These questions started with a notice from that I had new information for my family tree. Ancestry is where you can get lost in searching all the branches, never knowing what you will find. Anyway, this was my paternal grandparent’s marriage license, which I had never seen.

First, I noticed that they were older than I thought they were when they married. Then I saw that they were married in Enid, Oklahoma. I thought they got married in their hometown, Uniontown, Kentucky. What were they doing in Enid? The only story I had ever heard about their wedding was from my mother, who said my grandmother said they took a train and that Grandad bought her a fur muff. She commented that she was so poor she didn’t even have underwear.

I contacted my oldest cousin and he was surprised, too. He thought that they married in Uniontown after Grandad graduated from college and before they moved to Troy, Ohio with United Motors Then I called his younger brother, who is still older than me, and he was surprised, but said he remembered something about Aggie being with some bad people and Grandad went to get her. What?

We don’t think about our grandparents when they were young and we don’t think about how old they were when we first came into their lives. When I was born in 1945, Grandad was 60 and Aggie was 58. I was the fifth of their nine grandchildren, right in the middle. I spent a lot of time with them while I was growing up, but I didn’t ask questions. I was quiet and it was impolite, or whatever. I certainly snooped through their drawers and pictures and books and stuff, picking up my information in my own sneaky way.

Now I’m asking all these questions and have to fill in the blanks when I find a clue. My oldest cousin lived with our grandparents during the war while his father was overseas and his mother was pregnant with twins. He mentioned that Aggie and Grandad were crazy in love and danced up a storm in some club called the Bohemian in Oklahoma City. He said they made him dance with the little girls. Again…what?

By the time I remember my grandparents, they were older and had lost their youngest son in the war. My grandmother had arthritis and wore orthopedic shoes. She had a twinkle in her smile, but how was I to know that there was a dancing girl behind those eyes or that she was ever with “bad people?” Here are the photos Daddy carried with him during the war. Hardly look like dancing fools, do they? But this was the time my cousin talked about.

They grew up in the same small river town, Uniontown, Kentucky. My grandfather’s family was respected and owned businesses, plus my great-grandfather was the wharfmaster. They belonged to the Episcopal Church. My grandmother’s family was poor and belonged to the Catholic Church. Here is Grandad in 1906 in a Sigma Chi picture from the University of Kentucky, where he became a mechanical engineer.

I’m not sure what he did after college and how Aggie got with “bad people” in Enid, but he must have gone to get her and they got married. My cousin and I think they married there because of their different religions. In 1911, it wasn’t so easy to marry out of the Catholic church. I wonder how they were received when they returned home, but it must have been ok. They ended up being married 54 years.

Here is the earliest picture I have ever seen of Aggie, shown with her three oldest children. Did Grandad take the picture? What kind of camera did he have?

Here they are, probably in the late1920s, with all their children. I can picture their dancing days from this one.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that my maternal grandmother, Mommie Dude, was fun when she was younger. Her name was Artie, from Artiemisha, but her brothers nicknamed her Dude because she was so prissy. I was the oldest grandchild and started calling her Mommie Dude. I recently found a picture of her as a girl and I can see it. She’s the one on the left.

She married when she was 18 to a man who was 42 and they had three children before he died and left her a widow when she was 29. My mother told me the story of their wedding when my grandfather, Ben, came to get her with his friend in a horse carriage with a brown horse and a brown lap blanket. Her parents gave her a bouquet of flowers as she left home and Ben’s friend asked him, “Where did you find this pretty little thing?”

Here are some pictures of her, probably around the time she was widowed. She is on the left in the first one and the right in the second one.

Here she is with her sister-in-law, Grace.

Mommie Dude was the grandmother who always said, “Let’s go do something!” If she had been a better driver, we might have had bigger adventures. She had an innocence about her that belied the strength it took for her to raise three kids in the depression and to get through the war years. Her life wasn’t easy, but I still remember her laugh.

My grandfather, Ben, was in business with his father in Ardmore, Oklahoma, running wagon yards until there was no need for them anymore. Wagon yards were places where people stayed with their horses and wagons when they came to town, kind of an early day motel. As cars took over the roads, they became obsolete and my grandfather’s family sold their main yard to a lumber yard while they kept the house. I grew up visiting the house that he lived in, across from Central Park in Ardmore, because my aunt and uncle lived there for many years. My mother once drew me a sketch of the interior and exterior of the house, remembering every detain even though she was in her 80s at the time.

I know that my grandfather worked for the telephone company, stringing the phone lines. When he got Bright’s Disease, he made sure my grandmother would have some income by setting her up in a neighborhood grocery store. But, what was he like before he met her? I have a very few pictures that give me some clues. Here he is at picnics with friends. In the first picture, he is in the suit. In the second, he is standing.

My grandparents must have married around 1905, so all these pictures were before that. He is shown here swinging some young ladies and with a group of friends (he is in the middle).

This one is my favorite. He may have been married by this time as he posed with his lodge brothers. He is in the middle, fourth from the left. I have no idea what this event was, but what in the world is the crazy bride creature in the back row?

This must be the group he is shown with.

The only other clues I have to my grandfather Ben are some of his textbooks, which show me more about what school was like back then. I can tell that he was fun loving and well liked. And my grandmother must have been pretty special to catch this popular bachelor.

Why are these stories so important? They are links to my history that connect me to my relatives and help me to understand who and why I am. They teach me that I need to make sure my own grandchildren know stories about their grandfather who died when the oldest was just a year old. They can look at lots of pictures, but they need to know his humor and his love of people and family.

There’s something about having a relationship with family you never knew or finding out new things about the ones you did that help you complete the picture you have of them and of yourself. History is all of our stories and it helps to understand how we fit into the continuum of events and lives.

I hope you find a clue to your own history like the marriage license that cause you to ask the questions and find links to your own story. It’s a comforting feeling to know your family and its history.