Early Eggleston Genealogical Research

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.

Early Correspondence

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.

1876 Melville Eggleston genealogical research

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.

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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


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Elijah at Work on the Next Generation

The Family History Challenge

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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The Family Archivist

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to share the family story, to safeguard the family treasures. We are the storytellers of the tribe. We are the keepers of the records. We are the family archivists.

Inspiration from other Archivists & Researchers

As I got into serious research on the Eggleston family, I became aware of a wonderful book: Bygod Eggleston, Englishman & Colonist and Some of His Descendants, by Dr. Rosalie Eggleston & Linda Eggleston McBroom and published through the Mary & John Clearing House.

Bygod Eggleston by Dr. Rosalie Eggleston & Linda Eggleston McBroom

These two genealogists had done a tremendous amount of research on our immigrant ancestor. Theirs was a collaboration across the ocean: Rosalie lived in England and Linda in the U. S. Together they were able to put together a great early history of the family. Sometime later, additional research resulted in an article in The American Genealogist on the mother of Bygod Eggleston. Their research and documentation cleared up some errors which had been around for a long time. Continue reading

Prepare a Book of Remembrance

“Prepare a Book of Remembrance” – This was never an item to be checked off a to-do list, but rather the creation of a dynamic entity, ever expanding with new discoveries and evolving in format through technological advances.

“Prepare a Book of Remembrance” was counsel I was given as a young woman. My Book of Remembrance was actually already begun, but I had no grasp of its significance.

Book of Remembrance

Beginnings of My Book of Remembrance

I grew up being familiar with a “Book of Remembrance”, an expandable legal size binder full of pedigree charts and family group sheets, which my parents kept. This was kind of a requirement for faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The earliest beginnings of my own Book of Remembrance was when my father gathered us kids at the kitchen table, showed us his Book of Remembrance and gave us blank charts to hand copy information on to. I also remember him telling us stories about the people whose names we wrote and showing us a few old photographs. I remember at least one time going to the local Family History Library with him and looking at microfilm. It was exciting to see our family name projected onto the screen, but it was all still rather abstract.

I took a genealogy class at the L.D.S. Institute of Religion when I was attending college. I don’t recall doing any real research, but I did keep the collection of articles, papers and forms I received for that class.

After graduating and getting a job in Salt Lake County, Utah, I went with my roommates one night a week to the Genealogy Library, which was then in the Church Office Building. I recall row after row of Books of Remembrance (in the same kind of binder my parents had) filled with sheets that had been submitted by church members. For over two years, I went week after week and made Xerox copies of family group sheets. For each generation of each line I found the listed parents on one sheet, then found the next sheet listing them as a child until I reached the end of that line. I never did find the point of dead end on all of my lines, but I had collected a large stack of family groups sheets. I found this process easier than the hand copying I had done as a child, even though it involved taking the sheets out of the binder to copy and then replacing them.

Shortly after I was married and moved further away from the library, I decided on another project. My parents’ Book of Remembrance also contained some stories of ancestors. Some were typed on legal size sheets and some were handwritten. I set out to type up all of the handwritten stories. I also made copies of the typed ones for my own Book of Remembrance. Later I collected more written stories from family members and from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

Some time later, after having children and my life revolving around this next generation for several years, I felt the pull to continue to work on my family history. Now I could go to the local Family History Library and using a computer I could pull up my family line on Ancestral File. Then I could download a Gedcom file onto a floppy disk, take it home and put it into my computer in my Personal Ancestral File database (PAF). It was amazing to me that in a matter of minutes I could gather as much information as it had taken me over two years to photocopy.

Genealogical Research and Writing

Several years later I began some serious genealogical research. I began making regular trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I spent hours pouring through books and looking at original records on microfilm. I could now access Ancestral File on the Internet, which became known as FamilySearch. Gradually actual records started becoming available online, which was much easier than looking at microfilm.

Through about a decade of serious research on my Eggleston line, I was able to discover more family members and gather information about them. I could easily add data to FamilySearch, but after gathering a considerable amount of interesting information and documents about many people, I realized the need to share this with others in a meaningful and tangible way. I also recognized the need to get it into an organized form as my organizational skills are not as good as my research skills. I had folders and binders with copies of records, but they were not easily shared. So I began writing a book. I organized it into family groups, generation by generation, and wrote in narrative form as much as possible.

This writing process took many years, as I continued to do research at the same time. I also took a few detours and compiled a book of biographies and histories of my grandmother’s family, the Cheney and Wilson line in 2003. And I wrote an article explaining how I sorted out the various Joseph Egglestons which was published in The Connecticut Nutmegger in June 2005.

Writings of Karen Eggleston Stark

Finally in 2010, I buckled down and did final editing and indexing and printed The Joseph Eggleston Family. I remembered the counsel to “prepare a book of remembrance” and realized that this is what I had accomplished – A REAL BOOK of Remembrance.

A few years have now passed and of course I have made some new discoveries and found some things which need correcting in the Eggleston book. The idea of revising or writing an addendum to my book seems daunting, especially with the realization that as soon as I could get that accomplished, there would be more to add.

Remembering in the Digital Age

Things have changed in cyberspace as well. FamilySearch morphed into NewFamilySearch for a while. I was able to be a beta tester during the development of NewFamilySearch and used that opportunity to make corrections and add what I had found on our line. Then things changed again and with the new Family Tree on FamilySearch comes the ability to attach sources and add photographs, documents, and stories. Family Tree is becoming a shared Book of Remembrance where various family members can add what they have.

I have more than just photographs and documents to attach to a database. I also have stories of discovery – my personal experiences as I have learned about my family. These are worth remembering and sharing as well and hopefully can inspire others to join in this process. So now I begin using a new format – a blog – to share these stories along with details I have learned about ancestors and the information and photographs documenting their lives. There is flexibility here to display, share, and explain with some creativity. This can become an online digital family archive.

Through all these years of “preparing” a Book of Remembrance in all of it’s pieces and forms, the purpose has remained constant – To Remember. To remember our ancestors – to come to know those who came before us and to honor their memory. To remember the forgotten – to search for each individual family member and make sure they are connected to the whole family tree. To remember our roots – from which we gain a sense of identity and an understanding of our place in this eternal family.