Saturday, June 16, 2012

I touched the original letter and got goose bumps, too!

I've got to say, I had a thrilling day yesterday. My cousin Sharon and I met and had lunch with a distant cousin (kind of the thread-on-the-shirt-tail cousin) Jim. This was the first time either of us had met Jim. We have been trying for a long time to get all three of us free on the same day. So Friday, May 16 was it.

Sharon and I drove to Jim's place. We talked family connections. We went to lunch and talked family connections. Came back to his cottage at the senior complex to look at pictures, letters, and talk family connections. Yep! We did it all! What a wonderful way to spend a hot, early summer day!

Sharon asked Jim questions about who belonged to who. She brought a giant binder with many pictures we couldn't identify a couple weeks ago. He helped with a few. That was better than none at all. While they did that, I got my digital camera out and took shots of pictures and letters. I spent a good part of today going over those images, cropping, and enhancing for better presentation. I then sent emails off to Sharon with the fixed images attached.

In between the conversation Sharon was having, I asked about Mundelein and Libertyville and the ROUSE family connection to Sharon's SMALL and my PORTEOUS families. Jim knew we were connected somehow, but hadn't done much on collateral families. He had concentrated on the Rouse and RAY families. As much as one can't do them all. I don't know how much anyone would remember of these conversations, but we will try our best.


My great grandparents John and Mary Ann (Vamplew) Porteous are Sharon's great-great grandparents. Her great grandmother Georgiana is my grandfather William D.'s sister. So how are we connected to the Rouses? Mary Ann's mother is Anne Rouse who married James VAMPLEW in 1838, Kirkby on Bain, Lincolnshire, England. 

Anne is sister to John Rouse who was one of the early settlers in Holcomb, Lake County, Illinois (now Mundelein). He was instrumental in coaxing John and Mary Ann to immigrate to America and settle in the same town. By 1870, John and Mary Ann and their three children: Georgiana, Willie, and John Henry, were listed on the Fremont Township Federal Census. 

Jim is connected through the Gordon Milton Ray family who were also an early family in town, and he married Harriet Elizabeth, one of John Rouse's daughters.

"Hunckle" John and Aunt Matilda (Proctor) Rouse


I was a newbie at family history in any organized fashion back about 20 years ago. As I was stumbling along trying to make sense of all the information I had, for some reason I didn't know where John and Mary Ann were from. I knew they were from England, but didn't know any more. Of all the things brother John gave me to look over when I started, there was a copy of a copy of a letter that John & Mary Ann had sent to "Hunckle and Aunt." I must not have paid too much attention to it – I was new and some stuff didn't matter. I know better now!

I'd talk some things over with brother John and he would say I should "read the letter" but never said why. Over and over, he'd say "read the letter."  Finally I got the letter out, scanned it and started cleaning it up in photoshop. A copy of a copy needed cleaning. The blotches were covering up some of the words and I couldn't read them properly. As I'm "cleaning" it up, words started popping out at me! More and more words! This letter was the letter great grandfather John wrote to "Hunckle and Aunt" (John and Matilda Rouse) about when they were sailing to America and what ship they would be on; talks about where they were staying since they had been packed up.


Yesterday, almost 20 years after brother John gave me that letter did I finally get to see the original! It gave me goose bumps and I had a hard time containing my excitement. It tells me where the letter was written; dated April 12, just seven days before they set sail! Another thing this letter tells me – my great grandfather knew how to read and write. He wrote in phonetic spellings which gives me a sense of how they talked. This was rural England talk. Fantastic! Made my day . . .

1 comment:

  1. Karen, I totally identify with the words of your title. It is such an awesome experience to connect with an actual document from an ancestor!