Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Suitcase

When our kids were here over Christmas, we got into the old suitcase that my Grandma used when she took her train trip to California in 1947. My whole childhood Grandma would re-live that trip she and Grandpa took to visit my parents. It now holds precious memories in the form of pictures, clippings, receipts and the intricate genealogy that Grandma worked on her entire adult life. As a child I can remember Grandma discussing genealogy with my Mom when we would visit. It sounded like this, "Her mother was a Jenkins and on the paternal side they were Austins. Her cousin, twice removed was Ruth Raley's husband." Greek to me! Then 50 years passed and I inherited the papers that meant so much to Grandma. As I looked at her handwritten documentation of her family, it began to make sense. The work that went into compiling her records is none short of miraculous. She wrote for census records, waiting patiently for the answers to come back via mail. She corresponded with the few relatives still living to have accurate accounts of births and deaths, marriages and even cemetery records.

If you have ever been interested in finding relatives from generations back, there are countless sites online to help. There are even software programs like Family Tree Maker and The Master Genealogist that help you through the detailed job of searching. It's not as easy as you think, but it's very much like a giant puzzle and once you get started, it's addictive.

Online you can search at and has cemeteries online, complete with pictures. For some it's the only way they can ever see and know where loved ones are buried. This gravestone was my Great-Grandfather Thomas Keeling.

Bird Moore Milum was Grandma's Grandfather, I love that name!

His wife was America Milum!

My Grandmother's sister, died of scarlet fever when she was 17 months.

Grandma's Father, C.W. Milum, died when she was 16.

Rafe Milum, Grandma's brother who died in infancy.

Catherine Nation Ledbetter Tabor, Great Grandmother of my Dad 

This is probably the oldest headstone, my Grandma's Great-Great-Great Grandfather Jordan Milum who served in the Revolutionary War. It's at the Old Milum Cemetery, not to be confused with the Milum Cemetery 20 miles away!

Epitaphs, the short text honoring a deceased person and inscribed on their tombstone or plaque can be verse, relationship (Father, Mother, Sister, Brother) or favorite scripture or saying. Look HERE for some memorable epitaphs!

Remember me as you pass by;

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you will be:

Prepare for death, and follow me.


  1. You are so lucky to have that suitcase..memories, clippings, photographs!

  2. Oh, yeah.... you're ahead of the genealogy game with all her records! I've been doing genealogy for about 20 years. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes it's hilarious. Sometimes it's puzzling. And sometimes, you pull into a cemetery you've never been in before, and you park right next to where your family's headstones are, like they drew you right to them!

  3. You have a treasure! I have done a lot of family tracing & gleaned most of my information from the Internet. My mom was a "Fulkerson" & there is a whole website of info on the family...things I would never have found. I've even connected & met two of my distant cousins! I love Family Tree program & also use Through this, I found my great-great grandfather Pemberton is buried at the National Cemetery in Springfield, MO & I was able to go there & find his marker a few years ago. hit my button! Can you tell? :) I love traipsing (?) around through tombstones.

  4. Family history is so very interesting. Your grandmother did a wonderful job preserving yours.

  5. Oh, Joy, you know that this has melted my heart ... genealogy researchers as we are ... we are presently closing up 30 years of research for CD distribution.

    I love reading of everyone's family trees ... the greatest thing is discovering a tombstone that no one else has found ... or a tidbit that has been eluding one for years ...

    It is such fun just touching the paperwork, treasures & photos that passed thru the hands of our loved ones, too ...

    So enjoyed your share today ... TY Joy.

    Have a beautiful day ~
    TTFN ~ Hugs,

  6. That's not a vintage suitcase it's a treasure chest! Just think, she did ALL that without the internet. I am in the process of gathering my family history. Thank you for sharing the links. You are so right -- it is addictive!

    Happy New Year!

  7. That was a wonderful post! I too have decided to gather my family history. I loved your pictures. Happy New Year.

  8. Great post Joycee, I wish I had my grammy's suitcase. She came to Brazil from Italy and met my grandfather in the ship; it must have been a great trip for them, days and days watching the stars together.

  9. I love genealogy and the research! How lucky you are to have that suitcase. I inherited some very old work too and still have an aunt who has been some help.

    I was fortunate that some serious researchers had already worked on two lines of my family on both Mom and Dad's side.

  10. Thanks for all the comments and I can see I'm not the only one who's "bitten" with the bug! It's a good idea to ask your oldest relatives for information now. You need names and dates, whatever they can remember...that way when you want to know more, you have the information to start. I'm so grateful for parents and grandparents who saved so much family history, it means the world to me.

  11. How wonderful! I love te story of the suitcase and you grandmother sounds like she was a wonderful woman.

    I'm off to read a few newer posts!



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