Family Reunion Coming Up? Write Your Family History Book!

I am very fortunate to have 3 of my grandparents still living, but I didn’t get the chance to really get to know them as I was growing up. Since my Dad’s Mom passed away in April, I’ve been upset with myself for not spending more time with her, asking questions and listening to stories. This made me determined to get to know my family & the history while I still can, before the “history book” is lost forever!

We went to visit my Dad’s Dad & step-mother shortly after that, and his step-mom showed me old photos, and I listened to stories about my Granddad’s childhood as 1 of 10 children.

When we visited my Mom’s parents in Tennessee last month, I learned so much that I never knew. My Portuguese Grandfather told me stories about his Mom being “Rosie the Riveter” and climbing into the wings of fighter jets to put things together. His father was came to the U.S. through Ellis Island. Though the family owned (and still owns) a vineyard in Portugal, there were few work prospects for young men. So, his sister took him and his brother to the boat for America, and the first time, he jumped off! The second time, they made it through, but his brother sneezed in front of officials, and they put an X on his back to indicate he wasn’t fit for immigration. They got out of line, scrubbed the X of his back, and got in line again!

Our family tree is entwined as my great-grandmother’s sister married my great-grandfather’s brother, and the majority of the Portuguese side of my family is still in Massachusetts. I got to see photos from a 1994 family reunion, but I’m not sure I would have appreciated it had I gone. Although I’m interested in writing my family tree, I am more interested in writing my family history because when you lose a family member, you lose the history book. At your next family reunion, instead of focusing on what sort of potato salad you should bring, seek out the most “seasoned’ family members and ask them lots and lots of questions!!

Don’t let your family history book go out of print!


In memory of my Grandmother, 1/5/35-4/11/12.

Fitteds and Pockets and Snappis, oh my!


  1. 1
    Cindy B says:

    Thanks for sharing ~ I miss my Grandma ~ she was the only one I was ever able to know and though I did get to spend more time with her than some… I wish I had taken even more. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to do just that.

  2. 2
    Jessica Beard says:

    I love researching our family history and listening to stories from loved ones. I am going to take a tape recorder to our next family reunion.

  3. 3
    Karen Hand says:

    Both my grandfathers died when I was only a couple years old, so I never did get to know either one of them, and one of my grandmothers died when I was about 7 years old. I did get to know my other grandmother though fairly well. She always had stories to tell, and although I now appreciate her stories, at the time I didn’t. I feel exactly the same way that you do, don’t let your family history book dwindle.

  4. 4

    Having started doing genealogy in my early 20’s I now know alot more than I did back then.
    You dont think of it at the time your parent and grand parents are there. Then one day they are not. And you wish you had ask them more about their lives and what they did . It all make the family tree book more interesting than just dates and names . You will actually have a history of your family to read about. That is so worth it all to have.

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