Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Short Stories from Family History

Short stories reduce prose to its essence. They're my favorite literary genre and somewhere on my list of "Things to Do Before I Die" is a book of short stories based on my family's history. Here are a few samples proving nothing is more interesting than life itself:

* My grandfather had an older brother named Leslie who was thirteen when his appendix burst. After he died the family found out that the doctor and nurse in their small town had been having an affair and that the doctor hadn't been able to make it to surgery in time because he was with his nurse. The rumor was that my great-grandfather never got over his son's death.

* My great-great grandmother, Anna Meier, was born out of wedlock in Switzerland while her mother was a young girl. A childless couple offered to adopt Anna and soon gave her a good home where she lived comfortably for several years. One day when Anna was 12 her mother came to visit and asked permission to take the girl to the circus, but she instead took Anna and boarded a ship bound for America, never returning to Switzerland. Anna never saw her parents or Switzerland again.

* My husband's great, great-grandmother, also named Anna, lived in poverty in Denmark. While still a young girl she heard word of an American family living in Minnesota who required a nanny for their six children. She eagerly answered the advertisement, leaving her family and friends for a better life in the New World. Once there, she discovered that in reality the wife had died many months before and that the husband who was an elderly, diseased man was actually in search of someone to care for him and his children. Without friends, the possibility of another job, or the means to return to Denmark she was forced into marriage with a man repulsive to her. Andrew's grandmother told me she could never recall her grandmother smiling.

* In England during World War II many men left their families to fight in Europe, but when my cousin's grandfather returned home after the war something was different. His wife was different, but what that difference was, after so long a separation, was not readily apparent. Some time later he discovered that while he had been away his wife had had an affair and had given birth to a baby boy. She had been hiding the baby in the house, presumably a large house, the whole time in an effort to keep her adultery a secret. The child was put up for adoption and soon left the country with his new family.

Are there stories in your family waiting for someone to write them?

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16 comments:

Chilihead2 said...

Wow. Those would certainly make intriguing short stories. Hurry up and write them already. ;)

Julie said...

These are great ones! That's some colorful family history you got there.

Veronica Mitchell said...

My husband has an ancestor who came to the US as an indentured servant at such a young age that he could not remember what country he was from.

And my aunt treid to pass off her baby and her teenage daughter's baby as twins.

Sarakastic said...

These are really amazing stories, thanks for writing them, it has got me thinking about doing the same.

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing such a great story! There have been volumes of books written about my ancestors; I just need to get on the ball and read about them!

Mo Mommy said...

Both of my parents families put the strange in estrangement, so I'm not very familiar with any of our family history. And my grandfather is a few cards short of a deck so stories from him should be taken with a salt lick. As near as we can nail down one of our great grandmother types was kidnapped by indians, married off and lived out her life with her new family. And apparently we have African ancestory too, which is weird since I'm about as white as they come. I wish I knew THAT story....

edj said...

I tried to leave a comment yesterday but my connection was too slow. Just wanted to say--these are great stories. Write them!

lizzie said...

wonderful stories! my great-grandmother and grandparents left me many great family photos and history and thus started my love of genealogy. right now i have been working on my own family genealogy website.

Mayberry said...

Wow--talk about some skeletons. Those would make amazing stories.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Waya said...

Wow Michelle, I always love to visit your blog, it's so interesting!! Those are sure some stories alright.

Gina said...

What intriguing stories. They would really make for interesting reads. You must seriously consider writing a book comprised of those stories.

pokerspice said...

I'm a family history FREAK! I have SO many stories! I certainly enjoyed reading yours. :)

allrileyedup said...

Impressive stories. I'd love to read the one about Anna Meier, from multiple points of view, including her adoptive parents.

I've been working a short story collection based on my grandmother's memories of the Philippines under the Japanese occupation during World War II. My aunt saw MacArthur 'return' and while fleeing an island after a Japanese soldier was killed by a local, my mother (a baby at the time) nearly died.

DigitalRich said...

Michelle-

Thanks for participating in the first edition of the Carnival of the Storytellers.

http://digitalrich.blogspot.com/2007/01/carnival-of-storytellers-1st-edition.html

DigitalRich

amyrebba said...

Now those are stories to cherish. Thank you for sharing them with me, and I will look forward to adding you to my next blog fest. My next one is already looking great, so thanks for sharing.

By the way I just can't resist sharing this with you. Visit my website when you have a chance at www.untangledfamilyroots.com at check out the digital scrapbooking/storybooking. These are such great stories I'm sure that you would love to put them in a book to share with your family and leave for future generation! Think about it.

Jasia said...

Hello,
Just wanted to let you know that your article appeared in the latest edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.
http://creativegene.blogspot.com/2007/
04/carnival-of-genealogy-22nd-edition.html

Thanks for sharing!