22 August 2015

Family History Documentation at your Fingertips Series, Part 1

Family Heirlooms
Family Picture Box

Family history can be found in the home of a recently deceased relative.  The chore of going through old papers and pictures seems overwhelming. Often the items are placed in a box and not stored correctly, or worse, thrown away.


When someone passes away in our family, we will inquire about any pictures, scrapbooks, and papers, so that we can review the material. By doing so, I was recently given an old box made by my grandfather Jack Goolsby, to keep for the family. To our delight, we found a wedding picture of my great grandmother Lula Goolsby Ison and her first husband, William Edward Goolsby.  My dad had never seen his grandfather before because he was deceased when my Dad was born.  His grandmother and his grandfather were divorced, so old pictures were not readily available.  His grandmother had also remarried.  A side note to this is my husband spent hours enhancing a digital image of the picture to make  the back of the picture to make it readable.  The wedding picture had been used by an artist to make a painting of the couple and a detailed description of their names and clothing colors were on the back.  The picture was in black and white.  What a find!  Some of the techniques to use to make a picture is (list techniques)

Memorial Book

The other huge find for us was the death book for my grandfather Jack Goolsby.  Family oral history stated that he was born in Eccles, WV.  We were unable to locate a birth record for him in WV delayed or otherwise. We didn't review this heirloom right away but decided to shuffle through albums and scrapbooks.   When we did sit down and review the Death Record, we found a page completed by his mother, my great grandmother Lula Goolsby Ison, that documented his birth in Clifton Forge, VA.  This made sense because his father William Goolsby worked on the railroad in Clifton Forge Virginia and he and his wife, Lula were married there.

Guest Books

Warner Camp Guest Book
David's mom's family, Warner, has a camp, on Lake Messalonskee in Maine.  The camp is an old house built in the early 1900's.  Two story home with a guest house, boat house, and garage.  The family would open the camp in the summer and close it before winter.  There were multiple pictures in the home that we carefully digitized and the best record?  The family had kept a guest book of all that had visited the camp throughout many of the years.  The visitors would list the date, their name, the name of their children and sometimes, the ages.   Not only did this document the history of Warner Camp, it is also documentation on the relationship of the family members and can help narrow down lifespans.


Family bibles are a haven of information.  Before official governmental records were kept and even after, many families recorded births, deaths, and marriages in the family bible.  Frequently, bibles are passed down from generation to generation.  Recently, while we were discarding material at the dump, a man emptying his truck found a bible someone had discarded.  He felt funny about not rescuing the book.  Upon examination, it had completed pages of marriages, deaths, and births.  We decided that even though the information wasn't pertinent to either of our families, that the pages should be carefully digitized and made searchable on the internet.  In a few years, this might be the document that helps a family push through their own roadblock.

If you have found family historical information in other places please email or comment.  Sometimes it is a small piece of information that opens the door for family historians, and knowing where to look is helpful.

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