Family stories are as much as part of our ancestry as our ancestors names. They allow us to put flesh on the bones of individuals and help us to better understand those who came before us.
I want to tell you a story that has gone down in my family’s annals.
I wish I could start this blog with a photo of the individuals involved, but alas I don’t have one of the main character.
The story revolves around Archibald Dow the brother of Elizabeth Dow (my Great Grandma). Uncle Archie was my great, great Uncle. He was born in Sunderland in 1869. He was the eldest of 4 children born to George Dow and Eleanor Easton. The family moved to London sometime between 1878 and 1880. Archibald was a decorator by trade and he would paint just about anything, including banks. Archibald married in 1908 to Alice Rayner and they had one son Eric. He died in 1851 in Essex.
This story was told to me by my Grandpa who was with Uncle Archie at the time.
Grandpa and Uncle Archie had gone in to town to buy some glassware for a party they were having. Uncle Archie took a suitcase with him to carry the glasses home. They went to Woolworths as they sold relatively cheap crockery and glasses. They placed the order and the sales assistant wrapped their purchases up in brown paper and stacked them in the suitcase. Uncle Archie took the suitcase and before they left the shop the handle fell of and the case hit the floor breaking all the glasses. Uncle Archie turned around and went back to the counter and uttered the phrase that still has the family laughing to this day “same again love”.
Its stories like this that brings Uncle Archie alive to me. It shows he had a great sense of humour and this belief is backed up by the fact that Grandpa always said he was a jolly old fella.
Another family story in my family relates to my Grandfathers.
My parents met through a mutual friend when they were teenagers working at the local University. My Mum and Dad lived at opposite ends of the city and so except through work they would not have known each other. When they finally introduced their parents to each other it turned out my grandfather’s knew each other as they had worked in the same office for a short period of time. What a small world. What are the odds on this happening?
These stories don’t have to be ones you know, they could develop from researching your ancestors. It may be you discover stories. For example I discovered that my Great, Great Grandfather was the organist at Worksop Priory in the 1870’s. I found articles in the press relating to concerts he performed. This helped bring him to life for me as the articles even stated what he played, so I can listen to the pieces he played (played by others) and hear the talent he had.
Most families have stories like these in them which really need to be written down so that they are not forgotten. It’s great that they are passed down verbally, but they can be changed over time. It’s probably best to just write them down and store them with either your photos or family mementos. If you have a photo of those involved add the story to the photo so future generations can put faces to the names. Another idea could be to get a scrap book and write the story down around a photograph of the person the story is about. I could write about the time when I was about 12 my cousin picked me up and dropped my fully dressed into the paddling pool in Bakewell while on a day out with our mums. Luckily I usually fell in water so clean clothes were in the car.
Most of all just enjoy the stories. If they have been passed down through the family then they meant a lot to your ancestors so keep them going down through the generation to come.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!