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.
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.
What an unexpected surprise to learn that Harvey Burgess, father of Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston, not only served in the War of 1812, but was injured and left somewhat disabled for the rest of his life.
I recently joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, using Seth Burgess as my Patriot ancestor. His service in the Revolution was documented in the Joseph Eggleston book. In the process of documenting family relationships and birth and death places, the DAR registrar found in the newly digitized War of 1812 Pension Files this new information.
Harvey Burgess, the son of Seth Burgess, was living in Sempronius, New York at the time of the War of 1812. He apparently enlisted with some other men from Sempronius, including his brother-in-law Stephen Carroll. He served from August to October 1812.