15 April 2009

What I Learned From a Letter

My Grandmother, Betty Huyler Albea, was born in 1931. She was only 7 years younger than her youngest uncle on her mother's side. Because of the closeness in age, she viewed her uncles as more of cousins and friends than as elders. Also, because she was an only child, she was very close to the rest of her family. She kept up a correspondence with her family through letters, a few of which she kept.

One of those letters, from her Aunt Katherine (who married her uncle, Milton Waters) provided a wealth of information - once I figured out the handwriting.

Milton & Katherine Waters
(Katherine McGahee and Milton Waters, 1964)

One of the most important parts of a letter is, as far as I'm concerned, the envelope. There's so much to learn from an envelope: Two or more people's names, addresses, the date, relationships and titles - even the cost of postage.

letter from Aunt Katherine - 1976

This particular letter is a good example of that. The letter is from Mrs. Arthur C. Saunders and I had no idea who that was. Once I opened and read the letter, I learned that Katherine had remarried after the death of her husband, Milton. I'm also able to date the letter as 1976, from the postmark, and give the locations of the two women corresponding.

letter from Aunt Katherine - 1976

The first page of the letter shows that it was written July 11, 1976. Aunt Katherine talks about Betty's children, including my mom, Ruby. She comments on my mom's marriage and the difficulties she was having. In just over a year my mother would be divorced. She then talks about folks I have yet to figure out who they are. Step-children maybe? As far as I'm aware, Katherine never had any children of her own. More research is needed to discover their identities.

Katherine also mentions that "We've been getting ready for our trip... we're going to England in Aug." From her second husband's obituary, I discovered that Arthur Saunders was born in England.

letter from Aunt Katherine - 1976

The next page shows that they are visiting relatives, who will be taking them on a side trip to Scotland. Fun times!

After this, and anther paragraph, the letter becomes a gold mine. When I read this letter I really only knew Katherine's name, and that she was married to G-G Uncle Milton. That's all, no details or dates. From the next paragraph I learn:
  • Katherine married Arthur Saunders in April 1972
  • Katherine married Milton Waters in June 1945
  • Her birthday is 3 July 1925
She then goes on to talk some about a cousin-in-law, Emma and then someone else - Ben?

Whoever it is she's writing about, they write often and have young grandchildren. Katherine then goes on to ask about the rest of my Grandmama's children, noting my Aunt June being in college and my uncle getting married.

This letter gave me lots of little tidbits of information and a peak into the lives of my family in 1976. It also gave me tips of where to look for more information. I'm very glad that my Grandmama held onto it.

1 comment:

Reference Services said...

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