How To Rescue A Precious Buried Lost Story – Step One

Discover how to visit the past and bring yesterday’s stories into our lives today”
― Gillian Hovell, ‘Visiting the Past’

We all have a buried lost story or two that sits in the back of our minds asking to be brought to light.  It may be a family story, which is the most precious, but could be about an object, location, or friend.

Programs like Antiques Road Show, History Detectives or Finding Your Roots demonstrate that, with certain skills, resources, and focus, information is “out there” on almost anything or anyone.  Since most of us do not have access to the programs mentioned, where does one start?  What we can do is learn from the processes demonstrated in these programs.

In each of these shows, they start with “what do you know about….”.  So before the experts get going, they determine already known information, even if it is lore or speculation.  This BLOG post will demonstrate that first crucial step.

My Buried Lost Story

My mother’s maternal family line is a bit of a mystery.  I have an amazing amount of information about her father’s family which I have written much about, but my maternal grandmother’s story has remained rather sparse.

My maternal grandmother was Pearl Miller Rightmeier.  Her mother was Cara Belle Haog Miller and her father, was Charles H. Miller.  There are records on ancestry about birth dates and places, marriage records, and residences.  I know their final resting place is in Jewell County Kansas, which I have visited often.

What is unknown are the stories.  I know my mother spent a lot of her early years with great-grandmother Clara Belle.  Her mother, my grandmother Pearl, was quite ill with what they thought was tuberculosis after my mother was born and thus was quarantined for a time.  It turned out to be something else, but  Mom’s aunts and grandparents took turns looking out after her and her brother in their early years.

Even after this time, weekly trips to Jewell were normal for my mom’s family to shop and visit Grandma Clara Belle and Charles.  I know that:

  • A hose-drawn buck-board provided transport in the early years,
  • my great-grandmother tended to her daughter Pearl, my grandmother when her children were born at home.
  • mom was present when her great-grandmother died at home in Jewell, Kansas.  I have visited this house.

More Known And Unknown

I know the Hoag Name, great-grandmother Clara Belle’s maiden name, Meaning as a:

  • Scottish and English: variant of Hogg .
  • Americanized form of Norwegian Haug .
  • Americanized form of Swedish Hög: ornamental or topographic name from hög ‘hill mound’ or a habitational name from a place called Hög or containing the word hög ‘high’ e.g. Högfors ‘high waterfall’.

Which nationality she descended from is not known.

Charles H Miller

I know even less about my great-grandfather.  Family lore says the name miller is an anglicized version of the German Muller or Mueller. I do know from records that:

  • his parents were born in Germany, so he was first generation American
  • He farmed a rented farm
  • there are no family trees in Ancestry that I have found
  • he did not attend school but could read and write
  • his exact birthdate is unknown
  • There were 11 in his household including one farm worker

I suspect my mother’s brother Charles was named after his grandfather Charles Miller.  They immigrated from central Germany, but having a common name is not easy to track.  To complicate things, another line of Millers resided in Jewell country, so one must be careful when searching the name by county.

A Buried Lost Story Starts SmallBuried Lost Story

The first step is to capture, in writing, what you know.  My next step is to put this out to the family to add to, delete and, correct.  Each bit of information, reminiscence, or recollection, however small, is valuable.  Giving Stories a Voice gives your ancestors a voice in the now.

Resources For That Buried Lost Story

Ancestry has a way to hire an expert to do research, but you still must give them a starting point, so this first step remains necessary!

I have put together a workbook available here, that can assist you in this process.  You start AND move further down the road when you are ready.

No matter what resource you use or not, get started today!  Write down what you DO know.


I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

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