A frequent question my friends ask is, “When do you sleep?” Usually I smile, laugh, make a quirky-yet-flippant comment back about sleep being for the dead, and I go on with whatever project I was doing at that moment. Yes, my name is Shannon, and I have a project problem.
It all starts simply enough. An idea, a spark of inspiration, will hit at the darndest of times. Usually I will mull it over, think about possible scenarios, and unless it is a really horrible idea, talk myself into doing it. There have been comments made in my house that if I could siphon a bit of that drive to do these projects off the house would be immaculate! What’s a little dust among friends?
My current project idea is one for my eldest boy. He is very interested in history, particularly, military history of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The project bug hit me in the car the other day (while I was listening to them argue about who won the Battle of Bunker Hill and why) because his birthday is a few short months away. He will be entering middle school, and the types of presents to give him within his interest set are few and far between. History books are always a big hit, and that is when it dawned on me; why shouldn’t I do something that represents his family at all those battles he reads about?
The first thing he asked me after my trip to NARA in March to do Civil War research was, “Where did they fight?” I found it amusing at the time, but now I think I can turn this interest into a neat piece of family history memorabilia. He wanted to know which battles, which regiments, whether or not they got hurt, what happened to them after it was all over, and so many more questions. After talking it over with my husband, who will have to help me with the organization and formatting, we agreed that making some kind of book for him could be a big hit.
Of course, much to my sadness, I will be required to make another trip up to the Archives. Can you feel the sarcasm? I think I should see our ancestors’ compiled service records too, since I already have pension records for most. In addition, I am going to make runs to the local libraries to see if I can find books and histories on the battles and regiments.
At this point I want to make it expandable, just in case I find more ancestors or additional information in the future. In my head I see a section on each person with a small biography, service record, battle listing, and, of course pictures. My husband had a good idea of an overall timeline in the back with everyone listed on it as well has historical events. Finally, there should be an appendix with regimental histories and an index of some type.
As with many of the projects I take on, this has morphed into a larger-than-life goal. The final project may not contain all these ideas, but hopefully it will be close. I have until September to get it done; however, realistically it may be a Christmas present if I really get into the research. I would love to hear if anyone out there has any ideas or suggestions on how I should do this. Any resources I should not overlook? I am giddy with excitement, the sign of a good project in my book. If I get another miscellaneous project done this week, I can start carving out time to begin working on it.
Photo from the Library of Congress
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
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