Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Alta May (Day) Dillman

Alta May (Day) Dillman (1910-1982)

This Thursday (as most days) I am thankful for my paternal grandmother, Alta May Day.  Without her, it is unlikely you would be reading this; Grandma was the one most responsible for feeding and encouraging my interest in family history as I grew up.  Born 12 Feb 1910 in Sheffield, Beadle County, South Dakota, she grew up on a farm with long days of hard work.  But along with the hard work, she and her father liked to play with cameras.  She became quite a shutterbug, which has had much influence on me in more than one way.  I seem to have inherited the photography gene from her, and spent almost 6 years in the US Navy as a Photographer's Mate.

Grandma got me started in family history, as I mentioned.  I don't remember the circumstances of it, perhaps it was a simple inquiry, perhaps it was for a school assignment.  In any case, Grandma Dillman was the one who had the family history information.  Her Day family is large and well documented, and she was in possession of a book by George Day detailing the lineage back to the first Day immigrants in 1634.  I'm sure reading this book had contributed to her interest in family history.  In any case, as I grew up and became more interested, she shared her information with me, and we discussed what she had done to look for more data.  This was in pre-internet days, of course, so most research was time-consuming and expensive.  Her information and insight gave me a solid foundation on which to further research the lines.

Another, more subtle influence is that she saved all of her pictures and put them in albums.  Late in her life, she used those albums to reminisce and write her memoirs which consist of about a thousand hand-written pages.  I have yet to transcribe all of that!  They make fascinating reading, describing her life and surroundings from a very early age on the farm, to marrying my grandfather and having kids, to fashions and events of the day.  One of my earlier posts was taken from those memoirs.  And yet another benefit - her albums were passed to me when she died.  The image above is just one.  While grandma didn't take the picture, she did hand color it, another photographic hobby she enjoyed.  I have many hundreds of photos of family and friends dating back to the 1880's.  You will doubtless be seeing more of her photos in weeks and months to come.  Come to think of it, this post might better have been made a Treasure Chest Thursday entry instead!  Thanks, grandma!