Saturday, May 19, 2007

Great-Grampa’s bearskin rug – Part 2

Establishing a time period

Yesterday Ol’ Myrt began this series of blogs about how to document a family heirloom. Minimal first level documentation would be to take a picture of the 3-dimensional object and carefully labeling it with:

  • the name of the ancestor
  • the name of the current owner
  • location of the object

I came up with the following photograph of my father's bearskin rug as the first attempt at explaining its origin to my grandchildren. I used PaintShop Pro (similar to Adobe's Photo Shop) to add the text to the digital image. Every time this is picture is viewed or printed it will include the label as shown below:

Great-grampa Glen S. Player's bearskin rug.

But this clearly leaves many unanswered questions about the bearskin rug. As competent family historians we want to report the full story to descendants, don't we? One picture may be worth 1,000 words, but in the case of the rug, is that enough? I think not.

HOW do we know that this is indeed Great-grampa Glen's bear? I might answer that question by making sure to include the following photo when describing the rug to my grandchildren. It just happens that this photo was taken right after the shoot by Dad's hunting partner. Later it was matted, framed and mounted on the wall next to the bearskin rug. Both remained there for decades until a bedroom overhaul was completed about 5 years ago, when all things bear-like were relegated to the closet. Imagine my delight when I found the rug AND this photo:

Great-grampa Glen S. Player after getting his bear.

Still, there are questions left unanswered. For instance:

WHEN did Great-grampa get this bear? Can you tell by looking at either photo?

  • One might construe the date of the photograph to be sometime in the 1970s, because of the long mutton chop sideburns.

  • Ol’ Myrt might add her recollection that when her two oldest daughters were little, they would find small candy eggs in the mouth of the bear at our family's annual Easter egg hunts.

    However, you’d have to determine if I am a reliable source. Memories can fade over 36 years. Also, I had a car accident in mid-1986, with some cranial injuries, so my memory of things before that incident is sometimes sketchy at best. We do have to make value judgments about the reliability of an eyewitness account.

Perhaps Great-Grampa left a diary? Maybe other members of the family, particularly my siblings, could be canvassed to report their recollections about the rug. Well, Ol' Myrt does have a few more ideas, and will post them in subsequent blogs about Great-grampa Glen's bearskin rug.

In the mean time, are you, my DearREADERS, beginning to think of ways to document YOUR family heirlooms? Even if you are not the one that inherited the item, perhaps you can venture out this summer to photograph the item, and gather stories about it at your family reunion.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.