Sunday, July 1, 2012

Family Reunion by Jena Galifany

Have you ever had a family reunion? I bet it was interesting seeing everyone you hadn't seen in many months or maybe even years. It must have been hard to say good-bye again after it was over. I have to ask these questions because the last one I was at was for my father's family and I was eighteen years old. That was in 1976.

At that get-together, I was able to see my Uncle Bob, Uncle Billy, and my Aunt Marge. I got to meet cousins that I'd never met before, thought we were only related by marriage. It was interesting but not the blast I thought it would be. We were worlds apart. I was older than they were and they only wanted to go skateboarding around the neighborhood. They grew up in Arkansas and Texas, and I grew up in California. Needless to say, I spent my time with the older generation.

I've only seen my Uncle Billy once since that day, at my first wedding in 1979. He's passed away now as are most of my aunts and uncles on both sides. I don't mean to make this article a sad event. What I'm leading up to is the fun I have in tracking down information and putting together my family tree.

Wm Provins. Sr. Family

Have you ever done genealogy? It can be quite the adventure discovering your roots and how far they go. On my father's side, I've only just begun to do the research. What is making it difficult is that after three generations, the family disappears. My dad thinks that maybe the name was different but we have no one to ask about it. That is the importance of asking questions and making notes on your family history before they are all gone. Out of eight siblings, my dad, Uncle Bob and Aunt Marge are the only ones left.

(My father is on the left on the bottom step followed by Bob and Billy. Aunt Marge is on the next step, holding Barbara. Margie Pearl (Grandma) and Wm Sr (Grandpa), holding Julia, are on the top step. Dad's oldest sister was already married and his youngest brother was not yet born when this photo was taken.)

Mary and Bill Provins, Jr.
On my mother's side, we have a family tree back to 1857 in County Cork, Ireland. We know that Elicum Briggs set out for a better life and traveled through England where he married a nice young lady with the family name of Churchill. Shortly there after, the family sailed for America and settled in Ohio. Through the generations, after moving through Iowa and Missouri, the Williamson family merged with the Thompson family. After fourteen other children Riley and Ferne Thompson produced my mother, Mary.

I am fortunate to have the family tree on this side as my mother is the only one left of her siblings, mother and father. I'd only met two of my aunts on this side, and none of the cousins.

The one I know the most about is my Uncle J.R. Thompson, my mother's brother. His name is only J.R. He joined the Army when he was seventeen and shipped out during the Korean Conflict. He was killed at the age of eighteen. My mother was twelve and she was devastated by the loss. Since she was the youngest and he was six years older, she was closer to him than any of the other children in her family. Most were married before Mom was born.

There are so many little stories I've learned about my family that would have been lost if my mother didn't share them with me. Like the time my mother was throwing a fit in the school yard so J.R. picked her up and spanked her right then and there. She never threw a fit again but she worshiped the ground he walked on. I'm glad she shares these things with me because once she is gone, there will be no one left to share her family history.

Do you have a family tree? Do you ask about the old days when you are talking to your aunts and uncles? Do you still have your grandparents to talk to? If you do, take advantage of the memories they have and write them down for the generations to come. My grandfathers were both gone before I was two. The last time I saw one grandmother was 1966 and the other was in 1979. They are also both gone now.

Make copies of photos and share them. If something should happen to my computer, both my sisters and my brother have copies of all the photos that can't be replaced. Be sure to make notes of who are in the photos and when they were taken, too. Years from now, that information might be lost.

My father and I in 1967
It's fun to research your family tree. See how many "nuts" you can find. There may be a few gems there as well. That lady named Churchill who married Elicum so many years ago is my family connection to a great man by the name of Winston. You see, he is related to a family in Britain with the name of Spencer. One more step takes me from Diana to her son, William, who is now married to a lovely lady by the name of Katherine. It's nice to know there are a few princesses in the family.

I know this was supposed to be about family reunions but when you find out something new about your family history while doing genealogy research, it's like a reunion with a past you didn't know you had. It can be fun and rewarding. You are compiling a great gift for your children and grandchildren as well. They will know where they are from and what kind of wonderful people were their forefathers. It is a unique way to meet those who have gone before.

Doing research for historical information is one of my favorite parts of writing. I loved the information I found when writing "Shyanne's Secret", my historical inspirational romance. I felt a connection to what Shyanne and Cole were subjected to in 1880s Oregon. My grandmother, Margie Pearl, was a Native American and William Sr was of German descent. I haven't heard stories of any problems they may have had with the mixed culture marriagey. That is another thing I need to talk to my father about.
Cole Jackson promised to take care of Shyanne Bennett, to keep her secret. It was a promise he intended to keep—and then her father lynched him. It might take time, but he’d
find a way.

Shyanne Bennett loved Cole Jackson, that sassy half-blood. She lost her mind when he died to keep her secret. Cole promised to take care of her but how could he once Harvey Bennett hung him? Maybe her heart might find solace in becoming the wife of his look-alike cousin, Will Marshall. And then again, maybe the heartache will only begin again.

Discover how it turned out for Cole and Shyanne by reading "Shyanne's Secret", available from Whiskey Creek Press.

Jena Galifany
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Jannine Gallant said...

Family reunions are fun. All those people spread across the country with only one link in common. You're related! It's always interesting seeing how you mesh after years apart. I couldn't agree more about getting the facts while you can. My grandma has boxes and boxes of old photos, and my mom is sorting through them with her asking the all important questions, "Who's this? When was it taken?" Sometimes she evens knows. LOL

JenaGalifany said...

My mother has a box of photos. I've asked her to make notes on them but she said she's not sure who a lot of them are. She regrets not asking before her mother passed.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Interesting. Especially since my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Briggs.