News and Insights from Old Family Letters

Old family letters give some great information and wonderful insights into the lives and relationships of our ancestors.

Some family letters written to Samuel Eggleston were included on typed sheets I found with records of Theron Eggleston at the home of his daughter Ruth. With these letters were others with genealogical information that Orson Hyde Eggleston gathered while on his mission and genealogical correspondence. These had all apparently been transcribed by Theron or his wife. I don’t know what happened to the original letters.

I found this correspondence to be quite interesting. The family letters give some insights into personalities and family relationships as well as provided some genealogical clues which were helpful in my research.

The Family Letters – First from Eliza Barron

This earliest letter, dated 1862, was to Samuel Eggleston from his sister Eliza Barron. Samuel had recently migrated from Iowa to Utah. Eliza passed away in 1869. Eliza mentioned their brother Ansel, who was somewhat of a mystery – to us, and possibly to them. This letter provided clues to help me find him in records in Michigan, where he died in 1871. We also get a glimpse of personalities from the things Eliza said about her brother as well as the colorful way she expressed herself. I would like to have known Aunt Eliza.

Eliza also mentioned a letter from Rev. A. Eggleston, who would be the Ambrose Eggleston mentioned in later genealogical correspondence. This letter to Eliza may have begun that correspondence.

1862 family letters from Eliza Barron to Samuel Eggleston

Family Letters from brother Ambrose and his Daughter

These letters from Ambrose H. Eggleston and Elvira E. Towsley were probably sent together. Samuel left Iowa in 1862 and migrated to Utah. Samuel might have written to inform his brother of this move and this may be why Ambrose thought it interesting that he had moved to Iowa after Samuel left that state (though they lived on opposite sides of the state).

I recently took another look at this letter from Ambrose’s daughter Elvira. She mentioned the loss of her children. I was able to find her oldest son Chester on the 1860 Census, but the little two-year old girl is not on any records. The 1870 Census includes Gertrude who would be the five year old she mentioned as well as 2 other children born after this letter was written. The five month old daughter she mentioned was not with them in 1870, so she may have died young also. I wish she had mentioned their names.

This letter was written in the midst of the Civil War, which apparently influenced her sentiments. Sadly Elvira passed away in 1872.

1863 family letters from Ambrose Eggleston & Elvira Towsley to Samuel Eggleston

Letter Home from Orson

Orson sent this letter to his father while serving his Mission in Michigan. He mentioned that his brother Edwin had a visit from Ansel’s son. More clues but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any more about these sons of Ansel.

1876 family letters Orson to Samuel

News From the Townsend Family

Olive Stewart, who was a daughter of Samuel’s sister Electa Townsend, sent this letter to her uncle. (My note questions the date of the letter. According to dates in the letter it should be 1873. It may be a typo) Olive’s youngest sister Mary, with whom she was living at the time she wrote, died in January 1874. Olive later married Mary’s widowed husband, Charles Jeffers. The (Jeffers) at the end was probably added by the transcriber.

1873 family letters Olive Stewart to Samuel Eggleston

Orson Eggleston visited many family members while serving his Mission in Michigan. Apparently he corresponded with some of them after his return home. This post card from cousin Sarah Townsend Cole was in response to one he sent.

1879 family letters S E Cole to Orson Eggleston

Sarah shared information about the Skeels family. Anna Eggleston Skeels died in October 1874 and her husband Isaac died in October 1877. James Skeels’ son with consumption was probably Dorr who died May 15, 1879.

More News and genealogy from Ambrose H. Eggleston

Ambrose sent this letter to his brother Samuel. He mentioned the death of his daughter Elvira Towsley, who wrote the letter above. The birth and death dates were probably in response to a request by Samuel who was gathering genealogical information.

In the middle of this letter is a mention of uncle Benjamin Eggleston. Interestingly Benjamin was not included in other records of Orson H. Eggleston, including records of Temple work he did in 1914. I first found Benjamin through Onondaga County Land Records and determined that he was a son of Samuel Eggleston Sr. He was a brother of Samuel Jr. who was the father of Samuel and Ambrose. They obviously knew Uncle Benjamin well, but somehow this information was not well known to later generations.

I find it interesting that Ambrose tells his brother that he and his sons were preachers of the Gospel. He even takes the opportunity to preach to Samuel. Samuel had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841. In 1877, he was called to be First Counselor in the Bishopric of the Ogden 2nd Ward.

1873 family letters from Ambrose Eggleston to Samuel Eggleston

I have to wonder if there were more of these letters that have been lost. I also wonder if these particular letters might have been sent and kept in response to requests from Samuel for genealogical information, since they include many reports of deaths. We are fortunate that these family members made an effort to keep in touch as they moved away from each other and that someone made the effort to keep these letters.

Note: Highlights and pencil notes were made by me on my photocopy of these letters.

Family Genealogies Gathered by Orson Hyde Eggleston

Early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were encouraged to search out their family genealogies in order to provide baptisms for their dead family members. Samuel and Lurania Eggleston were the first of our family to join the LDS Church. I am not sure if Samuel did any active genealogy, but it does appear that he encouraged his son Orson in efforts to gather information. While on his Mission in Michigan during 1876-1877, Orson visited family members and obtained names and dates. He wrote to his father several letters with such information.

I don’t know what happened to the original letters. It appears that at some point Orson’s son Theron, or his wife, transcribed these letters. I found several typed pages of letters when I visited Theron’s daughter Ruth. I made copies of them. They were all typed on numbered legal size sheets and include some notes made by whoever transcribed them. Included with these letter were correspondence with W. E. Hagens and other letters from Orson to his father and from family members to Samuel.

There is also some question about whether Orson kept this information himself or simply sent it on to his father in these letters. Orson went to the Logan Temple in 1914 to do proxy baptisms. The records of the work done then do not fit exactly the information in these letters. There is a possibility that some of the handwritten information was misread or typos made when typing them up.

Family of Electa Eggleston and Robert Townsend

Electa Eggleston Townsend was a sister of Orson’s father Samuel. They moved to Litchfield, Hillsdale, Michigan where Robert died in 1860. Electa’s children and their families lived near her in MIchigan.

Townsend Family Genealogies

 

Cole & Richardson Family Genealogies

Family of Ambrose and Abigail Bryant Eggleston

Ambrose H. Eggleston was a brother of Orson’s father Samuel. They lived in Allegany County, New York and then were in Iowa during the time Orson served his mission. They later moved to Dakota Territory. Some family genealogical information was included in a 1873 letter from Ambrose to Samuel. Orson’s Missionary journal mentions that he visited his Uncle Ambrose in Parksersburg, Iown November 23, 1876. He probably gathered this information from him then.

Notes on Charles Davis Family

These “pencil notations” assumed to have been written by Orson were included at this point in the transcription. These people were not relatives. The mention of the marriage of Alice Davis and Moses Nixon in 1860 in Crescent City, Iowa would indicate that these were people that the Eggleston family knew while living there. Orson may have visited them when he stopped in Iowa on his way to Michigan.

Family of Anna Eggleston and Isaac Skeels

Anna Eggleston Skeels was Samuel Eggleston’s sister. Isaac and Anna remained in Springwater, Livingston, New York where they both died. Many of their children migrated to Michigan.

Eggleston, Skeels & Burgess Family Genealogies

Burgess Family Genealogies

Harvey and Polly Burgess were the parents of Orson’s mother, Lurania Powers Burgess. They moved to Shelby, Macomb, Michigan where Harvey and Polly both died. Many of their children and families were in Michigan when Orson was there. For some reason Orsen sent information on the Burgess family in two different letters, with more detail in the second.

Burgess Family Genealogies

Family of Eliza Eggleston and Carr Barron

Eliza Eggleston Barron was Samuel Eggleston’s youngest sister. Eliza died in 1869 in Michigan. Carr and their children and families were living in Michigan during the time of his mission.

Barron Family Genealogies

I found the information in these letters extremely valuable. Though much information was in FamilySearch because of Temple work that was done, some family members were not in the system. I realized that at the time Orson went to the Temple in 1914, many of these people were still living. Some may have died but he might not have known that.

So with the information in these letters, I was able to add people to the family tree. I also searched additional records and have added others based on what I found.

Note: I made some pencil notes and highlights on these sheets before scanning my copies of the copies that Ruth had. The darker notes on the last two pages were made by someone else earlier.

The Missionary Journal of Orson Hyde Eggleston

Discovery of the Journal

Orson Hyde Eggleston served a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1876-1877. He was called at the General Conference of the Church on October 7, 1876. Years ago, after learning that Orson Hyde Eggleston had kept a journal of his Mission to Michigan, I went to the Church History Library to see this Journal. This was when the Church History Library was located in the Church Office Building, before the beautiful new building was built. The procedure to view items in the Archives required checking in with ID, leaving everything I had brought with me in a locker, except a pencil and paper. No electronic devices allowed, though a cell phone with a camera was not something I even had then. Items were requested and then brought to a viewing room. I painstakingly transcribed – by hand – the entire journal. It is not a very long journal, and in a very small notebook. I then went home and typed from my notes a two page transcription of the journal.

 

 

 

Early Mormon Missionaries Database

Then surprisingly the other day I received an email from FamilySearch:

“We’ve identified early missionaries in your family tree. Learn where and when they served and read their mission stories. Elder Orson Hyde Eggleston  Mission: Wisconsin Dis US” – with a link to a wonderful new Database on Early Mormon Missionaries through lds.org. This page includes links to the Missionary Registers and also a link to Orson’s Journal, which I saw years ago in the Church History Library. Now with a few clicks you can all see this journal.

The page of this Early Mormon Missionaries database includes some basic information about Orson and his mission, which apparently was taken from the Missionary Registers.

Orson was 35 years old when he was called to this mission. His call was to the Wisconsin District, though most of his service was in the State of Michigan. He was set apart on October 21, 1876 by Orson Pratt. He was a member of the 53rd Quorum of the 70 in Ogden, Utah at the time of the call. He served from October 1876 to July 1, 1877. Also included is information about his birth date, place and parents – though someone transcribed his mother’s name as Serana P Burgess. (It looks like an L to someone like me who has read the name many times)

I seem to have lost the computer file of my transcription, so I have posted images, which might be slightly less readable than the document copied and pasted here would be, but probably more easily readable than the handwritten journal. And since future generations might not even learn to read cursive script, this transcription will remain available here. For further discussion about this Mission and information about people mentioned in the journal, see The Joseph Eggleston Family: Seven Generations from Joseph (d.1767) of Stonington, Connecticut to Joseph (1885-1965) of Utah and Wyoming (Including Maternal Lines: Hill, Burgess, Titus, Sammis & Johnson) by Karen Eggleston Stark., pp. 412-414.

The Family Bible of Orson Hyde Eggleston

Family Bibles are wonderful sources of information. I found this Bible when I visited Cousin Ruth several years ago. She indicated that it had belonged to Orson Hyde Eggleston and had been given to her father Theron Eggleston, probably by his father Orson. It appears that it may have been in the possession of Joseph S. Eggleston at some point and he may have entered at least some of this information himself. Ruth let me take this Bible to make photocopies of the Family Record entries.

These pages lists births, beginning with Samuel Eggleston, Orson’s father:

Samuel Eggleston, son of Samuel and Elizabeth Hill Eggleston was born March 30th 1804 in the town of Marcellus Onondago State of New York

Lurania Powers Burgess ^Eggleston was born August 15th 1808 in the town of Sempronius Cayuga County State of New York

Dwight Eggleston son of Samuel and Lurania Eggleston was Born August 9 1828 in town of Se,[rpmois Co of Cayauga State of NY

Benjamin Born was Born April 6th 1830 in Sempronius Cayuga Co NY

Reuben Birgess Eggleston Born July 24th 1831 in Sempronius Cayuga Co NY

Edwin Eggleston Born Oct 25 1833 in town of Sempronius NY

Harvey B Eggleston Born Feb 8th 1836 in Sempronius County of Cayuga State of N York

Orson Hyde Eggleston Born Oct 3rd 1841 in Niles Cayuga Co NY

Samuel Eggleston Jr Born Jan 16th 1847 at winter quarters Omahaw Nation Nebraska. Died in same place Aug 23rd 1847

Mary E Eggleston Born Sept 22nd 1849 at Traders Point Pottawattamie County Iowa

David Orson Eggleston Born June 15th 1883 in Eden Weber Co Utah. Blest Aug 2nd 1883 in Eden by Armstead Moffatt. Died Nov 3rd 1884 in Eden.

Joseph Smith Eggleston Born July 5th 1885 in Eden Weber Co Utah. Blest Set 3rd 1885 by Henry J Fuller in Eden. Baptized in Afton Unitah Co Wyo July 5th 1893 by Barnard Parry. Confirmed by C. D. Cazier.

Mattie May Eggleston Born July 30th 1887 in Afton Unitah Co Wyo. Blest Nov 1st 1888 by O H Eggleston in Afton. Baptized July 30th 1895 by Clarance C Gardner in Afton. Confirmed Aug 1st 1895 by Clarance Gardner in Afton.

The births of this generation are only the children of Orson Hyde Eggleston and Annie Christine Johnson. Children of his other wives are not included.

 

Ordination information for Joseph S. Eggleston. These entries may have been added by Joseph – or all of the information may have been written by Joseph.

Joseph S. Eggleston ordained a deacon by Byron H. Allred Oct 1st 1900

Joseph S. Eggleston ordained a teacher Nov 2nd 1901 by Bishop Osborne Law

Joseph S. Eggleston ordained a priest Feb 28th 1903 by Elder Charles C. Leavitt

MARRIAGES

Samuel Eggleston son of Samuel and Elizabeth Eggleston was Born in the Town of Marcellus Onondaga County State of New York on the 30th day of March 1804

Lurania P Eggleston Daughter of Harvey and Polly Burgess was Born August 15th 1808 in the Town of Sempronius County of Cayuga State of New York

Samuel and Lurania was Married August 23rd 1827 in the town of Sempronius Cayuga County State of New York

Mary E Mountford was Born May 14th 1854 in Burstown Staffordshire England. Samuel and Elizabeth was married Oct 24th 1870 at Salt Lake City Utah

Catherine Kat was Born was Born April 5th 1836. Samuel and Catherine was married the 6th day of March 1871 in Salt Lake City Utah by Daniel H Wells

 

DEATHS

Dwight Eggleston died in Springwater Livingston Co NY Aug 2nd 1829

Benjamin Eggleston Died April 27 1830

These next are births of Orson and Annie Christine’s other children:

Florence Eggleston Born May 10th 1893 in Afton Unitah Co Wyoming. Blest July 6th by C D Cazier in Afton. Married to Norman D Moffatt June 3/13. Baptized May 10th 1901 by O H Eggleston. Confirmed same day by Edward Davis.

Theron Johnson son of Orson Hyde Eggleston and Annie Christine Johnson Born June 12th 1905. Blessed June 20th 1905 by O H Eggleston in Afton Unitah Co Wyoming. Baptized June 12th 1913 by O H Eggleston at Afton Wyo. Confirmed July 6th 1913 by Osborne Law.

Anna Christine Eggleston daughter of Peter Johnson and Anne Mariah Mattson Christensen and wife of Orson H. Eggleston. Born in Salt Lake City Utah November 7th 1864. Died at Afton Wyoming August 13th 1909 aged 44 years 11 months 6 days.

 

Times and Seasons Journal of Samuel Eggleston

Finding the Treasure of an Old Book

Sometimes a old book is more than just an old book – it is a tangible trace of someone’s life – a treasure worth much more than the value of the volume.

At one point in my genealogy journey, I made contact with a second cousin named Ruth. She was the daughter of my father’s Uncle Theron Eggleston. Somehow, Theron had assumed the role of family genealogist in his time – I can relate to that. He apparently had been given his father Orson Hyde Eggleston’s records. Theron also lived in Salt Lake City near the Utah Genealogical Society and he and his wife Emily spent much time there researching during the early to mid-1900’s.

I made a visit to Ruth’s home in West Valley City, Utah and found there a genealogical gold mine. Her basement was filled with boxes and file cabinets full of records. This was before I had a cell phone which could take pictures, so we filled a box with selected documents which she let me take to make photocopies.

Journal entries of Samuel Eggleston in Times & Seasons

Times & Seasons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth also showed me two books that day. One was the family bible kept by Great grandfather Orson H. Eggleston with records in it. The other she casually handed me saying “This book has some stuff written in the front.” I was impressed first because this was a bound volume of The Times and Seasons. This was a newspaper which had been printed in Nauvoo, Illinois. Papers from 1842 and 1843 were bound in this Volume IV, which he owned. The publication date is identified by Roman Numerals MDCCCXLIII, which would be 1843. I was more impressed by what Samuel had written in it.

Samuel’s Journal

On the front blank pages in the book, Samuel had made some journal entries. The initial entry appears to be only “Ogden City S. E.” probably written to identify the book as his. Some additional entries followed: “Ogden City Dec 30/66, Ogden City Dec 29/72, Ogden City July 16/75 S. E., Ogden City Jan 23/78 S. E. , Ogden City Jan 12/79.” It is interesting that he made successive entries apparently still with only the place, date, and his initials. From this we can assume that he possessed the book as early as 1866 and possibly earlier.

The first entry with any additional information was dated March 7/79 and stated only “Stayed at home on account of bad cold.” The next, Dec 3, 1879 Wednesday, was also very newsy “Rained all last night it had been raining all day now ½ past 3 S. E.” Christmas Day 1879, Samuel must have picked up this book as he spent a lonely day home alone. He wrote: “Ogden Dec 25 all day at home alone wife away taking care of the sick been away all day”.

An entry dated June 27, 1880 is historically significant: “36 years ago today Joseph & Hyrum were killed by a mob in Carthage Illinois attended meeting in the Tabernacle heard C. W. Penrose. ”

Documenting his Last Years

The next entries involved events he participated in.“August 28, 1880 This day attended the High Priest quorum had a first rate time Bro Moffett Presiding.” “January 15th 1881 this day I attended a funeral at Bro. Robert Wilsons son in law of Thos . Emmett in Ogden City Utah on the death of his Infant Daughter.”

The next gave a very brief account of a rather significant occasion: “Ogden City Jun 22nd 1881 at Farr’s grove at the old folks excursion Bishop [ Newton ] Birth day 88 years old S. E.” Farr’s grove was a large Orchard owned by the Farr family. Samuel’s son-in-law Enoch Farr owned part of this land. This “grove” was used as a park or gathering place. Later part of it became what is now “Lorin Farr Park”. “Old Folks Day” celebrations began in 1875 in Salt Lake City. In June 1881, Ogden was host of the “Old Folks Day” Celebration. For this event, 650 people from Salt Lake and Davis Counties joined the Weber County old folks at Lorin Farr’s grove, being conveyed from the Depot in 285 wagons. President John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, and Wilford Woodruff were in attendance along with prominent citizens of Weber County.

Samuel’s journal entries also indicated that he enjoyed remarkably good health even as he became rather old. January 5th 1883, he wrote: “in the morning with wife feeling well attended fast meeting yesterday at 10 o’clock also the Relief Society at 2 PM enjoyed my self first rate never felt better in my life S. E.”

The first indication of any health problems was February 28th 1883. He wrote “it is a very pleasant day so warm that the flies are about my health is very good except I am quite lame and have been for some weeks past I first fell and hurt my left hip that was bad about 2 weeks then there was a sore come on my right foot that has been bad for about 2 weeks but is getting better I feel well in body and mind if I live till the 30th day of next month I shall be 79 years old but I feel well as ever I did.” So in spite of some health problems, he still felt very blessed by good health.

An entry August 7th [1883] showed Samuel’s continuing interest in politics, though he didn’t mention whether he was on the ticket for this election. He wrote: “clear and pleasant yesterday was Election all voted the Peoples ticket no opposition my health is very good I enjoy my self first rate. Samuel Eggleston” This was the only notation with his complete signature. The signature is very similar to the one on probate records of his father Samuel in Springwater, New York.

It appears that Samuel’s health began to decline during the last months of his life. The last notation in this book was dated Ogden December 19th 1883, and stated: “my health has been very poor for the last 2 weeks have had a pain in my left side the most of the time I have been free from Pain for 2 days past but I am not very [stout]” There was nothing more written after this. Samuel died May 26, 1884.

Returning the Book

Along with the box of papers, Ruth let me take these two books that day to photocopy the inscriptions. I must admit that I was seriously tempted to keep this book. But I did return it. A few years after that Ruth passed away. I have no idea who currently has possession of this book, but I hope that they appreciate the treasure that it is and take good care of it. It is so much more than just a rare old book – it is a small window into the life of our ancestor.

Note: Text for this post has been taken from my book The Joseph Eggleston Family: Seven Generations from Joseph (d.1767) of Stonington, Connecticut to Joseph (1885-1965) of Utah and Wyoming (Including Maternal Lines: Hill, Burgess, Titus, Sammis & Johnson) pp. 391-392.

Making Sense of My DNA

DNA is the new wonderful tool for genealogy. It has great possibilities, especially if used along with traditional genealogy. It also has limitations at this stage and results can be misleading or even disappointing.

Family Finder Puzzles

I decided to take advantage of a sale with FamilyTree DNA during December 2016. I went with FamilyTree because this was where our Eggleston Y-DNA project was done. This project has shown similar Y-DNA between descendants of Joseph Eggleston of Stonington and Bygod Eggleston and was undertaken because of a lack of paper documentation of that link.

My FamilyFinder results had me a little puzzled at first. My results showed seven matches with Egglestons, none of them being ones that were close matches with my father’s Y-DNA in that project. I realize that some of the Y-DNA participants have not taken FamilyFinder tests, but there are some who have who do not show up as matches to me. Three of my Eggleston matches connected back to Bygod Eggleston through his daughter Sarah who married John Pettibone, which would make us about 9th cousins rather than the 2nd – 5th that it showed for 4 of them. This seems to confirm the Y-DNA indications that we are all descendants of Bygod Eggleston, but is confusing that I seem to be more closely related to these very distant cousins than to closer known cousins.

Then a first cousin on my Eggleston side had his AncestryDNA results transferred to FamilyTreeDNA, which gave me more perspective. We definitely match as first cousins. We had considerably more DNA in common than any of the other matches to me. I am beginning to get some understanding of how they determine relationships based on shared amounts of DNA.

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Elijah at Work on the Next Generation

I recently attended a meeting where a challenge was issued – Do something dealing with Family History that you have never done before. The initial challenge for me was thinking of something I had never done before. After setting aside genealogy to make it through the holidays, I tried to get back into it at the beginning of the year by returning to some lines I had worked on previously. I became a little frustrated as I found myself banging up against the same brick walls again. I played around with my DNA results after being tested in December and I was introduced to the Relative Finder feature on FamilySearch which was a fun new tool. Then I added my husband to Relative Finder and learned that he was related to some pretty impressive people. Most of these were through his Stark line. This is his adopted line, which we knew little about, so curiosity got me looking into it. I also looked at his mother’s line which had been thoroughly researched by his aunt, but things were messed up on FamilySearch. All of this was interesting, but I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing much.

One thing I had always hoped to be able to do was to teach and inspire my children to get involved in Family History so they could carry on this work after I am no longer able to. This would seem a very worthy goal.

I have three daughters who throughout their adolescence and into adulthood often mocked me for my interest in dead people. I think they resented the time I spent seemingly obsessed with old records when I should have paid more attention to what they were doing. (I probably should have paid more attention to them) Their lack of respect for records and old things left me worried that they would toss out all those papers, binders, books and heirlooms after I was gone.

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Remembering Etienne

On Valentines Day 1952, my brother was born– and died. It was never a secret. All of us kids grew up knowing that there was another baby who died before we were born. When it was mentioned, it was simply stated as a fact, but it was not really talked about. I never saw a birth certificate among those for the rest of us, and certainly not a death certificate. There was no grave to place flowers on when we made our Memorial Day cemetery visits. He didn’t even have a name until decades later when Dad finally filled in the blank space on the family group sheet. Of course, there were no photos, or even the smallest of objects kept to remember him. How strange that a life so brief and seemingly unnoticed, could have such a huge impact on generations.

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Finding Mariett. . .and Cousin Donna

I have always felt that this work is a collaboration between family members on both sides of the veil and that they are probably more anxious for us to know them, than we are. I truly feel that both Donna and I were directed on that summer day in 2010 – me to find Mariett and include her story in the family history, and Donna to learn more about the family. The bonus is forming a relationship with another living cousin.

During the summer of 2010, I made a decision to finally finish and publish the book I had been writing on the Eggleston Family. My research had spanned more than a decade. I had started writing early on, adding to it as I learned more. One of the great blessings of this process was finding many living cousins along the way. Some were very distant cousins, but others were second cousins that I did not know. I even became better acquainted with first cousins during that time. I had tried to include whatever information these cousins shared with me about different ancestors.

Anyone familiar with genealogy knows that no research or resulting book is ever “completed”. There will always be remaining questions, and hopefully information coming to light in the future to help solve the mysteries. When it comes to writing up the results of research, it is necessary to reach of point of decision that what is now known is enough to write, publish and share. So in 2010, after completing a rather large and involved project with the Weber County Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum, I decided now was the time.

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THE MEANING OF STUFF

I am feeling somewhat burdened by stuff. Having lived in the same house for 36 years where my husband and I raised three children who have since moved out, I fully realize that we have accumulated a lot of stuff – way too much stuff. I and my siblings have also been encouraging our 90-year-old father to get rid of some of the stuff he has acquired during his long lifetime and stored over 50 years in the same house. My father grew up during the depression and has a deeply instilled sense that things should be kept in case there is a future shortage or they may again be useful to someone. He is now willing to give away things to family members, but there are definite differences between what he thinks might be useful and what they might really want. My children are of a generation which seems to be able to easily dispose of stuff. If they find later that they need something they got rid of, they just buy another. I personally am somewhere in between – I really want to rid myself of unnecessary stuff cluttering my home and life, but I also see value and meaning in some things, which makes it harder to let go.

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I have read advice columns suggesting strategies for eliminating stuff. One criteria given is usefulness. If something has not been used for a period of time, you should get rid of it. Another strategy uses a criteria of joy – encouraging people to acquire and/or keep objects which bring them pleasure and discard those that don’t. The challenge that keeps me immobile is the realization that some stuff is just stuff, useful, enjoyable or otherwise, but other stuff has meaning. Getting rid of meaningless stuff that is no longer useful or enjoyed is not really a problem (other than the time and effort involved in disposal). The problem is that for me, many objects have meaning. I have kept them because of what they mean to me, even when they take up space or are not useful. Continue reading