My grandpa gave me a couple of his family history research binders last summer. I was able to use them to identify the ship his father and grandparents sailed to America from Switzerland for my cousin, Heidi. After sending a printable image of the SS Circassia to Heidi, I decided to print a copy for our family as well.
I thought it would be fun for my boys to replicate the ship in Lego bricks. I love the sail they came up with.
While they worked together to build the boat, I was able to share some details about what life was like for most immigrant families during that time period.
We created a vignette scene in my new ShotBox I bought at Rootstech. We used old atlas books and a book on the Alps we found at the thrift store. My youngest son, PB made a mountain for the Swiss Kohlers to stand on. We decided to include baby Jacob who died a few months before the Kohlers came to America.
I also wanted to do something for my grandmother’s side of the family. After seeing a Lego covered wagon, I decided to build my version of one. Grandma is a member of the Daughter’s of the Utah Pioneers, and has several influential pioneer ancestors. The most notable is probably Isaac Behunin. He was a body guard to the first LDS prophet, Joseph Smith, and is credited with naming Zion’s Canyon.
PB and I initially built a handcart instead of a wagon. When I think of Mormon Pioneers, I think of handcarts, and the difficulties the Martin and Willie handcart companies endured.
Isaac and Elmina Polly Tyler Behunin weren’t wealthy, but they traveled to Utah with adequate provisions. Many LDS pioneers weren’t as well equipped. There were 11 members of the Behunin family who traveled to Utah. They had 4 wagons with teams of oxen, as well as horses and sheep. Several generations of Behunins supported their families as shepherds through out the state of Utah.
The Behunins passed through Emigration Canyon August 30, 1850. Isaac and Elmina’s youngest child to cross the plains to Utah was Elijah Cuttler Behunin, my direct line ancestor. He was only two years old. On September 30, 1850, one month after their arrival in Utah, Elmina gave birth to a daughter named after her. I can’t imagine what it was like walking or bumping along a hot, dusty trail during the summer being pregnant. Elmina Behunin must have been a strong woman.
My 4 boys and I had so much fun comparing our family tree to their Lego mini figure collections and trying to build them to represent family members. We used my camera phone to take pictures together. We hope to use the photos to illustrate a book of family stories to share with all the cousins for our family reunion in August.
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week- What family story could you adapt to tell with Lego? Bonus Points- If you have any idea how to build Lego sheep, comment and let me know or send me a link.
That is so cool and creative! I feel like when kids are hands on doing something, they retain the information better. This would be a great way for them to remember that ship and their ancestors. Great idea 🙂
Thanks PJ. I totally agree with you. Seeing a name and date on a family tree is different than playing with a mini figure version of 6x great grandpa. Or building a boat. It was a fun way for me to connect with my boys too. Thanks for reading and commenting.
This is a lovely idea. I’ve not really thought much about informing my boys through lego. Definately going to use this. Thank you.
This is such a great idea Jen!
I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/03/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-march-11.html
Have a great weekend!
Thanks Jana! I appreciate your support by sharing my blog with your readers.
This is so creative. Thanks for sharing!
Terrific blog post! My family loves the photos, and I love the ideas here
Thanks for reading and commenting, Heather. There are so many creative and fun applications for Lego and family history.
“The Behunins passed through Emigration Canyon August 30, 1830”
Entered into Utah in 1830? A possible typo? Great article and well worth the read.
Yes! Thanks for catching that. It should be 1850.
Whoah! I didn’t know you sent me a link to that picture, I can’t believe you found that! Was it my e-mail or FB? I want to print that, you are the BEST. COUSIN. EVER!!!!!
It was so fun to meet you at church (Newport Beach) today! I showed my kids your Behunin lego wagon. What a fun way to get kids excited about their ancestors! We are going to try that. I checked familysearch & realized we are also part of the Elijah Cutler Behunin line (so one generation closer than I thought)!