Family Artifacts on eBay: My First Find

Have you considered eBay as a genealogical resource?  Even though I’d read articles and listened to podcast episodes about others’ successes, I never imagined I’d find anything about my tiny hometown, much less my own family, on eBay.

Then I actually searched — and did!

Check out this listing:

eBay Listing
eBay listing, item #332863679052, screenshot taken 16 Nov 2018

It’s a letter mailed from Boeuff Prairie, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, to Miss Ellen Harper of Harpersfield, Ashtabula County, Ohio.  I only clicked to read the item description because I recognized “Boeuff” Prairie as the earliest established community in Franklin Parish.  It’s also just a few miles north of where I grew up in Liddieville.

I read the details and immediately recognized the author’s name  — my 4x great-grandfather, Alexander Hendry!  The blue ink is his actual handwriting!

Front of Envelope
The letter is dated January 17, 1845, and addresses Miss Harper as his cousin.  The ink has bled through both sides of the page, and the listings’ photos aren’t high quality, which makes it difficult to decipher much else.  For $175, I could read the original, but that’s a little steep.  Instead, I’ve contacted the seller and asked if he or she will send better scans for me to transcribe.  I hope the seller is a kind person!

While I wait, I have much to investigate.  Why no stamp?  Was this letter written before stamps were in use in the area?  What does the “25” mean in the right corner?  Was that how much it cost to send the letter?  Most importantly, Who is Miss Harper, and how is she Alexander Hendry’s cousin?  (A quick Wikipedia search told me Harpersfield, Ohio, was settled by Revolutionary War Colonel Alexander Harper, who was from Harpersfield, New York.  My ancestor Alexander Hendry was also from Harpersfield, New York — so their connection is back to his pre-Louisiana days.)  I’ll also try to transcribe as much as I can using eBay’s pitiful zoom tool — it’s something, at least.

I’m setting up eBay notifications for my surnames and places of interest.  Now that I struck gold once, I’m preparing for it to happen again.

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