Tracking Family History

Tracking Family History

Recently, I took a trip to visit my folks on the family farm in Tennessee. They are just now settling into retirement which I would assume brings on a bit of reflection on the past, family heritage and family future.

Lately, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to witness families being tasked with having to decide on what to do with all the “stuff” their parents have collected over the years. While a large majority of the furniture, dining sets, glassware and the like, might have little or no significance on family history, there are going to be items parents want their children to keep in the family. Not only do they want to pass down these items, but they also want to relay what significance the items have on the family’s heritage.

Our family is no different. When my maternal grandfather passed away, our family (primarily mom and her sister) were left to make difficult decisions on what to do with all the history tied up in objects. What do we keep? What has monetary value? What might others want us to keep? Fortunately for our family, mom is the resident historian with a large memory of the history behind various tables, chairs, paintings, and the like. Unfortunately, I’m very bad at retaining that kind of information and depend on mom, dad and my brother Will to help me remember.

For example, during my visit, mom pointed out an old dining room table that has been in the family for the past few generations. The table has always been around as long as I can remember but I had never thought much about it other than it being an old beat up table.

Hayes Family Antique TableCome to find out, my Great Aunt Thelma had once become ill with Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone/bone marrow) which had already killed another one of my great aunts. A doctor was called to the house and my aunt was placed on that table (in the middle of the kitchen) in preparation of having her leg amputated. Keep in mind that this event took place in a very rural part of the country so I would guess this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. In the end, Aunt Thelma’s mother refused to let the leg be taken off. She ultimately recovered, although her leg bothered her the rest of her life. To this day, the table still shows signs of serving as not only the family dining table, but also as the family operating table. If you look closely, you can see stains where Ether had been spilled during a previous doctor visit (probably for my great grandfather).

Without knowing the story, that table would just be an old, stained piece of furniture which could very easily get tossed-out in a move or sold to someone so they could have a ‘vintage’ piece of furniture to set lamps and candles on.

For me, having a way to inventory and track family history in objects is one of the driving forces behind getting Relic Record built. I envision families being able to add items to their account and keep detailed records of what the object is and its importance to the family.


With Relic Record, an object’s history can be recorded along with pictures of the items. If you want to pass down the importance (and potential monetary value) of items in your family, Relic Record will be a great tool to do just that. Having a searchable, visual history of your family’s possessions at your fingertips will not only make your children’s lives easier but might also save a few fights.


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