Finding old letters can add richness to family stories.
There was so much to love about a letter I found at the DAR library 20 years ago that I prize it. There is advice and inspiration for stories. I quote it to make the point that asking questions of our elders is essential to learning the history of our families.
In 1893 when Mr. James Parks answers his grand-daughter’s questions about their family history he explains that he did not ask questions when he was young so he knows little about them.
He explains that when he was young he cared more “about fish hooks and pocket knives” than he did about family stories and “when I did want to know, my grandfather had fallen into a foolish state and could tell me nothing.” So he explains why he could tell her very little about their history.
And, he counsels her to value the people she finds.
” You will see that there were no great ones among our ancestors. They were all in the common walks of life, no blue-blooded aristocracy, but just upright, high-minded honorable men and women. If there were no”great ones” among them, there were none of who we were ashamed.
September 9, 1893 (signed) James Parks