Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ancestoral afflatus

Nope, my post today isn't about old relatives farting. Sorry to disappoint! But it is about finding inspiration. I don't think I've talked about this before, but one of the other activities I use to distract myself from chores and working on Power Trio is doing my family's genealogy.

In the 1980s, my grandmother (dad's side) typed about a thousand pages of genealogy .. on a typewriter! She traced everyone back to Sweden in the 1600s. I've had the book for almost two years now, and I've been slowly transcribing the information so that we can share it more widely, be able to search, and update it. Selfishly, I'd really like to update it, since it was done the year before I was born, so I want to put myself in there.

[Random tangent: Here's a little note from my cat Winston for all of you: hoR^tg/y. I'm impressed he got a capital letter and a few symbols in there. Maybe he's the real writer in the family.]

Back to the family tree- there's some really great stuff buried among the pages of basic demographics (date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death, and marriages). My grandmother took a trip to Sweden to visit the extended family still living over there and went to a place called the Horn and Pipe in Ljungby. This estate is fabled to be home to trolls. She brought back tons of documents with info about the legends and the home, and I've been typing and translating those too- thanks, Google Translator! I also had some family who went to Alaska for the gold rush. There are a ton of great photos of them with their huskies. As I've expanded and dug into the my mom's side of the family, I've been able to trace my ancestry back to Samuel Wardwell, one of the few men killed in the Salem Witch Hunt.

What's been really neat is seeing how these bits of family history have manifested in my writing. I've given a few of my characters interesting family stories and tied them to historic events. I like to think of everything I do as "research," but learning about my family has probably served me better than all of the hours I log watching cruddy television.

Anybody else out there have an interesting person in their genealogy  Any skeletons from your closet that have made it into your writing?