Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge

I heard through the grapevine (from my BU Alumni Study Group) about a challenge that was going on for the month of February.  It is The Family History Writing Challenge from The Armchair Genealogist, Lynn Palermo.  I absolutely love chasing down the research and sharing the stories.  Usually, those stories are told about my process and the great finds., however mostly oral, not written.  I will be the first to admit that I am terrible about writing up my family history.  I think part of it comes from feeling like the stories I write up have to be just perfect.  In order for me to tackle this idea of not being perfect and start writing, I joined this Family History Writing Challenge.

Everyday I receive an email with great ideas about writing my family history.  One idea was that I loved was to take out a photo of an ancestor that you love and speaks to you.  My writing challenge foal for today is to find a photo and write about it.  I selected one of my favorite photos of my grandfather, Kenneth Ernest Hackett.

Kenneth Ernest Hackett was the only son of Ernest Edward and Jennie Ella (Sheltra) Hackett born 20 June 1911 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont, and died on 9 June 1975 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont.  He married Elsie Mae (Rose) on 22 September 1937 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont.  Kenneth and Elsie had three children and five grandchildren.  These are the facts of Kenneth, my paternal grandfather, however he was so much more.  Unfortunately, I never knew my grandfather, however his memory has lived on in my life through the stories shared.  I was in my early adulthood before I ever remember seeing a photo of him at my grandmother's house.  I thought it was a black and white photo of a bald man (Kenneth) sitting on an ottoman, and it sat in my grandmother's room.  Later, I received that photo of my grandfather from my grandmother for Christmas.  It was the best gift she could ever give me, and it turned out to be a photo that was taken from a newspaper clipping.  Who was this man I often wondered?  What kind of man was he? 

The photo above sums up who I believe my grandfather to be.  A confident, but humble, handsome man that was loving and nurturing.  Kenneth stands confidently holding this beautiful white horse.  The wind must have been blowing that day, and it may have been a warmer winter or early spring day.  This may be one of the only photos of my grandfather as an adult with a full head of hair.  It shows how much he loved and respected animals.  The stories of my grandfather and his love of animals has always been shared with me, and this picture clearly shows it.  He would often feed the neighborhood strays or take them in.  Though he isn't smiling in the photo, my grandfather is displaying his horse with pride. 

Things I do know about my grandfather is he was intelligent, humble and loving.  My grandfather was valedictorian of his high school class.  At the time of his death, Kenneth was the acting fire chief of the Hartford Fire Department.  The story is he lied about his age to join the fire department because he was afraid of fire and wanted to conquer that fear.  I am often told that I would probably have had him wrapped around my finger, and that I often do things like him.  When I was about 17 or 18 I walked into my Great-Great Aunt Hazel's house in the middle of winter asking for paper bags.  My parents and my aunt wanted to know why.  I said to cover the floor mats of course because I wanted to prevent them from getting all sandy and salty.  My dad laughed because apparently that is what my grandfather use to do for the same reason. 

So lesson....EVERYONE GET OUT AND WRITE IT DOWN!  Write those stories down and your family history to share.  Don't just make it dates.  Make the people come alive.  Now I need to interview the rest of the family to get their thoughts and stories about my grandfather. 

Thanks Lynn.  I hope you do this challenge again and even more people join in!

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