When I began serious Eggleston genealogical research, I learned to look to earlier research first. It is always a good idea to check what has been done, so as to not waste time and effort. Unfortunately, I found that some earlier work was not correct. Errors and false assumptions had been perpetuated by those who accepted earlier works without necessarily thinking things through or further checking.
My Great-grandfather Orson H. Eggleston gathered genealogical information while serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Michigan in 1876-77. Apparently while there he corresponded with someone in New York City about the Eggleston family. He included this copy of a response with a letter to his father, seeking his father’s advice on how to respond. He seemed hopeful that this Nicholas would have helpful information. I am not sure what happened with this, but it does indicate how early Orson tried to learn more about the larger Eggleston family.
In an earlier family letter Eliza Barron told her brother Samuel Eggleston about a letter she had received from Rev. A. Eggleston of Broome County, New York. He was requesting information about family members, including birth, death and marriage dates. Eliza seemed skeptical of his intentions and unsure of his address. It is not known what response Samuel gave her or if she ever sent any information to this person. This would have been the Ambrose mentioned in this letter from Melville, who apparently had been researching and collecting information on the Eggleston family.
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.
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.
Orson Hyde Eggleston journaled his experience of the settling of Afton Wyoming. Part three covers March to May 1886.
Orson Hyde Eggleston journaled his experience of the settling of Afton Wyoming. Part two covers January and February of 1886.
Orson Hyde Eggleston wrote a journal account of his journey in the fall of 1885 to Star Valley and recorded the early settling of Afton Wyoming. Part 1 covers November and December of 1885.
Some years ago Virgie Eggleston Stoffers gave a photocopy of Orson Hyde Eggleston’s journal to my father. I think it was some time after that, but in the late 1990’s, that I found this at my father’s home. A typed note indicated that Virgie had made a photocopy in 1982 from the original which was then in the possession of Theron Eggleston.
When I visited Theron’s daughter Ruth, I did not find the original notebook there. It may have been, but it was not something that I saw. It does appear that Virgie might have written over the writing on her copy in places to try to make it darker. It is not an easy read, and some places numbers don’t make sense as written. At some point I painstakingly transcribed the whole thing. Much of it consists of weather reports, but there are accounts of interesting events during this six month period from November 1885 to May 1886. Because of the length I have broken it into three parts. Part 1 covers November and December of 1885.
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.
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.
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
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.