Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Secret Gift by Ted Gup - A Book Review

When writing a family history, I am curious to learn how a major historical event affected my family members. One such event is the Great Depression of the 1930s. But I have no great stories, except that my grandmother raised chickens and sold eggs. Besides that fact, all of my ancestors who lived through that period are gone and no oral or written histories remain. So in lieu of my own family stories about The Great Depression, I will suggest a book to my readers in the event you are interested in the period and so inclined for a good read.

The book is A Secret Gift by Ted Gup. His non-fiction book is derived from letters he inherited from his Grandfather, Sam Stone. During the Depression, a week before Christmas of 1933, his grandfather took on the alias name of “B. Verdot” and proceeded to place an ad in The Canton Repository. He wanted to give 150 people from Canton, Ohio $5.00 each. In today’s dollar that is about $90.00. The only request was they had to write to him via a box number and request the money. The letters were later passed on to the author of the book, along with the follow up thank you notes that B. Verdot received. Using genealogical resources, Ted Gup researched the stories of the letter writers and contacted their family members to learn why they so desperately needed that $5.00 in 1933 and whhat became of them. Many of the writers had passed away and many of the family members never knew of the suffering their ancestors endured and in many cases, crying upon reading the letter that was written by a loved one now long gone.

Sam Stone

The book is a wonderful example of how an author can take on the challenge of turning his family history into a literary work that will bring you to tears and engage the reader to really care about these families. I envision the stories of all the families in Canton, Ohio paralleling those of my own family members who were one state to the west in Indiana. This was a time in history many had the same story and they all endured the hardships together. They were very proud people and wanted no one to feel sorry for them. The book is made up of many small stories but it revolves around Sam Stone and what brought him to make such a generous gift without letting anyone know. I was enthralled through the whole book and only dream of being able to write my own family history so beautifully.


1 comment:

  1. In your own way - your effort to the uncovering of our family's history is and will be a great contribution to all living and future family members. Pride like knowledge can be forever... thanks