Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pilgrim's Pride Via A Lettter

Took a minute to clean my email after putting away the fall decorations and found the following link about the Mayflower at Crestleaf Thanksgiving Genealogy:  5 Steps to Finding Pilgrim Ancestors.
I've been trying to discover who my hubby's Mayflower ancestor was for years.  I have my suspicion but no concrete evidence.
My mother-in-law used to say her family hasn't been in the U.S. very long, just since the 1700's. That always made me laugh since my maternal grandmother didn't arrive until 1913.  Hubby's father's family supposedly arrived on the Mayflower but no one could recall who the gateway ancestor was. Hubby swore that the Thanksgiving oyster stuffing (which he absolutely hated) was a hand me down recipe on his dad's side from that event.  Personally, I figured the stuffing recipe was from Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York where I have been able to trace his line.  His mom stopped making it in the 1960's because no one liked it.  She had gotten the recipe from her mother-in-law and I checked with everyone on all sides and although it was well remembered, no one has made it or has it written down.  I love old family recipes so that's a major disappointment for me.
The family also knew they had a Mayflower ancestor because of a letter that was written by a family genealogist who was a member of the Mayflower Society.  Problem was, no one knew the name of the family genealogist or had a copy of the letter.
It wasn't until long after my in-laws passed away that I connected via the internet with cousins who happened to have a copy of the letter.  Like most family tales, the story I was told had been confused somewhat.  The letter writer was NOT a member of the Mayflower Society.  She was also not a professional genealogist but family history was certainly an interest for her.
How the letter came to be written, I think, is the most interesting part of the story.  In the 1960's a teacher in Chicago gave her students an assignment to write a paper on their family history.  Cousin went home and her mother knew that paternal aunt who lived in Ohio was the oldest living relative so she contacted auntie for information.  The aunt said she would write down everything she recalled and that is how the family history came to be recorded.
I never could figure out how my in-laws would have known about the letter as they weren't in contact with the Chicago cousin.  Perhaps there is another letter out there somewhere that the aunt took her information from or maybe, as this was a large family, the Chicago cousins shared the Ohio cousins info with one of the Indiana cousins and the information filtered down to my in-laws.
The letter mentions the William's line and claims that a Balsora Williams Dorval was a member of the Mayflower Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Checked with both organizations and they have no record of her.  The Mayflower Society told me that many of their records were lost over the years and that during the time Balsora lived (1821-1907) the Society was more accepting of memberships, meaning you might become a member without qualifying via genealogical proof standards that are used today.  Some groups even allowed membership if your ancestor arrived on a boat other than the Mayflower, as long as it was shortly after.  I would love to be able to see how Balsora became a member, if in fact, she did.  I say that because the letter contains a lot of wrong information. The family Bible contradicts places of marriage, numbers of children, and spellings of names written in the letter.  That's not to say there isn't a lot of great information in the letter that was helpful to us in tracing the William's family.
Family information is important to record and it's not too late to download the free ap from StoryCorps.me.  In conjunction with the Library of Congress, the program is designed for teens to record audio storytelling of their grand and great grandparents.  With more holiday get togethers on the horizon, further opportunities to join in are possible.  Just visit The Great Thanksgiving Listen for more info.  The recording can be uploaded to the Library of Congress and be preserved.  Making your family's story included is an awesome way to honor your loved ones, preserve history and get your younger relatives interested in genealogy.
So the hunt for our Mayflower (maybe) ancestor continues...



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