautiful sunset does bring a sense of calm over the world, the end to another day, blessed to get another chance to witness its beauty.

Both are beautiful!

Thanks for being interviewed, Cathy!

Does She Think of Me
Does She Think of Me

An Unexpected Road to Motherhood

Author Sabine Garvey Campbell’s contemporary novel is available on Amazon. Most little girls dream of meeting their Prince Charming, getting married, and becoming a mother like something they read in a fairy tale. For some lucky girls, life goes just as planned but for others, the fairy tale gets rewritten into something that reads more like a mystery. And then, there are girls like me whose story turns out to be a little bit of both. Like the fairy tale, I met my Prince Charming and we got married, but then my road to motherhood became unexpected, complicated, and unpredictable just like a good mystery. Fortunately, I always knew that life had a plan for me and that if I never gave up, I would one day find my happy ending.

You can find out more about this contemporary novelist on the Sabine Garvey Campbell website. Tweet her on Twitter or send an Instagram. Ask this contemporary novelist questions at Goodreads Author Sabine Garvey Campbell.

Sabine’s Interview

You have enough money to do anything. Will you (1) pamper yourself at a spa for a week OR (2) go on a cruise for a week?

If I had enough money to either go on a cruise for a week or pamper myself at a spa, I would take a cruise to some exotic and far away place that is on my bucket list to visit. I love to travel but do not get as much opportunity to do so as I would like so I would chose destinations that I have only dreamt of visiting. I would take an excursion at each port at which we stopped and do something I had not done before. Then, while I am on the ship, I would spend quiet time just relaxing and people watching. It would be a fun escape for a short while.

What a nice dream!

Are you a person who (1) makes and follows New Year resolutions OR (2) never bothers with resolutions?

I am typically not a person who make New Year’s Resolutions because I rarely stick to them. I did, however, once make a resolution years ago to try one thing I have never done before each month and that one did stick. Each month I make a point of trying something be it a new activity, a new restaurant, watching a new movie, etc., to break routines which have a way of taking over. I have found it is a great way to learn about the world and myself.

Wow! Impressive!

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

I consider myself neither an introvert nor an extrovert but instead a little of both. When it comes to meeting new people in my personal life, I am introverted. I have never been very good at small talk so I prefer to avoid parties or social gatherings where I know few people. Yet, when I attend meetings in my corporate career, I look and feel extroverted. I can easily step outside of my introverted comfort zone. Because I am both introverted and extroverted, I am as comfortable spending time alone as I am talking with people in intimate gatherings given I know them when I feel the need for companionship.

That’s great!

You prefer (1) to people watch OR (2) bird watch?

I find people watching as interesting as bird watching and very similar in the rewards they provide. Birds, like people, remove their pretense and pretending when they think they are no being watched. Birds and people’s true natures are evident in such a raw way when they do not know they are being watched which allows me to see true characters which are always much more interesting in airs. Seeing these true characters reminds me that all creatures on earth are basically the same. We need food, water and shelter. How birds and people respond to everything else like love and family is what makes them so interesting to watch. For this reason, I enjoy people and bird watching the same for if I were to chose one over the other I would be missing out on the uniqueness one or the other brought to the world.

Great perspective!

You prefer to watch (1) a sunrise OR (2) a sunset?

I make choices every day of my life but deciding whether to watch the sunrise or the sunset is not one of them. I choose to watch both. The sunrises in rural Virginia where I live are spectacular. There is something inspiring in seeing geese fly through the reddish-yellow hues of the morning sky as the sun brings hope for the possibilities of the new day. When the sun sets, it does so over the mountains to our west. Even though the cold of night is nearing, I am warmed by the last fire in the sky that reminds me that I will see it again soon. The sunrise and the sunset are equally inspirational, each in their own right, so I could never choose one over the other.

What lovely descriptions!

Thanks for being interviewed, Sabine!

An Unexpected Road to Motherhood
An Unexpected Road to Motherhood

A Case of Longing

Author Lily Baines’s contemporary romance novel is available on Amazon. This book tells the story of detective Rose Harper from the Chicago PD who has been partnered with detective Eithan Reed for the better part of a decade and has been in love with him despite herself for almost as long. Eithan was off-limits for a long time for various reasons and Rose isn’t even sure if he sees her as anything more than a partner and a friend. When the ‘we’re partners’ excuse she clung to becomes more and more irrelevant in a new case they handle, she’s forced to confront her own feelings.

You can find out more about this contemporary romance novelist on the Lily Baines website or on Facebook. Ask this contemporary romance novelist questions at Goodreads Author Lily Baines.

Lily’s Interview

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

I’m a mix but I’d say I’m more of an introvert. I don’t like to be in the front line of things, I prefer being behind the scenes. I’m more comfortable with people I know. People who know me well can’t believe that I am uncomfortable in social situations, because with them I am open, talkative, confident, and funny. But in a new place or with new people, I can’t wait for it to be over. With the years I learned to be more confident, life sort of forces you to be. I managed a HR team in a high-tech company I worked for and was forced to be “the manager”. Even after ten years, I couldn’t get used to the feeling of having all eyes on me in team meetings or when I had to present to management and large groups, and that happened every week… Now, as a self-published author, I have to put myself out there and market my book and myself. Not easy for an introvert. This is why I write under a pen name. Most of the people I know don’t know about my author persona. I hope to be more comfortable reuniting the two in the future.

Easy to understand!

You prefer (1) to people watch OR (2) bird watch?

Watch people! I love people, human dynamics, interactions, behavior. Maybe that’s why I spent 20 years working in HR. That’s probably why I write. Stories pop into my head when I see or witness human interactions, situations, even in passing. For example, my next book’s idea just appeared in my head last summer when I was on a long weekend with my sisters-in-law in Montenegro, Europe. In one of the old towns we visited we witnessed a scene that immediately teased a story out of me. In the middle of this picturesque alley, a local man (who was very handsome, by the way) and a tourist boy who passed there with his parents holding a ball started playing soccer, and everyone stopped and watched because it was so endearing. They called at each other in two different languages while playing, with the only words both shared were Leo Messi and Christian Ronaldo, the famous soccer players. When they finished playing and the boy took the ball and left with his parents, the man had a pensive grimace on his face and my next story wrote itself. By the time I left for home, I had a rough outline in my head – a man who lost something important in life and a lonely woman find love in a surprising way. The soccer scene opens the story.

Wow! Impressive!

Are you (1) a morning person OR (2) a night owl?

A night owl, but I wish I was a morning person. I envy those who wake up early, feeling refreshed and energized and make the most of the day. I need several cups of coffee before I’m fully awake. My best hours are after 9pm. I can write into the night, do the laundry, binge-watch. I love the silence. But having kids and a day-job forced me to be more balanced. I quit my job 18 months ago and now I’m more able to sometimes give in to my natural clock.

Coffee, mana from heaven!

Thanks for being interviewed, Lily!

A Case of Longing
A Case of Longing

The Match Disaster

Author Latesha Kellam’s romance novel is available on Amazon. This book is a story about a woman who found love after leaving a bad marriage. She thought her new relationship was good enough because she was getting treated better than she was in her marriage, but what she didn’t realize was that her new relationship had just as many issues as the relationship she escaped from. Some of the issues were familiar and some of them were different. This book is about realizing you don’t deserve to be treated good enough but you deserve to be treated great in a relationship.

You can find out more about this romance novelist on the Latesha Kellam website. Visit her author page at Goodreads Author Latesha Kellam. You may tweet her, and she’s also on Instagram.

Latesha’s Interview

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

I consider myself an introvert with some extrovert tendencies. I tend to shy away from big groups and I do not like to be in the spotlight, however if I am comfortable with the people around me I can have a good time and be quite sociable.

Comfort is everyone’s dream!

You prefer (1) to eat a home-cooked meal with family and friends OR (2) to eat in a big-name restaurant.

I prefer to eat a home-cooked meal with family and friends. I am a very picky eater and I tend to be unhappy with whatever I order at a restaurant. I am more likely be pleased with a home-cooked meal, especially if I cooked it and I always enjoy the company of my family and friends.

Bet you are an excellent cook!

You can travel back in time. Will you go back (1) 10 years OR (2) 25 years?

I would go back 25 years because I would be 17 years old. My senior year of high school was one of the best years of my life. I had great friends and an awesome support system for what was coming next in my life.

A fascinating observation!

Your significant other or child asked you to do something you don’t like to do. Do you (1) grin and bear it OR (2) mumble to yourself while doing the task?

I would grin and bear it. I don’t like to let people down, so I definitely wouldn’t want to seem like I was unhappy about whatever task I was doing.

Sound reasoning!

What is your favorite (1) song OR (2) book?

My favorite book is The Notebook. I am a hopeless romantic and this story was full of romance but it also had suspense. I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Noah and Allie would find their way back to each other. Love conquered all in this book and I loved that.

Interesting insight! Thanks for being interviewed, Latesha!

The Match Disaster
The Match Disaster