From Slavery to College Football | Review: Family Tree Prints (+ Giveaway!)

This post and giveaway is sponsored by Family Tree Prints, all opinions are my own.

When Donovan and I got married, all of the obvious things happened. The two of us came together as one in commitment. We moved in together. We shared finances. We bought a car together. Besides the lifestyle changes, we also each joined each other’s families and both gained in-laws. When we have kids in the future, our children will be a genetic offspring of each of us. They will scientifically and quite literally connect our families. They’ll share blood with each of us, our families, and our ancestors.

Before getting married my family history was important to me, but I knew that most of it had already been done so I wasn’t actively involved in it. I thought it was neat that I knew my who my ancestors were several centuries back. In fact, I’m named after my great great grandmother, Hannah Proudlove. I’ve been blessed to know so much about my heritage. However, this was absolutely not the case for Donovan. He had to think hard about his grandparents’ names and had no clue who his great-grandparents were. This made me a little sad for him and especially sad that our kids one day wouldn’t know who their great-grandparents were.

The Journey of Building Our Family Tree

When Family Tree Prints contacted me, I instantly loved the idea of a decorative family tree, and it made me so excited and motivated to finally try to find my husband’s ancestors. Unfortunately, it was way harder than I expected. Although I didn’t personally find my own ancestors from my maiden family, I assumed information was fairly accessible and easy to find, since there were so many known generations of my family. Not only do we know the names of my ancestors, but we know their family dynamics and the dates of their births, marriages, and deaths. There are real pictures online of their families and actual photo copies of documents such as their birth certificates, marriage certificates, censuses, and school records.

This was absolutely not the case with Donovan’s family. My mother-in-law is the baby of her nuclear family and the youngest of 14 children. Out of all those kids, she was the first and only child who was born in the United States. Unfortunately, the country of Mexico doesn’t seem to be as organized with document-keeping as the US and the few documents I have been able to find are only in Spanish. My father-in-law’s side was a bit easier because they did live in the US, but still had a distinct situation. His ancestors worked as slaves in the South and sadly weren’t very accounted for under the law. Donovan’s great-great grandpa was one of the last freed slaves in Georgia. I could only find one generation behind him, his parents, but all of the information on them seems to disappear around that time period.

With all these roadblocks, not only did I not know much about my in-laws’ family, but neither did they. It took weeks of talking to numerous family members, even ones that don’t speak English, to gather up some names. With the help of FamilySearch, I was able to plug in these names to find documents with more clues. I can’t explain the pure joy and excitement when I connected a few dots and found another generation. They’re not even my blood family, but I carry their last name, I will one day birth their great grandchildren, and I have them to thank for my husband. It gave me the best feeling!  After all of this effort, I was able to create a 4 generation family tree. The effort of searching for those names pays off instantly by connecting our family alone, but I am super excited to be able to showcase the effort and our family connection in our home.

A Sweet Connection

It was an especially special moment when I shared all I had learned about Donovan’s family with him. He was most interested in seeing what they did for a living and how they spent their lives. We learned that when Donovan’s last enslaved forefather was freed from bondage, familiar opportunities arose for his children. We found his son’s name, who played football, on a college roster from 1920. His son played for Virginia Union University. This instantly gave Donovan a unique connection to his great-grandfather, because Donovan too played college football, at The University of Montana. Now not only can Donovan know where his football talent comes from, but he can relate to and have something in common with the great-grandfather he didn’t even know by name.

The Business Behind the Decorative, Modern Family Tree

I can’t emphasize enough how creative and genius I find the business motive behind Family Tree Prints to be. They have changed the game of a plain, old family tree. I love that now my family tree doesn’t have to be something only found online. It doesn’t have to only be a folded up piece of paper in a filing cabinet somewhere where no one can see it. Now my family tree can be a part of the walls of my home and the perfect piece to my family gallery wall!

It can be art – beautiful and modern. When visitors come into your house, they often learn a lot about you, your family, and what is most important to you by what you display in your home. They’ll usually find a family picture and discover how many kids you have. They often read your favorite quote painted in a frame. They learn if you are religious if you have a picture of Christ or a cross above your mantle. What a perfect way for a new friend visiting your home to get to know you and the generations before you – to see your family roots.

Family Tree Prints offers different styles of charts such as a circle, a fan (like mine), themed charts or totally customizable. They are also available in different sizes regarding generation. If you don’t know very far back on either side like me, you can order one as small as a 3 generation chart. If you’re lucky enough to know more, the charts are available up to 10 generations.

This company has made the process so easy. You can transfer your family tree directly from FamilySearch, upload it from a file, or customize it from scratch. We celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday last month and I considered doing something with our genealogy, because family is so important to him. I gave up on the idea thinking it would be way too time consuming and difficult. I was so surprised at how easy and simple it was to make my tree!  My family tree completes my family wall and I love it! I know this won’t be my last one from them either – I’m already eyeing the turtle-themed chart for my kid’s room one day.

“We are who we are because they were who they were”

I’m so grateful that now we know more about my husband’s heritage. I look forward to searching through our family tree one day, especially to look for ancestors to name our kids after. It truly makes me so happy that we will be able to tell our kids where their name came from, where their interest for a certain hobby comes from, or who gave them that distinct facial feature. Not only can we talk to them about the family they came from, but they can look up at their bedroom wall and see their family tree and know their lineage in such a simple way.

What I love most about our Family Tree Prints is that our family history won’t just be knowledge in the back of our mind, but rather the family members who we share blood with and who paved the way for our blessed lives can have a place in our home, right on the walls that encapsulate our family.

GIVEAWAY!

October is my favorite month of the year, but it became even better when I learned October is Family History Month! Let’s kick off this special month with a FREE family tree chart from Family Tree Charts. You’ll be able to upload or make your family tree, customize it however you’d like, and choose up to a 24″ x 36″ chart. Check it out below!

Giveaway will run October 2nd to October 23rd at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow me along on Facebook // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin’. Thanks for reading and entering my giveaway!

63 Comments

  1. Family is so important to me. As an African, we grow closely knitted in the family and you are always hanging out with your cousins and relatives. There are certain greetings only used by people older than you and you can’t just use them anyhow. Although this feels overwhelming to the modern kid, family has shaped me to who i am today.
    Thanks for the amazing post xx

    • Hannah Rooks

      Family definitely does have a special meaning and place in this world. I’m so grateful for it! I’m so glad you are so close with your family, those relationships are wonderful. Thanks for reading, Caroline!

  2. Saydi Claridge

    I love hearing about your family tree! It is so interesting to know about your ancestors and making sure your kids know who they are related to! I love this so much and all of your pictures are so dang cute!(:

  3. I don’t know much about my family tree past a few generations. I think my last name wasn’t a real familial last name but was more representative of the town my ancestors came from. People don’t believe me when I say that there isn’t another person with my full name in the entire world. But there really isn’t because everyone with my last name is connected to a few generations in the U.S. only. This is a great tool for finding ancestors. And I’m glad it could help him find new family, against all odds.

  4. Catherine Holmes

    This was so interesting to read! I love how you dived into both of yalls backgrounds! I think the family tree was such a neat idea.

    • Hannah Rooks

      For me, it was so worth the work and so special to our family. Family Tree Prints has some great kid-themed charts if you’re interested! Thanks for reading, Jasmine!

  5. Family is the most important thing, and yes, we are who we are because of who they were. We worked on a family tree a while ago, but with this Family Tree Charts, it is so easy to visualize everyone! Thanks for introducing me to this product! Love it!

    • Hannah Rooks

      That’s what I love about it, I can visualize it and show to others. Good luck to you if you end up making your own! Thanks for reading!

  6. Kristina

    I love your decorating style, that teal color is perfect! The family tree is so subtle and so perfect for the gallery wall. What is the best part is that you actually searched and learned the family history behind each name. So now when you see that beautiful family tree on your wall, you will be reminded of the stories from the past.

    • Hannah Rooks

      I’ve learned so much about them despite never meeting them. It’s such a sweet experience and story for us! Thanks for reading and sharing your kind thoughts, Kristina!

  7. I love this! It’s so cute! I’ll definitely look into a print like this. I recently joined family search and my kids and I also did DNA tests which was very interesting and fun to find out more about our geneology. Our family is very into family history and so they actually had a lot of it recorded, but we still are looking into a few relatives that are popping up as we do more searches and dig into it even more.

  8. That is so cool! I have always wanted to do some sort of ancestry thing for my husband and myself. I don’t know too much about my dad’s side of the family so it would be nice to learn more.

  9. robin rue

    That family tree is amazing. I did a DNA test a few months back and was shocked by what I learned. I am looking forward to researching my tree more.

  10. This is such a great idea! I feel bad that I do not have a sense of my family history but this would be a way to start. It’s such a great way to share your family history with your children and to learn about where you are coming from.

  11. I have been wanting to make a family tree for my kids, but it’s going to be pretty one-sided since my husband knows nothing about his side. Family Tree Charts looks like they’ll make something much nicer than what I could do myself!

  12. How special! I am always looking for something a little different to have in our home. I haven’t looked into our ancestory much but it’s definitely peaked my interest. Love your gallery wall also, it makes the perfect addition!!!

  13. What a beautiful keepsake for you and your husband. My mother was always into genealogy and locating ancestors. We can only go back so far on my mothers side because her great grandmother was a full blooded Native American that married a full blooded Irish man. When this happened, the tribe that she belonged to disowned her. They gave birth to her grandmother, but the sad part is they put her and her siblings in foster care. They didn’t leave any information, so the only names we could rely on were from that of memories from her grandmother.

    • Hannah Rooks

      Wow, Joanna! That is so unfortunate that it happened but it’s good that you have this knowledge of your history to a point. Thanks for reading!

  14. Honestly, I think it’s amazing that you did this! It’s really awesome to learn more about your family’s history as well as your husband’s family. I’m sure it was also pretty fun gathering all the documents needed and seeing how long each family has come.

  15. I loved reading your story about how you learned about your and your husband’s family history! Your pictures and arrangement is beautiful.

    I became intrigued with researching my genealogy last year and was able to go back many generations. I’d heard I was related to the outlaw Jesse James and Pocahontas and confirmed both connections. I discovered quite a bit of English royalty too. My husband and kids like to joke about this. So you never know what surprises will turn up when you start digging into your past.

    • Hannah Rooks

      That is so fun!! My grandpa has told me we’re related to Pocahontas in some way too. Making connections is so neat!

  16. This is a wonderful story, I love how you helped your husband find out about his ancestry. My husband is fascinated by finding out his and unfortunately there are so many missing pieces that it’s not easy.

  17. Aw bless Donovan and what a beautiful couple you both make. It is great that his forefather was freed from slavery and created a legacy for his ancestors to be proud of. I am glad you were both able to get some answers surrounding your ancestries.

  18. I am also fortunate that myself and my husband’s family know their lines, even though both my grandmother and my husbands parents were in German war camps. Such a lovely post to read

  19. That looks like a beautiful print and what a beautiful story that you told. Such a great keepsake for your children to see too! I might have to get my own!

  20. I love this story. Good for you for working so hard to track it all done. That’s impressive. Your kids will thank you one day and I’m sure your husband appreciates it.

  21. reesa

    I love the story! My husband has been talking about wanting to do something like this for a long time now. I need to show him this!

  22. My hubby knows more about his lineage and family tree than I do. I didn’t grew up with my mom or dad. I totally need to look into this as it is absolutely a great topic to discuss with our growing family. Fab giveaway too. xx

  23. I’ve always been curious about my family tree. I know a bit, dating back to my great-grandparents, but nothing beyond that. I would love to know more and creating a family tree is a great way to find out who you are and where you’ve come from.

  24. Chanel van Reenen

    What a wonderful gift you were able to give your husband and his family! Your wedding photos are absolutely gorgeous too. I definitely am checking out this site for once I have more information about my ancestors!

  25. the youngest of 14 children? Wow, as an only child I could not imagine. I can emphasize with the importance of knowing your family history. I was adopted, so I am not sure about mine. Blessings!

    • Hannah Rooks

      Right?! Let’s just say that as an in-law, I hardly remember anyone’s names! In fact I don’t think I’ve even met some of her siblings – I lose count! Haha.

  26. This is so great! I’d love to have this for our new home. We just moved a couple of weeks ago and I have so much more wall space for significant and meaningful art. It’s so important for our daughters to understand our backgrounds.

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