Family History Day with Ancestry.com – Exton PA

Just returned from the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania’s Family History Day with Ancestry.com in Exton, PA. More can be found on their website http://genpa.org/.

This was certainly a very special “weekend away” to spend some time listening to talks about genealogy. Perhaps another blog will be about what I learned, but this one is about the Luncheon Talk by Dear MYRTLE. Her talk was “Let them eat Jam”.

I won’t go into her talk, as I hope that if you get a chance to hear her speak, you will take that opportunity to do so. But her point, for me at least, was to remember that not everyone thinks about what we do as family history researchers, is interesting, at least the way we do. It’s not about the names, dates, locations, and events that we find, but others remember family history through stories or returning to a place where an event took place, or going to a place that we have heard about and the story that went along with that place.

Earlier I have spoken about the Flight 93 Memorial, about returning to Gettysburg, where I had a “cousin” shot in the battle at Culps Hill. Heard about those stories, read about the people, but then to physically go there to experience the place and let the stories flash before our eyes.

Exton, was a miss-named place for this conference. I know where Exton is, I grew up a couple of miles from Exton.

What a surprise when my GPS landed me about a mile from where I really grew up. It was Lionville, PA, not Exton. The hotel was 1/4 of a mile from the bus stop that took my to High School. I walked to and from that bus stop for a number of years. (Not quite up hill both ways), but I could see the bus stop from the hotel.

Over the past number of years, through email, I kept in touch with the current owners of the house that my Grand-Parents lived in and my Dad and his brothers and sisters grew up in. Patti and I had made arrangements to meet with them Friday night, just to “see the place”. He was very interested in hearing about the family who lived in the house. His wife wasn’t there when I first met him, but he relayed to me that she was sorry that she hadn’t met the family who stopped by a number of years ago to take pictures of the house.

I created a small family history for the family, complete with some pictures of the family, including pictures of the kitchen wood burning stove, the wood barrel where wood for the stove was kept, and a few other pictures of the house.

It was a small token of thanks for allowing us to visit.

Dear MYRTLE reminded us, that not everyone one thinks about Family History the way that we do.

For me, it’s like sending Family Group Sheets, with some data, lots of missing data, request to help fill in the blanks, a self addressed, stamped envelope, repeatedly, and getting nothing in return.

But, from this experience, I  was greeted with “you’re holding out on me” because I didn’t have enough of the stories for our host and hostess. They wanted more.

Dear MYRTLE talked about the ‘next’ generation’s reaction to Family Group Sheets, but the young adults of this family were very interested in the stories. In fact the son, a high school senior, listened to all of the stories. Didn’t have the glazed over eyes that Dear MYRTLE talked about. Oh, I know those looks from young adults.

I was prepared for the reaction the Dear MYRTLE talked about, but was greeted with a completely different response. I had put some of my genealogy information in the back of my car. Why, I am not sure, but I did. That still wasn’t enough.

Clearly, the family who currently lives in my Grandparents home, wanted to hear the story about the family. They had experienced some of that when my Dad and his cousins visited the house just after the current owners bought the house. We’re talking days after they bought the house. My Dad told the stories about the house, and they still remembered them and wanted more.

We’ll make a return trip soon, but I am posting this as a reminder that we may find folks interesting, not in the Names, Dates, Places, Events, but the Stories about the People. In this specific case, the Jam for this family was the stories of those who lived in that house at an earlier time.

Learning: Be ready to tell the Story, not the facts.

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