I love that song Who I Am: “I am Rosemary’s granddaughter, the spitting image of my father…” Family has been such an undergirding of my life that I relate strongly to these lyrics.
I was born Ethel Mae Lee, the oldest of five children of Douglas and Peggy Lee of the town of Rodman in upstate New York. My parents ran a large dairy farm and we children all got to do our part, of course.
My father kept a diary of his activities and it was natural for me to keep one too. Through the years journaling was an on-and-off-again activity that filled many notebooks. When I was not journaling, I wrote poetry. A few of my Letters to the Editor actually appeared in the newspaper. In my twenty five years as a social worker I wrote many different types of informative brochures, grants, instruction sheets, and case histories. There was always writing to do and I never minded it at all. I loved the challenge of getting the words to convey what I meant as closely as possible.
When genealogy software made it possible to record the hundreds of relatives that I had been hearing about for years, my interest in genealogy was renewed. I searched for “lost” relatives and found them; then I wanted to share my research and the information I had found. I started a semi-annual newsletter, the Douglass Digest, to pass along the information to my large extended family.
Writing those Digest articles for others to read was great fun, especially when I received lots of encouragement from my family to keep at it. In the summer of 2001 I took a writing class offered by Women Writing For (a) Change in Cincinnati, Ohio. The members of my class were insistent that I should tell my stories to a larger audience than just my family. The idea for a book was born.
When doing genealogy research one always wonders about the people whose names, birth dates and locations one collects. What did they do? What were they like? What were their dreams? I realized that I would never answer all those questions in my lifetime. I decided to write stories about the families I was researching in the 19th century and to keep the stories faithful to the setting and time in which they lived. Whether you call it fictionalized history or creative nonfiction, it is my attempt to bring alive one family’s history in a form that is easy to read and can be passed on from generation to generation.
I am Ethel Lee Ingalls and among other ways I describe myself, I am a writer.
Contact me with any comments or questions you may have, or for available Douglass Family documentation.