After several years of contemplation without any serious follow-through, this year the project has begun. I will attempt to build a website featuring the extended Breazeale family, beginning with Charlie and Lula Breazeale and worked out to the present, including the latest additions. There will be tons of pictures, of course, but also writings, descriptions and anecdotes. Each wing of the family will be linked from the index page (a wing begins with each of the ten surviving children of Charles and Lula Breazeale).
One reason I am so keen to get this thing going is to give us a tool to help engage the youngsters that I feel are going to need something like this to organize all these old gray heads they see once a year at the reunions. Many don't even make it once every three or four years. This will give them, and us, a way to stay in touch with the faces and personalities and happenings that otherwise would slip away and be lost.
How it all started:
At the family reunion this year, I spoke to Paula Brown Carter and a couple of other people about creating a webpage. Paula said she was interested, as did the others, but I didn't give it much more thought until I heard from Paula again several weeks later. She contacted Steve and he forwarded her letter on to me. That got me going and then Steve and I started exchanging letters with Aunt Clara, who really injected a great enthusiasm and energy. I signed us up for 150 megabytes of space on the web (that's a huge amount of space for those of you who don't know computer lingo) on 'freewebpage.org', set up our basic homepage with links to pages for each of the children (the original ten) and that was the basic kickoff of the website. It happened without fanfare, about three o'clock one morning in late July, 2004.
Where do we go from here?
As you can imagine, this will be a huge, probably never ending, undertaking given the fact that there are ten children at the first level, and tons of grandchildren and great-grandchildren downline from them. Of course, we want to tell the story of Charlie and Lula: where they lived, how they met, where they met, what they did for a living, as much as we can put together, complete with as many pictures as we can gather, stories from news articles, personal accounts, and any other sources we can find. Then, we want to give the same treatment to each of the ten children. My gameplan is to start with some basic stuff that will be similar for all: a good picture of the individual in their prime (between 20 and 30 years old), an introductory biography, a picture of them with their spouse (a wedding picture or one within a couple of years of their marriage), good pictures of each of their children with a short bio on each. From this beginning, we can link to all kinds of things to add depth and substance to the display: geneology stuff, family snapshots, reunion photos, the Breazeale cookbook, interesting articles, info about our name and family crest, just to name a few.
Putting it together.
I, as 'webmaster', will be simply organizing and posting the materials that have been gathered and submitted by other family members. It goes without saying that we should have enough material in our collective possession to make a wonderful, sumptuous, interesting display. The challenge will be to get the materials out of the minds, scrapbooks, shoeboxes, and attics of the family members who have them, converting it all into digital form for posting on the site, then getting the keepsakes back to those who sent them. That will be the challenge, but it will also be a great part of the discovery and the fun.
We need to start picking the minds of those who have the memories of the beginning days. Get them to talk about their family life. Get them to answer your burning questions and clear up things that you have been wondering about. For instance, I have been wondering what happened to the corn cob Grandaddy Breazeale had that was in the shape of a woman's hand. It was always a very special event when he brought it out. He would ask a group of us if we wanted to see something special, then delay for ten or fifteen minutes to let the tension build amongst us kids, and finally, he would bring out the little box which held a velvet cloth, if I remember correctly, and it would take him another five minutes to unwrap the contents, being very careful because it was the only one of it's kind in the whole wide world, and suddenly there it was, a real corn cob in the perfect shape of a tiny slender woman's hand, with delicate beautifully formed fingers and a graceful wrist, complete with a wrist watch. We would crowd around close to Grandaddy, ooh and ahh for a few minutes, totally enthralled, but we were not allowed to touch it. It was too rare and too fragile for that. Then he would carefully wrap it back up and put it in it's special box and take it back to it's secret hiding place for another year. I remember the last time I saw it, and I would love to know what became of it.
You can see for yourselves the great potential we have here and I encourage you to get involved if you want too. There is plenty of room for everyone. This is your formal invitation to join the fun. Go into your archives (shoeboxes, scrapbooks, trunks in the attic, etc.) and dig out all your old pictures, newspaper articles, letters, journals, diaries and any other items you would like to share with the rest of the clan and send them to me. I will convert them into digital form for posting on the website and send them back to you. I can scan pictures from prints, negatives, or slides. I can scan printed documents and edit them into readable copy. Old letters, journals or diaries can be transcribed and worked into forms that can be viewed on the website.
Also, if you are in communication with any of your siblings or other family members, please encourage them to begin compiling stories they may have in written form and stories they would like to tell for posterity sake, perhaps letters that tell stories, or newspaper articles. Pictures are worth thousands of words, especially pictures of them as children and young adults. With these items, bit by bit, we can put together a tremendous display that will tell the whole story of this huge family begun in 1900 by Charlie and Lula Breazeale.
I look forward to hearing from you.