In the novel I’m working on, the main character plunges into a genealogy project in an effort to understand how events from the past are affecting her present. As a writer, I often sample the activities that consume my characters, so that I can write about them authentically. When I was researching and dabbling in genealogy, I found some wonderful photographs of my own ancestors.
The backstory: No one knows the name of my maternal great-grandmother. In fact, we have only a few tidbits and rumors about her: She lived in Norway, within the arctic circle, in the 19th century. She married a wastrel, and bore him eleven children. She was some kind of medical professional – we’re uncertain if that means she was a midwife, nurse or doctor. She eventually got rid of her first husband and remarried, then had two children with him – Jack and Marie. Over the years, the children from the first marriage drifted to America and settled in Minnesota. When Jack and Marie were still young, she contracted tuberculosis, and was confined to a sanitarium. Knowing she was dying, she sent them to live with their half-siblings in the United States.
This photograph shows Jack and his half-brother Edward. It was taken sometime in the 1910s.
Here, Marie joins the boys.
I find it amusing that picture day was obviously all about the guns.