I Accept! the Family History Writing Challenge

You are a family historian; a collector of family lore, data bytes, census records, photographs, and old papers that mean nothing to nobody but you.  At some point, the names become people, and then the people become folks you really want to meet, which is a problem when all that is left is their memory.

Thus starts your journey; an impulsion carries you into a room with a blank screen or an empty page, and you sit and stare. And stare. And stare.  Because when it comes right down to it, as much as you know this person, there is twice as much left to uncover.  The story goes untold a bit longer.


Those words have been ringing in my ears, almost as loudly as the high pitched hum of my tinnitus  and they are almost as annoying.  But, as the universe is prone to provide, a reading came my way, a blog post by Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist in which she offered community, companionship, advice, and encouragement to write that family story I have felt too overwhelmed to attempt.  Now I am counting down the days until I confront the blank page and reconstruct the life of my perplexing, aggravating, inspiring great-great-grandfather, Ira Sayles, during the Family History Writing Challenge.

I commit to writing 500 words a day, each day during the month of February.  

I can’t wait to start!  Check out Lynn’s page, and seriously consider if it is not time to confront your blank page.  Eighteen days and counting!!  See you there!

Sunday’s Obituary: Amaziah (Amzi) Bradford

Through the generosity of fellow family historian, Doug Kreis, I have the following obituary for my great-great-grandfather, the fiddle-playing man of my grandmother’s youth. Amaziah Bradford was the son of John R. and Hannah Geyer Bradford of Highland Township, Muskingum County, Ohio.  This life synopsis originally appeared in The Adamsville Register, Adamsville, Ohio.

A. G. Bradford Called By Death Last Thursday

Amaziah Bradford, aged 81, died at his home in West Lafayette, Ohio, Thursday 18 October (1928) of heart trouble and infirmities.  He had been in poor health for some time.  Several years ago Mr. Bradford had conducted a confectionery store in West Lafayette and was later employed in the enameling plant in that village.  Mr. Bradford had been a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge in West Lafayette for several years.  He was a member of the M E Church.  He had been a resident of West Lafayette for 30 years.  He formerly lived near Bloomfield.  The deceased was united in marriage with Miss Julia McCall 53 years ago who together with one son and two daughters survive; Charles of Coshocton, Mrs. Samuel Bell of Cincinnati and Mrs. E. A. Robinson of Walhounding.  The funeral was held Saturday afternoon at the M E Church in West Lafayette and burial was made in the cemetery at that place.  The following nephews and nieces attended the funeral :  Mr and Mrs. J. A. Bradford, Harry Bradford, John Kay, Ray Bradford, Isaac Bradford, W. R. Bradford and Mrs. W. D. Brannon of Adamsville and daughter Mrs. Myrville Truax of Zanesville.

Surname Saturday: Minor Details

This is the year, I thought, of the De-Clutter Project, as I surveyed each room’s crammed shelves and drawers.  Impose a fifteen minute limit and voluntarily suffer a daily dose of sorting, storing and recycling, and by year’s end I will have managed 5,475 minutes of life simplification.  Resolutely, I reached for that first stack of books, envisioning an clean and orderly home in just ninety-one 2013 hours.

If today is any indication, the 3.8 days I committed to de-cluttering will only get me to the bottom of one pile.

I started the resolution with a photograph album; more journal than photo-document, this book chronicles an eleven day visit south of the Mason-Dixon line.  I didn’t make it past the second page before deciding that I couldn’t give this to my daughter, or store it in an safe place.  I had to reread it, and keep it within arm’s length for future reference and rumination. In other words, there was not one jot of de-cluttering in today’s 15 minutes of suffering.

Blue skiesIn my mind I’m going to Carolina… March 22-April 2, 1989

Aw, I thought, I was such a sweet young mom, wanting to record my first mother-daughter trip. I kept reading, not sorting. The second page opened with an entry in my grandmother’s hand:

“She has grown so much. And she is talking- hurrah. Caitlin calls me GG for Great Grandmother. I love the name.” 

What followed her note was a forgotten Story Moment, in which some minor details of my grandmother’s family were recorded.

Kerma Pauline was born to Charles Ross and Katherine Roahrig Bradford in 1905.  In 1989 Kerma sat in my mother’s home, watching my toddler play, and recalled:

Grandpa John Roahrig (1849-1919)

One day, my grandmother recounted, she sat in the dining room playing paper dolls with her sister Thelma, her Grandpa Roahrig asleep in a nearby chair.  Thelma talked incessantly and presently Grandpa, always a stern man, spoke up and said, “Thelma, your mouth moves as fast as a goose’s ass!”

The two girls decided to leave the fireside and play in the next room.

Grandpa Amaziah Bradford (1847-1928)

Kerma recalled that her Grandpa Bradford played the fiddle and clogged and played horse with his grandchildren.  His son, Charles Ross, must have inherited his gifts, since Kerma recalled that her dad could play any stringed instrument–guitar, banjo and fiddle.

De-clutter to Discover

I may not have accomplished much in the way of de-cluttering, but I DID discover a treasure, hidden within the minor details of an old photo album, a side benefit of my daily fifteen which is sure to be repeated often in 2013.

Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year

Postmarked Fort Dodge, Iowa, 1910

May your New Year be filled with elfish jollification!