I began to research my family tree in December 2005 after being given an original letter dated May 1869, which had the address of Boston Highlands.
This letter my mother had had in her possession since my grandma had died. in 1997.
The letter had no author but as letters do, had various names contained within that would hopefully, help me to solve who had written such.
My first task was to note all the names and try and find those mentioned on Census' in the UK, which luckily for me, was the easy part. The task to follow then was to try and find out who could of written the letter and the only clues I had were the names of Frankie, Father Smith and Charley. These were the only names I had which were not noted on any census here in the UK, so they must have been part of the authors family and not here in Halifax...?
I trawled for months, in the UK Census files not getting anywhere then i changed to searching in USA. Without a surname it was very hard but I would search and search, as I was convinced I would find her, (yes I believed it was a woman).
Eventually after months and months, I was elated to find a woman called Isabella Smith, father Smith (her father Robert) and Frankie was her son Francis. Charley was a horse mentioned in the letter as it read that frankie would be a great horseman in a few years or so. Boston Highlands an area at that time in the US...the Ward notes I kept noting so to go back to, if i strayed too far.
Gosh, how happy I was to have found Isabella, as the letter was quite sad recalling how at that time, work was slow and that she was 'real poor'. The boy (she continues who was born in 1867) has only his baby clothes to wear and she also questioned if her husband was ever going to return to the US and to let her know if he wasn't, then 'she would know'.
Isabella sounded a great mum, putting her son first and with little money she had, mentioned that she had taken Frankie for a photograph, to send onto the family here in th UK. Obviously the family here had never seen Frankie (but im not sure about Isabella and her parents.)
I haven't been able to find them yet anywhere? (That, I will endeavour to try and find out).
I really enjoyed finding the family in the US but wish I could find out if any decendents are still there. That would be fantastic.
The one thing I have still been working on from the letter, is the fact that there was mentioned the death of a little 'mary elizabeth aged around 3 years old'.
Only two days ago after again searching through sites for births etc and then to trust my instinct, I had ordered a Birth Certificate which, when arrived, matched this little girl and which has brought another family into my tree. This funnily enough, is all about the same family...so far!
One thing that has eluded me so far, is the reason why John (father to Francis) would have gone to the US to start with.
He was working here in Halifax in the Uk around 1850's but the by 1860's he has gone off to the US, met and married Isabella in 1865, gone onto have a son 2 years later and then returned to halifax never to return to the US? Why would he go to the US around 1860...?
This has been such an eventful journey with still lots to find out. I really wish I had thought about researching my family tree while my gran was alive, as she used to love to talk about the old days and families. Maybe it was not the right time back then, and somehow gran knew I would have loved the researching to do, by myself? Maybe gran is with me as i travel this journey of discovery?
How exciting is this family tree stuff.
Hope you enjoyed the story as much as i have being a part of it!
Ms H Taylor.
Ms H Taylor
Please login if you wish to rate this article.