"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good Old Letter Writting

This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenges us to write letters, not email letters, but good old United States Postal Service paper, envelope and stamp letters.

I had to laugh at first when I read this challenge/topic for the week.  In the past week I had written 8 letters and then wrote another one last night.  I like getting mail, especially when it relates to my genealogy.

I sent out requests for some birth certificates to the Grand Traverse County Clerk's office.  There were 3 of those in the past week or so.  Out of 3 only 2 were on file, but that's not bad odds for the 1880's. I requested these for 3 of my Great Grandma's sibilings.  Daisy Bell Lardie, who died when she was a month old, Julius Arthur Lardie who died when he was only 10 months old and Mary Louise Lardie (Garland, Sunquest).  The first two we are just curious to what had happened to them.  Mary Louise, or Mamie, is supposed to be buried in the local City Cemetery, but there is no record of her burial there. 

I wrote 4 letters to a local catholic church inquring about records.  The first letter was for Daisy Lardie.  The return reply stated that they have no records of Daisy nor do they show her buried in the church's cemetery.  The second letter was for information about Daisy's (my GGGGranpa) Grandfather, George Lardie, if there is any information in the church records about him or his wife.  The third and fourth letters are also to the same church, but I am mailing them one at a time so I'm not asking for a bunch of information all at once. 

 One letter is making its way to Ulster County Surrogate Court in New York State.  I am trying to get a copy of a will for my GGGGGrandpa, Eliakim Wardell, who ended up being the Guardian of my GGGrandpa, George C. Wood, after his father, George Wood, and mother, Mary (Wardell) Wood died when George C. was a young boy.  I am still waiting for a response to that letter.  My letter is asking for information on how to obtain a copy of the will/probate file. 

The last letter I wrote, which I the one I wrote last night, is to a catholic church in Lewisburg, PA.  I am requesting information on my GGGGranpa Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzgerald's, brother, James Frances Fitzgerald and his wife, Susan Francis (Quigley) Fitzgerald.  I have previously written to the same church to confirm that Susan is buried in their cemetery.  I also learned in that letter that a Mary Fitzgerald is also buried in the same cemetery, although I'm not sure how, or if, she fits into my family tree.

All my letters are written in formal format.  For Example:

My return address
address Line #2

The Reciever
Reciver address
address line #2

Dear Sir or Madame;

The body of the letter with the specific information that I am looking for and the details needed about the person or people to help aid in the look up of the information. I always make sure to read over my letters and I also have my husband read over my letters to proof read as well as to make sure I don't have extra information that I don't need in the letters.

I always thank the person for their time in a seperate line.


(My Signature goes in here on the printed page)

Alanna Fant

When I write away for information I always include a Self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), however if I have to pay reserach fees I do not, unless it is a genealogy society or similar and they specifically request a SASE.

With this day and age of computers and email and online research we forget about letter writing.  One thing we must remember as genealogists is letter writing is one of our strongest research tools that we have in our repetoire, but I also think it is probably one of the most forgotten.  While I'm writing this, I sit here and wonder how many records exist with my ancestors' names on them versus how many are online! 

I challenge you to write a letter (or more) a week for the next month.  Leave a comment in the comments section about your experiences and results!  Your ideas may spark another researcher and help them track down tha elusive ancestor!

Happy Hunting.

1 comment:

  1. I like your challenge! I originally wrote this week's challenge to get the Internet researchers out of a rut. Some people need certain topics more than others. Looks like you have letter writing covered!