Tag Archives: Family history

Echoes in the Grand Canyon

Sunlight illuminates the Grand Canyon

In my growing up years I felt keenly the absence of my grampy, my dad’s father, Glen Kuhl, who had died before I was born. This sense of loss may have been reinforced by my mother, who never stopped mourning the loss of this man who had been as a father to her.

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Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks, Blog Posts-Personal Histories, Meditations/Liturgies

Bringing liberal arts study and life together


Sharing stories between generations is magic, no matter the form those stories take

I was invited to comment on the benefits of obtaining a liberal arts education. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question right now. Below is my response, with the link to the article, which offers numerous other amazing responses to the same question. Enjoy!

I received my BA in History many years ago, and for quite a while wondered if I would ever put my studies to use. It was only ten years ago, when I came across the world of Personal Historians, that I realized my studies, my passions and my work were finally all coming together. Continue reading

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Courtship, Marriage…and Murder: piecing together a lost portion of our family’s story

Don, Em leaving Church

My parents leaving the church after their wedding

As I worked with my dad to create a memoir for him to share with our family, we came to the year he spent courting my mother in 1949. Dad was more than happy to share the events of how he and Mom met, a story I had grown up hearing. But a significant event that occurred during that year before they married had been left out of Dad’s narrative.

Shortly before Dad’s memoir was to be published, my sister handed me a box that included letters my father wrote to Mom during that courtship year. In a few letters from my dad to Mom, Dad wrote some cryptic notes, including a comment that left me puzzled. Continue reading


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Echoes Through the Generations

Caleb same pose as Grampie

Caleb Rae (with cousin Em Turner Chitty) 2017, Coalmont, TN

GH Kuhl portrait

Glen Kuhl, early 1900s, Wisconsin

The first time I saw the photo, my first thought was, “That’s my son.” But in fact, I was assured that the young man in the photo, who was standing in the dirt road, was actually my grandfather Glen, who had died before I was born. I’d never met him, and yet, I knew that stance. It was so familiar because my son often stood in this same pose, looking thoughtful, listening intently, or simply pondering his surroundings. Continue reading

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A question and a story

Don & M 3-7-09

My dad and I

Do you know when you’re going to die? Well, I don’t know the answer to that, for you, for others, for myself. But since I’m a storyteller from way back, here’s a story:

You know, my dad was lucky. Three months before he died, Dad sat in his living room watching four of his teen grandchildren gathered on the floor around him, reading chapters of his soon-to-be-published memoir. He and I had spent a number of weekends together over the previous several years, working together to help document his life lessons and experiences. I clarified details of stories that didn’t quite hold together, drawing out more information. The more he shared, the more he remembered other events. Continue reading

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Coming Home

19Millis Pleasant and Myrtle 2

Fall in New England

I have heard it said that understanding and sharing your past can change your future, but it was only recently that I began to fully grasp this truth.

In my work as a freelance writer and personal historian, I often ask people, “How did you get to where you are today?” The question might be in reference to a person’s vocation, but it may also simply be about how a person came to live in a certain place. The answers I’ve received have been endlessly fascinating. Continue reading


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks, Meditations/Liturgies

Old Letters Become Time Machine to the Past

Letter from Dad to mom june 1948

One of my dad’s first letters to the woman who would be his wife for the coming 50 years

I’ve been a personal historian for a number of years, and have seen how powerful the experience of documenting and preserving one’s family stories can be. We personal historians often talk about the gift of passing on family stories to the next generation, assuring that you’re not forgotten and more. But I never realized that doing the work of preserving your family legacy—the photos that tell stories, documents, letters, and the stories themselves—can actually be a powerful time machine. Continue reading

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