Writer’s Workshop: Miss Helen L. Woods

helen l woods

2.) Find a photo of your grandmother’s hometown and share it.

Well I fell down a rabbit hole in my attempt to dig up a photo of my grandmother’s hometown. I was inspired by this prompt when Granny mentioned she grew in Boulder and I was all, “HEY I’ve BEEN to Boulder!” because for some reason things get a little more personal when you’ve actually experienced a place as opposed to just hearing Granny mention it in passing.

And actually, this was the first I had ever heard her mention Boulder. I thought she grew up in Kansas, which is actually where she was born, but she says most of her childhood was spent in Boulder.

Don’t ask me how she got to Seattle or where she met my Grandpa because I don’t have a clue. How can I know so little about my own grandparents?

What started off as a Google search for Boulder in the 1920’s (here it is by the way, compliments of wikipedia):


ended up as a paid service with Ancestry.com and a family tree filled in with a hell of a lot of people related to me that I’ve never heard of. Naturally.

My Mom gave me a little to get going, like Granny’s maiden name, and after a quick search I texted my Mom and was all, “Does Granny have a sister named Marjorie? Is her Mom Irene and her Dad Charles?” and my Mom was all, “well I’ll be…that’s them!”

And so began the fascinating process of figuring out who my Granny is.

Miss Helen L. Woods.

At 11pm.


family tree2

That’s just a sliver of a side of the project I decided I needed answers to immediately.

And can we please bring back names like Helen, Marjorie, Fannie, and Elma? I love these ladies.

Happy birthday Granny!


Now it’s your turn!

Mama's Losin' It

Choose a prompt, post it on your blog, and come back to add your name to the link list below. Be sure to sign up with the actual post URL and not just your basic blog URL (click on the title of your post for that URL). For good comment karma try to comment on the three blogs above your name!!

The Prompts:

1.) Share a back to school memory.
2.) Find a photo of your grandmother’s hometown and share it.
3.) Talk about one thing you learned last month.
4.) Describe how your family celebrated Labor Day Weekend.
5.) Good television is coming! Share the Fall lineup you’re looking forward to.


Add Your Link:


  1. says

    What a sweet Granny you have – and I LOVE the vid! I did a little research, too, but you are obviously more thorough. My Nana’s name was Louise. Classic!

  2. says

    Kat I love that picture of Boulder. I implore you – while you still have your grandmother – sit her down and interview her!!!! I am serious. I have no one left on my mother’s side – no one, and soooooo many questions. You have to learn how they met:)!

  3. says

    I love this! (Except the start falling down the rabbit hole at 11 pm part!) my daughter has done a bunch of stuff on ancestry.com – I could have a serious addiction to all that if I ever got started! It’s a big part of the reason I scrapbook – to get our stories recorded…and preserved! You’re so blessed to have her!

  4. says

    It’s so cool to find out a little of your personal history. I have a friend who is seriously into the whole ancestry thing and has chased her relatives back to the middle ages.

    • says

      Oh for sure the tip of the ice berg. We just kind of grow up taking these people at face value and we’re missing so much who they are. I wish they had blogs from way back then…it would sure make this discovery process a hell of a lot easier. ;)

  5. says

    Hey! I’ve been to Boulder, too. In fact, my grandparents on my dad’s side are from Colorado. :) I am currently obsessed with Ancestry.com and the show “Who Do You Think You Are?,” so I find this fascinating. I received an email offer for a discount, so I may just have to buy a subscription myself. I have done a bit with the free trial (I have ancestors with names like Hattie Lee and Ruthie Bell) and it’s so fun! PS: Granny is so adorable.

    • says

      My husband’s mom’s name is Hattie and I agree, LOVE those old school names. Fannie, Kitty…why didn’t we name our kids these things? I wish someone would just offer to put me on Who Do You Think You Are and pay for me to go visit everything while they do the leg work! lol

  6. says

    I agree with Allie, above. Ask your grandmother questions and write them down! My mom is 82 and popped off with two fascinating bits of family history this year that I never knew. One was that my great grandfather saw Jesse James, a story I used for A to Z Challenge this year. The other was that my great aunt had a pet chicken (which I knew) that her parents let her keep in the house and that roosted on a dining room chair at night, with newspapers underneath it (this would have been about 1912 or so and that I DIDN’T know).

    • says

      Roosted on a dining room chair…oh my gosh how could they NOT share that tidbit! It’s amazing how many stories are hidden in there brains that we’ve just never thought to inquire about!

  7. says

    You better ask her those questions while you can!

    I think I will eventually have to subscribe to Ancestry.com as well. I once used a free trial and I was all “I must find out everything I can” and was up all night staring at computer screens. Such pressure!

    • says

      Oh that is exactly what I’ve been doing. Staying up late digging up as much as I can before my free trial ends. What happens to the work you’ve done if your trial ends and you don’t subscribe? Do they delete it?

      • says

        I don’t know … I printed out everything I could during the trial. I haven’t went back yet. Too afraid of getting sucked in to staying up night and day again …

  8. says

    I love your post! Ancestry.com is a great history site and is so worth exploring. Spending time with your grandmother provides the perfect opportunity to ask lots of questions. It is so rewarding learning about your roots… and you will discover a whole lot about yourself in the process! You will have to share your finds and stories. Can’t wait to hear about your discoveries!

    And, lucky you to still have your grandmother! My grandparents and parents have all passed away. Yep… I’m the next generation to go.

    • says

      Two of my grandparents have passed away as well and it really is sad that those doors have closed that could have provided some great stories and history. I am completely sucked into ancestry.com. I can’t believe how much information is stored in there!

  9. says

    Happy Birthday to your Grandma! You’re so lucky to still have her around and I agree with one of your other commenters; you must interview her! Pump that granny for all of her stories while you still have her ;)

    • says

      I’m going to do my best! She’s been pretty sick recently so I’m not sure how much I can eek out of her. I do wish I had thought to dig deeper when my other Grandma and Grandpa were around!

  10. says

    I love the photo of old Boulder! And I agree with others – ask your Gran all the questions you have! The questions I had for my grandparents were all hard subjects, so I never asked. I don’t have grandparents anymore I do kind of regret it!

    Start at least with these questions. They sound like they lead to fun stories!!

    • says

      I definitely need to sit down with her, but I fear it may be too late. She’s been getting pretty sick and confused lately. I’m definitely inspired to try!

  11. says

    My grandmother filled a two inch binder full of handwritten family recipes (most of them for things like barley yeast, because… hello, alcoholic ancestry, but some were neat like homemade yeast rolls), some from my great-great grandmother, pictures that go back at least 3 generations, and then my family tree on my dad’s side. She laminated everything and then put it altogether into the binder and gave it to me as a wedding gift. It was the most cherished wedding gift I received. I love learning the history of families!

    • says

      What an amazing gift!! I have a few handwritten recipes from aunts in their own writing and I’m hanging on to those, but I would LOVE something like that from my grandma!

    • says

      I feel like I’ve been MIA with school OUT for the summer…now I’m getting back into the swing of things finally. Works completely opposite for teachers. ;)

  12. says

    Granny was born in Kansas?! Do you know where? Maybe decades and decades ago we shared some Kansas connection that we don’t even know about.

  13. says

    Your post just reminded how precious ancestry is! I remembered when I was in high school, I did a family history project. Didn’t get very far as I only had my mom’s memory to go on…and that wasn’t really very far. Went up to my grandma’s parents (my mom’s grandparents) and that was it. But you know what? I still have that school project somewhere in some old boxes tucked away, waiting to be unleashed (probably on my poor daughters, who’ll one day wanna know, “who was my….?”).

    • says

      Yes I have the same kind of information from my parents. Something about Kansas…something about meeting at a coffee shop…something about Bohemia…but that’s it! When I started digging on ancestry.com it was way easier to search my Grandpa’s line since the last names don’t change, but I’m having a hard time with Grandma. The best part is that I got far enough back on Grandpa to find the Bohemia connection! I was so excited to see that little fact was REAL!