Ancestral Update

Nearly two years ago I received several family heirlooms, which started my journey of becoming a family historian. I was thrilled to save them from being discarded. My dining room is filled with furniture that came from my great, great grandma, and great grandma. The buffet now has dishes in it from my grandmother, which I am saving for my children. The china cabinet is now filled with books from my great grandpa as well as a stamp collection that belonged to my great uncle. We have silver dollars that my grandfather had saved from when he was little. Fishing lures that my great grandpa had made. A secretary that now holds all of my important documents and is also filled with books (we have books everywhere you look in this house). The old sewing machine is tucked away in the corner waiting for me to find a new needle for it so that I can teach Wyatt how to sew on it, it is the same sewing machine that my mother and grandmother had learned to sew on when they were both very young, it had belonged to my great grandma. Recently, I have become the owner of stacks and stacks of old letters! Letters that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. My aunt had them, along with a copy of the family tree. I had asked if I could read them and I honestly fell in love with them. She later said I could keep them and if anyone in my family wanted copies then they could borrow them from me (I think she is trying to downsize). Many of them are so old that they look like they might crumble. They are now in protective plastic sleeves. My hope is to be able to get these scanned in to a computer but the words are so faded that once you do scan them you can no longer read them. I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to darken it.

Many old photograph’s are in the process of finding frames so they can be displayed around the house. There are so many that I can’t possibly display them all but I do hate to see so many photographs being put away and forgotten about. There are several family portraits that I want to have up on my walls. I told my mom that I would love to have a room filled with pictures, just four walls in that room being a giant photo gallery. I’m doing what I can to collect stories about the people in them. Sometimes, the stories are not the most pleasant but it is part of our family history and that needs to be recorded as well as the good. I’ve also been able to discover where some of my family has come from, Derry (at the time that they came over from Ireland it was called Londonderry). I am certain that is where my love of all things Irish comes from.

In January of 2020 I had posted this picture. All we knew at the time was that this movie star was my great-grandpa’s first cousin, his stage name was Richard Dix. We didn’t know any more about him.

I had written a post about how I wished we could find his real name. I wanted to know what movies he had been in. I wanted to know everything. In the latest stack of documents and photographs that I received from my aunt I found more!

Richard Dix was born Ernest Brimmer on July 18, 1893 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He died from a heart attack in 1949. I love these two photographs of him, which he had signed for his cousin. With his real name and birthdate, I was able to confirm who I had suspected that he was. We now have a long list of movies that I’m trying to track down so we can watch them together as a family. He was in a lot of westerns and mystery films. His first starring role was in Paramount’s Warming Up in 1928. In 1929 he was signed by RKO Radio Pictures. In Seven Keys to Baldpate he starred as a writer who was searching for some peace and quiet in order to finish his work. He checked into a hotel but peace and quiet were far from what he found there. In 1939 he was nominated for an Oscar for best actor in the film Cimarron. He has 100 credits to his name under his filmography. I know the names of his children. I am hoping I can track down his grand children or great-grandchildren as I would love to know even more about him!

Do family stories intrigue you as well? Was there something about your family that you learned and couldn’t wait to share with others?


About Angela Schroeder

Angela Schroeder is a single mother of three. She was born and raised in Iowa in a river town known for its pearl buttons. Having four siblings, she never lacked for someone to play with. As she grew older, she found herself pulled into books and writing more and more. Her parents are her heroes, her siblings her confidants and tormentors, and her children are a wonderful blessing. Church is important to her children and her. They enjoy the friendships they’ve made with the people there. Writing has always been a passion. Her first experience was in fifth grade when she went to a one-day writing conference. After that she knew it was something she wanted to pursue.
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10 Responses to Ancestral Update

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I’ve actually seen that film, “Seven Keys to Baldpate”!!!
    It had some plot holes, but that was the fault of the script-writer or editor… not of the actors. I thought the actors did a good job overall… and your cousin (?) was a pretty cool detective. He never convinced me he was a writer, but again that’s the fault of the script and/or director.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. RICHARD DIX WAS YOUR GREAT-GREAT UNCLE!!! I am impressed.I have known his movies all of my life.
    So many of my family’s things have been lost. Many in my mother’s care were left behind, states away, when a family member had them in storage and did not pay the fees. Some in an aunt’s care went to a cousin, who was supposed to bring them to me, but he died and his wife has disposed of them.
    My sister and I have some more, her, mostly from my aunt and I have what my mother gave to me. I am keeping those few treasures for my grandkids.
    Good for you!


    • I’m so sorry that you lost so many family treasures. I’m glad you were able to keep a few. We found a few of his movies for rent on Amazon. Wyatt is really excited to watch one on our next movie night.


  3. Many of my grandmother’s possessions were passed to me, and I cherish each one of them. A good-sized spinning wheel made in Finland in the 1800’s without one nail in it (piecework), a very ornate, small (6X10″) cedar chest (not sure what it was used for back then), and my grandmother’s wedding picture from the early 1800’s in a handmade wooden frame (Mom was at the end of the line of 13 children, and I wasn’t born until she was almost 40) are the only ones that have survived all my moves, but they are now in places of honor. All my life, the stories from my family were told by my mother and other relatives around the kitchen table with freshly perked coffee and old world coffee breads. Maybe one day, I’ll share them with others in a book.

    It’s my father’s side of the family that is a bit of a mystery to me. He never talked about them. As soon as I am sure where to go for trusted information, I’m planning to do a genealogy on the Irish side of the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’m trying to find homes for all the family heirlooms I’ve inherited too. There’s no way I’ll be able to display all of my grandfather’s artwork. I mentioned some of the stories about him in a post a few weeks ago. Apparently, he led quite an interesting life before he came to America. Hope you’re able to track down your relatives.

    Liked by 2 people

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