When you first get started in your search for family you will most like be going off word of mouth from other family relation, but as you get deeper into your lineage you will begin looking for clues in every thing you come across. I’m going to show you a few ways to become a detective when you are looking for clues.
BRINGING OUT THE DETECTIVE
Looking through old family letters just might give you tons of clues. Here is an example of one I have read over and over. Each time a new clue seems to pop out at me. It’s probably one of the most favorite in my collection as there is so much to question, also a perfect example as to things to look for.
Not only is it interesting to read…it is full of things to consider.
- How many questions come up for you as you read through this?
- What stands out especially?
- Where would you go from here?
LOOKING FOR CLUES
Now is the time for the questions to hit you. I’m going to point out to you some of the clues I have gotten from this letter.
First take a look at the heading.
Translated from German in 1933 by a Lutheran minister. Does this give us a clue that the person writing it or perhaps the family is Lutheran?
We received the original letter from my husband’s Uncle Pius Bloom.
Would you search for Pius Bloom in Fostoria, Ohio?
Her husbands uncle? So who was her husband?
We know from this he was the Grandson of William Blum.
Where and when did the name change from Blum to Bloom?
The letter was written in 1854. This gives us a timeline to look for. Fremont? Is there a Fremont, Ohio?
The Dear Parents, brothers, and sisters is another clue as to whom the letter was to. He apparently still had brothers and sisters as well as his parents in Germany. So we search for William’s parents and siblings to find our answers.
Who was brother “WILL”? Further down in the paragraph is the reference to Uncle Will! Another clue that there is a brother Will, and an Uncle Will.
We also learn from this paragraph that he traveled from New York to Erie. Could this be a clue as to where to start our search?
Who is this Inn Keeper? Is it a friend or relative? Should it be something investigated? The Inn Keeper is in Baden…another clue as to location.
Now on page two we see that they are to travel to New York and stay at the German Inn. Too bad we don’t know the location of that, but one might be able to find it by searching directories. Wouldn’t we love to see the telegraph with the name of the ship and captain. Did you know they would be able to cook on the ship? We see here that Wilhelm will be picking them up. Is this Uncle Will? Who is Friedrich Keller? A friend? a relative?
Here it says brother Wilhelm. Brother of the Father?
AHH a clue to where Fremont is…Sandusky County.
Rosina? a wife, a sister, a neighbor, a relative?
Friedrich Keller”s address. Lets check that out with a search. Remember we are searching in the year 1854. What were the conditions at that time?
Now this last paragraph on page 2 gives us all kinds of info to wonder about. Are these people friends? or family? Many times family married neighbors…it’s always something to check out, and it greatly adds to your story.
Here we have more names to query. In my search I find that Pius Bloom was the son of Charles A Bloom who married Elizabeth Danker, and Charles was the son of William Blum. Also now we have information that Elizabeth was employed by Jacob Taur in Buschenfingen.
SAVE THE LETTER!
So, you can see just from reading through an old letter how much information can be gained. SAVE the letters as you never know when you might want to go back and read them.
I scan all of my letters and put them in the gallery in my tree under the names of who wrote them, who they were written too, and if anyone is mentioned in the letter I save it there also. Then I put them in a plastic sleeve and store them in three ring binder with the authors info.
I hope this gives you a bit of insight into where to look for clues, and perhaps it will stir up a bit of the detective in you also! If it helped you at all please leave me a comment and I’m open always for questions!
The Pierce Family Historian