It’s amazing what you can learn about your past when you know where to look. About a year ago I subscribed to ancestry.com and began to piece together my roots. Yeah, I am the descendant of kings and queens…even the Vikings. I’ll save you a few bucks by informing you that you, too, are related to royalty. We all are in some way or another. But I digress.
More interesting to me was the more immediate past, those courageous ancestors who traveled to the New World and then helped establish this great nation. I was also intrigued to find new information on relatives that I only faintly recall from my youth.
Then you start digging up old documents like birth records, deeds, wills, court records, death certificates, military records, and newspaper articles. Don’t worry, you won’t have to leave your easy-chair. It’s all to be found on the internet.
Researching your lineage gives you a greater sense of family and for those of us advanced in years it means connecting with those who are no longer with us.
A resource from which I gained considerable information for IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE was searching through old newspapers preserved by the Library of Congress. Let’s hear it for those tax dollars at work.
In particular I found a treasure-trove of helpful information in the archives of the Shenandoah Herald, a newspaper of consequence that was published from 1865 to 1974. The Woodstock publication revealed more than I ever hoped to find about the characters in the book.
One golden nugget was revealed when I was researching my grandmother’s father, Moses Shown. Not only did I find some interesting info on Moses, but I also learned that he had a very colorful 95-year-old mother called Teeny. She was quite the celebrity in the Shenandoah Valley, worthy of several front page feature articles.
When I was growing up there was a Social section in the Strasburg, Virginia newspaper, The Northern Virginia Daily. Basically it was nothing more than local bragging and gossip. Most all of the old newspapers had such a column. I’ll bet you can find some juicy tidbits about the relatives from your past in the archives of your local paper. Happy hunting.
By the way, you can read how Teeny takes up an entire episode in Chapter II, IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE.