Thank-You Notes to Ancestors

By Vanessa Wieland

ancestor thank-you notes Today’s prompt really resonated with us in the office, so we decided to share our responses. As it turns out, our ancestors left us good genetics, great personality traits, and some fascinating records. See what we have to say in our thank-you notes.


Grateful for Grandmothers

Dear Grandma,

I have so much to thank you for! I specifically want to thank you for your grace and flawless sense of humor, which you kept even after having a stroke. You were an inspiration to me, simply because of the way you lived life.  Thank you for always laughing and never letting the bad things get the better of you. Thank you also for giving me such a great example of how to age well, because, as you said, “Growing old isn’t for sissies!” – Rachel

Dear Oma,

I never really got to know you, but I owe just about everything to you and the sacrifices you made. I can’t imagine the hardships you faced escaping Europe during the war, especially with three young children to care for. Coming to a new, foreign country must have been scary, and I’m sure learning English was no picnic either. Despite these challenges, you persisted. You twice endured losing a spouse, raised my dad as a single parent, and worked hard to provide for your children and put them through school. Even throughout the turmoil in your life, you instilled in my dad the values that have made him the man he is today. You brought our family to this country that (while not perfect) has allowed us to build rich and fulfilling lives. I can’t thank you enough, and I hope to measure up to the opportunities you have made possible for me. – Andrew


Putting the Great in Grandparents

Grace Thank an AncestorDear Great-Grandma Grace,

My mother has told me so many stories about you, and how much she loved spending time with you at her house. Because you taught her to sew, I have grown up warm, wrapped in one-of-a-kind clothes and plenty of blankets and quilts to keep me cozy on drafty nights. Because you taught my mother to cook, I’ve grown up with a belly full of good food (something I appreciate a little too much, sometimes).

Because you taught her kindness, I’ve grown up with a mother that has always been warm and generous with her talents as well as her love. The person you were is reflected in my mother’s actions every day, and your example is how my mom has modeled her life. As a mother and grandmother, she has continued to pass on those skills learned by your side, and so my sister and niece and nephew and I reap the rewards. So thank you, Great-Grandma Grace, because I see you reflected in my mom every day. – Vanessa

Dear Great-Grandma Cleopatra,

The older I become and the more I experience in life, the more I am amazed by the life you led. Not only did you manage to raise seven children while living in a very small home near the coal mines while Great-Grandpa Hansford was away at work for incredibly long days, but you succeeded in raising them to become such kind and giving adults. You and your husband sacrificed so much for your family, enough to be able to move out of the coal mining community you were living in and journey north to Ohio, where your descendants still live now. Your commitment to family and to being a good and generous person was taught on by your children and continues still today through those of us that are still here. Now a mom myself, I hope to be able to make this same impact on my son and to be able to live on into the future the way that you have in our family. Thank you for having such an amazing impact on our family, we are better people for having you in our family line. – Ashlee


Setting New Records

Dear Great-great-great-grandfather Frost,

I hope you’re doing well.

For some time now, I have wanted to thank you for your actions generating historical documents that have made my family tree a bit easier and a lot more colorful to research. Without your contentious marriage to my great-great-great-grandmother, I never would have found that lengthy, detailed divorce file and those TMI (that’s “too much information”) newspaper articles about your domestic life. (I see that even in 1881, folks couldn’t resist turning your last name into a pun.)

thank-you notes to ancestors FrostAnd had you not taken up with a married woman at that boarding house, then gotten into a fight over her, I wouldn’t know what you were up to between your divorce and your death in 1884. (I’m fairly certain that the landlady knew Mary Bergan wasn’t your niece.) I’m grateful that these events are comfortably distant enough in the past that I can find the discoveries interesting, rather than disconcerting.

Finally, there’s the mechanics lien you filed, when that J. Schwab failed to pay you for your carpentry work on his building. I’d never before used this type of record! It drops nicely into the middle of a big hole in your timeline, telling me exactly where you were Oct. 26, 27 and 28, 1864.

Generation after generation of steadfast storekeepers, farmers and cigar-makers might become mundane after awhile. So thank you, again, for shaking up my family tree and leaving fascinating records behind you.

Yours truly,


Write Your Own Thank-You Notes to an Ancestor

What would you say in thanks to your ancestors? Today is a great day to give it some thought. Write your own thank-you notes and, if you feel so inclined, share it with your family members as you break bread with them today.