Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Cousin's 1848 Letter

It's been my experience that one of the gold mines of genealogy keepsakes is right under our nose on the Internet---at eBay. I think it might be an "often-overlooked" resource for historical documents and heirlooms from our ancestors.

Many of the sellers on eBay are quite effective in their selling techniques. About 2 years ago, I received an email from a gentleman who was selling a letter written in 1836 by a man who happened to be the 4th great grandfather of my husband. This seller had obviously researched the internet to find people who'd listed this man in their genealogy databases. Then he notified them by email of the item he'd placed for auction. I thought that was an ingenious technique. I was able to bid on the letter, was the highest bidder at the modest price of $13, and now am in possession of this treasured handwritten stampless letter from so many generations ago.
Yesterday I got 2 more emails from this seller, notifying me that he's placed for auction 2 letters written by a young woman who happens to be my 1st cousin 4 times removed. First Cousin!!! Yes, it's four times removed, but that's because this was back in 1848. She and my great, great grandmother were first cousins. Her grandfather was my 4th great grandfather. The letters were written to her friend in 1848 and 1850 and reveal a wonderful glimpse into her personal life at the time. Besides revealing much of her personality, they offer an example of her handwriting, level of writing ability, interests, etc. I've placed a bid on each letter and am certainly hoping I can enter the winning bids!

I'll let you know next Monday!


Lisa Jamison said...

That's awesome about the letters! How cool to have them in your possession!!

Becky Jamison said...

I HOPE I'll have them in my possession! The one we bought a couple years ago was written by John Jamison! This cousin's name is Emily. Isn't that sweet? Hope I can be the winning bidder without going too high. They'd be a treasure!!

Apple said...

Great finds! I wish you luck in the bidding. I would think anyone who bids against you might also be a cousin. I admit that I don't ebay much anymore and I should reset up a watch list.

cover letter samples said...

this is really awesome letter. This is so true.

Genealogy Blogger said...


That's wonderful that the seller contacted you! Several years ago I set up a website called PAST VOICES which published letters from the past online. They aren't for sale, they are submissions from visitors (and from me) and it's at

My companion blog is and it features current auctions from E-Bay of old letters. Thought this might interest you!