thegenealogygirl


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Treasures: A Pioneer Letter

Today is a very loved holiday in the state of Utah – the 24th of July.  It’s the day we celebrate the first Mormon Pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847.  After years of persecution and being driven from place to place, those pioneers finally fled Nauvoo and began the difficult journey to Utah.  Some traveled by ox cart, many walked alongside the wagons, others traveled by handcart which meant a lot of walking, and a very small group of Saints traveled on the Ship Brooklyn sailing from New York, around Cape Horn, and arriving in Yerba Buena, California six months later.  My own ancestors were among each of those groups.

In honor of my pioneer ancestors, on this 24th of July, I have a special treasure to share.  I just discovered this gem last week while going through some more of my Grandma’s collection.

Pictured above you can see my 4th great-grandfather, Julius Augustus Caesar Austin, then the headstone for his wife, my 4th great-grandmother Octavia Ann Lane, and then their daughter, Louise Maria Austin, my 3rd great-grandmother.  In my searching, so far I have not found any photos of Octavia.

In 1846, Julius, Octavia, and their three surviving children, Louise – age 7, Edwin – age 5, and Newton – age 2, all began their journey to Utah on the Ship Brooklyn.  I’ve known that was the case for many years, but discovering this transcription of a letter written by Octavia during that journey was such a cool find.  The transcription was completed by Julius and Octavia’s granddaughter, Louise Delina Cheney in 1934.  What a treasure!

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transcription:

“Copy of

Photostat of a letter written by grand mother Austin to her parents while on Ship Brooklyn.

Honolula, Oahu

June 29 – 1846

Dear Parents and Brothers & Sisters

I take this time to write a few lines, but one sheet of paper to communicate one’s thots  If you knew my feelings for your eternal happiness.  I want you to come where we are to live – and die with the Saints of God.

Give my love to Sister King and enquering friends.  One thing more we met some. relatives on board Brother Nathan Burr married Chloe Clarke, grandchild of Thomas Pratt grandmother’s brother; she was acquainted with Aunt Stocking, has been to Uncle Stannard’s house   they are first rate folks, she looks some like your mother

Julius sends love

Octavia A. Austin.

To you all.

431

Copied at Genealogical Office From Mss.  Oct 15 – 1934 by Delina Willis.  There is also copy of another letter written by grandmother dated 29 Sept 1846″

 

The details about Chloe Clarke, Thomas Pratt, and Aunt Stocking have got me curious.  This is a line I haven’t spent any time on.  I’ve got to see where these clues lead me!  Also, Aunt Stocking?  I love that name.

I was also curious to see if the original letter was viewable on the LDS Church History Library website.  The image is not, but I discovered that this note from Octavia was a postscript to a letter written by her sister, Emeline Lane, as seen here.  Emeline wrote an additional letter that is also held there, as seen here.  I can’t see any trace of the letter Delina mentions from 29 September 1846.  That letter must be in a private collection, or in another department.  I have some digging to do!  AND, I think a trip to Salt Lake is in order to view the two Emeline letters.  I can’t wait to see Octavia’s handwriting!!  I better make a list of other treasures in the Church History Library about my family.  I found that at least one letter written by Emeline is included in the book Scoundrel’s Tale: The Samuel Brannan Papers by, Will Bagley.  I ordered a copy.

 

Happy 24th of July!  It’s a day that honors Mormon Pioneers and their sacrifices so that LDS church members would be able to live what they believed in peace and safety.  I am thankful for them, so many of whom reside in my very own tree.

 


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A New Toy at the Library

 

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The first page of text from the Telesphore Brouillette book, exactly as it scanned, saved as a jpeg.  Looks pretty good!

 

On Friday I went on a little adventure with my favorite 5-year-old pal.  I picked him up from Kindergarten, had a quick lunch, and then we were off to BYU for some important work.  I had reserved an overhead scanner so that I could scan the Telesphore Brouillette book my cousin Margaret mailed to me.

Now you might be wondering about my taking a 5-year-old to a Family History Library.  (You aren’t the only one.  A certain well-known genealogist who has strong opinions about who should and should not work on genealogy doesn’t think he belongs there either.  And yet, he is always there when I show up with my kiddo.  Haha!)  I swear, my kid is the best 5-year-old ever.  A few new Kindergarten apps on my phone, and the promise of a “pink cookie” after we are done and that kid is an angel.  Well.  He is always an angel.

We arrived and I went to the desk because I wasn’t sure which scanner was the one I had reserved, when low and behold I spotted this brand new beauty.

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It was love at first sight.  I bailed on my scheduled scanner and used this brand-spankin’ new toy.  Okay.  I don’t actually know how new it really is.  It’s new since the last time I went to BYU.

It can’t be reserved, but I lucked out and it was free.  I scanned the Telesphore Brouillette book – all 185ish pages – in 45 minutes.

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!

 

Do you know how long it would have taken me on a flat-bed scanner?!

Me neither.  But a reeeeeeally long time.  Like a few weeks.  Maybe even two months.

(Insert an explanation here about patrons at the center and not having lots of time and getting bored if I scan for too long.  etc.  etc.)

The best part was that I was way less worried about damaging the book.  It is so simple to just turn the page and hit scan.  Way less wear and tear on the spine and binding.

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You can see a bit of the fancy scanning tech in this photo.  Also the books on Japanese something or other that were the perfect plain black to use as my “weights” to hold the pages open.

I will definitely be using this scanner again.  In fact, I did a few test pages of a different item I have been scanning, the painfully slow way, that I am going to compare and see if I like the quality well enough to switch to this scanner.

So for those who may wonder… this scanner can scan at 600 dpi, save to a thumb-drive or upload to the cloud (and maybe email…?  I think there were four save options).  The available formats include jpeg, pdf, searchable pdf – which is FABULOUSLY accurate by the way, and a few others I ignored.  There is no tiff setting.  You can save as one set of images or as individual images.  You can save in one format and then save again in another format, over and over until you have everything you want.  As you are scanning, if you notice a scan isn’t what you want – not straight enough or something – you can select those images and delete them, rescan those pages, and then keep scanning.

I am in love!

My cute little pumpkin was an angel as always.  He definitely earned his “pink cookie” after a nice leisurely stroll across campus.  He insisted on stomping on crunchy leaves and then throwing them up in the air by the handsful while I took some pictures.

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Isn’t he adorable?  ❤️❤️❤️

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!

 

 

ps – I have been very absent the last two months.  I have some serious catching up to do.  Thank you for hanging with me.  xoxo

 

 


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Book, Book, & Book – Plus a Wee Glimpse of a Tale of Using Indirect Evidence

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I have loved books for as long as I can remember.  I probably even loved them before that.  When I was a teenager there was a certain book I checked out from the library several times.  I loved it so much that I asked my mom if I could say that I “lost it” and pay the lost book fee so I could keep it.  I was only joking.  Mostly.  You see, it was out of print and I really wanted my own copy.

That is definitely not the only time I have longed for an out of print book.

A few years ago I solved a long-standing brick wall using indirect evidence.  It was a lot of work.  I was nervous to call my conclusion solid.  The whole concept of indirect evidence was new to me.  I didn’t even know that phrase until well after I had drawn my conclusions.

Then I took an excellent class taught by Tom Jones at RootsTech in 2016 and realized I was, in fact, solid.  I had already done the very things he was teaching us, but I was uncertain until I watched him masterfully lay out how to use direct, indirect, and negative evidence.

But before taking that class and learning the phrase “indirect evidence”, I was scouring the web searching for more information to help solidify my conclusions.  I came across the book pictured above – Reminiscences of My Life and Times by, Telesphore Brouillette.

I could find it in only one location in the world – The University of Washington.

Telesphore was the brother of my previous brick wall.  I wanted desperately to get my hands on that book and see if my conclusions were correct.  Would he mention his sister in that 183 page volume and confirm my conclusions?

So onto the genealogy to-do list that book went.  I tried getting inter-library loan privileges, I considered asking my brother to go visit the library (but there is noooooo way he would scan all 183 pages for me), and I thought about going to Seattle myself and scanning away.

But I was definitely more thought than action on this to-do list item.  There were just other projects that were simpler to tackle.

Can any of you relate to that?  😉

Well, this past summer I connected with a newly found cousin, Margaret.  Margaret happens to own a copy of that prized book.  She generously offered to loan it to me to scan.  It arrived on Friday!

❤️  ❤️  ❤️

Can you feel my pure genealogy joy pouring off your screen right now?  Because it is like the mighty Mississippi in both volume and current – lots and lots of joy!

So now I will interrupt my current and equally joyful scanning project (My Grandpa’s journals from his LDS mission to New Zealand in the late 1940s with a recap of his time in the Marine Corps during WWII) so that I can scan and return this precious book to Margaret.

Who needs chocolate when you can have rare books?

Thank you, Margaret!

 

 

Now for a very quick bit about two additional books written by dear genealogy friends.

Last Wednesday I completed reading Kin Types by, Luanne Castle.

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Oh!  Be still my heart and soul.  This slim, but powerfully moving chapbook (44 pages) of poetry, prose, and flash non-fiction is the perfect read for anyone who loves language, history, and genealogy.  You will be drawn into so many different compelling events in Luanne’s family tree.  Please read it and tell your friends about it.  You will love it!

I know exactly who needs to receive a copy of this book from me for Christmas.

Read Luanne’s own words describing the project here, and purchase this lovely book here.

 

In June, I finished reading Pacific Street by, Amy Cohen.

pacific street

Why haven’t I told you all about this book sooner?  Life, I suppose.  😉  Amy has created a beautiful historical fiction account of her own grandparent’s early lives.  It is lovely, moving, and so eye-opening.  Amy brings to life the experience of first-generation immigrants in America, of the challenging process for families to save and work to slowly bring everyone safely to America, and the persecution Jewish families have experienced pre-WWII.  It was especially meaningful to me to know that she wove this story using facts.  It felt like being invited into Amy’s home to listen to her tell you all about her Grandparents youth and how they met and I loved every minute of the tale.

You can read Amy’s own words about the project here, and you can purchase her wonderful novel here.

 

 

Ahhhh, books.  My love for you just never ends.  ❤️

 

 

Do you love books like you love air?  What is your favorite?

 

 

ps – Nobody take away my chocolate, please.  I may have been exaggerating a tiny bit about rare books replacing chocolate.  😉