The Mystery in Your Family Tree
October 20, 2012
The Tin Lizzie, the T-Model Ford or ‘Model T Ford’. The names are familiar and everyone immediately calls an image to mind upon hearing those phrases. I’m a history buff. Nothing gives me more pleasure than researching historical facts in the genre I write. An added bonus is when I can actually tie something I’ve researched about my family to a fact I’ve uncovered.
I write ‘vintage’ historical romantic intrigues…1920’s specifically. Imagine my excitement when I discovered this tidbit in my own family tree!
In the third quarter of 1908, Henry Ford produced the Model T, a car that gave middle-class America the ability to travel. The first production was on August 12, 1908 and rolled out of the factory on September 27, 1908 in the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. It was the first automobile mass produced on moving assembly lines. Henry Ford said of the vehicle, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, but the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in prices that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one-and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.” 
Ah, those were the days!
The fact I mentioned above, that ties my family to Henry Ford, is what I stumbled across in my research of the setting and the decade. The main character in my series is loosely based on my own grandfather whom I never knew. My father actually never knew him either, since dad was only ten months old when his father was killed. The stories always fascinated me as I was growing up. So back to the fact…my grandfather’s sister, Mary, was married to the foreman of the Detroit plant, Frank Stanley, at the time Henry Ford was there. Through ancestry.com I was able to trace and place him in the very time slot.
Most of you have heard of the six degrees of separation theory. Well, by my count, it was exactly six degrees. Myself, my father, my grandfather, his sister, her husband and Henry Ford. How cool is that?
Needless to say, I spend a lot of time searching for facts that tie my stories together with my family. It is what motivates my writing. The farther I go back, the more material I accumulate for my dramas. Think of the wonderful facts I have learned to pass along to my children and grandchildren. I’ve assembled a notebook for them and a family tree, so one day; they can read in amazement the wealth of information within their own family.
If you ever get stuck, have a hard time coming up with ideas; take the time to do a little research in your own family. Peek inside the half open door and walk down the path to your heritage.
Next time … Who was Robert, Earl of Huntington?
 Ford 1922, My Life and Work (1922). P. 73
Patty Wiseman is author of the intriguing vintage novel of intrigue, An Unlikely Arrangement.