Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY Monday: Family Tree

Before I share today's DIY, remember you have until Thursday to enter the Thrifty Thursday giveaway! See details here.

About a month after our wedding, I received the following touching email from Kyle's grandfather Curt:

Letter to Erin
              Welcome to the Horst family. I just wanted you to know about our heritage. We are decedents of the Mayflower passengers John Billington, Peter Brown and Francis Cooke. Your children would be the 14th generation decedents. We have cousins, Presidents Ulysses s Grant, Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwhite Eisenhower, and both Bushes. Also maybe even John Wayne. We also have a line to Royalty in France about 1000 AD. Named Eudes, De Rie. How about that! 
              Our Family tree needs to be filled in on your Family. If you wanted to give me some information that would be great, if not that is OK to. I would need your Birth date and place and your mother and fathers full names, birthdays and places, also where they were married and when.

                                           Thanks   Grandpa   Curtis Horst  AKA (Curt)
              P.S. Please don’t call the grammar police on me. I’m just a old construction worker.

Not only was I touched that Grandpa Curt was interested in my family history, but I was so excited by all the information he had! How incredible to know exactly where your family came from! So I took the "blue pill" started falling down the rabbit hole on

I spent hours and hours compiling information, looking at old records, essentially traveling back in time in some cases to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. I discovered thousands of mine and Kyle's great grandparents. It was an incredible journey.

After discovering and compiling our rich family histories, I wanted a way to display and share it with our friends and future children. A few ideas popped into my head...a large wall mural like Sirius Black's family had in Harry Potter or a framed wall display...I decided these grand-type displays would not be feasible in our 1500 square foot rented apartment. So I will save these ideas for some day when we have a home and have a bit more space to play around with a larger display of family history. I settled on a large poster board, going back three generations and highlighting older, more prominent relatives towards the top. This is how it turned out:

And here is how I made it. NOTE: this is a very time consuming project - I have spent about 4 months on the first few steps.

  • or other resource
  • Large brown poster board
  • Nice black pen to write with
  • Stamp with lines and a cloud border
  • "family" cardboard cutout letters
  • Our family tree book from Barnes and Noble
  • Brown stamp pad
  • Photo paper
  • Glue stick
  • Framing supplies - I bought two wooden rods and used wood glue and nails to attach it to the sides to make it look like a scroll

1. Research, research, research! Make sure you have a clear picture how many generations backwards and some key historical figures - if you search far back enough, you find some cool things! Just think, you have hundreds of 11th great grandparents...

2. Document the relatives and stories in the Family Tree book

3. Stamp the tree on the poster board

4. Fill in the information in your best hand-writing (which is not great, but hey! it makes it look more real)

5. Add photos of prominent historical family members at the top of the tree

6. Paint the "family" cardboard cutout a dark red color to match our decor.

7. Frame the poster board - you could use a poster sized frame - or I got a little crazy and tried to make it look like a scroll with two wooden rods.

8. Create a wall display and savor the richness of your own family history! Here it is glowing with my tea lights:

Granted, there are still some big holes on my dad's side - his mother's father was born on a reservation and we have very little records of him. We also have few records of his father's Belgian family. There is still much research to do! But the cool thing about family history research is that you can also pick it up anytime and add to it as the years go by.

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

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