Mom’s Memory Box
As the holidays approach, many of us are scratching around for the perfect gift for older family members who are living in nursing homes or assisted living. They don’t have much room for “stuff” and with limited mobility, gift certificates are not really practical. Since I’m the family genealogist and have loads of family photos, I made up a “memory box” for my mother-in-law who is in an assisted living facility. I started with a photo storage box, which was sturdy and a good size. To personalize the box, I scanned a wide variety of photos of her family–siblings, ancestors, and descendants. I used a photo editing program to arrange them, then printed out the sheets to glue onto the box. Then I used decoupage glue to seal the photos and make the box water resistant. Finally I filled it with greeting cards, stamps, notepaper, return address labels, an address book, pens, etc. Several years later, it is still in good condition and continues to be used for storage, as well as bringing back memories.
Betty Jo Stockton
(Click on the image to get a closer look at Betty Jo’s Memory Box.)
Recently while reading an e-mail from a relative concerning a family wedding, it occurred to me that if I print out our family e-mail correspondence, they can be compiled into a journal that future generations would be delighted to read. With so few people actually writing letters these days and even fewer writing daily diaries it is a way to keep something tangible to pass on.
For a long time I was unable to locate my great-grandfather, who I had known since childhood as Henry T. Mason, and his children from his first marriage who I had always known as Masons (I descend from his second marriage). Death certificates and word of mouth all said they were born in Wells, Maine, except for the last child, born in Ohio, so we knew they were in Cleveland, Ohio, by 1865.
My husband and I visited Wells and could find neither hide nor hair of them. At a much later time I had the good fortune to meet a man in a research library, who overheard me mention the Masons and said he was researching the same name.
Now Mason is a common name but imagine my astonishment when he not only introduced himself as a distant relative, but also mentioned that my great-grandfather used to be named Horace Chaney in Wells, Maine. He was proved correct in that we located the whole family in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wells, Maine, with a Horace Chaney/Cheney/Channey as the head of household. His wife and all of the children were there with the same first names, ages, and birth order I had found them in Cleveland (Cuyahoga Co.), Ohio, as documented in the 1870 and later Ohio censusesâ€”with the exception that Horace Chaney in Wells, Maine, had apparently changed his name to Henry T. Mason and the last name of his family to Mason sometime between leaving Maine and coming to Ohio.
This has been hard to accept but the facts are there in the censuses. The burning question is, why did he change his entire name and the last name of his entire family prior to arriving in Ohio? The only idea I can come up with is that this was the time of the Civil War and I wonder if for that, or some other reason, he needed to be known as an entirely new person. Perhaps he needed to escape something and assume a new identity.
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