From the time I was a little girl and my grandmother taught me to sing the Swedish songs her mother taught her, I have loved everything about my family history. As I grew, each day I would walk down the family hallway, and pass a small hand drawn family tree my mother created with names like Fanny and Captain James Brown! These names would call to me and I’d giggle that I had a great great grandma named Fanny. I did school reports on how my ancestors came to America and wrote memoirs in college about my great grandparents. From there grew the desire to find a missing piece on my mother’s side of the family. It took over 25 years and a trip to Slovenia, but I finally found my great grandma and grandpa Brajer.
During this time in my life, I became overwhelmed by a need to place a family tree on my wall that covered 10 generations and some descendants (like my children and future grandchildren).I wanted a way that the names could be moved or altered, or fixed if a mistake was discovered. A photo is a treasure and I wanted the ability to add photos for those ancestors I had photos of. I wanted to be able to add two lines to the same branch because of two spouses in a family line, one being blood related and the other being the father who raised my great great great grandma. And I wanted my tree to be art, a conversation piece in our home, and create a love of family for my children who would past it every day where the names and faces would call to them like they did to me.
I wanted those names to remind them of who they are and how they got here, their family legacy and why most importantly, they each “stand upon the shoulders of their past!” Each person on that tree represents doing hard things – sometimes being successful and sometimes not – but each person teaches us that we are part of a bigger grander picture of family. Of being part of a whole!
Around the year 2007, I began envisioning a 10 generational tree on my wall. I began drawing and drawing and making templates and it became very frustrating. The branches wouldn’t fit or come together. So after trying to create on and off for a couple years, I put the papers away. Then in 2014, the Lord began to impress upon me the need to complete my tree. I brushed it off, but the urgency and need to figure the puzzle out began to weigh on me. So I pulled out the papers again and began to sketch and work through the branches. It wasn’t until April 2015 while standing in my kitchen by the light of a window that I said out loud, “Lord, it’s not working. If you really want me to do this, I need your help!” Immediately an image popped into my mind. The branch that I had been struggling with for years was very clear. I quickly drew it out and within an hour I had my 10 generational tree. I then took a couple weeks to make adjustments and finalize my drawings to what you see today.
The real process than began! I needed to figure out what to make it out of and how to attached the names. I knew I
didn’t want to just make this tree for my family, so I had to figure out how to begin a business! Within months I had my first tree done and was on my way to present it at RootsTech 2016. It was a great event and the response was fabulous!