Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘letters’

Postwatchletters

A couple of months ago, I pulled out some letters from my genealogy archives to read. Apparently, I missed putting one of them back and found it on the table about a week later. It was written by Dorothy Welch (my second cousin once removed) to her aunt (my great-grandmother) Martha Stern Wilt Clawson.

July 19, 1922
113 E. Ave 58
Los Angeles, Calif.
Dear Aunt Martha,
I received your letter and was certainly glad to hear from you.
Some Muncie people by the name of Cites came out here the other day to visit her brother
who is a friend of ours. They brought word to us from my grand daddy Welch.
I am awfully sorry to hear that Nellie is sick again. I wish she could come out to Los Angeles
if she has to come “west.”
I haven’t heard from Uncle Ralph since March either. I’ve wrote several letters to see what
was the matter but I never got a answer.
I bet Vesta’s children are cute I certainly would like to see them.
Leonore is studying her spelling now so she will pass in her grades next term.
What grade is Clifford in at school?
Well I must close this time with love,
Dorothy

The first thing that stood out for me was the date of the letter – 1922. My mother always said that she didn’t meet her grandmother until she was an adult so I assumed that Grandma Clawson had moved west before my mom was born – the fall of 1921. I really think she meant that she didn’t remember her because my mom and her family moved to the Dayton, Ohio area in 1922.  I looked up Grandma Clawson’s address on Google and the street scene shows a parking lot now at 31 W 12th Street in Anderson, Indiana. There’s a church nearby so I wonder if the house was torn down since 1922. It would have been interesting if it had still been standing.

The “grand daddy Welch” that Dorothy mentions would be Americas C. Welch. A.C. Welch married Sarah C Buzzard in 1875 in Huntington, Indiana (according to the database: “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959″ index on FamilySearch.org). A.C. and Sarah were the parents of Dorothy’s father, George Welch.

Nellie was my grandmother’s younger sister. She was 20 years old at the time of this letter and had been diagnosed with asthma. I had been told by my mother that due to her illness, it was necessary for her to move to the western United States.  She ended up moving to the Oregon/Washington area and lived most of her adult life in Washington.

The “Uncle Ralph” that Dorothy is referring to is her mother’s brother, Ralph Clawson, and my grandmother’s cousin. He was enumerated in the 1920 Census as living in Watertown, Massachusetts in the George C Shattuck household. I know Ralph had gone in the Navy  and he would have been about 24 years old in 1922 when Dorothy was trying to reach him. In June 1923 Ralph married Olive Sundberg in Chicago, Illinois.

Vesta would be my maternal grandmother (Vesta C Johnson nee Wilt). She and my grandfather had already bore three children, my Uncle Glen R Johnson, Jr., my aunt Genevieve V Johnson, and my mom Mary H Johnson.

Leonore was Dorothy’s younger sister. At the time of this letter, Dorothy was age 16. Leonore was probably close to nine.

Clifford, my grandmother’s youngest brother, was born April 20, 1906 making him a little over 16 when Dorothy wrote this letter. The 1940 US Census shows that Clifford only completed the first year of high school (generally 9th grade) – so he was not attending school any longer. If he had remained in school, he would probably have been going into his sophomore year when school began that fall.

I am under the impression that Dorothy wrote this letter as a reply to her Aunt Martha’s correspondence to her. I haven’t run across any other letters written by Dorothy so I don’t think it was a regular occurrence.

I greatly enjoy reading old letters that were sent back and forth from family members. It enables me to glimpse a window into their lives at the time of the letter. I noticed that Dorothy didn’t volunteer very much about herself such as her social activities, friends, work, or suitors.  She also didn’t ask how her grandfather was – as after her grandmother Margaret Ellen passed away, her aunt Martha (Ellen’s sister), married her widower, W. Frank Clawson.

If you have letters or post cards like I do, a good way to understand their deeper message or the lives of the people then, is to do an analysis on them as I did with this letter.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Read Full Post »

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 8: “Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.”

As I’ve reported many previous times, I have a large – (read that LARGE) collection of letters that include:

  • My grandparents (Glen and Vesta Johnson) wrote to each other during their courtship.
  • My grandparents wrote to each other during the time my grandfather was in training with the Signal Squadron and overseas in France during WWI.
  • My grandparents wrote to each other whenever they were apart (for military or visiting other relatives).
  • My great-grandmother (Martha Stern Clawson) wrote to my grandmother (Vesta).
  • My grandmother’s (Vesta) brothers and sister wrote to her as they lived in Oregon/Washington and my grandmother was somewhere else (usually Ohio).
  • My parents and my grandparents (Glen and Vesta) wrote to each other when my parents were stationed in Japan in the 1950s.
  • My grandparents (Glen and Vesta) wrote to my parents when my grandparents were stationed in Germany.
  • Postcards several members of the family sent to each other.

washington d.c. postcard

Postcard my grandfather sent to my parents on January 28, 1951 from Washington D.C.

paris postcard

Postcard from my grandfather to my parents on December 6, 1950 from Paris, France

I feel immensely fortunate that I have this collection of letters from the past because it gives me a glimpse into their lives during a time before my birth.

Read Full Post »

Addressing Christmas Cards

As Christmas approaches, I realize that soon I will need to write my annual Christmas letter and get the Christmas cards addressed for the mail.  I have a list of addresses I use for my holiday cards, adding and removing from year to year.  That led me to wonder how technology has changed the way we send Christmas greetings and how we store addresses.

My approach each year is to pull up the previous year’s Christmas letter that I save in my word processing program.  I use that as the template for the current letter as it keeps me on track.  The letters are printed out on special 8.5×11 holiday stationery. Some of my Christmas cards don’t require letters – generally those go to church friends or others who I see on a regular basis and know what my yearly activities have been. Distant family members and friends get a letter and a card.  Then I pull out my address book to address all the cards.  There are those who have moved and lacking a current address, I attach my Christmas letter to an email.

So I have mixed both current technology – computerized Christmas letters -and old-school address book to complete the Christmas card task.  There are some people who have all of the addresses and information in their smart phones or tablets. If their phone gets lost or suffers major damage, all of that information could be lost. Future generations would never have an old-fashioned address book to look through, perhaps with clues as to their parents’ or grandparents’ friends or relatives.

I’m fairly lucky in that respect. My mom had kept my grandparents’ address books after they passed away. When my mother passed away, I got her address books and those of my grandparents.  In those pages are names that I know, reminding me of times in the past.  There are also names of people I had never heard of, which gave me pause as to what the relationship was.  There are also notations by names – death dates, the word “cousin”, etc. Those clues have proven very useful in my family research.

I worry that the digital age will change all of that. As our ancestors kept journals or diaries – we write blogs and websites. In high school we passed notes in class and between classes. Today, students text each other. My grandparents and mom wrote letters daily and weekly when they were apart due to military transfers. We write emails or update our Facebook status.  Even if everything in cyberspace will remain for eons, there is no tactile experience.  The feel of the leather address book covers, the brittle onion skin typewriter paper, or the embossed stationary can bring the past into the present.  The handwritten words of a beloved ancestor or family member long since passed can shed light on what was important to them at that time in their life.

In contrast, words in an email – sentence fragments, texting language, upper caps “shouting”, and short messages don’t say much about the writer, other than they used technology.  Even in this hurry up world we live in, perhaps it is important to revisit our ancestors’ (even parents’) use of the handwritten word – especially when it comes to addressing our cards, keeping our address books, and a long distance letter or two.

Read Full Post »

Which is where I’ve been for the last week!  As I was “googling” and searching for some information, I decided that some more “clean-up” of my gedcom was in order.  Or more precisely – better documentation.  Since I was doing research on the Goul (and for all of those not in the know – it rhymes with Owl!) line of my tree, that is where I focused my work. 

I don’t have subscriptions to any of the online “pay” genealogy sites, so thought I’d work with what I could.  I started on HeritageQuest – which I can access from home thanks to my local library.  I wanted to find every single census record I could that included a member of the Goul family in order to “source” it in my family file. 

While doing so, I ran across “extra” Goul folks so added them into the family file as non-related people just in case.  The documentation took quite a bit of time.  Not only did I add the information on where everyone was in the Census records but the Series, Roll and page numbers. 

After I finished with HeritageQuest, I went to FamilySearch labs and entered information I found from there.  Then on to Rootsweb family trees and the Social Security Death Index.  Then I did a Google search to see what “distant” cousins had entered. 

In the middle of all of this, I received an email from a distant cousin – one who had posted some queries awhile back to one of the message boards.  We wrote back and forth and she mentioned that she had some things to mail to me.  I received the package on Saturday and it was a rather large package with quite a few family group sheets, copies of letters she had received from another distant cousin (who has since passed away).  One of the letters was actually a letter written to this other cousin that he had sent to her, and you’ll never believe who the author of that letter was – my grandfather!  Talk about the “circle of genealogy”!  This is the second time a cousin has sent me copies of letters my grandfather had written to other people. 

My week’s worth of work has been very productive and successful. I’ve been able to attach some of those non-related people to my line.

Even though I’ve used every combination of spellings to find the Goul family in the census, I’m not quite done.  I’ve located them under the variations of Coul, Gowl, Gaul, Gowell, and Goule.  But I’m sure there’s more!

Read Full Post »

The 65th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is “The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy” and will be hosted by Becky Wiseman (one of my distant cousins!) of Kinexxions.

I’ve had several “Oh, Yeah!” moments.  One of them I wrote about in A Goldmine – about discovering a box of letters written by my grandparents to each other when they were courting in 1916 and during 1918 when my grandfather went to Signal Corps Training and during his overseas duty during WWI.

Another moment I had was when I was looking for my maternal 2nd great-grandfather, Emanuel Bushong Stern.  As I was going through the 1850 Census looking for him in order to get information on his parents and siblings, I wasn’t having any luck.  Obviously, they had disappeared during the Census.  And then just by chance, I came across Peter Sterne living in Clay Township, Hamilton County, Indiana.  The last name was spelled wrong – with an “e” at the end of the surname but the names for known siblings was correct.  I think I jumped out of the computer chair at this find!

Another “happy dance” moment came a couple years after I had posted a query on a message board giving names of my paternal g-grandfather’s half-siblings and their children.  I received an email from the daughter of one of his nieces.  She had quite a bit of information about the Johnson line including the first wife of the man I was researching (James Wilson Johnson) who was my 2nd great-grandmother.  And my cousin was actually descended from James’ 2nd wife.  Since that time several years ago we have exchanged (with a couple other Johnson cousins) more information.

It doesn’t take much for me to do the Happy Dance!  Each tiny rock I turn over or piece of information I find that leads to bigger and better finds, is reason for me to stand up and shout “Oh Yeah!”.

Read Full Post »

Denise at The Family Curator has posted a Treasure Hunt Challege for Genea-Bloggers. The course of action is simple:

  1. Select Your Destination
  2. Make a plan (treasure map)
  3. Post the plan on the blog before September 30 with an email to Denise that includes a link
  4. Tackle the project
  5. Post an article about finding the treasure
  6. Send Denise an email with a link to the final post by October 20

As I began to think about all the ephemera and research notes in my file, on the computer, and elsewhere, I wondered where I could begin looking.  My plan of “attack” is this:

  1. Go through the big box of letters I have
  2. Locate papers on land transactions (I’ve seen them but haven’t paid that close attention to them)
  3. Look for the names of property owners/sellers and the dates and research them
  4. Gather information about the property – where it’s located, if I can get a satellite (or any) image of land
  5. Post my findings

Hopefully I’ll learn some fascinating new information!

Read Full Post »

Julie Cahill Tarr at GenBlog started a meme on the topic of what heirloom(s) you would save in the event of a disaster.  You can read her story here.

As I’ve had a couple weeks to think about this, I think I’ve actually answered this question in some of my posts.  In this post I described the christening gown made by my maternal great-grandmother. And in this post I told you about the CDs I’d received that were made from some reel-to-reel tapes recorded between the late 1950’s and late 1960’s. Here I wrote about the hundreds of letters in my possession that were written by my grandparents when they were courting and after my grandfather was in training and then overseas for WWI and other letters including the Letters from Germany my grandparents wrote while they were stationed in Wiesbaden in the early 1950s.  All of those items I would save.

I would, of course, save every photo that I have in my possession (and negative and slide), the videos of my wedding, the sonogram I had when I was pregnant with our youngest, the church musicals the kids were in, and other family type films.

One thing that has gone with me no matter where I’ve gone, is the box containing all the poetry and other stuff I wrote years ago.  Other items include my Sister-Belle doll (which still “talks” when you pull her string!) and a teddy bear that’s lost most of its fur.  There is also the flower girl dress my mom made for me to wear in my cousin’s sister’s-in-law wedding made from red velvet; shoes worn by my children when they were babies; my wedding dress.  A Hummel I inherited from my grandmother would also have to be saved as well as the German Tea Set she gave me.  Also from my grandparents would be the German Woodcut kitchen scene they bought in Garmisch and the Christmas Bell that plays “Jingle Bells”. I would also grab the scrapbooks I’ve made over the years documenting my childrens’ school years, my parents’ travel to Japan, and other events.

Hopefully, I will never have to evacuate due to a disaster and if I do, I hope that most of my “copy-able” items will have been scanned and saved to a disk, flash drive, or external hard drive that is somewhere else to weather out such an emergency.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers