Today I would like to talk about Genealogy and Historical Societies. Most of us belong to one or the other as each can take up most of our time. I thought it all started for me back in 1994 but it started much earlier. When I was a boy I remember walking around the town of Presque Isle looking at the old buildings and how they were built. I loved to look at old pictures thinking about the people who lived back in the 1890’s, what was life like then? Today I can see many changes empty lots where buildings were taken down because of age or fire.
As a teenager I started to hold on to stuff (some would call junk) but it is my junk. Today it is nice to look at and remember the things from the past. At this time I started to ask my father questions about our family, the house and the town, this would become helpful later on.
In the early 1970’s I was in the service stationed in Alaska and one thing I did not like was writing letters. My mom was in Presque Isle, a sister in Connecticut and another sister in Japan. I came up with the idea of using a tape recorder so I got one for each of them. It was a lot better this way as I could say more in an hour than write in a letter plus it was good to hear their voices. They would tape over the old letter but I used a new tape each time so I could save the one I got from them. Now I have twenty hours of tapes that I saved to play over, it is nice to go back and listen to what was going on in our lives. I am so glad I did this as some of them are gone and it is nice to hear their voices. About ten years ago I made a copy of each tape as time and age will make them brittle. Soon I will have to find another way to save them for the future.
In the 1980’s I was looking at all the family pictures in a big box so I decided it was time to put them in albums. It took some time to get them all in order and into albums then I labeled all the pictures. Also at this time my dad passed away and I had the job of cleaning out his office. Dad was in this office over thirty years and in this time collected many things of interest. Some people would come in and throw it all away but I could not as this was a big part of his life that had to be saved. All the items that were paper I put into four albums for everyone to look back and enjoy the other items I have around the house.
It was 1994 when my mom got me started in genealogy, she wanted me to find a little more on her father’s side. That little bit has grown considerably as there is no thing as doing just a little bit. At this time my mom had a journal with empty pages and I asked her if she would write in it.
Mom said “what would I say” and I told her just to write a little about what was going on each day. Mom did fill that book and I found out later she filled four more books too. The last book came to a stop mid way through; this is where she stopped because it was getting hard on her eyes and hands. I will treasurer this collection.
I was not in the A.C.G.S. very long when I got all the old family albums of mom and dad’s and with the help of mom put in the names of people I did not know. As mom was the last of her generation I knew I better do it before she was gone or I would never know who they were. Another project I took on was to write a book on the family, I did not want to do this but if I did not do it, who would? I did not write it by myself what I did was to have mom, my brothers and sisters write something about growing up. I also had several nephews and nieces put in something too. I did not tell them what I was doing just write something. After two years and the help of my niece, we did in on her computer making fourteen copies to hand out. I must say I was very happy how it turned out. When I started I had no idea how it would come out as I was making it up as I went along. The family was surprised with what I came up with and enjoyed the stories. The reason I did this was for the grandchildren so they could see what life was like back then.
So looking back you can see that I have been working on this all my life and now putting it all together now. I know I will never stop and wonder where this will take me. I wonder how many of you can relate to me, have you been working on this all your life too?
Respectfully submitted by Orlan Smith
Vice President’s Message, May 2013 by Heather Feuerhelm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at ac-gs.org.