Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Heirlooms Everywhere

Ever wonder what happened to all your ancestors' family treasures?  Your great-great grandmothers picture, the family bible, the old wooden spinner or even all the original marriage, birth records?   Don't be surprised if they are still around.   It's happened to me.   Some distant relative usually has them tucked away, and someday plans to give them to a close family member who will admire them for their sentimental value as much as they did.    

Grandpa Hamar
I have been fortunate and lucky to have located many of my family heirlooms, through near and distant relatives.   How did I find them?    

By asking everyone in my tree - even the ones I didn't know very well.

A key to asking your relatives is to make sure they know you are not trying to claim the family heirloom.   Assure them you are simply wanting to admire the items they have from a common relative.   And if they could take pictures for you, that would be great.   Better still, depending on where they are located, if you can meet with them to take the pictures, that would help more! 

Uncle Larry
I have found relatives who had family bibles that contained new names, dates, and more.  This helped also expand the family tree history.   I simply asked if I could get pictures and sure enough, I was invited next time I was in the state - one even took pictures for me and sent them.

Another important question to ask family is if they have any pictures hanging up on their walls.   Another true story - I asked a few times if my relative had any pictures and they said no... until one day they realized they were hanging on the wall.    Those items we pass by every day might not stick out as family heirlooms. 

Another source of family heirlooms is the distant cousins or half-cousins.   The further away on the line, the harder it might be to have them open up to a "stranger", even if you are family.    That's why its always good to give them your phone number or website, so they can contact you, if they come across something.

Another personal true story from my genealogical research.   A phone call led to a get together at a relatives house.   It turned out they had discovered a cache of family pictures and document in their attic.   The list was extensive:  chattel mortgages, notes, canceled checks, hundred of post cards, and hundreds of pictures. The vast amount of information contained in the "collection" was immense and most over 100 years old.   After 12 months of organizing and cataloging the information, several discovers were made.   Contained in this set were people to attach to family names (never before seen) as well as new names to go with new relatives (never before recorded), and personal written post cards detailing the everyday events over several years.    If we didn't ask, we wouldn't have discovered this and it might still be in that attic to this day. 
High School

So if you have not asked your family where you might find family heirlooms, pictures, documents, and more, then don't wait another day.   Start asking today!   Keep a record of who has what and be sure to ask them if you can take pictures (or if they would mind).  

Keep looking!   Those items are out there.   You too can find great family treasuries that you never knew existed and your family and all the descendants will certainly appreciate it!  

Your cousin with lots of pictures...

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