Sunday, April 24, 2016

Frasers of Fife: Documenting the Family Tree

The writing, in my father's hand, on the outside of the mailing tube located behind the furnace read: "IRONS Family Tree"

Where on earth had he acquired this, I wondered? And why was it stuffed behind the furnace? My mom, weary from the monumental task of emptying one's home of a lifetime of memories, had hastily shoved it into my hand, saying "here, you want this?" Of course I wanted it!! No brainer. But where had it come from? She was remiss to answer. Didn't know, couldn't remember, too exhausted to care.

I took it home and, like a kid at Christmas, prepared to behold the wonder the tube contained. Inside was a cloth object, rolled around a dowel, wrapped in a thin tissue. Gingerly unfurling it, I discovered a hand inked family tree on linen. Badly cracked and worn. It frightened me. And thrilled me. 

And wait! What? It was not the IRONS family tree, as my dad suspected, but the FRASER family tree! Hand inked in 1880 containing well over 700 names! Did he ever look at this tree? The last FRASER in the direct family had died over 100 years ago.

The where will forever remain a mystery, I resigned.

I unrolled it once or twice more in the passing weeks, realizing that with each unfurling I was losing bits of valuable, perhaps priceless, information. I stored it away for almost a decade, but it kept drawing me back like the Sirens of The Odyssey, until finally I could bear it no longer. I had it archivally framed so that I could bask in it's magnificence, and record electronically what my ancestor John Fraser had done by hand 135 years ago.

Behold the Tree!
The Frasers of Fife - Family Tree c.1880

My next task was to sit down and begin entering and documenting all these people. Overwhelming? Yes. How to start? Paper and pencil proved too labor intensive, so I moved to photographing bits of the tree so I could enter the names into my software program. That also was difficult and too labor intensive. I finally decided on working with my laptop stationed next to the tree, which was now hanging on an interior, shaded wall, and too cumbersome to tote around.

I decided to start a public Ancestry tree too, there might be other Frasers out there looking for more family info. After all, mine is but a tiny twig on this mammoth tree, the IRONS branch on the FRASER tree.

That decision proved to be quite providential.

compiled by John Fraser 1880

to be continued .....

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