Keeping Your Family History Alive

Uncle and Great Uncle after a Michigan deer hunt

I love to study my family’s history.  It all started when I discovered the dilapidated photo of my great-great grandfather Britton (see below) who was a private in the Civil War.  I also discovered a booklet written by a great-great uncle; he chronicled his many adventures in the Civil War.  Several ancestors fought on both sides of the that great war.  Suddenly, history became much more personal.

If you enjoy writing like I do, your family history can also be an inspiration for your stories.  The ideas for my novel, The Guide and my short story, The Better Country, were born from studying my family’s past.  You’ll notice a major theme in my writing being the outdoors.  And at some point, all of our ancestors were outdoorsmen.  We can learn so much from our ancestors and the trail they have blazed–even if it’s just a deep appreciation for the life they lived.  It has forced me to consider what legacy I’m passing down to my descendants.

Original Picture of my Great-Great Grandfather Britton

Anyway, I wanted to pass on a couple of great free resources that will help you with organizing your family history and restoring old family photos.

  1.  I’m not a Mormon, but my Mormon cousin shared this free resource that you can download and keep track of your family history.  I have used this tool for organizing and storing my family records.
  2.  This graphics/photo editing program can be downloaded for free.  This program took the old picture of my great-great grandfather and transformed it into the picture below.  I used the cloning tool to remove the tears, the cracks and to fill in the missing parts.  I loved this picture so much that I made it the cover for my eBook short story, The Better Country.

Restored and Edited Version


After I restored the original picture, I hired a graphics designer and he created the final eBook cover below.

Final eBook Cover Art

If you’d like to download a free copy of my short story, The Better Country, click here and then use the coupon code FY37Q.  I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

What about you?  I would love to hear how your family history has inspired you.

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4 Responses to Keeping Your Family History Alive

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Oh man. My dad’s side of the family goes back to the revolutionary war – my mom some before the civil war. My aunt got into geneaology, and WOW. Underground railroad activists, a general for the south, rum runners, we were a mixed bunch. I’d love to sit her down for some stories to write. Thanks for the idea!

    • Sounds like you have a lot of material to work with there. Yeah, take some time to sit down and record some conversations with your older relatives–one of the best sources of information you can find. I like to have some questions for them to help get them started and this works great when you have more than one relative around the table. They can usually help the others recall something. Good luck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t know you had written a short story. I am going to go to the site to get a copy. The picture of Mr. Britton is great. Good work Scott. Mimmie

    • thanks Mim. The site will ask you to sign up, but it’s for free. I plan to publish some more short stories on Smashwords in the near future. Let me know if you have any problems accessing the site or viewing the document.

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