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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A Vital Truth—Your Company’s Past Can Shape Its Future

May 15, 2017 / no comments

Looking back might sound counterproductive to a corporate executive. After all, the mark of a good leader is to lead an organization into the future, right? Actually, it turns out that a company’s past can be as important to its future in creating a sense of belonging and unity, as well as instilling purpose in its organization. And we’re not just saying that because we’re advocates of preserving your corporate history. The experts agree.

“Leaders with no patience for history are missing a vital truth,” states an article in Harvard Business Review. “A sophisticated understanding of the past is one of the most powerful tools we have for shaping the future.”

In fact, the article points out, “as a leader strives to get people working together productively, communicating the history of the enterprise can instill a sense of identity and purpose and suggest the goals that will resonate. In its most familiar form, as a narrative about the past, history is a rich explanatory tool with which executives can make a case for change and motivate people to overcome challenges. Taken to a higher level, it also serves as a potent problem-solving tool, one that offers pragmatic insights, valid generalizations, and meaningful perspectives—a way through management fads and the noise of the moment to what really matters.”

It makes sense. As one of the most popular hobbies in the United States[1], family history has captured our attention because of the sense of belonging we feel as we learn about the generations of family who have gone before. We dig deep to discover when and where our ancestors lived and died, as well as all the fascinating things that happened to them in between those two major life events. The more we learn, the more connected and inspired we feel, often looking back at their life experiences as we forge ahead on our own life’s journey.

That same sense of belonging takes place on a corporate level. When an organization captures its history—whether that history spans a couple of decades or a century or more—its employees feel connected to something bigger than themselves. They catch the vision of the company’s mission, they are inspired by stories and people from the past, and they develop a deeper sense of dedication to what they are doing.

A shared history unites us together into a community, reinforces a sense of identity, and creates a framework for growth and success moving forward. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and Harvard Business School professor Alfred D. Chander Jr. often asked his students a single questions: “How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?”

Creating your organization’s history is the perfect answer to that question.

In My Family There Were No Excuses…

December 21, 2016 / no comments

In November I got to attend the funeral of Susan Thompson, a former client of Legacy Books. Susan first called me four years ago, she was responding to an ad we had placed in a regional magazine. I learned she wanted our help to write her life story, but that she wouldn’t be a regular case, because she wasn’t leading a regular life.

A couple days later I met Susan and learned why she was unique: she was born with spina bifida, and it was a major obstacle in all she did. While the story of her physical handicap was told, I was most touched by the message she shared about her family.

From Susan’s book: “In my family there were no excuses, no entitlements and no allowance for the woe-is-me attitude. We were all forging ahead with our lives. We learned to push through the difficulties to reach the possibilities. Now, I realize what a blessing and gift it is to be optimistic and be able to forget the hard things . . . Mother saw in me, not the disability, but the ability and the possibilities. She was often criticized for not pampering me. She poured into me a transfusion of confidence in myself, that I could have a normal life and cope with whatever spilled out in front of me.”

In the face of a lifelong handicap, Susan praised the way her parents, grandparents, and siblings treated her. Upon thinking of Susan’s life and her funeral, I was joyed to have been able to help her tell the story of her life, and intertwine the wisdom gained and practiced over the decades in the Thompson family. When the book was quoted and shown at Susan’s funeral, I felt great satisfaction in this great work we’re involved in.

Susan’s book also touches on her music teaching career, her days in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and is complete with family history charts and pedigrees. If you’d like to read her book, Legacy Books has provided a way for you to purchase it: Singing My Own Song. The proceeds go Primary Children’s Hospital, where Susan was a regular as a child.

Thanks Susan! We appreciate you letting Legacy Books help you on the journey to write you and your family’s story. We appreciate all of you who have also commissioned us to help you share your great family legacies!

Merry Christmas!
John Catron
President, Legacy Books