Families Inspire Stories

Over the summer months, I toiled over our family tree—every trunk, branch and leaf of it. Among the 1600 plus ancestors and recent family members, there were bound to be stories..


I learned from family records that some of our Mississippi ancestors (the Irish) fought in the Civil War. There are no records of our Wisconsin ancestors (the Germans) having fought in any of those devastating battles. With over three million American soldiers participating in the war that swept our country between 1861 and 1865, and with over 600,000 casualties, surely one of those was from my Wisconsin family. But I’m guessing.


When facts are known, authors pen memoirs. If facts are unavailable, we resort to fiction and “borrow” possibilities to create our story. I could, for example, take what I do know about an Irish relative and create a fictional Wisconsin opponent, placing them in a famous battle somewhere in the war-torn South. My Wisconsinite would have come from a large farm family and be a crack-shot deer hunter.


What if these two “ancestors” had come face-to-face in a Civil War battle and have always remembered something significant about each other? I could make that happen. What if, when the war is long over, the son of one of the former soldiers meets the daughter of the other. They fall in love—to thicken the plot. Now a problem has livened things up. Their fathers are required to make a huge choice. Should they forgive for the sake of their children? End of story. Sorry. Or should they choose not to forgive—for the sake of the developing tale?


My imagination is slipping into high gear. Now, what I need is a title.


Arlene Eisenbise