Show Me the Facts Plus the Stories Behind Them

Madden Family44

I’m amazed at the extent of genealogical data I can retrieve from the internet. As a paid subscriber to I can enter names and an array of data pops up. And this past week when I opened up a weekly blog, “The Legal Genealogist” I was ecstatic to find the link to Missouri Digital Heritage because in minutes I was able to find and print death certificates for my Show Me State ancestors.

This is such a major change from when I started collecting genealogical data thirty-five years ago. At that time I was excited when I got information from family members who are now, sadly, deceased. Or I had to write and send checks to various Records Clerks in county court houses requesting birth or death certificates hoping I submitted the correct information. Fortunately today, in minutes, I can get even more details and can easily retrieve records to back up my facts and numbers. I was able to add a vast amount of information to my family tree in a few hours which thirty-five years ago took me months.

However, I am still searching for the birth certificate and death certificate of my maternal great grandmother. From searching the internet I’ve seen her name listed as Gertrude Ella or as Ella G. and learned she was born on September 18, 1868 to Solomon and Eliza Hanna and died June 10, 1897 at the young age of 29.

What is not in the data is that Ella’s passing left my grandmother, who was at that time only five years old, separated from her father and siblings to be raised by her grandmother. My mother had told me that part of the story after my grandmother passed away in 1978. If only I had learned about that before she had passed. I could have asked her more about that and her childhood. I do have my grandmother’s letters published in a book and my memories of her in writing so she will forever be remembered.

Sadly in regards to my great-grandmother we have nothing. We do not know anything of her lifestory. If she had recorded her personal history, I would know her likes and dislikes. I would know what joys and obstacles she faced. I would know about her childhood, her parents and siblings. Did she cook? Was she happy with her marriage? What were her interests? Could she read? What were her dreams and ambitions?

Don’t make your great-grandchildren wonder about you. The best gift you could pass on to your family is your recorded lifestory. Now is the time for you to pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your life. Even from the simplest parts of your life to the more complicated parts that helped form you into the person you are today. The reflections you make on your life will be cherished by future generations.

  • What special stories did your grandmother or grandfather tell you?
  • How did the Great Depression affect your family?
  • What was your favorite holiday? How did you celebrate it?
  • What was your highest level of education? What was your favorite class?
  • Can you remember a historic event that happened when you were in school?


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