Thursday, January 22, 2015

Louise's Lost Files

In December of 2014, my mother and I returned to Arkansas to clean out my grandfather's house. While we were there, my mother's maternal cousin brought over 3 boxes of family files that had come from my great-grandmother Louise Lasiter's house.

Louise Lasiter, 1955
My great-grandmother was born Thelma Louise Benson, January 1st, 1912 in Avant, Osage County, Oklahoma. She was the first child born to Barney Benson and Eva Dennis and became the oldest of eight children. She was a strong and independent young woman who graduated from Spiro High School in 1929. In the early 1930s she married James Putman Lasiter and they had 3 children: the oldest was Barbara Jean Lasiter, the middle child was James Putman Lasiter, Jr, and the youngest child was my grandmother, Sue Carolyn Lasiter. Unfortunately they have all passed away now. Louise and James "Put" Lasiter raised their three children in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They lived in the same house their whole life at 3720 Park Avenue. My great-grandmother lived in this house until she died in 1997. "Put" had already been gone for 20 years by then.

When my great-grandmother died, I was away at college. There had just been a big Christmas celebration and then she passed shortly after on the 27th of December.  After her death, her estate was divided between her three children, her personal belongings distributed or sold, and the house was sold and the profits also distributed between the three children. When my grandmother died in 2003, I helped my  mother clean out her house. Surprisingly I did not find anything from her mother, my great-grandmother's house. I assumed at the time that my grandmother had simply thrown everything out.

I did not become interested in genealogy until many years later. Then my mother showed me a couple of boxes of family photos that she had retrieved from my great-grandmother's house. She gave them to me in 2009. I inventoried and scanned all the contents and was able to extend the Lasiter tree out one more generation based on some writing on the back of a photo. But there were things missing. These boxes contained photos of my grandmother when she was young and of my mother and I throughout the years, and a few of my great-grandmother and her siblings, but nothing more from her Benson side of the family. I knew if my great-grandmother had kept any keepsakes from her childhood or from her parents, then they had to be in the boxes that were distributed to the other two children. And I was pretty darn sure my great-grandmother had kept some keepsakes. She kept everything and she wrote on everything!

Well you better believe that I sent letters to the children of my grandmother's oldest sister, Barbara. But they went unanswered. I queried her brother, but he too, said he didn't have anything. Now they are both gone. But his son surprised me. And guess what? His son is now interested in genealogy. Yep, he got the bug now too! And he decided to help me out.

I had found the genealogy gold mine!

I found room for 2 bankers sized boxes (they were bigger back then, by the way) and one small box that has two drawers in it on the trailer for the drive back to Georgia and then to North Carolina. I opened the boxes and you wouldn't believe what I found!

Photos of course! 
School Report Cards!
More Photos! 

Louise's Lost Files - the Boxes
Three Boxes of Photos, Letters, and Family Memorabilia 
from my great-grandmother's house. 
Photo taken by Ginger R. Smith, 17 January 2015. 
My goal is to inventory all the items in these three boxes, preserve them, and scan the items of genealogical and historical value and post about them here, under Louise's Lost Files and share them on my tree.  I will also be extracting genealogical data from the items and saving it to my genealogy software. My goal is to two-fold: to share the genealogy gold mine and to show how I can apply research methodology to extract genealogical data from the items within.

All posts relating to my great-grandmother's materials will be labeled with "Louise's Lost Files" followed by a brief description of their contents. I am estimating this project will take the better part of a year to complete. So stay tuned for more details! 


  1. Oh, wow! That's terrific! What a treasure!

  2. What great news - these really are a gold mine!

    1. Yes Greta, I can't wait to dive into them! Good to hear from you!

  3. Hi, Ginger,

    Just wanted to let you know that this post was mentioned in my Friday Finds and Follows post at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors.

    1. Hi Miriam, wow, what a surprise! Thank you so much!