Family History from Home

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“Family History from Home,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 57

Family History from Home

Being somewhat disabled and living in a small town some 25 miles from the nearest meetinghouse with a family history computer, I have found I can still work on my family history by writing letters. Some time ago I was given a chart of my ancestors with 300 names on it. At the top were listed three brothers who originally immigrated to Australia from Cornwall, England. Then there was a large gap with a note that read: “No information for 200 years.” The next entries were of my grandparents. I wondered if I could fill in the gap.

I began by writing letters to newspapers looking for information about people who were descendants of those for whom I needed information. I received some interesting replies, including one letter that contained an old photo—at least 70 years old—of the son of one of the three original brothers who settled in Australia. Writing to newspapers has united some current descendants, and they have shared much knowledge with each other.

I also wrote to the postmaster in Cornwall asking for information about the old farm our ancestors left behind. He wrote back that he was the current owner and that my ancestors’ names back to the 1500s were listed on the deed! He said he would be happy to send me a copy. I have also managed to find wills back as far as 1615.

I wrote to the minister of the local church in Cornwall, who initially said he would not have time to research names for me. Despite his original letter, I later began receiving a flood of information from this Anglican minister with much information about my family, including the inscriptions from at least 10 gravestones. So involved did he become in helping me that soon he sent addresses of other nearby churches where I could write for information.

Although I’m not very expert at doing family history work, I have had remarkable success writing letters and have completed 16 generations on one family line. I was finally able to change the note on my family history chart from “no information” to “no gap!”—Margaret A. J. Grosskopf, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia