Monday, January 21, 2008

How it all began

In December 2005, in the course of some redecorating, Don and I encountered his dad's collection of loose-leaf binders containing his pictures and assorted other memories. Dad had passed away the previous July, and none of us in the family had given much thought to Dad’s notebooks. We all knew he was a great picture taker, and he never could get rid of any – no matter how unflattering. We also knew he faithfully kept a journal and also liked to keep copies of letters, newspaper clippings, church programs and other random bits and pieces. But what we didn’t realize was how his collection had grown. Our awakening occurred, however, when we moved 140 loose-leaf notebooks from their garage to our basement. We lined them up on the floor of our family room and, totally overwhelmed, wondered aloud what we would ever do with all of them. We did a quick and very surface initial inventory, combined a few, and reduced the count by maybe 10! Still overwhelmed.

I began to feel a real pull to these notebooks and the family history that I knew was inside. I knew I could not leave these family members in the garage or basement, uncared for and virtually ignored. I wanted them to be safe inside our family circle. I was drawn to sort and label and organize and create a family history from these 130 notebooks we had stored on shelves in my sewing room.

On January 28, 2006 I left my job to devote my time to family history. Over the last two years as I've sorted and organized, consolidated and preserved, I’ve become acquainted with the Butler family. I’ve learned about hard work, happiness, heartache, and determination. I’ve learned about long lives as well as those cut short. I’ve learned a little about shearing sheep, teaching school, working the railroad, and getting two college degrees while taking care of a young family of four boys. I feel as if I’ve come to “know” these family members.

So let me introduce you to Jess and Della and Lou and Sarah and Chuck and all the others that are part of our family tapestry. Hopefully you will come to know them and in the process learn a little about yourself.