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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Week 7 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 7 – Historical Documents: Which historical document in your possession are you happy to have? How did you acquire this item? What does it reveal about your ancestors?
A few months after I announced to the family I was looking into its history and genealogy I received a large manila envelope in the mail.  My mother-in-law had sent me everything she had on paper from her mother.  Hand written notes and letters that she photocopied so I would have my own copies for research.  These letters were a goldmine of information for me in piecing together something’s about her family.  I have added to the five initial ones I received, as her cousin has sent me scanned in copies of ones that she has and I scanned more letters during my last visit.

Family lore vs. actual truth can be a funny thing.  She knew all about the rumors, myths, and whispers of scandal in the family, but had no idea about the concrete proof.  When I sat down to read the letters I put them in order, oldest to newest, and began to read.  The first two were grandmothers writing to their granddaughter, whom they had last seen when she was a small child.  After that a brother writes, and an uncle writes telling stories about family roots.  Each one was a wonderful peek into life in Maine at the turn of the 20th century.
Each also had crumbs of information I gathered to give me clues about where to look next for the family line.  I learned the names of aunts, uncles, and siblings, family lore and family tragedy.  The most poignant of which came from one of the grandmothers written 20 February 1897 “I do not think that I have written correct sentence and do not dare look this over for fear that I shall find so many misspelled words that I shall put it into the fire.  But I know you will have charity for your grandmother when I tell you my Father died when I was a little girl, in Havana Cuba leaving my mother with four little girls and we did not have many school privileges.  But the dear lord has blessed with good children and nice grandchildren.”
This one line gave me an opening I could never have dreamed in cracking Eliza Cunningham Greeley’s line.
*Image: ....Tim via photopin cc

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