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03 April 2015

Narrative Project: Writing a Marriage Story

The response to my post, Writing a Simple Birth Story was wonderful. I hope you were successful as you wrote your first story about an ancestor who is not here to tell their story. Let's continue the process of expanding stories from a chart to a paragraph with simplicity. This time we'll focus on the marriage event of Lura Maud Smith to Harry Howard Long.

Lura Maud Smith
Lura's profile from my RootsMagic Database

Step One: Make A Simple Sentence


Remember last time where we took the facts we knew from a chart and crafted a simple sentence. All sentences should have a subject and a verb, begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. I keep stressing these rules with my home schooled children repeatedly; however  when you don't know where to start, it's best to start with the basics.

RootsMagic Edit Person View
RootsMagic Edit Person View for Lura Smith

If you happen to have a genealogy program like RootsMagic, then you have access to a simple sentence generator. (Actually, I don't know what RootsMagic calls this feature). Let's take a closer look at the sentence RootsMagic crafted for me.

Roots Magic Sentence Generator
RootsMagic Event Sentence Generator

Again, the first step is to craft a simple sentence but it doesn't matter whether you or a software program does the work.

Step Two: Expand the Story With Their Age and Number of Marriage


Now that we have a starting point, let's methodically add to the sentence until it becomes as much of a story as we can produce. The next step would be to include the ages of Lura and Harry into this sentence. If this was a second or subsequent marriage for these individuals, I could include that information as well. Harry and Lura had no prior marriage when they wed, so I'll let that bit of information off.
At the age of 23, Lura Maude Smith married Harry Howard Long, who was also 23, on 19 July 1907 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.
One other tip. It's likely that I have mentioned Lura more than once in her overall narrative story. I only need to include her full name once, unless she regularly used all names. This is likely the first time Harry has been introduced in Lura's narrative, so I do need to use his full name at this time. So, I'm actually going to reduce Lura's name in this paragraph and for the remainder of this tutorial.

At the age of 23, Lura married Harry Howard Long, who was also 23, on 19 July 1907 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.

This sentence will flow better in the overall story. What other information can I add to this story?

Step Three: Expand the Story With Other Facts From Marriage Record


Chances are, you have a marriage record similar to the one below. There are other pieces of information you can find that will help you expand this marriage story. 

Harry Long and Lura Smith Marriage record
"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZJS-X5M: accessed 27 March 2015), Henry Howard Long and Lena Maude Smith, 19 Jun 1907; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference v 42 p 472 cn 16672; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,163.
This record blesses me with a tremendous amount of information that a 'basic' group sheet leaves off. First, notice that neither spouse is from Franklin County, Ohio originally? Harry is from New Haven, Ohio and Lura is from Michigan. Lura's birth would have been established earlier, but I can include Harry's birth information now. Harry is a bookkeeper and the son of W L Long and Young. From other sources, I know that Harry was a stenographer prior to his marriage and a bookkeeper from this point forward. I could note that change of career in the story. Additionally, I know that W L stands for William Lester and groom's mother's name is Sarah Angeline (or Angie) Young. Finally, I can see the name of the religious leader who performed the marriage, Pastor Everett L Rexford. I may do more research about Pastor Everett in the future, but for now, it looks like he was associated with the Universalist Church. I do not know what that means, which again means more research. 

In examining Lura's presented facts, I confirm the parental information from her birth story. I know she's now residing in Columbus, Ohio, but she does not have an occupation, despite being 23 years-old. 

Whew! The details I can now add are many. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married  Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.  
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus. 
Notice how nearly the entire section is bold-faced indicating the new material added the paragraph? If you have a  marriage record with this much detail, it is a gold mine!


Step Four: Expand the Story With Physical Descriptions (if possible)


For many, the previous step will suffice; however, I yearn for more. Thankfully, I have a photograph of my great grandparents to help me add a little more flavor to my story. I also have a collection of stories written by Harry's sister describing the appearance of both individuals.

Lura Smith and Harry Long c. 1907
Lura Smith and Harry Long about the time of their marriage

From this photo, I can tell that both work glasses, were slender, and had dark hair. Harry's sister Elizabeth, he was considered a slender well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair. She further states that Harry and Lura truly loved each other. Let's add these insights to our story. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. The fine looking couple complimented each other with their slender builds and both sporting glasses. Harry's sister said that Harry was a well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair.  
Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then a Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus. The marriage he solemnized that June was the official declaration of the love these two would be known for throughout their lives. 

Okay, okay... I spiced up some of the wording. The last line of the third paragraph could be a bit much. However, it's my narrative and it's not entirely inaccurate. Also, the statement 'the fine looking couple...' is my opinion. I believe them to be a fine looking couple. I believe they compliment each other with their looks. Should I remove this statement because it's not objective? Nope. This is a statement from their great-granddaughter, supported by their daughter and Harry's sister's opinion.

Step Five: Expand the Story With Parent Comparisons


Again, you might look at the three paragraphs above and stop. I wanted to add one final detail to the story. When did Lura's parents marry? Did she follow a relationship pattern of her fore-bearers? I could also include the same information for Harry, but I've elected to forego that information at this time. The story is focusing on Lura and the man she married. 

From the Lura's birth story, you may recall that her mother Emma was 16 when she married the 27 year-old Andrew Smith. Lura was 7 years older than Emma was at the time of marriage. Lura also married someone her same age, while her mother married someone 11 years her senior.  Let's finish off this exercise by including this final piece of information. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. The fine looking couple complimented each other with their slender builds and both sporting glasses. Harry's sister said that Harry was a well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair.  
Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then a Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.
At 23, Lura was seven years older at the time of her marriage than her mother Emma, who was 16. Unlike her parents who had an 11 year age gap, Lura married Harry who was barely two months her senior.
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus.  The marriage he solemnized that June was the official declaration of the love these two would be known for throughout their lives. 

There you have it! From one fact on a chart to a four paragraph story about the time when Harry married Lura. You will be surprised what stories you can tell about your ancestors simply from the sources that are left behind. Have fun crafting your own stories and leave a link to your work in the comments section below. 


Are you using all the resources available for a 21st Century Family Historian? If not, you need to order by book at Amazon.com today. 

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