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 on a college football 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.
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.