A Connection with Generations Past

October 18, 2017 / no comments

When John and Barbara Catron began restoring an old schoolhouse and church building in Riverton, Utah, they had no idea where the project would take them. For Barbara, the restoration was a labor of love—her father’s first wife, Donna Rae Coy, had grown up in the building, exploring the surrounding farmland and enjoying an idyllic childhood. Donna died unexpectedly, only a few months after marrying David, Barbara’s father.

“My father married again,” Barbara explains, “and raised a wonderful family with my mother, Karen. But we grew up honoring and respecting Donna Rae’s legacy as well.  She was always part of our family.”

Along with the restoration of the building, the Catrons also created a history book; as owner of Legacy Books, John thought it would be an appropriate addition to the restoration project. The book featured the Coy family’s contribution to the history of the schoolhouse, as well as several other families who had settled in the area. “It took nearly a year of work to put the book together,” John recalls. “We gathered research, compiled pictures, did interviews, checked facts—you name it, we did it.

The end result—an iconic, restored country schoolhouse and a priceless book titled Riverton Legacy Home—turned out to be a new beginning for John. As the project neared completion, he discovered quite by accident that Abraham Hunsaker, one of the other settlers featured in the book, was his fourth-great grandfather.

“Originally, I’d been tagging along as an in-law,” he says. “Now all of a sudden, what we were doing became very personal. Abraham was the first landowner in the area; he once owned land that I own today. Now this project wasn’t just my wife’s, it was mine too.”

And that wasn’t all. John realized that he never would have made that connection if people four generations ago hadn’t kept a written record. “The experience was providential,” John continues. “Now everything made sense. This business we’d been involved with for years took on a much deeper meaning. We knew that we wanted to do something that would provide the same type of miracles—that connection to generations past—that we had experienced ourselves.”

Preserving legacies is an art—and we wrote the book is the tagline for Legacy Books, a company that is committed to helping communities, companies, organizations, and individuals create a legacy that will be valued for generations. Whether a legacy book preserves the history of a single structure or family or an entire community or business, the books become a cherished resource for everyone who reads them.

Once Riverton City saw Legacy Books’ history book about the city’s schoolhouse, city officials commissioned the company to create a book commemorating the city’s 150th anniversary. That book—Riverton City, Utah—Looking Back 150 Years—has become a community treasure.

And the process is simple and easy. Legacy Books’ professional team of writers, editors, and designers partners with clients to offer expertise in every area of compiling history. “It was a privilege to work with you and your staff on this rewarding historical project,” said Bill Applegarth, Riverton City mayor. “You provided great insight during the design, editing, and publishing phases of this venture. The guidance and professional assistance we received from Legacy Books is reflected in the magnificent final product.”

Legacy Books is the perfect legacy partner, John explains. “We can help our clients—whether individuals and families or businesses and organizations—figure out what resources they already have in place, then help them fill in the holes. We provide scanning, interviewing, writing, design and layout, production and publishing. We’re really a one-stop shop legacy preservation company.”

Click here to view Riverton Legacy Home.

Click here to view Riverton City, Utah—Looking Back 150 Years.

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Sifting through the Past—A Stunning Legacy Book Provides Guide for Generations to Come

September 18, 2017 / no comments

Elaine Clements Gardner’s 20-year family history journey came to an end last month when she slit open a plain brown packing box, cleared away the packing material, and lifted out a gorgeous gold-embossed, blue-leather legacy book. “I held it close to my heart for a moment,” she recalls. “It was still wrapped in cellophane; it wasn’t even opened yet. I’m not a crier, but my eyes filled up with tears. Then I opened the plastic and looked at it. It was exactly what I would have dreamed of if I had dreamed that big.”

When Elaine started researching her family history two decades ago, she wasn’t initially thinking about creating a legacy book. “I was really just trying to track down your stereotypical genealogy information,” she explains. “I was looking for names, dates of birth and death, who married who and who their kids were. That was my aim.”

However, as she sifted through the past, Elaine found out that behind the names and dates were personal stories—stories that she wanted to preserve for others. “About 10 years ago, my goal changed,” she recalls. “I didn’t have all the information I needed yet, but what I was getting was so fascinating to me that I knew it would be interesting to others as well. I wanted my children and my sisters and their children and our cousins to know these stories too. So I decided to do a book.”

Elaine took another decade to complete her research, focusing on her father’s line and documenting every piece of information she could. She traveled to Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, sorting through census records, state and national archives, land documents, will and estate records, and much more. She studied the time periods and places in which her ancestors had lived. And she captured it all, writing down everything she could about the stories behind the facts.

Last year Elaine decided it was time to take the final step and complete the book. “I put everything together,” she says, “and it looked like a thesis.” (As an aside, her husband told her she had put so much time and energy into the project that she should at least call it a dissertation.) “I had worked so hard on it that I wanted it to look beautiful, so I decided to find someone who could help me.”

Elaine went online and found several potential partners—everything from self-publishing to complete publishing houses. “But they just didn’t provide what I wanted,” she explains.

Until she found Legacy Books.

“I read their philosophy, I read their blogs, I read everything on their website, and I finally took the plunge and called John (Legacy Books owner),” she recalls. “And from the very beginning, my experience was wonderful. They listened to me and respected what I had to say. I had certain things I wanted, and they honored that vision. They preserved my voice. They listened to my ideas. However, along the way they also made several suggestions, and their expertise made the book even better.”

The layout and design of the book is crucial, Elaine points out, because once you get past the elegant cover and marbled end sheets, people had to be drawn into the book so they would read the stories. “Every visual, every photo and newspaper clipping and deed and record draws them further into the book,” Elaine observes, “and makes them want to read more.”

Among the things that Elaine wanted included in the book were footnotes, an index, detailed sources, and a section of transcribed letters. “Without those, this was just a storybook,” she says. “I wanted to make sure people understood this was real history and real people—these things really happened.”

Elaine wasn’t the only one ecstatic with the final result. She received the books just in time for her husband’s 80th birthday party, and she distributed them to family members during that milestone event. “The could hardly keep their noses out of the books,” she observes. “They were so busy reading, they almost forgot to celebrate the birthday boy!”

One of the first suggestions Legacy Books made, Elaine recalls, is using a compass as a reoccurring motif throughout the book. “That single image captured so perfectly what this history book was about for me,” she reflects. “This is the story of my family’s journey, and just as the compass provided direction for them hundreds of years ago, their lives provide direction and meaning for us today. To be able to capture that all in one book is a dream come true.”

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Preserving Pieces of History

August 10, 2017 / no comments

In September, Legacy Book founder and president John Catron will be presenting at Family Roots Expo in St. George, Utah. His topic: Resources for Designing and Publishing Your Family Histories.

“Books are a time-tested method for preserving your important lineage and histories,” says John. “It’s the perfect medium for gathering photos, memorabilia, stories, and facts together into one easily accessible resource.”

Family history is made up of all sorts of elements. Initially, there are the statistics—the birth and death dates, the marriage dates, the locations, the pedigree charts and family group sheets. That information is invaluable in establishing who we are and where we come from.

But what makes family history truly interesting are the additional pieces of information that create context and add insight. The stories, the newspaper articles, the certificates and awards, the ticket stubs and programs. The pieces of history that meant so much to our family members that they held on to them for decades.

And finally, the photos. These are what make our ancestors come alive. Through photos, we can put faces to names. As we read about people we may have never met, we feel a connection with them because we know what they looked like, what they wore, what they did, and where they lived.

Books are the best place to gather all these pieces together so that everyone can access them. A book can be opened in an instant and shared with everyone. Through family history books, challenges and triumphs can be remembered, details can be recalled, and stories can be told over and over again.

Doing family history work can be a significant investment of time and resources. It’s a labor of love undertaken for our ancestors as well as our progenitors. And not taking the final step of preserving the history you’ve gathered into a family keepsake that will be treasured for generations to come is heartbreaking.

If you’re in St. George, drop in on John and see what he has to say about how easy—and important—it is to create a legacy book containing your family history. And if you can’t make it to Roots Expo, check out our website!