Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gift of Mary Campbell

For 3 months earlier this year I researched steadily and very successfully the family of my husband’s 3rd great grandparents, Dennis Delaney and Eleanor Kendall Campbell. Their daughter Catherine is my husband’s great, great grandmother. Before visiting in-laws and their children while in Utah attending the NGS Conference in late April, I published my findings in a small book so I could share with them the wealth of information I’d gathered

When we returned from Utah, my plan was to turn my focus to other families. But that was not to be! I often find that our ancestors have other plans for us. I did have time in May to transcribe my mother’s high school dairy, of which I’ve posted previously.

But I received an email “out of the blue” on June 6 from a gentleman in Canada who found my research online. He explained that he was a descendant of Catherine’s sister Mary and was in possession of a LOT of information about her. In fact, these are his words: “I have the history of …… Mary Campbell and copies of a few hundred letters written by various family members to her in the early 1900's. I would be glad to pass them on to you. I also have several pictures of the family members.”

To a genealogist, this is a dream come true…the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Can you believe how much I’m blessed? I’m amazed and grateful every day for the miracles that come to me.
DSCN0010-1 The package that arrived contained a CD with ALL the documents and photos this nice gentleman was sharing with me. I printed everything and prepared a 3-ring binder so my husband and I could sit down and read more easily the fabulous stories it contains.
DSCN0007-1 Here’s a photo of one of the sections that contain transcriptions of letters written to her by her family in the early 1900s.
DSCN0008-1 The bonus of the gift was a collection of dozens of photos of Mary and some of her family members.
DSCN0009-1 A member of one of Mary’s descendant families diligently gathered stories of their memories of her from her grandchildren. Those stories are also provided in this book.

While Mary was not my husband’s great, great grandmother, she was his great, great grandaunt and stories from her life reveal to us what her life circumstances were, and what life was like in the mid-late 1800s for his ancestral family. I’ll share one brief story involving Mary’s daughter, as told by her grandson: “One night, C….and I played in the yard all day. that night C…. woke up and asked Mother to put on his sailor suit because he was going away. He died that night of diptheria. We were put in quarantine and Father, who was away at work, couldn’t come home. He made a wee wooden coffin for his son and it was passed through a window. Mother and B…lined it with white satin, placed C…in the box and passed it through the window to strangers to bury her first-born son. It was a terrible time, Mother was grief stricken, but had to go on without Father to comfort her.”

Having stories like this to teach us of the sufferings, sacrifices and experiences of any of our ancestors is so valuable, for it truly draws us closer to our ancestors and contributes to a much deeper appreciation for all they endured to pave the way for a better life for us.

My husband and I feel very blessed to have been given this precious gift of a glimpse into the life of Mary Campbell and her family.
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