I Saw Dead People – Part 1

You may remember the line from the movie Sixth Sense when an innocent young boy looks off in the distance and very seriously says “I see dead people”.  It isn’t my kind of movie, so I’ve never watched it; but the commercial advertising it is etched in my mind.  This post is not about the same subject as the movie, but I was reminded of that line during the last month.

9a- original

My Mom drove six hours to get here and was able to stay for about a week. She brought a lot of paper with her.  We spent most of each day inputting information from her papers through the keyboard and onto the computer screen.

25- Ivy Vredenburg Boetcher Arthur Vredenburg Freda Vredenburg Matthews Viola Vredenburg GehlingNames.  Dates.  Places.  They were entered onto a software program called Family Tree Maker, which is designed to work with ancestry.com.  Instead of plunging into ancestry.com, I wanted to build our tree offline first before posting it. That’s not to say that editing cannot be done on ancestry.com, but that my preference was to initially work with the 16f- Nina and Flossie Trusty with 2 friendssoftware. That allowed us to proof read and fix any mistakes first.  Working with so many names, dates and places leads to some inevitable confusion, but adding more names as you go reveals errors and how to fix them.

9b2- unknown unknown Fred and Carrie Eggers Guy Vredenburg different lighting

We made a lot of progress, but it was time for Mom to go back home before we could finish inputting all of the information she had.  She came a while later for another week when we continued the work we had begun. Our final chart boasts 889 people in over 300 families in an impressive sized tree.



Thomas Parish Church -Wales UK (6)Mom calculates that she’s been working on family history on and off for over 50 years.  FIFTY  YEARS!  Starting with information given to her by a special aunt, she filled in whatever information she could through the years. She expanded her tree in depth and width.  She became accustomed to saving obituaries and articles. At the peak of her interest, she was involved in genealogical groups, historical societies, and searched for information from her back yard to across the ocean. The picture here shows Mom in Wales, Great Britain where she and I saw the church where family members attended and were baptized.

38e- Ivy Art Freda Bob Viola Vredenburg (2)Word spread that she was interested in genealogy, so many family members shared whatever they had with her so their information would be recorded. That is why she has piles upon piles of notes, newspaper clippings, binders and pictures.  The rather recent existence of the internet has offered the benefit of displaying all of the facts and personal stories organized in one place.  It would also allow the information to be shared with others.back-Rozelma Gaylord Enoch Andrew Trusty front-Russell and Charles Aherns Sr

Inputting the information on Family Tree Maker software was not without some frustration.  I have no idea how my mother kept everything straight through the years. At 80 years old, her memory and reasoning are outstandingly sharp.  There is no doubt in my mind that the many notes she made would not be able to be pieced together without her knowledge; but her charts, notes and letters somehow transformed into a sensible lineage.  And oh, the interesting stories we recorded!

Click here for Part 2.

About Climbing Downhill

Wife and mother of grown kids, in my 60's and dealing with MS, making life's moments count and trying to offer something of value to others along the way. https://climbingdownhill.wordpress.com
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9 Responses to I Saw Dead People – Part 1

  1. Declan Groeger says:

    Compiling and maintaining a Family Tree is indeed a noble calling and so important for the generations to come. Well Done

  2. Julie Phelps says:

    That is awesome!!! I have found that through ancestry.com and my blog itsabeautifultree.com, I’ve met so many extended family members who have made my research and documentation so much more fun. You’ll have a great time with it!!!!

    • What a great comment to leave, Julie. I haven’t really had time to investigate the leaves/hints yet. Looking forward to doing that!

      • Julie Phelps says:

        The leaves are only half of it! Through my blog, and by making my email address accessible, I’ve had distant cousins contact me and we’ve begun to develop friendships. I’m planning on using a lot of the information I’ve been finding to write a book, and my 3rd and 4th and 5th cousins have been some of my biggest cheerleaders. And the blogging community is so supportive too. Just be patient, remember that spelling didn’t used to be important, and if a search doesn’t turn anything up, wait a month and try again. And newspapers.com is a vortex. Sometimes I seriously have a hard time forcing myself to get up to pee!!

  3. Susan says:

    How lucky you are able to build on what your mother has compiled and keep her legacy alive. I would love for one of my children to take an interest in genealogy but I’m afraid all my work will go to the local society once I am gone.

    • I wholeheartedly agree Susan. I’m grateful for the work my mom has done.
      Maybe your family’s interest is simply skipping a generation, or your children will one day be interested after all, or there is an extended family member who would love to carry on your work. I digitized all scanned and organized old family pictures and sent CD’s out to relatives and I have shared the tree information too. Someday, someone somewhere will also be excited to have it. I’m fortunate that I have at least one kid who is interested already. For us, it’s the stories that make the names come alive.

  4. Pingback: I Saw Dead People – Part 2 | Climbing Downhill

  5. Pingback: PART 3 – I Saw Dead People | Climbing Downhill

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