Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pioneers, Family History, and Writing?

Pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley

July 24th is a big deal in Utah. It's Pioneer Day, the day we celebrate the pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. Their journey started in Nauvoo, Illinois and ended in Salt Lake City.

And it wasn't just one group of people. Between 1847 and 1868 over 300 companies made the same trek, though not all came from Nauvoo. Some came from places like England, Italy, and various other locations. But they all crossed the plains and hiked over mountains. Many lost their lives.

Each pioneer had an amazing story to tell once their journey was through. For example here's an amazing story of courage.

Imagine being a descendent of such brave people.

What if you are and you don't know it?

As I grew up, I remember watching my mother work on family history. That was back in the good-old-days before computers. She spent hours and hours researching, writing letters, and gathering names. She was able to trace our family tree back to the 1700 century. And she found some inspiring stories that she was able to pass on to our family.

Today it's much easier to research your family tree. Family Search makes it very easy. And here's the thing, the stories you find can help inspire your fiction writing as well.

Researching family history can be rich with events that you can fictionalize and use in your writing. The added bonus are the characters you find. You can use character traits, flaws, occupations . . . the options are many.

A word of warning: make sure no one will recognize you're using "Uncle Harry" or whomever you choose. Just pick character traits from several different people to create your own fictional character. (I know you know that, but I just wanted to make sure.)

The point is . . . researching your family tree can be very rewarding on many levels.

 Do you have an ancestor you'd like to write about?
And if so, what appeals to you about their story?

Below is a tribute to the Mormon Pioneers.


Have a great week.


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