Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pondering the Alice Davey Book


I seem to be floundering a bit in my approach to this publication. I’m trying to work out the best way to organize. I’m thinking I’d really like to record the story of how her four grandparents found each other and what their lives and their children’s lives were like; this process culminating in Alice’s life and times.
My dilemma centers around where to begin. Do I start with Alice and move back? Do I create separate sections for each grandparent’s surname? Do I simply create biographies (as best I can) for each grandparent and parent?

I’d really like to write the “story” as if it were a novel. Maybe that’s the key, a narrative. I’d, of course, include a section of reports with citations for genealogists – pedigree, outline descendants, family group sheets, and such. However, the main part of the book would be Alice’s life and how her progenitors affected that life written as if it were a novel. To do that I’ll need to decide on a plot to drive the story. I’ll need to get a handle of the personalities of each major “character” in the story.  I’ll still need to determine where and how to begin. Since Alice is the main character everything begins and ends with her. Do I begin at the beginning or at the end?

Each of her grandparents immigrated to the US. Did the “old country” heritage impact the life of a child born in Chicago? Which line had the most influence on her life – the Cornish and the Swedish? Did her parents keep up family traditions or did they prefer to blend into the American ways?

Did Alice’s tumultuous childhood define her viewpoints? How could it not? In what ways did the many moves within the city take its toll? Is that why she clung so tightly to childhood friends throughout her lifetime?  What parts of her upbringing did she transfer to her own parenting?

Thanks to a collaboration of research between me, Shirlee Eddy, and Nancy Poquette I have a great start with the Davey and Stephens families, Alice’s Cornish side. As for Hans Christiansen, Alice’s Danish grandfather, he died when Alice’s mother was only three years old. He will, of course, be an important part of the story but a short part. Thanks to Jim’s cousin, the late Kay Davey, I have the records for his family in Denmark which may come into play a little. As for the Swedish side, I’m accumulating more and more information but, as of yet, have no “cousins” helping with the Ellstrom line. There do seem to be a number of researchers working on our Larson (half cousins) line.

So much more needs to be done but I’m kind of liking the idea of the “novel.” In my previous publications, I wrote biographies for the direct ancestors that worked out okay, I think. However, I felt there was often an overlap of information because of the separation. With an inclusive story plan, I can keep everyone in context, include the events that  bring Alice’s story along, and create a more complete package.
I think the reports section should satisfy the genealogists’ requirement for evidence and proof. What do you think? 

~Becky

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