Candy Simonson: Preserving Memories in Power Point

Candy Simonson
Guest article by Candy Simonson  

My father was a great storyteller and he had a grand heritage to share. His grandfather was one of the first settlers in South Dakota, founding Woodland township. The Woodland family and the Bailey family travelled in covered wagons to find the ideal spot on which to settle. I was told how they built their homes of sod, had contacts with the local Sioux, and braved cold South Dakota winter blizzards. Tales were told of the “Jim & Jane” trees, a marker for a favorite picnic and fishing spot on the lake named after his friend. Bailey’s Lake is now a state park and a refuge for waterfowl and wildlife in northeast South Dakota. I heard that my great-grandfather was a postmaster who walked thirty miles over two days across the prairie to retrieve mail.

Headed for the Dakotas.
The stories intrigued me as a young girl and when I inherited a box of pictures in early adulthood I discovered a treasure trove of history and adventure. The stories had really been true! The covered wagons, the Jim & Jane trees, the soddy; and somehow, there were pictures of them all. How? I couldn’t say. Surely not many families could afford the tintype photos; yet, here were dozens of them. I discovered my ancestors built up the small town creating dress shops, barbershops and optometry. Not only did I find the pictures to be amazing; many of them had the names and dates included. Then I found a journal. It completed Dad’s stories.

Grandpa Woodland's sod
shanty, known as a soddy.

There is a historian in every family preserving memories. I decided it was up to me to write it. I wanted to pass this information to my grandchildren, for how would they know their great-great-great grandfather sailed by boat from England to the U.S. when he was fourteen years old and then served his country during the Civil War? Wouldn’t they love to know he was the first constable in a little town called Clark in the early 1800s?

Land claims on the prairie.

Armed with information and photos, I decided to put together a visual account, illustrating the stories with the pictures. First the story had to be written in chronological order from one generation to the next, starting with my great grandfather. Then pictures were sorted and scanned into jpeg format to be inserted into my Word document. From there, it was a matter of placing the story into a Power Point presentation. The present product is 135 slides with over 100 photos. It includes poems written by family, "secret" (not any more) family recipes, and the family tree. The time covers 1835 to 1976, a span of four generations of the Woodland family in South Dakota.

It’s an ongoing story that needs to keep going. Perhaps someday it should become a book. For now, it’s simply our family’s treasure of memories to keep and cherish.

Candy Simonson of Strafford, Missouri is an Internet Technician and she writes articles for family magazines. Her articles include topics on teaching children, preparing Christian school lessons, and leading small-group discussions. She has written a novel for youth and is searching for a publisher.

Photos courtesy Candy Simonson.

No comments:

Post a Comment