Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grandpa's 80th birthday!

Back on February 11th we celebrated my grandfather's 80th birthday with our immediate family.  Just my grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins.  I decided that since it's a big birthday for him I really wanted to do something special and unique.  I've been keeping him up to date as much as possible on all the ancestry stuff I've found, but it can be hard to really see how many people you're connected to when it's on tons of pieces of paper.  I came up with the idea of making my grandfather a family tree display.  Something that would have all of the people that he is related to in one place where he could see it.  Little did I realize when I started what a massive undertaking this would be.  In hindsight I wish I would have taken photos along the way, but I've got photos of the end result to share.

I started by pulling out my Meeks binder and getting on to  to fill in the blanks.  It had been a while since I intensively sat down and worked on my trees, so I made it my mission to connect as many dot as I possibly could on my grandfather's tree before I made this display.  Well let me tell you, I bit off a lot more than I could chew.  I spent weeks working on the tree and researching every single leaf hint that had to show me.  Finally after I did all of that I tried to print out small versions of the trees that I was looking at.  All in all I had 4 last names; Meeks, Tjardes, Keilhack & Riordan.  The trees varied in size based on the information I had available to me.  The Riordan tree for instance was pretty small, while the Tjardes & Meeks trees were pretty extensive.

The next battle came in trying to figure out how to put it all together.  I used 2 of those large tri-fold display boards to get this all together.  I put 2 trees on each board and split them based on which side of my grandfather's family there were on.  Keilhack & Riordan were on one and Meeks & Tjardes were on the other.  I next enlisted the help of my mother, and I'm pretty damn thankful I did.  Word to the wise, if you plan a project like this it is a MUST to have someone who has never done genealogy look over your rough draft.  It may make sense to you, but you look at this all the time.  Having my mom look at what I had laid out was really really helpful.  She took one look at my rough draft & went, "I don't get it".  She gave me the bright idea of staggering the generations to make it easier to see and understand.  After I got all of the little names cut out and glued on to the display board I really wanted to make it more personal.  I titled each tree with the surname and flanked it with the flag of the country of origin if I knew it.  I then went back through all my census records and gathered up any interesting information I could about the people on the trees.  I added occupation, salary, rent/house worth, as well as any military information I had available.

The end result was pretty awesome.  I gave my grandfather a tree that he could get right up to and connect the dots and really be able to visualize the magnitude of the amount of people we're related to.  I also have myself the realization that I've come across a lot of really cool information and I've had a ton of fun doing this research.

My Grandfather & I

Keilhack & Riordan tree display

Meeks & Tjardes tree display