From the community

Resolution on sharing family history — more ‘kindling,’ less ‘swamping’

Posted Dec. 26, 2012, at 11:21 a.m.

Any genealogist will tell you that one of the most rewarding things that can happen is for one of your family members to show an interest in your shared ancestry.

Before my niece, Stephanie Taylor, married Andrew Zimmerman, she told me that she would like to have as a wedding gift a one-page pedigree chart for each of them that could be framed and hung on their wall.

I was so touched to have her make this request, and arranged to have the framed charts compiled, wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree this year at my sister’s house, the better to surprise the young couple.

Did I mention that Stephanie and Andy were married in October? That’s October — last year.

Now that I’ve done the project, framed it and actually given it to the young couple, you can guess what my message for the new year is about sharing family history:

Don’t wait.

Whether your genealogy is in a computer or handwritten on sheets of paper, it’s not a big deal to make copies and put them in a simple three-ring binder for the intended relative. This makes updating easy because you can just give out updated pages as they are ready.

But don’t overlook the value — and fun — in sharing just a page of your pedigree.

In my early days of genealogical research, I often overwhelmed my dad and other relatives by trying to communicate everything I’d found about the family all at once.

What works better, of course, is sharing information on your heritage in manageable bites. My uncle Roddy Moore once asked for info on our Bennetts, as he and my dad and their siblings were very close to their Bennett grandparents, who were in fact, both Bennetts. I focused on what he wanted to know.

What I realized while doing the recent project for my niece is that a one-page pedigree chart, even if it reaches back only three generations, can represent a good amount of heritage. Moreover, confining the information to one page communicates in a simple way that can be understood.

The pedigree chart for my niece encompasses all eight of her great-grandparents — Taylor, Willis, Marble, Osberg, Moore, Bennett, Steeves and Roberts. The Osbergs were from Sweden, and the early Steeves ancestors from Wurtemburg, Germany.

Her husband’s great-grandparents have surnames Zimmerman, Andrews, Atkinson, Soper, Higgins, Farmer, Hanson and Strout. Zimmerman is a German name. (Broadway and film star Ethel Merman was born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman.)

I printed off the pedigree charts on my Family Treemaker program and framed them. I also printed off an extra copy of each one for Stephanie and Andy’s parents: Scott and Maureen (Moore) Taylor and Ralph and Joyce (Higgins) Zimmerman.

When I find new information to add to the charts, or if Stephanie and Andy learn new things from their families, I can easily print off updated charts for them to use to replace the ones hanging on their wall.

Now that I’ve completed these first one-page projects, I can think of other relatives who would appreciate having the same thing for their home, even one family that already has a notebook I did with several charts in it.

After 35 years of research, all it took was one special niece to help me think in terms of kindling the family’s interest in genealogy, rather than swamping them with information.

Thanks, Stephanie Taylor Zimmerman.

The National Anthem is a difficult song to sing, requiring a range of voice I would never expect in youngsters.

So it is a pleasure to offer an “A-plus” to three young ladies, approximately the age of fifth-graders, who gave their best during the Veterans Day dedication of the Bangor World War II Memorial at Cole Land Transportation Museum.

Emily Mock, Rachael Kiah and Ceci Doering stood up on the bench where they had been sitting and treated some 200 in attendance to one wonderful performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

It was more than a treat — it was a blessing. It also was a worthy tribute to the memory of 112 Bangor veterans killed during World War II.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

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