Monday, November 15, 2010

There's one in every family!

As genealogists, we all hope that there is one in our family too!  Or more than one. 

Who?  The spinster aunt who keeps track of all of her siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews and revels in meeting them and sharing with them.  She is usually fiscally responsible and perhaps even wealthy, and has often taken care of her aging parents before they passed away, sometimes for decades.  Lastly, they usually have the family collection of photograph albums and family papers.

In my father's family, this person was his youngest sister, Geraldine Seaver.  Aunt Gerry graduated from college as a music teacher, and her father died in 1942 just after she left home to start her career.  Because her five siblings had married and had children, she continued to live with her mother until her death in 1962.

Gerry finally married in 1970 at age 53 to James Remley, a widower who was her supervisor in Newton (MA), High School.  They both retired, and moved to Florida, while maintaining a summer home in Maine.  She stayed in contact with her siblings and nieces and nephews, and they traveled quite a bit to visit them, and they visited the Remleys also.  She exchanged Christmas cards and letters with everybody and wrote "pomes" to commemorate birthdays and anniversaries of her family members.

She had kept her mother's papers and photo albums, and had photo albums of her own with photos and information about the extended Seaver family and her Remley family.  She also had memories, including her mother's family stories, and was not shy about sharing them with the family.

When I started my genealogy research quest, I asked each of my father's living siblings to write down or make tape recordings of their family stories and memories.  Aunt Gerry was the champion in this field - she organized her thoughts and made three hour-long audio tapes about her life, her parents' lives and the lives of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.  The transcription of these tapes is 37 pages single spaced.  They are invaluable to me and to my cousins for understanding some of the family dynamics and personalities.  She was so happy that another family member was carrying on the family history, and was supportive of my efforts to find more about our ancestral families.

Gerry died in 2007, and I requested that any family papers or photographs that the Remley family did not want be forwarded to me.  I received two boxes of paper and photo albums.  I have shared quite a few of these photos and papers on Genea-Musings, and also in the yearly 16-page Seaver-Richmond Family Newsletter that I send to the extended family each Christmas.  Aunt Gerry's legacy is living through these efforts.

I greatly appreciate the life of Geraldine (Seaver) Remley (1917-2007) because she was the one who kept my San Diego Seaver family in touch with the New England family for many years.  She was unique, very intelligent, with a great sense of humor, and a wonderful aunt.

Written for the 100th Carnival of Genealogy with the theme of "There's one in every family."


Donna - What's Past is Prologue said...


Thanks for making me face reality at 9am that I am the family's spinster aunt. ;-) I'm not sure I like the title, but your description sure sounds nice. I hope my nieces and nephews love me as much as you loved your aunt!

Seriously, I was going to do this very topic for the COG, but I didn't want to call myself a spinster. There's gotta be a hipper term these days. Besides, I still plan to marry - so is a childless but married aunt still called a spinster?


Nancy said...

Great post. How wonderful that your aunt so willingly shared. I had a spinster aunt but it didn't turn out quite so well.... Great post for the Carnival.