Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bite-Sized Memories of Mary Slatter Wood

This week is the 96th anniversary of the sudden death of my husband's grandmother, Mary Slatter Wood. Born in 1869 in the Whitechapel section of London, she had a really difficult childhood. She and four older siblings were in and out of workhouses while their mother was committed to an asylum and their father was absent for long periods.

Still, Mary went to school and then, as a teenager, she earned a living as a servant. In her mid-20s, she crossed the Atlantic to join her father and her older sister in Ohio. Mary married home builder James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) in 1898 and they settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where they raised four sons.

The oldest son, my late dad-in-law, remembered Mary as a gentle, affectionate influence on the family. Unfortunately, while he was away at college, Mary died of heart problems on April 24, 1925. Her unexpected death tore the heart out of the family. 

Bite-sized memories

I'm keeping Mary Slatter Wood's memory alive in a number of bite-sized projects. I wrote a few paragraphs about her life and posted them, with a photo, on FamilySearch.org, FindaGrave.com, and other sites. 

Also, I put a photo of Mary and her husband James on a page of the Wood family history coloring book created for younger relatives. The coloring book is an informal record of who's who--faces and names--in the family tree.

Making a coloring book

To create this page, I started by scanning a black-and-white family photo of the couple standing in front of a house that James built in Cleveland, Ohio, more than a century ago.

Next, I used my photo software to turn the photo into a pencil sketch image. Then I positioned it on a page and added their full names. To help the youngest generation connect with these long-ago ancestors, I included their relationship to the recipients.

Print and digital versions

I want the adults to encourage the kids to color as they wish, rather than put the coloring book away unused. That's why I provided both a printed version and a digital version. Now, the coloring book can be reprinted over and over as the children enjoy coloring these faces and places from the past, seeing ancestors as human beings with an important place in family history.

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