Inspired by these blog exercises, Janet Williams of Janet’s Notebook has been taking her readers on a journey back through time and space, exploring her family’s Chinese heritage from her little corner of the south of England.
Her “Letters from China” have evolved from a few posts to an entire series, and eventually, I hope, a book. I keep nagging her to do so, and she keeps telling me there are no stories left to tell, then she keeps finding more stories.
She has me thinking about my own past. I’m one of the family historians for my own family, and hating that I’m so neglectful of my own family history site recently. I’ve gotten a spark of renewed interest and energy with my mother, trapped with her leg in a cast, going through old photo albums and rediscovering historical images from our family. ‘
The holidays tend to make us nostalgic for family, which makes our ancestors the subject of this blog exercise.
Below is a photograph from about 1928. It features my great grandmother and her children, ranging in age from barely two years old to over 20 years of age. They are standing in front of Ruby Shack I believe, their small cabin in the woods of Wisconsin, a family living on sustenance, the last to turn out the lights on logging in northern Wisconsin. Two of the younger boys are missing, presumably off in the woods hunting deer or bear and stirring up trouble as they were wont to do, as both of my uncles, Robert F. Knapp and Wayne Knapp, shared in their dozens of stories preserved for the family.
What does this picture mean to me?
I look at it and see a long line of ancestors who wouldn’t take no for an answer. They wouldn’t give in, nor up. They built this country with their hands and backs so I could live better.
It speaks of my history, of a family that came over with the earliest pilgrims and nation builders, adventurers diving into the great unknown of the North American continent in the 1600s, determined to survive in spite of all the obstacles put in their path.