Your Photos Hold a Story

Did you ever look at a photo and think: I know there is a story behind this! I just wish I could know what it is!? This happens to me more times than I can count.

Sometimes a family member is dressed up silly which is the case in a photo of my grandfather wearing nothing but a native Hawaiian hula skirt and a huge grin. Where did he get this skirt? What drove him to put it on? Was it even his?? Unfortunately I didn’t come across this picture until after he was gone to ask him these questions.

And sometimes it is just a group shot. All filled with smiles and I can only identify a couple of people in the photo. Oh, how I wish I could know who the other folks are and why they were important in the lives of my relatives.

This past summer I attended St. Augustine’s KirchenFest in Hecker, Illinois (the town where my grandmother’s journals are written from). St. Augustine was my grandmother’s home parish and the church in which she married. I enjoy going to this church festival every year with my husband and daughters as well as my mother (Bertille’s daughter).

While we were eating the delicious chicken dinner at the fest, I had the delightful opportunity to meet Iona Buehler Heidel. Her daughter had seen a photo that I had posted on the Tillie’s Tales Facebook page  where I knew some of the names but not all. Not only was Iona able to identify everyone in the photo but also had a great story to accompany it:


Her daughter, Janice Pautler, later emailed the details in full.

She wrote: “Willie Birkner was not present for this picture but his wife, Lena Birkner, wanted a partner for the picture. Lena said that Irvin Buehler, her nephew, should take Willie’s place. Willie wore a hat and had a mustache so a hat was put on Irvin’s head and Lena said to put some chicken feathers under Irvin’s nose for a mustache.

On the photo from left to right:
Lena Birkner and Irvin Buehler (Iona Buehler Heidel’s brother)
Mary Birkner and Fred Birkner
Frieda (Birkner) Buehler and Christopher Buehler (Irvin and Iona’s parents)

Willie Birkner and Frieda (Birkner) Buehler were brother and sister.
Fred Birkner was Frieda’s uncle. Frieda’s dad, Louis Birkner, and Fred were brothers.”

I am so appreciative to both Iona and Janice for sharing this wonderful information. I always wondered what that was in front of Irvin’s face but had no clue! Now we all know.

Do you have a family photo that you are curious about? Do you ask yourself: what is the story? Do you sometimes invent a story that could be the reason for that photo?

Yet another reason to share your photos with your family members while you are still here to share your story!

P.S. This is another great way to get older relatives to start talking about their past. Get out some photos with them in the picture and ask and listen!

Get talking! 22 Interview Questions to Discover YOUR Family Story

The dreaded interview. We all have had to endure at least one that didn’t go quite the way you wanted. Or, in my case, you thought it went really bad and you still ended up with the job! It all goes to say what you may think is one thing isn’t always the case!

But I am not talking about those kind of interviews. Let’s talk about the interviews where we take some time and just sit and chat with our oldest family members. What if you are the oldest family member? Well, then interview yourself! Get a nice journal and jot down your answers to these questions. Perhaps use them as a jumping off point for a story or two that you would like future generations to know.

If you are blessed to have an older family member in your vicinity then I can’t encourage you enough to ask them questions now and not later. You truly never know when you won’t be able to sit with them like you can today.

Below is a handy FREE printable that I made just for you of 22 questions to get you started.

Wondering what the best technique to use to get your subject to start talking? Head on over to the Tillie’s Tales FaceBook page and enter the word “INTERVIEW” in the message box that will pop up.

Comment below who you would most like to ask these questions to if you had the chance (living or passed away).

Family History Interview Questions by Angie on Scribd

Changes at Tillie’s Tales

There are changes afoot on Tillie’s Tales!

We are now deep in 1937 for my grandmother’s (Bertille “Tillie” Brand Klein) entries of her “Tales.” She ends her entries on December 30, 1939 so that means we have a little over two years left to go.

With that being said I (Angie Kelly – Tillie’s granddaughter and the person who posts her entries) have decided to expand what I post on this website. Starting today you will occasionally see posts by me about various family history/genealogical topics. For example: interviewing your relatives, how to get started with your own family tree, the importance of journaling and how it relates to genealogy, etc.

I am also in the process of revamping this website so please excuse the “dust” as I move things around. You will soon see a services tab where I will offer my help to work with you to unearth your family’s story like I have done with my grandmother’s news diaries.

Feel free to comment below with any topics you would like me to cover as well as any questions you may have about Tillie’s Tales and my grandmother’s journals. As always, you can email me at Angie@tilliestales.com or message me on the Tillie’s Tales Facebook or Instagram pages.