After her Ma died in 1925, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote to her mother's sister, Martha Carpenter, asking for stories from their childhood. Her aunt responded to her request with a letter brimming with family recipes, quiltings, corn-husking parties, and many other details of their childhood. Shortly after Mary died in October of 1928, Laura began writing her autobiography, Pioneer Girl.
In our Laura letter I took the liberty of saying on her behalf that writing her autobiography and reliving the tales of her youth helped bring her comfort in the years following their deaths. I found no written proof that Laura felt that way, but having lost my own mother in recent years I know how reminiscing on the past has brought me comfort so I do not feel that it was a stretch to say that writing her story helped Laura remember the fond days of her youth.
This understanding of Laura's research process is what prompted me to focus our free downloads for this letter on family tree making and creating ancestor profiles. In my college course on teaching elementary history one of our assignments was to interview a relative about their life. To complete the project I interviewed my grandfather and still remember that day fondly.
My cousin and I sat with our grandparents in the kitchen of their home as our grandfather regaled us with the stories of his youth. His younger days had been hard, but he and my grandmother had worked to build a better life for themselves and their family.
My mother was an avid genealogy researcher and left behind a wealth of family information for us to explore. In recent past I've looked into her research some, amazed at the depths of detail she uncovered about relatives from years ago. I now understand my paternal grandmother's family's connection to Daniel Boone and I better understand my maternal grandfather's family roots in the Cherokee people.
So I hope you'll help your children take the opportunity to explore your family lineage and stories a bit with this letter and that you'll enjoy learning more about Laura Ingalls Wilder too!
As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”