Category Archives: Family Gatherings

Monday’s for Me ~ Family Reunions

Growing up over 1200 miles from my nearest relatives, I never heard the words, Family Reunion! When we moved to Missouri when I was 12 years old, I was in awe at how many relatives I had. We had a few of them come to Arizona to visit, but it was always one person or family at a time. Once we moved, we had a lot more visitors and the families seemed to get larger.
Growing up over 1200 miles from my nearest relatives, I never heard the words, Family Reunion! When we moved to Missouri when I was 12 years old, I was in awe at how many relatives I had. We had a few of them come to Arizona to visit, but it was always one person or family at a time. Once we moved, we had a lot more visitors and the families seemed to get larger.
At the end of the first summer, we attended my first family reunion. It was at a park in the small town of Oak Grove, Missouri. We got there a little late so when we pulled up to the park there was no place to park our car. Looking over the park I was really surprised to see all the people. I asked my Dad why would they have the reunion in a place so crowded. He responded that they weren’t just people, they were my relatives! I was so shocked.
To be honest, I think I only formally met about 20 people that day. I was a shy kid, and I was uncomfortable with all these strangers. This was my Dad’s side of the family. He had 10 siblings and most of those had at least 5 kids. His Grandparents had 12 children, and they all had over 6 kids each. I don’t think I had ever seen such a large variety of food before. Most of the food was foreign to me. Being raised in the Southwest most of our get-togethers were mostly Mexican food. It was a great day!
The next summer there was another Reunion. This time in a park in Higginsville, MO. I felt a little more comfortable this time as I had experienced a year of many visits with the family. I wasn’t shocked to see our family taking up the entire park and I looked forward to eating all of my new-found favorites. By the next summer, we had moved to California and I missed going to the yearly gatherings.
Fast-forward 20 years. My dad had passed away 5 years after we left Missouri. My mother had cut off both sides of our family, so I had no contact with any of them. I had gotten married to my current husband, and he wanted to make the trip to meet my family. I was so excited to see the family. When we arrived at my Aunts house, she came running out to greet us! I felt something I hadn’t felt in the last 20 years, I felt I was home. We were there a week, and we were fortunate enough to be there for the end of the summer reunion. I kept telling my kids that we had a lot of family, and when we arrived at the park in Independence they were stunned. Once again, the park was full of Hughes and Hayes family. I enjoyed watching my 3 kids get to know their family just as I had 20 years ago!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family Gatherings, Family History, Family Reunions, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Monday's For Me, Uncategorized

Hints on How to Gather Information at That Holiday Family Get Together!

christmasWe have all experienced it. You arrive at a Holiday dinner only to see Cousin Ray, the braggart, has already arrived. You know that for the next few days you will be hearing him brag about his woodworking and listening to him describe in long detail the process of creating his latest masterpiece. Your first inclination is to turn and run but you know you can’t do that. So you decide that you will make every effort to avoid Cousin Ray.

Holiday get togethers are a time to celebrate family and friends and to share with one another. Happy ThanksgivingHowever when one person monopolizes the conversations it can make the other people want to avoid them altogether. Let’s be honest, most people have skipped a party or dinner because they found out that someone who can only talk about their latest scrapbooking or [insert hobby/cause here] project was going to be there.

No braggingNow for some hard truth, some of us Genealogists are guilty of the same mind numbing talking that we try to avoid. We can get so excited over our recent discoveries that we want to be sure that everyone hears the fantastic news. We also want to take this opportune time to ask questions of those present. Who knows when you many see them again or get a chance to possibly fill in some blanks in our trees? Here are some suggestions that may help you to not become the person everyone wants to avoid.

  • If you know who is going to attend the upcoming party or get-together, write a short letter explaining that you are working on the Family Genealogy and that you would like to ask them some questions. Tell them to help avoid long, possibly boring conversations that they may not be interested in, you would like them to consider these few questions and if they could, they can bring the answers with them. Mail or email this to them a couple of weeks in advance. If you don’t know who will be there or if you don’t have contact information for some of the guests, you can take a few extra letters and ask them to fill it out and mail it to you. You can even include a self addressed stamped envelope to make it easy for them!
  • You can also ask at this time if they have any old photos or documents that they would be willing to share with you. Let them know that you will be either scanning them or taking pictures of them at the get together so they will not have to give them to you.
  • Ask them if they know any stories about their ancestors and see if they would either write them down for you and bring clip-art-interviewing-them along or maybe they would be willing to tell them to you. If possible bring a tape recorder so you can record the tales and then transcribe them later.
  • Do some research and ask specific questions about that side of the family that you need help with. Something like, was Uncle Joe Jones ever married? If so, do you know his wife’s name? Did they have children?
  • Be sure to add somewhere in the correspondence that you have found some exciting information about the Familys’ History and you look forward to adding more to it. Hopefully a little enticement will peak their interest in what you are doing.

poster

  • I helped a friend do all of the above before a family event and they all worked very well. She gathered a lot of new information, stories and even a few photos. One thing I helped her with was a poster board display. I had her print out the family tree associated with those who were attending. I had her post a few interesting documents and photos on it and one of the amazing stories that she had found about a Great Grandfather. She included her name at the bottom of the poster so people would know who to talk to. When she arrived at the event she placed it in a place where people could easily view it. Because she wasn’t intrusive she actually had several relatives come up to her wanting to know more and telling her stories. Some even promised to email some photos and documents to her. She was ecstatic as one bit of information she received broke down one of her brick walls!

To those of us who love Genealogy it is so easy to talk about it and we want to share our enthusiasm with others. Sometimes this becomes a hindrance instead of a help. By coming up with alternative ways to engage someone in our passion we can “hook” them without making their eyes glaze over in boredom.

I am positive that if you think about it, you can come up with plenty of ways to gather information this Holiday season without alienating your family. Good luck!

If you think of any other ways to do this please let me know, I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Christmas, Family Gatherings, Family History, Genealogy, Hints, Holidays, Thanksgiving