Family Artifacts on eBay: I Bought the 1845 Alexander Hendry Letter!

Last fall I found my first family artifact on eBay: a letter written by my 4x-great-grandfather Alexander Rose Hendry in 1845! It was expensive, so I attempted a transcription with just thumbnail photos and eBay’s zoom functionality. Although challenging, I managed to figure out a fair amount of the letter’s contents.

I’ve thought about that letter many times over the past year, still wishing I could own it myself. Then a few weeks ago, I wrote a check for one of my son’s extracurricular activities for the same amount as the eBay listing and thought to myself, “Isn’t genealogy my extracurricular activity?” And I bought the letter. Of course, frugal me contacted the seller at her brick-and-mortar storefront and negotiated a slightly better price — and then spent all the savings on museum-quality archival sleeves.

These photos show the condition of the Alexander Hendry 1845 letter when it arrived from the eBay seller on 23 Sep 2019.

The Hendry letter arrived in the mail today, and I cannot explain the thrill it is to hold a letter written by my own ancestor! It is fragile, but in wonderful condition for being almost 175 years old. I’d originally thought the letter was two individual sheets of paper, but Alexander actually folded a paper roughly 11 inches by 17 inches in half and wrote on it booklet style. He then folded it into ninths and closed with a wax seal. The seal did not survive to the present day, but I can see where it was from an oily imprint on the paper. Some tape holds together the edges that formed the envelope. This tape prevented me from fully transcribing the letter from photos, but it is more transparent in person. I’m hoping I will be able to decipher more of the letter now that I can examine it more closely.

But, for now, I’m avoiding manipulation of the paper. Rachael Altman, archivist with the Carnegie History Center in Bryan, Texas, will be helping me encapsulate it when she’s in town for the Texas State Genealogical Society (TxSGS) conference next month. We met at TIGR 2019, and I’m so glad she’s willing to lend her expertise to this project. I plan to take photos of the process and document here — and maybe write an article for Stirpes, the TxSGS quarterly, about it also.

Officially a Daughter

Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been on my genealogy “bucket list” for awhile. I’ve discovered eight Patriots in my family tree, and joining DAR is a way I can honor their service, while also serving my community. The genealogist in me wanted the challenge of proving my research and having it accepted by an official organization. And one final, important push was my friend Charity. She joined DAR last year and invited me to her chapter’s anniversary luncheon. It was filled with people who shared my love of country, history, and genealogy — and that’s when I knew DAR was for me.

Continue reading Officially a Daughter

TIGR 2019: Recap & Review

Attending a genealogy institute has ranked high on my “to-do list” since I decided to invest more in my family history passion. I thought it would be several years until I could attend one of these week-long educational opportunities, as I’d need to travel to Salt Lake City, Atlanta, or Pittsburgh for a course that matched my research interests. But when the Texas State Genealogical Society announced TIGR 2019 would have an Advanced Southern Research Techniques track — well, I was all-in!

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Dorothy Jean Hendry Smith: In Memoriam

My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Jean Hendry Smith, passed away this morning at her home on Smith Hill in Liddieville, Louisiana. Her obituary follows:

Dorothy J. Smith
1935 – 2019

Funeral services for Dorothy J. Smith, 84, of Liddieville, will be held 2 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Boeuf River Baptist Church, with Rev. Bruce Cardin and Rev. Kevin Goodman officiating. Interment will follow in Ogden Cemetery under the direction of Gill First National Funeral Home. Visitation will be 1pm until time of service at the church.

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Mapping My Ancestors’ Census Locations

I love maps. On a genealogy Facebook group I follow, a researcher shared a map of his ancestors’ counties of residence by U.S. census year — and I immediately knew I wanted to make a map of my own.

Check mine out — I definitely have deep Southern roots with a few “strays” in the northeast:


County boundaries change over time, so using this modern map to chart historical counties is not completely accurate. But it’s a cool picture of the mostly westward migration of my family.

It also closely aligns with my AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates and migration communities: