Family History Book(s)

There is nothing quite like digging up the past! Whether it’s visiting your local library  or visiting a research center to sift through primary documents. I find myself getting a taste of a topic and then wanting to know as much about it as I can. Believe me, its hard not to get lost in hours and hours of research–it’s so exhilarating. What’s even more exciting and engaging is when your research takes you into your family’s past.


Old Family Photos

I’ve looked into making a family history album in the past, but I have not had time to devote to it. My folks have boxes full of Frederick family photos and documents sitting in the attic–not a good spot for them! It would be good to go through them, organize, scan and print them in an album. Face it, this stuff won’t last forever. I just hope my future children and their children will cherish and take interest in it like I have.

Additionally, Molly’s folks gave me a treasure trove of her family photos and mementos. One of those items is her great great grandpa’s passport!  I also have her great grandparents wedding announcements and other documents. There are also boxes full of photographs that I have yet to go through. These are such wonderful items that piece together to tell her family’s story.

You would think that writing this would be easy. I mean, it is my family’s story. The tough part is how to make a family history album more than just birthday, marriage, and death dates. These family members had personal experiences that I need to capture. I remember Grandpa Frederick telling me that shortly after marrying Grandma Millie in 1943 the “G-Men” showed up to take him to a physical exam for the draft. He said that he went through the examination, but that he would not be required to serve. Molly’s Great Grandma, whom I was fortunate enough to meet when we started dating, told us the story of the transatlantic trip her family took to Switzerland when she was a little girl. They were going to Europe to stay with her father’s family. She talked about walking on the deck of the ship as they crossed the Atlantic. These are just a few of the great stories that will fill the pages of a book.


Great Grandpa Frederick’s WWII draft registration

I am really looking forward to doing this…it is long overdue. I am making it my goal to do at least one of these books before the end of 2017. I have a mass of photos and documents ready to go into one of these books; it’s just a matter organizing and making sense of it. There are a lot of examples of how to assemble a book like this on Pinterest that will guide me through the process.  I will post my progress as I work on it in the next year.

Have you put together a family history album? How did you go about doing it?  What was the most exciting details you uncovered about your family history? Share some of your project stories in the comment section below.

Lost & Found History

Every now and then I acquire some history that has been lost. This particular piece was found in the floorboards of a home. I recovered it and could not bring myself to throw it away. It was tucked into a small envelope, which is how I used to get report cards. I would like to find a family member of this woman, Jane Koch. From the information on the report card, she attended Jefferson Elementary in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. If anyone can claim this woman as an ancestor, I will gladly give you back a piece of your family’s history.

Report Card

History in the Barn

Dairy farming has been a long tradition in my family ever since the Fredericks came to America in the 1870s (my brother and I are the first on our branch to break tradition). It is extraordinary to think how much farm mechanization has changed in 140 plus years my family has been in this country. Our dairy barn has some remnants of the old mechanical devices formerly used by dairy farmers.

North Facade

North Facade

The dairy barn’s structure has changed dramatically over the years. Our barn was built with a mortise and tenon frame, which required a lot of skilled woodworkers to build. As time went on, constructing barns in this fashion gave way to the cheaper plank frame. The open-style hayloft of the plank frame barns made movement of hay in the loft faster; free from obstruction of mortise and tenon framing.

Mortise & Tennon

Mortise & Tenon

Inside the barn were special mechanical devices to make the farm work easier. Most of these devices have long since been removed. A lot of barns, including ours, had a hay carrier in the loft area. A long rail ran the length of the barn and out a large door at one end. Hay was brought to the barnyard (loose or baled form), and the hay forks were lowered to the hay, hoisted up, and shuttled  into the barn. All that remains of our hay carrier is the rail and trolley; an electric bale conveyor was installed to replace the old carrier. Click here for more information on this technology.

Hay carrier rail at the peak of the barn.

Hay carrier rail at the peak of the barn.

South Peak & Door

South Peak & Door

Example of a Hay Carrier

Our barn also used to have a few other old items you cannot find in a modern dairy barn. There used to be a manure carrier running  the length and out of the barn. It was essentially a tub suspended from a rail that could be moved around the barn, loaded up with manure, and transported out of the barn. Mechanized barn cleaners eventually replaced this system of cleaning the barn. Before we gutted our barn, there used to be stanchions for locking in our dairy cows. The cows would put their heads through a headlock, and then we went to each stanchion to manually lock them in.


Click the picture to see more products used in dairy barns.

There were many other tools and equipment used in dairy barns. Milking has drastically changed in 100 years. My Grandpa Frederick once told me that he started off with less than a dozen cows. Now dairy farms are milking thousands of cows using automated milking technology. Little dairy farms are disappearing; small-scale milking operations do not pay well. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to look inside these old buildings to see how a farmer made his living.

Do you have an old dairy barn? What sort of old tools are still equipped in your barn? Has your dairy farm been in the family for generations?


The Armchair Genealogist: Writing Your Family History

Found a very interesting link that caught my attention. I would love to put together a nice family history book. I would like to piece together the bits and pieces I know now for my future kids. The best way to get family history is to talk to your family. Things are not always written down, so it is important to talk to your older family members.

The Armchair Genealogist: Writing Your Family History.