Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 Beryl Swanson - A Flower Story About a Flour Sack Dress

“I thought you meant a ‘flower’ sack dress!” My almost-7-year-old granddaughter and I shared a moment a month ago that left me speechless, a smile on my face, and the great feeling that perhaps I have grandchildren who are interested in the stories about our family history. My 9-year-old grandson asked me last week if I had written a story for that week. I hesitated a bit, wondering what he was referring to, and then suddenly I realized that he was talking about the weekly stories I put together for this blog. I said, “Yes,” and he asked me, “What was it about?” With his limited knowledge of our tax system, I said, “Well, today is April 15, tax day, and I wrote a story about taxes.” He knows what sales taxes are so I will do a little more storytelling about our present-day income tax obligation at a later date.

I often sit down with my grandchildren to talk about events that have happened to me and those who came before me. I tell stories on their level so that they understand why things happened the way that they did.

I told my granddaughter that my mom grew up very poor in south Dakota and that they lost their crops during the destructive dust bowl days. Mom had to wear her sisters’ worn hand-me-down dresses to school. When my grandmother was able to buy flour, she would find the flour sacks that had a pretty design on the front. She would soak the dress to soften the burlap, perhaps with baking soda added to the mix, and then rub it back and forth between her hands to help make it wearable. Then she would cut out a dress pattern from the flour sack, paying special attention to the different kind of pattern that the company created on each sack, and she sent my mother off to school.

My granddaughter decided to draw some pictures to show how much she learned about my family “history lesson.” She drew the first picture with a dress that had a small flower in the middle as she thought I meant “flower” sack dress. I then drew a picture of what a “flour” sack looked like, but that didn’t stop her. She wrote “old days” on the first picture. I reminded her that she needed to use crayons to color the picture, but she said that she wanted to leave it the way it was because that’s what old pictures look like. I didn’t even know that she paid attention to that detail about “old” pictures from the past!

On the “New days” picture, she drew a “heart dress” and she colored it with crayons. Even though there were some bad times associated with the first picture of the “flower-sack dress,” the sun was always shining and the grass was still growing!

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