The Family Historian

Every family has one: the person who signs on to Ancestry.com, puts together a graph of the family lineage and gets excited about a rare photo of great-uncle Martin. In my family, that’s me, because no one else seems to care as much as I do about our ancestors.

In the previous generation, on my father’s side, my aunt was the one who kept all the family stories and scrapbooks of black-and-white photos. She was a wonderful storyteller, happy to pass on all the family tales to anyone interested. Whenever I visited her—she lived halfway across the country—or talked to her on the phone, I would hear stories of how my German grandfather came to this country at the age of 16, leaving his family behind, how he started a tool-and-die company in Chicago, and how he met my grandmother.

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