From The History Files – Write it all Down

I think we can all agree that the Bible is a good book, but if you had to name ONE part that gets skimmed over, what would it be? The “begats” obviously. The fact that someone begat someone else is vitally important to historians, but for those of us who like a good story, it’s a yawn.

Family history is the same way. When I go to the Ancestry website, I want to to know who these people were, what they were thinking, what their days were like. More often than not, I just get begats or milestones.

Take my great-great-grandmother, Mahala Hailey C. Davis for instance.


I know that she was born in 1851 and died in 1925 of “G.B. of the lungs. Hereditary”. She was married and had SEVEN kids.  That. Is. All.

I want to know what her life was like. Her death certificate says her occupation was “House Keeping”. What did that look like in the 1800’s with 7 kids. Did she like her husband? Did her kids fight? Did she ever consider parting her hair on the side?

I really wish she’d had a diary, but the truth is, she would have probably thought her life was too boring to document. I’d love to have some of her own words to really get to know her. Today we have plenty of ways to tell people about our lives – blogs, Instagram, Twitter – and nothing is considered to boring to talk about. Yay, us! Of course if the internet ever goes down, or my computer dies, I’m really going to wish I’d printed out some of those photos.

This week I posted a photo online of my husband.

New Orleans

What I didn’t say was that it was taken in 1996, on the trolley in New Orleans, on our honeymoon. He’s wearing a t-shirt from Jittery Joe’s, a coffee shop in Athens, Georgia where he went to college. I think I’ll get the original photo and write that on the back. I don’t know what my great, great grandchildren will be looking for when they unearth me on Ancestry, but I’m going to do my best to make sure they find it.

Get out your old family photos and make some notes. Your ancestors will appreciate it and it’s better than spending your Labor Day weekend “house keeping”.



Did I mention I wrote a book about a girl who researches her family history in order to save her family home? Check it out HERE.

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