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.

SaveSave

The First Step—Getting Started

July 11, 2017 / no comments

Writing your personal history—or your family history—is one of the most valuable things you can do for your loved ones. Knowing where they come from and connecting with you and other family members through shared stories and experiences provides a sense of belonging and stability that is impossible to create any other way.

However, because writing family history creates such an important connection between generations, many people feel overwhelmed at the prospect. They don’t know where to start, or they worry that they’ll leave something out. And heaven forbid if there’s a typo or a grammatical error.

“Writing your history is a labor of love,” says John Catron, Legacy Book founder and director of client relations. “But too many people think their histories have to be perfect, so they end up never finishing—and sometimes never even starting. They put so much pressure on themselves. And an unfinished family history doesn’t do anybody any good.”

John has a few tips to break down the task of writing a family history into smaller, more manageable steps.

  1. Don’t try to capture it all. “Maybe start with the three most important messages you’d like to leave your kids,” he suggests. “Or pick the five highlights from your first year of marriage.” Once you start putting down a few thoughts on paper, the rest will follow more easily.
  2. Set short-term goals. We’re all familiar with the idea of eating an elephant one bite at a time. Writing your history is same thing. Set aside 30 minutes every day to write something, or maybe spend an hour every Sunday working on it. Keep your goals specific, and establish a timeline so you can see progress being made.
  3. Be flexible. You might start out thinking you’re going to tell your history chronologically, but as you get further down the road, it makes more sense to tell the family history by family member, or maybe even subject matter.
  4. Lower your expectations. Your history doesn’t have to be perfectly organized, perfectly written, and perfectly packaged—although it can certainly be a beautiful and treasured book. Focus on the value of what you’re creating for your family instead of whether you included every story or photo.
  5. Take that first step. Over and over again, our clients say that the only regret they have about writing their family history is that they didn’t start sooner.

“At Legacy Books, we want to give people hope,” John says. “Writing your personal or family history is attainable; in fact, it can be easy and even fun. I talk to so many people who are worried and stressed because they know how important these histories can be, and they’ve set some pretty high expectations. Just remember, what matters is that you simply get it done. And the first step toward getting it done is getting it started.”

 

Finish What You’ve Started

June 6, 2017 / no comments

Teresa Olsen has spent much of her adult life researching her family history. She grew up several states away from most of her relatives, and her parents rarely talked about their past. But Teresa wanted to know everything she could about her family, so for the past 25 years, she’s written letters; interviewed relatives; found birth, marriage, and death dates; and gathered memorabilia.=

The journey has been fun and rewarding. Reconnecting with living family members and finding out as much as possible about where she came from has provided a sense of belonging and connection that Teresa wants to pass on to her children. Along the way, however, Teresa discovered what many family history enthusiasts come to realize: she enjoyed the challenge of the research and the thrill of discovery. But her end goal was sharing what she found in a book—and that was more daunting. 

Teresa’s not alone. In today’s Internet world, where dates, locations, and even legal documents can be found with the click of a mouse, research is easier than it’s ever been. But ultimately, sharing that information is what it’s all about. Inspiring stories, heartwarming pictures, informative documentation—none of that does any good when it’s tucked away in a box or saved in the cloud. That incredible feeling of belonging comes when we turn pages, read words, laugh at memories.

Don’t let the magnitude of organizing and sharing your family history stop you from finishing what you’ve started. Here are four quick tips to help you turn all your invaluable family history research and information into something that your loved ones can read and treasure for generations to come.

1—Identify Your Pedigree

Start with our pedigree charts. You can fill it in by yourself, or use online family history sites to help you get started. MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.com are just a few of the options available that can make this first step easy and fun. Some people choose to hire a pro to help them research their family tree and ensure accuracy. If you’re interested in this option, we recommend Legacy Tree Researchers.

2—Identify Your Resources

Figure out what you’ve gathered. Using your pedigree chart as your guide, identify who you have important dates and information for. Have you found stories and supplemental information to add to the facts? What about photos and documents? Putting a face with a name makes our ancestors come alive and reinforces that sense of belonging that is one of the most important reasons for doing family research.

3—Identify What’s Missing

Once you’ve identified what you have, you can also identify what you don’t have. Holes in your pedigree chart make it easy to see missing dates and locations. But you might have other missing pieces of information as well. Are your stories written down or recorded in some way, are have they simply been passed down from generation to generation? Are your photos and documents organized and digitized?

4—Don’t Wait until You’re Finished

Once you start your family history, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll never be done. If you wait to preserve your history in a book until you have all the pieces, you’ll never have that book.

Three years ago, Teresa realized she could wait no longer—it was time. Initially she tried to do it on her own, but ultimately the task proved daunting enough that she turned to Legacy Books for help. Teresa’s book is now on its way to the printer, and soon her family will have a gorgeous family history volume that they will treasure for a lifetime.

Preserving family history is a labor of love. Whether you do it alone—or with the help of professionals who can guide and assist you along the way—you’re creating a precious family resource that will bind your loved ones together for generations to come.