Family Stories

We write them, we read them, but also, they are our own history – they’re part of who we are.

I have two examples:

First, mine. My grandfather was an itinerant preacher on the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada. They lived in a tent (not many trees on the plains). He’d be home long enough to get his wife pregnant, then go off on his donkey, preaching again. After the first few babies were born (she was alone), she told him she was going to a city, with or without him.

9 of the 11 children. My dad is the youngest

So they moved to Saskatoon. The kids kept coming, and at one point, the house caught on fire. Once my grandmother got all the kids out, she went back for her husband’s sewing machine (he was a tailor as well as a preacher) and threw it out the window before getting out herself.

This isn’t the one that burned.

I come from hardy stock!

My second story is my husband’s. His maternal great-grandmother was 11, her sister 9, when her mother died back east. Her father put them on a train heading west, and told them there would be someone to meet them in Texas, and he’d follow as soon as he wrapped up business.

The girls got off the train in Midland, Texas. No one to meet them. A few good people traded off taking them in until the 11 year old could get work and take care of her sister.

She never knew what happened to her father.

Two months after she died, they got a phone call from someone back east, claiming to be kin. Turned out, the father shipped the girls off on a train to get rid of them. He was marrying another woman, who didn’t want his kids.

5 generation photo. His great-grandmother is bottom left.

Can you imagine? I’m glad she passed without knowing that.

Okay, your turn – give me your family story in the comments!

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Laura Drake is a New York and self-published published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.
Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 12 more books. She is a founding member of Women's Fiction Writers Assn, as well as a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West.
Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

26 thoughts on “Family Stories”

  1. My mom’s father and his 10 living siblings were orphaned during the Spanish Flu pandemic. They were separated, two were adopted, the oldest four brothers found work in farming Somehow, despite being split up, the children maintained contact. Always. We had huge family reunions. I never met my grandfather, he died after my mom graduated from high school, but I knew about him.

    My father’s grandfather wasn’t a nice man, but he did serve in the Union Army in the Tennessee Calvary. His own father was killed by rebel bushwackers.

  2. My family doesn’t have any grand stories to share that I am aware of. All I know about my grandparents (on my mother’s side) was they immigrated from Hungary. I don’t know anything about my father’s family as my mother was never married to him and I only met him twice.

    • My grandparents died early as well, Janine. I only remember on grandmother, and she died when I was 9. I’d love to dig into my genealogy, but don’t have time for another hobby! Maybe you could research yours?

  3. My story would belong. But I will share some of my father’s. He went into the military and rose through the ranks to LTC. Along the way he had Elvis Presley under his command. He learned the accounting trade and when he retired had his own accounting firm. He sold that and went to the seminary. He rose to the rank of Bishop.

  4. I come from a the Mayflower family of William Bradford. We all know his storyline. Mom was one of eight children. One room school house, Etc. She followed my dad from New Hampshire to Vermont. He wasn’t around much but was able to get her pregnant 7 times. Six survived. The house burned down in 1962. She had 3 girls and one on the way. The nearest phone was about a quarter of a mile from the house. She lost everything. I still have the newspaper photo of her and the kids. The community helped donate supplies to rebuild. I was 9 when mom and dad divorced. We were living in a 2 room house with outdoor plumbing. When I was 13 she remodeled the house to a five bedroom with indoor plumbing while working nights to support us six children. I wouldn’t change a thing in my life. Hugs and Thank you for sharing.

  5. All I really know about my family is that on my father side was a large family. There were 11 children and on my mother’s side there was only 2 children which was a set of twins just her and her brother. My grandmother had the twins when she was 37 so I don’t remember a lot about that side of my family.

  6. Wow! Such amazing family history, Laura. No wonder you’re a storyteller. 🙂 The story about the kids on the train breaks my heart, but generates huge respect for the way those girls overcame. True historical heroines.

  7. The most unique thing about my family (mother’s father) was my grandfather’s mother’s name. Her first name was Cinderella, but the best part was she was born into a Quaker family that had been Quaker for generations. Shortly after the turn of the century (1900) she divorced her husband. She consequently remarried several time and divorced all of them, except her last husband. Whether it is true or not it was said she died before she could divorce the last one. It makes me wonder what her personality was like!t

    • Wow, divorce back then wasn’t popular, especially given her religion! She sounds like a rebel, Karen – a woman before her time! Great name, too!

  8. My Daddy was one of 12. It was 4 boys, a girl, 4 boys, a girl, and two boys. I never knew my Paternal Grandmother, and I didn’t have my Maternal grandparents for very long, I was 4 and 5 when they passed. I did know all of my aunts and uncles (there are a couple I only vaguely remember), and I have more cousins than I can name! On my Maternal side, Mom was one of three, but there are numerous extended family, some of whom I’ve met. One of Mom’s uncles lived to be over 100.

  9. My grandfather, my mom’s father was one of 10 children. They were a good Scottish Catholic family. Some of them came t Canada in the early 1900’s and some of them went to New Zealand and Australia. My papa met my grandmother, who came from New Castle on Tyne, which was the border of Scotland and England. My Nana came with her mother and father when she was 4, that would have been 1912. They met when my grandmother was 17 and married. It caused a lot of problems as my nana was a protectant and my great-grandmother Campbell and my papa’s sister tried to stop the wedding, but they married anyway. They had 4 kids, two boys and two girls. My dad was the only one of his family that came to Canada in the 1948 after serving in the RAF, and he met my mom and they had 5 kids, 4 boys and me…

  10. I grew up on the farm my dad’s grandfather bought in 1868. No exciting or traumatic stories but lots of family history in the photo albums and other books and paperwork we found in the attic . My cousin researched the genealogy of my mom’s mother’s family. He traced back to the 1500’s Holland but nothing exciting there either. We do know the families of all four of our grandparents arrived in North America in the 1630’s.

    My husband’s great grandparents arrived in the USA in the 1840’s and1860’s. His maternal grandfather was the baby in his family when they came to Oregon’s Willamette Valley about 1860 on the Oregon Trail in a wagon train. The family story is the wagon train was attacked and one of the things lost was the family Bible. They had lived in Iowa before coming west. That side of the family does have some interesting stories from a 21st century perspective. We have a picture of his grandfather outfitted for prospecting in Alaska late 1890’s. He did find some gold nuggets. My sister-in-law has a couple of them on a bracelet.

  11. My brother has been doing extensive genealogical research and has filled in much of the family history here in America. On my dad’s mother’s side of the family and on my mom’s side, both sides of her family came over with the earliest French settlers who were primarily men in what is now Canada. With England extending their territory, the French king wanted families to make permanent settlements. He recruited women called Filles du Roi, Daughters of The King, paid their way over and gave them a dowry. This lasted for 10 years starting in 1663 and sent over about 800. They could take their time and choose the husband they wanted. We have at least 20 of these women on our family tree. My paternal grandfathers family came over to Canada from Ireland due to the potato famine,Eventually both sets of my grandparent’s moved into the US or were born here.
    Evidently, my maternal grandfather’s family was in to rum running during prohibition. His family home straddled the NY-Quebec border. They would legally buy alcohol in Canada and bring it into the house through the Canadian kitchen door. At night, they would take it out the front U. S. door, load it into a car or truck and drive it straight south to New York City for the speak easies. One time the police did give chase. My grandfather, the car, and the cargo all landed in Lake Champlain. I don’t believe he was captured, but I think he laid low for a while.

  12. My great grandfather was a logger. He had a corn or a blister on his foot. It was bothering him. He took off his book, took his ax and cut off his toe. He put his boot back on and went back to work.

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