Monday, May 4, 2015

April 29th Program Meeting - Donie Nelson on "Family Stories: Secrets, Lies and Surprises"

The CVGS Program meeting on April 29th had 42 attendees, who heard Donie Nelson speak on "Family Stories: Secrets, Lies and Surprises."

Donie said that "you don't have to be a celebrity to have family surprises" and "Secrets, lies and surprises bring dull facts to life and bring generations together."  She suggested that we embrace the black sheep in our family tree because they are colorful and human. Each surprise leads to a family story that can be shared over generations.  

Yesterday's scandal may become today's exciting family story.  Stories can bring your ancestors to life.  All families have secrets, but they can reveal truths.  Secrets are concealed by lies.

Donie told a number of family stories that illustrated her points.  Her father, Raymond Nelson,  had Swedish and Scots ancestry, and her mother, Corinne Valdez, had Spanish and Scots ancestry.  Her father ran off to join the circus for five days, and worked for bootleggers on the upper Missouri River in the early 1930s.  Her parents tell different stories about how they met in Trinidad, Colorado, but they eloped to Raton, New Mexico to marry.  

Donie was named after her paternal grandmother, Donie Current, and Donie is short for Caledonia (there was a song about Caledonia).  

One of her mother's ancestors was Antonio Valdez, an early 20th century politician in Colorado, whose grandmother was Mary Clorinda Romero who was literate and a Jehovah's Witness.  Her mother's given name came from Clorinda.

Antonio Valdez was married three times, and there is a fascinating 40-page 1923 divorce document.  This line goes back into the early 1800s, including a Jose Joaquin Young who rode with Kit Carson all over the West.  

As Donie showed, there is some truth in every story, but sometimes it is difficult to sort out the story from the actual events.  Truth makes your family history memorable, and your stories may inspire family members to become researchers.  

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