What’s the best reason to write a family history book?
At the beginning of October I posed this question as we began Family History Month. Today. I’d like to share a great answer with you.
Mike Casey is writing a biography of his great-grandfather Henry Bothin, who came to San Francisco from Portage, Wisconsin in 1871 with the shirt on his back, a formal education ending at fifth grade, and a strong work ethic which he employed to become the owner of both one of the leading steel companies on the West Coast, the largest property owner in the city at the time of the 1906 earthquake, and fire and the founder of one of the first private charitable foundations in California. In the preface to his soon to be completed biography, Mike Casey explained why he had written the book:
It is a story never before told about a relative, and in that sense it mimics a situation common to us all, for we all have ancestors who lived full lives outside the limelight – lives full of hard work and of memorable accomplishments and disappointments alike, but lives which, for reasons both good and bad, never found their way onto the front page of a newspaper. Henry was not “everyman,” but in telling his story I have felt that in some small measure I have done what we would all like to do – pay homage to someone in our family lineage whose efforts have made our lives a bit easier and a bit more meaningful. Whether that somebody was a construction worker on the Golden Gate Bridge, or a veteran who fought for our freedom during one of too many wars, or was a housewife who raised a child who became a teacher, each of those people, and many, many more who have gone before us, largely in anonymity, made things, taught people, entertained folks, performed needed services, and, in short, lived unique lives helping others. Henry Bothin was such a person, and in telling his story I am fulfilling, in a sense, a debt of gratitude for all he did for others and for me as well.
What a wonderful statement of the reason for writing a family history!
Share your own thoughts about the best reason for writing a family history book by leaving a comment below.