Documents tell stories.
As we explore the branches of our family tree, we rely on genealogy artifacts to illuminate the lives of ancestors and gain a better understanding of where we come from.
Over the past months, we have been honored to tell stories about genealogy documents that helped enrich the family heritage of some of our favorite genealogists.
For Joshua Taylor, a treasured family Bible provided a glimpse into his third-great grandmother’s life. Tami Osmer Glatz discovered a different kind of book: an entire volume detailing the history of her fourth-great grandmother’s family. And it was a newspaper article that set Lorine McGinnis Schulze and her husband on a decade-long journey that would finally provide answers about a third-great grandfather.
These are just a few stories of family history documents from the FamilySearch community shining a light on the lives of ancestors. There are, of course, limitless others—including yours.
The takeaway—sharing breakthroughs and preserving family memories is what being a family historian is all about. In case you need one last bit of inspiration, Allison Kimball shares her great-grandfather’s special notebook and how the eternal love of a husband and father can help transcend tragedy.
I never knew my great-grandfather. That is not unusual, but as a young girl I would sit by my great-grandmother’s side, holding her hands while playing with her rings. I was fascinated by stories she would tell of each ring, and I especially loved to hear about her beloved husband, Refuguio. He was always one of the people from those stories that filled my life, until January 2015 when I came across a little black book while looking through some of my grandmother’s things. I almost didn’t open it. It was so small and tattered, it looked inconsequential, but I was wrong—this little book had a story to share.
This tiny notebook was given to my great-grandfather Guelito Cuco (as he was affectionately known) by my great-grandmother Guelita Caro. She gave it to him as a record of her love so that every time he would read it he would remember his wife and children. She told him to keep it with him always for his notes or to think of his wife, who would be faithful until eternity.
How beautiful is that?
Guelita Caro would have been pregnant with their third child when she gave her husband the book, and it was a dated a couple of weeks after her birthday. It makes me wonder what else was happening in their lives to make this gift so significant for each of them.
Here he wrote, “I will always keep this notebook because it’s a keepsake of my faithful and unforgettable wife and children and as proof of my infinite love that I profess to them. I leave it in writing as a remembrance of my own life.” He also made a record of my grandmother’s birth. I love that he noted that she was born on a Tuesday at 11 a.m. A tiny detail that somehow made me smile.
This tiny notebook numbered 96 pages that he dedicated to personal information, which has been reviewed and analyzed. He wrote, “So I ask for the person who finds this to be careful and return it to the owner.” The notebook was something he valued, and the information therein was important to him. My great-grandfather was a record keeper, if only in this book I don’t know. My connection to him from this tiny treasure was priceless.
So not only was I holding something of my great-grandfather’s, I was holding something he treasured and carried with him, something that after his death my great-grandmother treasured and then my grandmother and my mother before me. Four generations have held this book and somehow taken solace in its contents.
Meet Guelito Cuco. This is perhaps the last image of him before he was murdered in front of his home one day. He was involved in a local political election and was winning the popular vote. Someone from the opposing party murdered him, leaving Guelita Caro a widow at the age of 45 with six children to raise.
My grandmother was only 13 when her father died. She doesn’t like to talk about that time, but she loved to share other stories of her beloved father.
Not only did Guelito Cuco record the birth dates of all of his children, but he recorded the death dates of his parents and an older brother, who he says was brutally murdered. This is currently the only piece of information or source we have listed about Salvador.
The book leaves me with so many questions, but finding it book fills me with dedication to continue my own documentation of our lives. I hope that each of my grandchildren or great grandchildren can hold and cherish a notebook filled with things that are most important to me. I hope they will know that I thought of them, even if I never get a chance to meet them. I hope, like Guelito Cuco, that people will always know that I loved my family and they are most precious to me.
Preserve the Family Memories That Help Define Your Legacy
What cherished genealogy artifacts have helped illuminate the lives of kin? Have you taken steps to ensure future generations will be able to know ancestors as you do? If not, take time to preserve treasured family memories forever by digitizing documents in FamilySearch’s Memories Gallery.