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.

Thomas Hendry: Independent Patriot

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Independent.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


To celebrate Independence Day, this week’s prompt is “independent” — very fitting! As I contemplated this week’s post, I also learned my Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) application was approved effective July 5. So to celebrate both occasions, I’m profiling my patriot ancestor and 7x-great-grandfather Thomas Hendry. His service is the reason I am eligible for DAR, and his family’s sacrifices benefited their community during the American Revolution.

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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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Alexander Rose Hendry: Epic Road (and River) Trips Bring New Yorker to Louisiana

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Road Trip.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


I love a good road trip. In fact, I’ve taken several family history road trips with my sons and father. But the trips we’ve taken cannot compare to the epic journey my 4x-great-grandfather Alexander Rose Hendry took between his native New York and Louisiana, where he settled in the 1830s.

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7 or 8 April 1780: Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant Raids Scouting Party in Harpersfield, New York

On April 7 or 8, 1780,¹ Mohawk Chief Joseph (Thayendanegea) Brant raided a scouting party in Harpersfield, New York, during the American Revolution. The group attacked by Brant’s Mohawk and Loyalist forces included three of my Hendry ancestors.

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