13 January 2013

Torn and Ragged

About a week ago, I got the email that every family historian dreams of. 

It happened. It really happened.

A man in Illinois (for privacy reasons, I will simply refer to him as Mr. Illinois) had discovered a piece of my history, a piece of my family; one we did not even know was missing. He found it in his Grandmother’s attic, in a trunk, with a few other odd items. No one in his family, not his mother or any of her siblings, had any idea why Grandma possessed these items. No one knew they were there. No one knew that she had held onto them, carefully wrapped, gently placed. How did she obtain them? Why? The answers are still to be discovered, perhaps we’ll never know.

Torn and Ragged
The Bible that originally belong to
Adam and Carrie (Brown) Carlyle of
Orting, Washington. 
It came to me torn and ragged. It felt I was living out some kind of alternate space. It all happened so quickly!

You see, Mr. Illinois found part of the answer to his many questions on his search engine. A quick look at the oldest name in the Bible sent him to my blog, to this very site, to me. He realized that he needed to contact me, to find out about Oscar F. Brown. Yes, my Oscar. My most challenging brick wall ancestor. The one I have written about over and over. The one I will continue to write about until some of the mysteries are solved. 

(Tell me again that genealogy blogs do not need to utilize search engine optimization! He found me easily and quickly!)

So, that phone call came. A conversation of discovery, matching names, dates and locations. Enough that both of us were satisfied: yes, it’s a match.

What he found in his Grandmother’s attic was a collection. Two Bibles, a letter with photographs, and a photo album of Civil War soldiers; all members of the unique Mississippi Marine Brigade. In one evening, I went from hopeful to elated: the family in Illinois had decided to send me the Bibles. The photo album will be copied professionally, then sent on to the Civil War Museum in Virginia. Where it belongs, because, truly, the collection is a national treasure. It is not just for my family alone. That is very satisfying.

Back to the Bibles. One was property of Carrie (Brown) and Adam Carlyle, my great aunt and uncle. The other belonged to their eldest son. Their descendants are my 2nd cousins, and after a few years of research in their own right, they have passed on their own family collection of letters, photos and other heirlooms to me. I have referred to this vast collection before, and have coined it, "The Carlyle Collection."  The decision was made that I should receive the treasure, and that I did.

Surprisingly, Mr. Illinois sent it rather quickly, in a simple U.S. Post Office box. He had either had it long enough that his curiosity was sedated or was ready to get rid of them. Either way, within a week, they were sitting on my dining room table. It is not lost on me that the table belonged to my own Grandparents originally, and here I am, using its surface to photograph the penmanship of Grandpa’s aunt. Oh, how the wheel of life turns…

I am sure that future posts will detail all I learn from these precious gifts. For now, it is enough to say that my family is incredibly grateful to another family in Illinois. We have regained a piece of us; we have been able to connect with another part of us that makes us who we are. For that, Mr. Illinois, I will never forget you.

Both Bibles, side by side.
The inside cover of the oldest Bible, belonging
to Carrie (Brown) and Adam Carlyle. The writing
lists the lineage of Adam.
The copyright is 1895.