Sunday, August 29, 2010

Primary Sharing Time: Our Family History

This week it was our family's privilege to present a "Sharing Time" for the Primary children at church. Our branch has had a special emphasis on Family History this year and each 5th Sunday a different family teaches something about their family history to the children.

There really aren't words to describe the feelings I've had this week as I learned more about these ancestors and shared it with my children. Last night as Trevin was practicing reading his part he stopped right in the middle and said, "This is really interesting. I didn't know anything about this before." As I said in my closing remarks, the scripture that kept coming to my mind all week was this one in Malachi 4:6--"and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers." I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn more about these great people whom my children were named for.

When each of my children was born my husband and I wanted to give them each a special name so we picked first names that we just happened to like, that were also a little bit unique and different. And then we gave each of them a family name for their middle name. Today we are going to tell you a little bit about the ancestors that they were named for.

Kyler's middle name is Dirks.
He was named after his Great-Grandfather, Ralph Albert Dirks. Kyler: This is a picture of my Great Grandpa Dirks when he was about 20 years old. Grandpa Dirks was born in 1910. If he were still alive he would be one hundred years old today. I got to meet my Grandpa Dirks several times when I was really little. He didn't live to be 100, but he did live to be 91. He died in 2002, when I was almost 4 years old.

Grandpa Dirks was born in Grundy County, Iowa, at home on
his family's farm. He was the oldest of four children--he had one sister and two brothers. He went to country school and had to walk many miles to get there every day. He lived on a farm so there was always work for him to do there. When he got older one of his first jobs was working on a golf course. He and his brother Glenn took flying lessons and later bought a small airplane. He gave up flying when he had children because he thought it was too risky but he always loved airplanes. He always wished that he had become an airplane pilot.

The job he had most of his life was to haul milk or cream from farms to the dairy. He would get
up early in the morning (around 3 or 4am ) and drive to several different farms and pick up large heavy metal milk cans full of milk or cream from their cows. He would deliver all of those cans of milk to the dairy where they would bottle it to get it ready to sell in stores. When he was 29 he married Luella Lampe, my great-grandmother. They lived in an apartment in the same small town where he grew up.

A few years later, Grandpa Dirks was drafted to be in the Navy during World War II. He was on a ship that carried ammunition. He went to lots of places including the Philippines, Japan, and Australia. When he returned to Iowa after the war he continued to haul milk and sometimes he would take his daughter (who is my Grandma) with him on his milk route.

Some of the other jobs Grandpa Dirks had in his lifetime were: running a gas station, working at a farm machinery store, and a maintenance man at a shopping mall. After he retired he continued to work on his daughter's farm taking care of the animals and mowing the lawn. Grandpa Dirks was very tall--over 6 feet--and he had big feet...just like me. :) He was very active in his church for many years and he was on the city council. His hobby was golfing, probably because of his first job at the golf course. He loved to get Kentucky Fried Chicken and go for long drives with his wife on Sunday afternoons.

He loved his family and he took lots of trips to see his grandchildren no matter how far away they lived. He was very open minded, forgiving, and he cried easily. He was known for his friendliness--he waved to everyone he passed as he drove. He was just a big kid--he loved roller coasters, he loved to open presents on his birthday and at Christmas, and he even went parasailing when h
e was 86 years old!

Kierstyn's middle name is Read. She was named after her Great-Great-Great Grandfather Samuel Roberson Read.
Kierstyn: My Great-Great-Great Grandfather Read was born in 1860 in Jasper, Tennessee. He moved with his parents to Chattanooga shortly after the Civil War to build and run a hotel. They named the hotel the Read House and it is still right here in downtown Chattanooga.

Sam started helping run the hotel when he wa
s only eleven years old. When he was young, Sam provided the hotel with chickens which he kept in rows of coops behind the hotel. His father had gotten quite sick during the Civil War and never fully recovered, so when Sam was only 19 years old, he became the manager of the Read House. This is a picture of my Great Grandfather that originally hung in the lobby of the Read House Hotel.

Sam Read was married to Elizabeth Sims. Her dad was a doctor and had once been the mayor of Chattanooga! They had four children and they all lived at the hotel until 1906 when they moved into their own house on Vine Street. Their house is still there, close to the UTC campus. We went to see it yesterday. It is a really, really big house and it has been turned into 9 separate condominiums (those are kind of like apartments).

We also w
ent to see the Read House Hotel yesterday. It was really neat to walk around in a hotel that my Great-Great-Great Grandfather had built. There was even a picture of Sam Read's parents right behind the front desk! My grandmother remembers going to the Read House many times as a little girl for fancy dinners. There were lots of plates and lots of forks and spoons and she had to use her very best manners. She remembers her shoes clip-clopping up the marble staircase--the same one I walked up yesterday! Many famous people have stayed at the Read House hotel: 5 U.s. Presidents, the President of Mexico, and lots of musicians and movie stars all stayed there.

Sam Read also built several buildings in Chattanooga--we drove by one of them yesterday--the Flatiron Building. He was President of the North Side Street Railway Company and he built a rail line from the Read H
ouse across the Walnut Street Bridge (that's the walking bridge) to Cherokee Boulevard. He also founded the Chattanooga Savings Bank.

Sam Read's daughter, Mary Hill Read, was always very religious. Even though she wasn't a member of our church, she always kept the Sabbath Day holy. She was an excellent seamstress but she wouldn't sew on Sundays.

Trevin's middle name is Drake. He was named after his Great-Great Grandfather, James Drake Kennedy.
Trevin: James Drake Kennedy was born in 1893 in Chilton, Texas. He had 9 brothers and sisters. He left home when he was a teenager. We think that he was probably a teenager in this picture. He was a very brilliant man. He loved, loved, loved school and learning. He went to law school at night and passed the CPA exam (which is a really, really hard test) the very first time he took it with an almost perfect score.

James Drake Kennedy was called "Daddy Jim" by his family. He started Cherokee warehouse here in Chattanooga which is called Kenco today. That's where my dad works. Daddy Jim always paid cash for everything (even his house and his cars). Every year in October or November he would go to New York to buy Christmas presents. He would buy ties for all the men and a fancy coat or dress for all the girls. He even bought something for all his grandchildren in New York. And he always paid cash. One year the store owners wanted him to charge his purchases and even though he didn't want to do it, he finally did. But since Daddy Jim had never in his whole life been in debt for anything, it bothered him all the way home. As soon as he got back to Chattanooga, he sent the store a check for the money he owed them. Daddy Jim was a self made millionaire partly because he knew how important it is to be able to pay for what you buy.

Daddy Jim chewed Juicy Fruit gum. He kept it in the top drawer of his dresser and when my grandma would come to visit she would be allowed to chew 1 piece. He kept a GIGANTIC dictionary next to a chair in his bedroom because he did the New York Times crossword puzzle in the newspaper every single day.

Daddy Jim had very good handwriting. He was in a penmanship club (that's a fancy word for handwriting) and he traveled all over the world to go to penmanship conventions. Daddy Jim was a very formal man. Even when he went fishing, he wore a suit and tie! He was married to Jessie Isabel McKenzie. He lived to be 91 years old and he died in 1984 on Lookout Mountain.

I hope that you liked hearing some of the stories about Kyler and Kierstyn and Trevin's ancestors today. I know it was a lot of fun for us to learn more about the people they were named after. You might not be named after anyone in your family but I think all of us like to learn about who we came from. Ask your parents, or your grandparents, or even your aunts and uncles to tell you about people in your family. And then write those stories down so that you can remember them and share them. There's a scripture in Malachi that tells us that our "hearts will be turned to our fathers." As we have learned more about these ancestors this week our hearts have been turned and we have grown to feel a deeper love for them. One of the greatest blessings that Heavenly Father has given us is to be able to have an eternal family and we are so glad to know more about those who have come before us, who we will be privileged to live with forever.


mm said...

Excellent! Love every word. Mama Kate is smiling down on you! Thanks Jen, K, K & T! OXOXXO

Lisha said...

What a great blessing to have this opportunity, and I love that the kids all have meaningful middle names. I think it connects them to ancestors in a special way.

kg said...

Loved this post and even better it will be slurped into your blog book to have as a record!

Quincy Sorensen said...

What meaningful names and stories! I love how you have the ancestor picture beside your child's picture. (May I add that Grandpa Dirks was quite a looker?)

Jennifer M. said...

Jen, what a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm going to have our children read it, since they are their ancestors as well. :) There is something about James Drake Kennedy that looks like Chase to me. I can't quite put my finger on it. BTW, I remember Grandpa Dirks. I just remember what a sweet man he was. He reminded me of my Granddaddy E., also a tall WWII vet. Thanks for the family history lesson! :)

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