I discussed using the FAN concept for family history research at a beginning genealogy workshop a few weeks ago. FAN is an acronym for friends, associates and neighbors. You can often add information and maybe even overcome some of those brick walls by looking into the lives of the friends, associates and neighbors of your ancestors.
I know for a fact that talking to friends, associates and neighbors of relatives can provide information about them and about the area in which they lived.
At Catherine Miller’s funeral a few weeks ago I visited with some of her family that I had not seen for some time. It was nice to see them again, even under the sad circumstance of Catherine’s passing. Catherine’s sister Dorothy Jean, who lives just a couple miles away, called me a few days later. She knew that I was interested in people and information from the Chatt area and she mentioned that she had a scrapbook I might like to look at. Dorothy Jean attended Zion Chatt while growing up and she and my dad were in the same class in school.
Always eager to learn more about the people and the area in which I grew up, I jumped at the chance to pay her a visit and take a look at her scrapbook.
About a week later I sat with Dorothy Jean at her kitchen table. She pulled out her high school scrapbook and asked if my dad had one of these. No, I don’t think my dad ever had a high school scrapbook. I never saw it if he did.
As she showed me her scrapbook, I noticed some dried flowers, her senior prom invitation, her Willshire High School graduation announcement and the tassel she wore at her graduation, plus a lot of photos and newspaper clippings. I think scrap-booking was and is still today more of a “girl” thing. I doubt that my dad ever took the time to save his high school memories in a scrapbook.
But what a treasure Dorothy Jean has kept. By looking at her scrapbook I was able to get a glimpse back in time at my dad’s high school years. I saw a couple photos of my dad that I had never seen before. It makes me wonder how many photos have been taken by others over the years that include my ancestors, my relatives or even me. There are probably many of these photos that I will never see.
What is most interesting about Dorothy Jean’s scrapbook and photos is that they connect with my family in several ways. Her family lived near Chatt and attended Zion Lutheran, as did my Miller family. Although she attended the Chatt grade school she later attended Willshire High School and was in the same high school class as my dad, the class of 1943. She rode the school bus from Chatt to the Willshire School with my dad and his siblings. She also went to Willshire High School with some of my Schumm relatives.
So among the photos she loaned me to scan were photos of close relatives, not-so-close relatives, church members and other area people that I knew or whose names were familiar. Her school photos, as well as many other photos that she shared, were not only of her family and friends and classmates, but also contained images of my relatives and their friends.
Dorothy Jean was meticulous with her photos. She labeled every single photo. Every person was identified in every photo. In the order they were standing. Even the old school photos. Wow!
Today photos are readily visible and easy to share on Facebook and other media, but how many old photos are tucked away in scrapbooks or boxes in attics and closets, never to be seen by those outside the family.
Thank you Dorothy Jean for sharing your scrapbook and photos!