Monday, January 5, 2009

Family Tradition

Letter writing was always an important part of our family communications. Up until e-mail was invented. But, I suppose it was that way with most families.

One thing that makes our family's letter writing even more interesting is that the people in my family, especially the women, are savers. That means we save everything, including letters. So, I have many of those letters or copies of those letters to rely on for family history information.

The oldest letter that I know of from one of my direct ancestors was written in 1869. I don't have the original letter, or even a copy of it, but I do have typed transcriptions and interpretations of the letter. There are four other letters that I know of, with the last one written in 1871.

The letters are from Mary Caroline Boyd Vick, my great-great-great-grandmother. She married Littleberry (or Little Berry) Fletcher Vick, and they came with several other relatives to Texas from Mississippi. Along that trip and after having settled in Texas, Mary and several of the others wrote letters to the folks back in Mississippi. Thankfully, from my point of view, those Mississippians saved the letters.

She was writing from their camp at Caldwell, Texas, which is just a few miles from Lexington, Texas, where they eventually settled, at least for a while. The family ended up in Stephens County, Texas, where my family and I now live.

Mary Caroline's grammar leaves a little to be desired, but she asks her sister to overlook the mistakes since she is writing from the swamps and is watching over the "brigade," presumably her kids.

She tells about the mules and wagons being stuck in the marsh and not able to cross a creek. "We have had hard times but no worse than I expected," she wrote.

I don't know where the original letters are, and I've never even seen a photocopy of the originals, just typed versions. Still, the information they contain is priceless. It gives me such a wonderful glimpse into the lives of my ancestors that I wouldn't have if the letters had never been written or hadn't been saved.

The letters can be read online at Go to the Mailing List section and search out the "Vick" section. Then, look in the archives in 2001, starting in about June. The letters continue, month after month, through most of that year.

This is one reason why I like to write "real" letters. Who knows how many e-mail letters I've already lost through the years. But, I still have most of the pen and paper letters. Hopefully, someday in the far away future, some descendant of mine will find my collection of letters as fascinating as I find Mary Caroline's letters.


Melisa J said...

I will cheer you on.

I used to try to write a few notes every Sunday night to thank people for something they did or let them know I was thinking about them. I think I will start that again this year.

I took my 11 yo nephew out for dinner last nite and he was asking about family history. That is something that gets forgotten as we move away from writing things down.

Blessings on your challenge.


Melisa J said...

This sounds wonderful!

I am here to cheer you on.


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