Sons of Thunder contest

Thank you all so much for sharing your stories during the blog tour contest for Sons of Thunder!

The grand prize winner is:
Congrats! you've won the Memory Prize package containing a gift certificate to create your own hard cover photo book, a 6 month membership to Netflix and a signed copy of Sons of Thunder!

and the 5 runner's up are:
Congrats! You've all won a signed copy of Sons of Thunder!

Each one of us has a wealth of stories from the past – while they might not all be as sweeping and dramatic as that of Sofia and the Stravos brothers (swoon), your family history is a treasure nonetheless.

Well – let’s hear them! Were your great-grandparents ‘fresh off the boat’? Was your great uncle a war hero? Did your grandmother make unbelievable sacrifices to help or protect the family? Did your father harbor a family secret until his death? Are you related to someone famous (my assistant is related to Presidents Harrison and Jackson – wow! Who knew?) Do you have a family treasure? Maybe you just have some lovely memories. Whatever it is that is unique in your family history – share it with us.

Carrie T.

My father was in the Army Air Corp during WWII. He fought in the Pacific for four years doing several different jobs, everything from working as a dental assistant to parachuting into battle to running an officers' club.

I will always remember the story he told about the day God saved his life. He and his buddies had formed a long line, searching for Japanese soldiers hidden in a field of tall grass. He noticed his boot was untied and ignored it for a while. Finally he decided to squat down and tie it.

The Japanese opened fire at that moment, and my father was able to hit the ground quickly to protect himself. The men around him died that day, but his life was spared.

Krista H.

As a child, and through my high school years, I loved to visit my Great-Grandpa. He always loved to tell stories, and up until he died at the young age of 95, he could still remember his childhood. One of his favorite stories to tell was how as a child, growing up in Nebraska, he would be sent to go after the cows in the evening. He would always make a point to walk under the railroad bridge at the exact time the passenger train was passing overhead. Then he would say that he was run over by a train.

One of my favorite stories was about how he fell in love with his wife, my Great-Grandma. During their high school years, his older brother and her older sister were married. Several years later, they themselves began to “go steady.” After about two years, circumstances changed. She left for college and began to date other men, while he found another sweetheart. A few years later she returned from college, and began teaching at the local schoolhouse. It was at this time that my Grandpa fell in love with her. Unfortunately, by this time she had a steady beau. But this did not deter my Grandpa, and after awhile he found it convenient to stop at the schoolhouse while she was teaching. It did not take long for her to also fall in love with him, and they were married in 1933, in the heart of the Great Depression.

Most importantly, my Great-Grandparents left a legacy of faith. Very shortly after they were married, they realized that if their marriage was going to be a success, they needed to turn to God for guidance. So one Sunday morning they committed their lives to the Lord. There were many trials those first years of their marriage. Neither one of them had a steady job, nor did they always have a permanent place to live. A year after they were married, their first daughter was born, and they had yet another mouth to provide for. Jobs were scarce at that time, and there was not much cash to pay for hired help. My Grandpa went from job to job, doing anything that would provide money.

At times they would not even have any food in their cupboards, and there were several times when someone would show up on their doorstep, food in hand, saying that the Lord had placed it on their heart to bring them food. Even though they went through many hard times, they never stopped relying on the Lord and through it all he provided for them.


From what I understand, I have a great-great uncle who was a bank robber, around the same time as the Newton Boys. He and his brother were caught. They were offered two choices: Prison or the Army. One chose one, and one chose the other. The uncle who chose the Army was blond-haired and blue-eyed, and was selected to be a "spy", because he also was fluent in German, and could pass for a German. If I'm not mistaken, he was also a part of the Dirty Dozen, and was known as "The Strangler". I can't remember if they're one in the same or not. Pretty grisly though!

My husband's great-grandfather was the right hand man for Pancho Villa.

Connie W.

My grandfather served in WW II, and the story goes something like this: While he was in Scotland, he saw my grandmother on a bench. He tried to talk to her, get her name and where she was from, but she wouldn't cooperate. So a service buddy of his who knew who she was told him. And he began writing. Over the course of time, they fell in love through letters. He never saw her again after that day on the bench till he flew her to him. He sent her engagement ring and proposal through the mail between a king and a queen of hearts. She was sick in bed when she received his letter, so the joke of it was over the years that she got engaged in bed. And when he flew his Scottish bride in, it made headline news of the small hometown paper. I think my aunt or my mom still have the clippings. They had 8 children together, my mom being the oldest. Sadly though, she was diagnosed with lung cancer the same time she became a US citizen. She passed away July 4, 1977, I was 5. I do not remember much but her accent, and seeing her shortly before she passed to say good bye, and remember all the tubes. I still have the last gift she gave me, as tattered as it is, a high chair for my baby dolls.

Cheryl F.

Zachary Taylor is related to me on my mom's side of the family.

Also my great grandpa on my dad's side was supposed to go on the Titanic, but he missed the boat, that could have changed history and he and I never would have been born!

Joyce J.

I remember as a little girl visiting my PaPa. He was my Mom's father. He lived in Alabama. We visited one or twice a year. I always loved going to his house. He did not have indoor water or a bathroom. I loved drinking out of the water dipper. The water was always so cold, I could drink and drink.

My PaPa smoked a pipe and he saved me his tobacco cans. I remember lining them up. I then would touch the last tin and watch to see how many of them would fall. Just by touching one tn, often all of them would fall. My PaPa also lived close to a lake. We would walk to it and it was so cool to fish with him. I did not have to be qui
et with him like I did if other family members were along. I have other great memories of my PaPa. He died in the early 1980's. I miss him alot.

Debra G

My grandfather was someone who helped our country. He worked the railroads his whole life. My grandmother could always ride for free and he used to bring home a bus that could also go on the rails. It was really neat.

Candy Rox 5125

My family treasure is my great grandmother's painting. She believed that the photo would bring happiness and wisdom for the future generations of our family.

Whenever I see the painting, I feel empowered and motivated to pursue my goals, which is to enter the beauty industry. I've always enjoyed expressing my individuality through art, fashion, and writing. I believe that appearance does not always define the true meaning of beauty. I love beauty that is reflected from the heart to the appearance. My dream is to design beauty products that may enhance one's beauty, yet allow one to feel delightful and confident. Thus, my great grandmother's painting reveals hope to the future for her future generations, and I always keep that in mind as I continue on with my journey.

Anna N

I got sick with multiple sclerosis when I was a little older then 3. It was a very trying time for my parents and my older brother, who was 5 at the time. Of course it was no picnic for me either. I was in and out of the hospital for the most part of my younger years. The doctors didn't know what I had until I was around 10. Until that point it was really just a guessing game. My symptoms ran from vision problems to walking issues.

Our faith in God was the bedrock of the family, and still is. Thankfully when I was 10 my mom gave me a little brother. Oh great another brother to annoy me! When I was about 7 my mom was reading guidepost one morning and came across a story about a woman who was having money issues and only had cloth diapers to use for her baby, she didn't have enough cash to buy detergent for the soiled diapers so that the baby could have clean ones.The lady was on her last diaper when a neighbor stop by and surprised her with groceries, which had a box of detergent in it.

Mama was encouraged by that and prayed that God would reveal himself and let her know it was going to be okay.The next day after she checked the mail and was entering the gate, she noticed something in The handle of the gate. It was a packet of detergent. My mom died in 2003 but at 23 years old I still have that packet of detergent. God is faithful His children! I am thankful to have that memory only if it is second hand. LOL!


I just wanted to share with you my story of my grandpa and grandma Davis. When I was 6 years old my grandmother had a stroke that left her paralyzed on the left side. She was always the strong silent grandma that made her own soap, had a hand wringer washer to wash her clothes in. Got her drinking and cooking water from an outdoor pump and didn't have an indoor bathroom until 1961.

In 1961 grandma had a stroke, which left her paralyzed on the left side. All grandma wanted to do was come home and not be put in a home. So my grandpa brought her home.

He took such great care of her I am so in awe of them.Grandpa took over doing everything for grandma. He put out the garden,took care of all the farm chores and animals, farmed, cleaned the house and did the cooking. On the weekends my mom, and her brother and sister would come and take some of the load off grandpa. My dad put in an indoor bathroom and walk/roll-in shower for grandma to use.

On Friday nights I would go over and spend the weekend with grandma and grandpa. She taught me how to cook and bake. She taught me step by step how to embroider. She had such wonderful stories of her family and growing up I will never forget her and grandpa.

When school would get out for the summer; I was allowed to go over and help out while grandpa was in the fields. Grandma and I became very close.

She loved to laugh and any kids that came over to see her, whether grand kids or neighbor kids grandma just loved to have them tell her stories and how their days went,then she would just smile and laugh. You always saw a smile on her face.I often think of her and grandpa and I know that if they could see my kids and grand kids they would be laughing and crying with joy! Oh how I miss them both and can't wait until I get to heaven and can see them again.

Rose B.

My Mom and her parents and her 4 sisters came into New York in 1922 from Ireland. My Grandfather was from Scotland and met my Grandmother in Ireland.

Amy S.

I grew up in the 40's and 50's on a small farm in North Carolina. I was raised in a godly home where the Bible and prayer were central to our daily lives. When my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary these are some of the "memories" I wrote down of my growing up years.

"I remember...Mama reading stories from the Old Testament and memorizing verses from Proverbs with me...hearing daddy pray...the fun and excitement of Christmas, going to the woods to cut down a tree and decorating it with balls & tinsel, getting fruit, nuts and candy in my stocking...daddy getting up early in the morning in winter and building a fire...the excitement of getting the Sears catalog in the mail...picking cotton with my little sack across my shoulder...going to town to get ice for our icebox...mama churning milk to make butter...making play houses under the trees, using sticks & rocks to divide the rooms...helping gather eggs, and baby chicks coming in the mail in big boxes...the Raleigh & Watkins men coming by in their panel trucks to sell us salve, vanilla, etc...getting switched with peach tree limbs when I was naughty...the church bell ringing when World War II ended and my Uncle Lee coming home from the war...dresses made from printed feed sacks...having friends come over and making homemade ice-cream...going to church at the little Methodist church and everyone sitting close to the wood stove in cold weather...playing hide & seek and Annie Over with my city cousins in the summer...lying outside on a quilt on hot nights and looking at the stars...the way mama and daddy used everyday events to teach me about God's love and care...." Yea, I have a godly heritage!

Audrey B.

It was April 1, 1944, April Fool's Day, that I attended a dance with a girlfriend. I was seventeen, a senior in high school in Flint, Michigan. Men were scarce so my friend and I went stag to the dance. It was there that I met a young sailor who had recently returned from the Pacific Theatre of the war. He had been on a mine sweeper for two years in the thick of things at Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands, sweeping the waters around those places. He had prayed one night to be allowed to take advantage of an opportunity to come back to the states and attend college in the V-12 program. He was blessed to pass his physical and be sent back to attend the University of Michigan.

He swept me off my feet that night, and I knew in my heart that we would marry one day. We were fortunate to have a whole year of weekends to spend together while he attended college, coming home to his Mother's home in Flint each weekend. When he was to go on to Midshipman School in Fort Schuyler,N.Y., we couldn't bear being apart and eloped one night. I managed to follow him to New York six weeks later, working for the Western Union main office in New York City.

When he received his commission in June ,he was assigned to the USS Essex Aircraft Carrier. We travelled out to San Francisco on a train and waited for him to take his assignment. Fortunately, the war ended in August before he had to go overseas again. He was sent instead to Bremerton, Washington to await the ship as it came back to the states to be put into "mouthballs". He stayed in the navy an extra six months until the following April, when we returned to Michigan to await the birth of our first of four daughters.

We moved to Ann Arbor in August and he continued his education at the University to receive his Bachelor's and Master Degrees in History. He decided to look for a job then and began his career with the New York Life Insurance Company, which spanned thirty three years. He and I both had "Born Again" experiences in 1968 which changed the direction of our lives. In 1983 He retired early from his position in the New York Home office after a very successful career, to speak, teach and evangelize. We traveled to many places in the world, met wonderful people and many were touched by the Lord through his ministry. He gave of himself until his heart gave out, and he passed away three years ago at the age of 83. I have a wealth of wonderful memories of a loving marriage, a wonderful loving family and countless friends and experiences.

I believe we were part of the"Greatest Generation" as it was coined. We went through the "great depression", experienced times of hardship, war, separation and came through it stronger because of it. I am 83, still in good health, but lonely without the love of my life, though I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who are very loving to me. I am blessed.


I'm sure I won't win this contest after reading all the other stories but there is something I'd like to share about my Dad. Dad passed on almost three years ago at 92 years old and he never had a credit card or borrowed money from anyone.

I remember him working an eight hour shift in one mill then cross the street to another mill and work another eight hours and sometimes some overtime.

This probably won't mean much to a lot of people but I was always so proud of him for that. Sad to say, I didn't follow in his footsteps. It still amazes me because we were a family of six and we certainly were not wealthy. God Bless Him.

Anna J.

"The story of a gentleman and a lady"

I have a pretty fine set of Southern roots, and every once in a while, a family event just brings that fact home with a hearty flourish. Take, for instance, a recent celebration . . .. When my grandmother turned 77, we celebrated with a meal and a gathering she hosted at their house. She didn't want anyone to know, before coming, that it was a birthday party and to feel the need to bring gifts as a result, so she just invited her friends for Sunday dinner.

Once everyone was full with a good meal and good Southern fellowship, my grandfather explained to everyone that it was, in fact, an occasion we had gathered for. And then he proceeded to delightfully shock us all, my GramBea and I included.

Now, a couple of things should probably be explained for anyone who does not know my grandparents. They are, by all accounts, adorable. As silly as that may sound, it is the honest truth. I have grown quite accustomed to comments like, "Ooohhh---are you one of Bea & Charley's grandkids? I just love your grandparents!" . . . "Your PaCharley, he is one special gentleman . . . have I ever told you what he did for my family and I? Oh, we just think the world of he and your grandma both" . . . "How do they ever manage to do all that? You'd think they were spring chickens or something!" . . . You get the picture.

So imagine a group of seasoned folks, gathered in a cozy Southern living room, celebrating this ever-generous and kind couple. My grandfather clears his throat in that soft-spoken manner of his, indicating that he is going to say something important--a man of few words, they are always well-chosen and important, so that ears perk up when he begins to speak . . . "It's so good to have you all here . . . we are honoured to have such good friends here to celebrate Bea's birthday with us. I thought I might use this occasion to tell you all how I first met Bea. You see, I actually met her first when she was hitchhiking one day, and I gave her a ride . . ."

PaCharley then proceeded to hold up a 9" x 13" photo he had blown up, proudly displaying this black and white print of GramBea by the side of the highway, looking all glamorous--as she always did--in short shorts and a tied-front blouse, one hand on her hip, and one up in the air, with a come-hither look on her face. PaCharley had printed up a caption on the bottom that said, "Goin' my way?"

GramBea gasped and stammered, "Charley, now that's not the way it happened at all!!" And the rest of us gasped, and then roared with laughter. After we had time to gather ourselves again, PaCharley passed the photo around, and then did concede that he had perhaps embellished their meeting tale slightly. Now, I just happened to know the real story behind the photo, though no one else did. The truth is they were married at the time, and on a road trip shortly after Mom was born--and they were just goofing off. But, no one ever did get around to asking that, because Pa Charley then told the true story, which is just as interesting, it turns out . . .

PaCharley was working in a friend's workshop at the time, though officially in the Army, I believe, as he was drafted during the War. At any rate, he had a factory job during which, one day he noticed this "beautiful brunette" walking across the street. After that, he began to see her regularly, as she would walk around running errands during her work day. After a bit, he asked a friend if he knew who she was--he did: "Well, that's Beatrice Fox!"--who was being courted at the time by one of her suitors, of which I think there were many . . .

Well, after that, PaCharley continued to watch for her--sure enough, he kept seeing her, and he simply could not get her out of his mind. But, he just knew that she was too good for him . . . He kept working, and kept being distracted. So finally one day, he decided he had better just get it over with and ask her on a date, seeing as how he was rather impaired in getting his work done as it was. So, he knew her name, found her number, and called her up. "Uhh . . . Beatrice?" Yes, this is. "My name is Charley Hicks. I work at . . ."

Yes, I know who you are.

At this point Pa Charley paused in his story-telling, to explain to us all that he was shocked that she knew who he was. I mean, he had already gotten to 1st base! We laughed. And he continued his story: Then, still on the phone, he asked if she would like to go somewhere sometime. She said yes. And now, he suddenly realized he had a bit of a dilemma. You see, he hadn't anticipated an acceptance at this point--he thought she would turn him down. So now, Pa Charley was faced with the small issue that, well, he didn't have a car to take her "somewhere."

So, Beatrice gave Charley a ride. And the rest is . . . well, it's history. My history, eventually . . .

Michelle L.

My great-great grandfather's family immigrated to Minnesota from Germany. When he gave his heart to Christ he was disowned by his family. He became a lumberjack preacher in the Northern Minnesota lumber camps. He'd walk into camp and challenge the toughest man to a fight. If he won the whole camp would have to sit down and listen to him preach. If he lost, then he would leave the same day. Apparently,he was quite a boxer. His story is featured in "The Last of the Giants." In International Falls a few years back there was still a hamburger named after him on the menu called the Sornberger. It just goes to show you that God can use our talents in amazing ways that we have never even considered.


There are five generations of us- me, my granny, my mom, my daughter, and I'm expecting a 2nd granchild. So 5 generations now of us women and the granchild who is coming is a boy. My great granny just died about 7 yrs ago (2yrs before my grandaughter was born) or would have been 6 generations. We outlive the men LOL so we are still making memories.

Jon M.

My great aunt was the first woman to go over the side of Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel. She's a family hero.


My great-uncle joined the military because his friends were. It was the end of WWII and the things that he would see and experience would scar him for the rest of his life. Part of a team that traveled and released prisoners from concentration camps, he was given the joy of setting them free while battling with the horrors of their imprisonment. Piles of bodies, some still twitching. Horrible smells. Fear so thick you could slice it.

It took him years to be able to speak about it all. Now, as he ages, the desire to tell his story is coming out. And I've been overwhelmed with the knowledge that he is a hero. He would shake his head and deny it but I know. Because a hero isn't someone who does something great. A hero is someone who does something crushingly hard, horrifyingly dangerous or painfully trying... and is able to keep living life after wards.

Kerry W.

I have been recently trying to dig into my family a little more.I don't have much info yet, but I'll share what I do have. It has been hard! I found out that there is a very famous park in Ireland named after my great grandfather called Croke Park. Another grandfather, who I never met, has a very strange story. He was part Native American. All I know about him is one afternoon, he was on the phone with my Aunt. The doorbell rang, and he abruptly said he had to go, and would call her later. He was never seen or heard from again. It has been very painful for our family, and to this day, we still have nothing. That was 45 years ago.

Connie B.

My grandfather Agee Cary was in World War II over in Burma. He took a lot of pictures of the area. Many were rundown temples with the buddha statues inside. I got to hear some of his stories from over there and wrote them down on paper before he died. He said Burma was a really bad place to be...lots of rebels and you could get malaria real easy. He told me of one story that involved shooting on his troops. Many people were injured trying to flee the area. The cook was killed and it was on Valentine's Day. My grandpa couldn't wait to come back to the United States to be with my grandma...eventually my mother was born 10 years after Pearl Harbor. My grandpa was a good solider.

Wendy K.

My grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War, he was actually to young to join but lied about his age. He can be seen in the shots of MacArthur returning to the Philippines. He would never tell many stories from his days in the Army, but during that time is when he met my grandmother. According to the story, he and his buddy were going out that night with Grandma and her best friend who was the buddy's girlfriend. Grandaddy saw my grandmother and told his friend,that's the woman I'll marry. And he did. They were wed in CA. Now Grandma wasn't a small woman in fact she weighed in around 500 lbs and grandaddy was maybe 150 lbs or so. But he loved her until and beyond his death. His legacy? His love for family, God and country. My cousin serves in the Air Force now and has been in the military since 1985, and my Great Uncle served two tours in 'Nam. I have other cousins who served in the military or are still in the military.

But I love the story of how Grandma and Grandaddy met. They were in CA at the time. I have other stories I could tell, like how Grandaddy told the story of a buddy getting shot in the butt while driving a jeep. He would say it wasn't funny at the time, heck they were running for their lives, but after wards...........well it was hilarious. He won medals during his time in the war but to my knowledge no one knows what he did to win them, he would never tell, and last time I tried I couldn't get his records.

Verlina A.

I have an uncle who was in Vietnam who at the time had decided that his faith in God was not worth the effort. He grew up with a sold-out-on-fire-for-God mother and in the knowledge of what Christ had done, but walked away from his personal relationship.

While "MIA" he was treading through the jungles of Vietnam he was in single file line when the soldier behind him asked to trade places with him. He didn't really understand but traded places with the solider of his equal rank.

A few more minutes into their travels, the soldier who had just traded places with my uncle stepped on a landmine and lost his life. My uncle cried himself to sleep for months after that thanking God for his grace and that His protecting hand was over him.

He later returned home with minor wounds, but as most warrior vets, suffered for many years with nightmares.

Jenn P.

My grandfather, who was one of the greatest men I have ever known, lived through and during the depression. While his family worked hard to make ends meet, life was extremely challenging then. He never got to finish school as work on the farm was more important to most living through this time period. Due to extreme hardship, his parents couldn't afford to provide for the entire family. Therefore, my grandfather and another one of his siblings, had to leave the house. As a teenager, my "papap' (as I called him), was forced to be on his own. Therefore, before he was even of age, he enlisted in the army. He fought during WWII, and from then to now, he is still a hero to me.

He met my grandmother when he was home at the roller skating rink. He claims that it was love at first sight. They continued to write letters back and forth, and were soon married. During the war, he missed their anniversary. I am lucky enough to have the letter he wrote to her for this special day. "...I guess by now you have an idea that I am in the Philippine Islands and enjoying it very much. It is sure exciting here seeing jet planes shot down and etc. I have me a nice fox hole with outside exposures, and believe me, it is something nice to have......Honey, don't think I forgot about our wedding anniversary. I sent a man a ring to send to you when I left New Guinea." The letter goes on to say that he loves her.

After retiring from the military, by grandfather continued to work at various jobs. He and my grandmother had 3 children and a total of 4 grandchildren. My papap was a man of dedication, courage, strength, and honour. He passed away my junior year of highschool. I am now 26 years old and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. I recently had my first child, and I can't wait to tell him stories about his great grandfather. Mark Twain once said that "wrinkles are merely an indicator of where the smiles once were." The memories made with my papap were priceless. I now understand where all "the wrinkles" came from. His story will live on as I pass it down to my children.


A man who I will always admire for his strength, fortitude, determination and perseverance is my late father. He had a great deal of adversity throughout his life and through the trials and tribulations managed to become successful, raise a family and endure and manage major health problems. He did not indulge his regrets nor pamper himself but continued to seek fulfilment through his business.

After the war he taught himself various trades, was innovative and constantly pondered life. His harsh upbringing and being the sole support of 5 siblings and a mother taught him early in life the realities. Unfortunately a young and early death occurred due to the stress and bad genes. My husband has continued his legacy and his work ethic.

Michelle S.

My great great great, etc grandparents (Sutton) have been here since the 1600s and arrived Massachusettes just down the way from Plymouth Rock. I can't remember the name but it's also in Boston. On my mom's side they were French Canadian and went to Vermont, then moved to Michigan when the automobile industry began. On my grandmother (Sutton's) side her mother was Cherokee and great grandmother was on the Trail of Tears. So I am 1/8 Indian. That is where those cheekbones come from.

Edna T.

(The first picture is of my Mother Virginia Schultz Deaton and her sister Elizabeth Schultz Burke. The second picture is of my great-grandmother Mattie Fagan Schultz Huskamp. All are deceased)

I am part German, my grandfather was full blooded. His parents came from Germany in the 1800s, I did the genelogy but could never find for sure when they came over. They were in Charleston, SC and when John Wagner came up country a lot of the Germans came with him. They settled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains which is now called Walhalla, SC.

My great-grandmother worked in a hotel and my
great-grandfather worked in a mine. He went into the civil war in a GA troup.

He stayed there 6 months and mustered out, came home (And this is where we assume my great-grandmother got pregant with my grandfather). Their names were Schultz and both were name Johann.
Johanne senior went back into the corps of enginers and the last that he was heard of was around Charleston, SC. He never got to see his son that became my maternal grandfather.

My great-grandmother remarried another German and had more children, she and the rest of her family are buried in the oldest church in upstate, St John Luthern Church in Walhalla, SC. They had a part that is just for the Germans. John Wagner himself was buried here but they moved his body back to Charleston and there is a memorial for him where he was buried.


My father came over from Europe when he was a young boy and could not speak English. His father died young and he was the sole provider for his mother and his 5 siblings. He left school at 14 and worked his entire life and died young. He was a self taught man who read voraciously, founded a manufacturing company and was successful. His siblings bickered and took advantage of his good nature and were always demanding and constantly wanted more from him. With his generous nature he gave and gave until his health gave out. I did appreciate his hard working and selfless character which is evident in my own husband.

Anna L.

My parents never talked about grandparents, and I hardly know anything about them. Also, my father is not in my life for a very long time. I only remember that my father's side had some kind of relation to maybe French and other nationalities. Someone from my father's side way back for generations was from the rich elite and had their herb on the coin. My father's mother was a nurse during the World War II. That is pretty much that I know about my grandparents.

My husband's mother's uncle was killed in KATYN, a massacre committed by Russians who committed genocide on Polish intelligentsia and people who served in the war.

Debbie W.

Lots of stories in my family. We do happen to be descended from some European royalty, but I'd have to look it up to remember which ones.

Through another branch of the family tree, we have a diary of a ancestor that was fighting in the Civil War. There's an entry about him receiving punishment because he deserted briefly to go check on his family who lived in the area.

Peri L.T.

16 years ago, I started my cabaret singing career at a club in NYC, that was located in an 1845 building on Cooper Square. Round that time, I was I was reading some NY City history to my mother in her kitchen, and the book mentioned that Cooper Square was where the Fighting Irish Brigade,the New York City Civil War troop, drilled,before going off to war.

"Wait a minute...that's the brigade your great great great grandfather was in! Did I ever tell you that story?" she asked.

Over huge cups of strong tea, I sat enthralled as she told me the story. Edward Knox was the son of Charles Knox, an Irish immigrant who fled Limerick during the potato famine, a 14 year old orphan. Upon arriving in NYC,Charles Knox found work sweeping a hat shop, became an apprentice,and founded Knox Hats.This was, for 100 years after, the world's most successful hat line. Charles even made hats for President Lincoln to wear at his inaugurations! He had a pretty feisty son,Edward Knox, and when the Civil War started, although it was very common for wealthy families (as the Knoxes had become) to pay a poor man to fight in place of their son(s), Edward Knox refused...and joined the famous Fighting Irish Brigade instead.

His first big battle was at Gettysburg. Although his fellow soldiers were agog at his bravery--he saved 14 of his brigade in a spectacular feat of heroism--he disappeared after the battle. His father came to Gettysburg to look for him, and for two months, poor papa Charles trudged around Pennsylvania, stooping at every farmhouse and inn, to see if they had seen his boy.

At last, he found Edward. He had been grievously wounded--but not fatally--and had arrived at the doorstep of a family's farmhouse. They took him in and nursed him back to health. Legend (and my mom) insist that he fell in love with the youngest daughter of the house-she was 16--but before they could be betrothed (and before his father found him) she died of tuberculosis. Or so the story goes!

Edward was taken back to New York City, and nursed back to full health. He also found that he had been awarded the Congressional Medal of honor for his exploits at Gettysburg! He became a successful businessman and philanthropist, and even ran for Mayor of New York City, and when he died, left behind an extraordinary art collection (sadly, sold in 1910. Darn it.) There is a picture of him on the Congressional Medal of Honor sight. His picture makes me think he was a dashingly handsome man in his day...this is supported by the fact that his son,Edward junior, was extraordinarily handsome...but he alas, died young, testing a prototype WW1 plane in 1914. Another hero, but this one gone too soon.

I have a picture of my mother and my nephew Noah,standing in front of the statue of the Irish Brigade/Edward KNox commemorative statue in Gettysburg. It's very moving to contemplate, for me.

My brand new grandniece, whose first and middle names pay tribute to her ancestors (Charlotte Knox) was born three weeks ago-on Edward's birthday!

And to cap it off, the club in which I sang, is located directly across from another Cooper Square landmark...the offices of the Village Voice newspaper, that my fiance's father co-founded almost fifty years ago!


Ooo, stories.

First, I'm fourth cousins with Andy Griffith - he and my granny grew up side by side in Mt. Airy (Mayberry) NC I'm a descendent of William Tyndal the Bible translator and William the Conqueror (the warrior). I visited my ancestors castle remains two years ago...VERY COOL!

My granny is my hero. She is fourth generation Appalachian, French, Native American, British, Scotch-Irish. When she was widowed at 29, she raised 6 kids by herself before there was social security benefits. All of her kids are Christians because of the legacy she passed on to them. There are SOOO many stories she passes down by oral history, because in Appalachia almost everything is past down by oral history. :-) We like to 'spin a good yarn".

My great great grandmother stowed away on a ship from Ireland to the states. Once she got here, she had nothing. so she sold herself for money. AFter bearing two children and saving enough money, she left that life and moved to Appalachia from New York.

Another great, great grandmother (also from Ireland) met her husband while he traveled in Europe. They married and moved to Appalachia. I have her dishes ;-) Lovely.

Elizabeth N.

Something unique and special to my family was the lineage of foster parenting and adoption. I was adopted at birth and found out when I was about 6 years old. Many years later I discovered my Mother had been adopted by Grandma F. After I was married I was working in a nursing home when a substitute aide came on shift. She and I were talking when she suddenly ask who my parents were. (she knew the church we attended which gave her the first clue) Then she wanted to know my Mother's maiden name. And the story came out about her Mother dying when she was very young and my Great-Grandmother (Grandma F's Mother) had taken her in and raised her for many years!! As of now, my husband and I have fostered many children over the years and adopted 7 of them; the fourth generation of foster/adoptive parenting.

Anna K.

My grandmother was born in Holland in 1913. She had 2 older brothers and a twin sister (who, interestingly enough was born just before midnight one October night, and she was born just after midnight, so the girls actually had different birthdays. I don't remember how many younger children there were in the family by the time their parents brought the children to the United States to live. My grandmother was 7 in 1920, and she remembered to her dying day seeing the Statue of Liberty and going through Ellis Island. Her Dutch name was Anneke, (pronounced as Annika, and named in the Dutch tradition of the 2nd daughter being named after maternal grandmother) but they changed it to Annie at Ellis Island. Her twin sister was named Jenneke (pronounced "Yen-a-kah", and changed to Jennie at Ellis Island. My mother was named Anna after her mother (and grandmother), and I was named after them also. We named our oldest child Annaka after my grandmother, using the Dutch pronunciation, but "Americanizing" the spelling. My grandmother died in 1990, just before my daughter's 7th birthday, seventy years after emigrating to America.

Annette H.

My great uncle Fred was a supply officer. He stormed the beach at Normandy, and was able to help his men w/ just about anything they needed. See, he spoke German and English. He was able to get free supplies from Germans b/c the German soldiers believed he was a spy for them. So, America used him very much. He wrote home often especially to his then girlfriend and later-to-be Scottish wife, Edna. He was wounded in Germany once and a family nursed him back to health over 6 months. He also was so good at getting supplies that the Germans gave him a box of canned goods at a train station. He went on the other side of the train and gave them to the prisoners in the train. Fred also made it through the Battle of the Bulge.

He was also really good at playing football in high school and was called “golden toe” for his abilities to kick so well. He helped win this big game between his town, Silsbee, Texas vs. their rivals.

My grandfather, well, he was the best example I can think of for the Prodigal Son. He did become a Merchant Marine and they still were impacted by the war. They were attacked a few times. How did he get over it? Well, by writing a few girls to see which one he would marry when he returned. One letter put it this way, “Dear Sis, Stopped into the port in Cuba. Great cigars, and the women are nice too.” He was most definitely not too shy. He did marry, had a child, divorced, married again, they had my dad and divorced later when my dad was 9 years old. Many in town would tell their children not to play w/ my dad because of this and because of the screaming and fighting. My grandfather and grandmother were not exactly kind people. He died not knowing Christ. He drove passenger trains and the engine hit a stalled-out truck, and blew up. The passengers were saved. My dad was 14 years old at the time.

My great-uncle is the hero. He lived into his 90’s, was a father to 3 daughters, and was so inspirational. He was definitely the kind of man that I would have loved for a grandfather. My grandfather… well, I so hope that at the very last minute he came to know the Lord. Glad that God saw fit to have me become a little of both by being a Christian who loves to travel and worked in Russia helping orphans.

Anna W.

My paternal grandfather was a cook in the army. One time, the soldiers were complaining about his cooking, so he threw them all out of the mess tent. He threw away all the food, then he heated and served stewed tomatoes and saltine crackers. He said they never complained about his cooking again! :)

Barb S.

My maternal grandfather came to the USA from Cyprus in 1919, he wanted to become an American and an Episcopal priest. He became an American citizen and was a chaplain in the Army for over 30 years before he retired!