Are you planning an epic family reunion this summer? Do you have photos in boxes or on your phone from a past reunion? In just a few hours, you can create a beautiful book worthy of any coffee table.
Two years ago, my mother broached the subject of a family reunion being planned at Martin’s Cove in Wyoming. The reunion would be for the descendants of Charles Cannon Creer, her grandfather. His mother, Sarah Jane and grandmother, Ann, had been in the first Mormon handcart company to come through Martin’s Cove in 1856.
My mother really wanted to go, but she was eighty-six years old and didn’t know if she could get there or even participate in the handcart pulling part of the reunion. On the spur of the moment I told her I’d take her and when I mentioned the reunion to Nicole, she wanted to come as well. And so it happened that on a Saturday in late June, after many miles of travel, we arrived at Martin’s Cove ready for our adventure.
Knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime reunion, we took lots of photos. A few weeks after, I decided that I needed to create a book to commemorate the reunion. Nicole had inspired me with the photo books she had made and I decided to try using My Publisher for this one. I gathered all the photos I could from different family members and put them into a file folder on my computer. Then I picked my favorites, put them in order of the activities and started recreating the reunion.
I chose a sage green fabric for the cover and a landscape shot of the cove with handcarts in the background for the cover photo.
The activities for the morning of the reunion centered around the Visitor’s Center at Martin’s Cove. We toured the blacksmith shop, the schoolhouse, and the museum. The handcarts neatly lined up in the field foreshadowed the trek to come in the afternoon.
The software made it easy to arrange the photos in fun collages.
During lunch, Nicole and I entertained the group with our story of Ann Miller and Sarah Jane Creer, our ancestors who had pulled handcarts through the area in 1856. Appropriately, I took the part of Ann and Nicole took the part of her daughter, Sarah Jane. We invited the children to come sit in the front on the floor and they were spellbound as we related the experiences that brought Ann and Sarah Jane across the ocean from England to the very place we were gathered.
I added simple captions to the book where needed, but didn’t try to label every person or activity. I wanted the photos to tell the story.
After lunch, we sorted ourselves into groups, and chose our handcarts. With her eighty-six years, my mother warranted a rickshaw ride. A stiff Wyoming wind accompanied us on our trek, but it did serve the purpose of keeping us cool.
When we reached the actual cove, we gathered to hear stories about the groups that came late in the season of 1856, after Ann and Sarah Jane had already passed through.
The Martin and Willie handcart companies suffered in the extreme cold and snow and found shelter in the natural cove formed by the hills. We were sobered with thoughts of their sacrifice.
We represented just a fraction of Florence’s descendants, but our four generations ranged from my mother, age eighty-six to my granddaughter, age ten months. Isn’t that what reunions are all about? Passing on the stories, the connections, the love of family.
The last photo of the book, I added the caption “WE DID IT.”
I gave a copy of the photo book to my mother and she cherishes the memories of our gathering with her Creer cousins. The reunion lasted just a day, but the photos will last a lifetime.