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These Are My Bliss

On the homepage of my website, I identify my bliss as: Books, Cats, History New England. Each blog post will focus on one of these topics.

  • Writer's pictureEileen O'Finlan

My Family And The Love Of History

I come by my love for history naturally. My parents were history lovers and they shared their enthusiasm with me. A teacher, my mom taught a variety of subjects to elementary and middle school students, but her favorite was history. Rather than just impart dry facts and dates, she taught it like a story. Allowing her students to picture it in their minds held their attention and helped them to remember. It also fostered a deeper understanding of why and not just the what of historical events. Considering that Mom was teaching in the 1950s she was probably thinking a bit outside the box by doing this. Yay, Mom!


My dad loved anything to do with World War II or naval history. He had served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War so all things naval were of great interest to him. He couldn’t get enough of navy and war books and movies.



My family is great for handing on family stories, many of which go back several generations. One of my ancestors on my mother’s side fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, was captured, and died in a prison camp. We still have the quilt his wife made for him but was never able to give him.


Mom’s great, great aunt was in Ford’s Theater the night President Lincoln was assassinated. Another of her relatives was shot trying to escape from Sing Sing where he was imprisoned for running bootleg whisky during prohibition. On Dad’s side, we are descended from Toussaint Charbonneau (my last name is really Charbonneau. O’Finlan is a pen name) of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Family lore says that Sacajawea is our ancestor, but I have not been able to substantiate that assertion for sure. I would love to be able to claim that amazing woman as kin, though!


Whether family stories or national- or world-stage events, historical happenings were often topics of conversation in my family so it’s no wonder I developed a deep appreciation and love for history.

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