Writing stories from your genealogy research

How to write a story from your family research

Uncle Cal
Uncle Cal

I’ve researched my family’s history and stories for more than fifteen years now and after all this time, I still unravel secrets I’ve never heard before. Recently, I gathered information that an uncle did not graduate from high school like we thought although he served in WWII and later became a successful businessman. It’s a mystery. Did he keep this secret all his life, or are his military records wrong? High school record show him as graduating, so?

Through my work, I’ve made photocopies, identified tintypes, called courthouses for information, and dug through deceased relative’s chests stored for decades. Boxes of material gather dust in my closets.

What can I do with these tidbits of information? It’s like unraveling a puzzle, each piece fits somewhere in someone’s life story, and since I am a puzzle solver, this brainteaser challenges me. I especially love seeing how God works in people’s life.

I take snippets of historical information, organize them into some logical manner, and mull over the whys of this or that. My historical novel, A Promise to Break, which comes out in May, contains true information taken from my investigation. This trilogy is about how two people, godly though they were, struggled with their beliefs and grew from that struggle. Psalms 146:10 states, “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.” Certainly, every generation has been blessed with God stories, and, although we may never solve all the mysteries, those stories can bless and encourage us today.

I just read a genealogy guide titled Who’s Your Daddy? by Carolyn B. Leonard. I highly recommend it. The book page is www.WHOSYOURDADDYBOOK.COM . This amazing book details every aspect of genealogy research, from dating old photographs, to gravestone etching, to organizing vital records. You can order the book at book:

I haven’t documented to the level of Leonard, but after reading her book, I know much more about how to keep records for future generations. And at this point in my research, I choose to believe my uncle’s military records are wrong, at least until documented otherwise.

I love Carolyn Leonard’s motto on her website: Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming YAHOO! what a ride!

I’m on this wild ride of life, and one of my endeavors is to record God’s work in my family’s history. The Lord is more incredible than any mundane information I have seen in a history book. So, I challenge you, when you get a chance to interview an elderly relative, peruse old military records, or simply discuss old photos with your mom, take it, appreciate its value and record it to share with the rest of us.

You are loved.

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