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Week Two: Writing Your Personal History

I enjoyed answering the questions from last week. It was fun to try to remember about when I was a baby. I learned I don’t really remember much! However, here are some highlights of the answers to questions last week:

 

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Me, two months old

 

Where did you get your name from? My mother liked the names Catherine and Cordelia. Cordelia is my great grandmother’s middle name. My mom decided on Karen because it was a shorter form of Catherine. My name in Greek means “purity.” I am glad I wasn’t called Cordelia, even though I know Anne of Green Gables dreamed of being called that.

My mother liked to call me “Kare-Bear” after the popular cartoon on television when I was growing up in the 1980s. She said it was because I was always so sweet. The only people who call me “Kare-Bear” now are my older sister and my mother and two of my best friends growing up.

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I am excited to write more this week. Here are the questions:

5. What clothing did you wear as a baby? What did your parents tell you about your growing out of your shoes and other clothing? Buying new clothes?

6.  Tell about learning to walk, to talk, losing your first tooth, learning to count, say the alphabet, learn nursery rhymes and songs, favorite bedtime stories, times with your mother and father, brothers and sisters, discipline (getting spankings, time out etc), favorite foods, getting into trouble and learning, pets, games, toys, etc.

7. Tell about birthdays and parties, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, costumes and gifts, parades, Santa Claus, Eater Bunny, picnics etc.

8.  Tell about who your friends were at this early age, times with your cousins, etc.

Good luck! I know these questions will keep me busy this week.

Writing My Personal History

A few years ago, I attended a family history class and the focus of the class was writing your own personal history. I received a list of questions to ask yourself each time you sit down to write. It is a good way to prompt memories and stimulate writing. I started writing my own history a few years ago, but of course, I became more enamored with others people’s stories and never finished it. I was stupid enough to delete the document! It is like my journal in fifth grade. I didn’t know what to do when I filled my notebook so I threw it away! I regret not having those experiences recorded by my

your_life_is

ten-year old self to give to my sons. They could have laughed at me, but also seen that their mother was young once too.

I plan to post questions here each week so you can follow along with me. Hopefully by the end of this year, I will have a good start again on my own personal history and you can too if you decide to follow along.

Here are the questions for this week:

  1. What is your full name? Where did you get your name from? What is the full name of your mother and father? Where and when were you born? Where was the first home you lived in? If you had older brothers and sisters what did they think of a new baby when you came into the family?
  2. Describe yourself as a baby. What was the color of your hair? Was is curly or straight? What was the color of your eyes? Your height? Do you remember anything about your “baby” items? Your crib, your room, a favorite blanket or toy. Tell some of the things you remember your mother and father telling you about yourself as a baby.  Did you share a room? Do you remember when you gave up drinking your bottle? etc.
  3. Where did you fit i your family? Were you the oldest, youngest, middle child? Did you have siblings? How well did you get along? How many brothers and sisters did you have?
  4. What were your childhood diseases, injuries, illnesses, operations, accidents etc?

I am going to have fun with these questions this week.  Talk to you soon!

Bringing Family History to Life

I think it is important when you have kids to do things that can bring your family history to life for them. It can all be so confusing with the names and dates. I remember growing up my mother would start a story and I would not know who she was referring to. I could not see the connections like she could and our conversations went like this.

“Who are you talking about again?”

“Phebe, you know, your grandfather’s sister. She is Matthew and Libby’s grandmother.”

There were too many names and I never heard the story only trying to figure out the names.

I have learned when I teach a story to my boys about one of their ancestors I have to keep it simple. I show a photo if I have one and then tell the story in a minute or two.

If my teenager wants to know more when I have finished then I can give him the name of the ancestor where he can go on to Familysearch.org to look more about his ancestor for himself.

One of the ways I have tried to bring family history to life for my children is to visit places where there is a story in connection with our ancestors. My favorite place to take them is to the Bluff Fort Historic Site and Visitors Center in Bluff, Utah. I have great grandparents who were a part of the San Juan Mission who carved a road out of the Utah desert to Bluff. They were the only pioneer expedition to travel east!

Bluff Fort is a lot of fun because they have interactive displays in each of the replica cabins built around the fort. There are artifacts you can see and learn more about. There is a movie made specifically about the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition and you can climb into a covered wagon. We got to see our ancestors’ names on the memorial they have in the middle of the fort, the Stevens Family. If you are interested in going to the Bluff Fort yourself it is open all year round and is completely free.  Their website is http://www.hirf.org.

Stepping back to 1860s: Holden, Utah

For many years, I have wanted to explore Holden, Utah a small town located just north of Fillmore, Utah along Interstate I-15. There just has never seemed to me any time, until now. I was always curious, but I recently learned Holden was the place where my great-great grandparents Joshua and Lizzie Stevens (Walter Joshua Stevens and Elizabeth Kenney Stevens) met and fell in love one hundred and fifty years ago.  Now, I had to go.

My family and I drove into the quiet town in the morning after it had snowed although it was early spring. The fields were green and still damp from the melted snow. The sun was out and the lone mountain peak to the west glowed in the morning sun.

Holden is a quiet farming town with around 250 residents. Quaint homes line the small main street with a modern town hall sandwiched in between.  It was neat to explore the streets, but I was on a mission.

Ages ago, I came across old photos of some of the homes in Holden at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. These photos belonged to Joshua’s younger sister, Abigail Stevens who was married to Brigham Young Jr. These photos were taken of homes belonging to the Stevens family:. the father, William Stevens, Walter Stevens, Sr., Edward Stevens and David Riley Stevens.   I wondered if the homes would still be standing as they were built in the last 1850s, early 1860s.

I wandered around town trying to locate these homes or the lot on which they once stood. I found one and was so excited and then I saw a man standing outside the home across the street and I talked to him.

He said his name was Edward Thomas and that he didn’t know much about the homes, but his brother, Frank who lived in the home would. I knocked on the door and was pleasantly surprised to that Frank was an artist and he knew exactly what homes I was looking for.

Frank is currently working on a painting picturing Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum as they ride away from Nauvoo to go to Carthage Jail.  Mr. Thomas is also a former army colonel and served in Vietnam and Desert Storm.

His website is  wildgoosecreekstudio.com/…/artist-s-biography. Here are some photos of the paintings in his home.

He helped me locate the Stevens’ homes and I will forever be grateful.

walter stevens home

Walter Stevens, Sr. home, photo undated

Walter Stevens, Sr. home today

This is the home where Joshua Stevens grew up. They’ve added a porch and some of the landscaping has changed, but who thought a home built in the late 1850s would still be in such great shape? Especially with the bricks coming from local brick-kiln way back then.

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David Riley Stevens home

David Riley Stevens’ home today

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Front view of David Riley Steven’s home

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Edward Stevens home

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Edward Stevens’ home

 

Edward Steven’s home today

 

This home is the William Stevens home. Walter, Sr., Edward, and David Riley Stevens’ father.


 

stevens family siblings

William Stevens’ children.  Back row: David Riley Stevens, Edward Stevens, William Stevens, Jr., front row: Albert Stevens, Rachel Stevens, and Walter Stevens, Sr.