A newsletter doesn’t have to be the length of a short novel to be a useful and interesting way of drawing genealogists and other readers to become faithful supporters of a historical society or other organization.
I always look forward to reading “Looking Back at Bradford,” the newsletter of Bradford Heritage: Museum and Historical Society. The Spring 2013 issue featured letters written in 1910-1911 by Charlotte J. (Mitchell) Lassell, wife of Laureston R. Lasell, to son Charles Alston Lasell, who was working in Brownville and residing at “A. Bradeen’s camp,” according to the address on the letters “Mother” wrote to Charlie in December 1910:
Dear Charlie, We got your letter yesterday. We were down to your Aunt Jennies. Flossie has come home to stay til after Christmas and she sent a note up to ask us down yesterday to gave some clam chowder. it was very good.
This is a cold day very much like winter. Your Father is hauling wood Friday. He still wants a deer and I did hope you could get some one there to get him one and pay for it and then he could go get it. Ossian and Ora and your father talked of going to Medford but I did not want him to go so he gave it up and Harry Dyer is going with them. Henry Ames got one yesterday. Came out near his house and he got it some where last night. Charlie Chace and his wife and some other have just got home. Been gone quite a long time but did not get a deer.
Sold the pigs to Leslie for 45 dollars so we have no pig to kill. Shall have to have some thing for meat later on. No Mr. Bradeen has not sent any money yet.
I wish your father could go up while you are there and perhaps he can while you are there.
Nothing to write about. We went to the Grange last night. Ross Doore is going to the state Grange to Augusta in Ossiann’s place. A harvest feast next Tuesday. Harry Ames has joined and Gertie Jack and the Cole girls are coming.
O yes. Your father dug a grave last Sunday. Mr. Folley helped him. Lincoln Hall died up to Milo. had the funeral there. To bad. he was a smart Hall. Dr. Snow will miss him there. Hope you wont have to work any harder. write as often as you can. Mother
This wonderful example of a letter from a mother to her son offers several surnames that may help genealogists to then look further in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties: Dyer, Ames, Chace (Chase?), Bradeen, Doore, Jack (Jacques?), Cole, Folley (Foley?) and Hall.
But what can we do with individuals who are mentioned by first name only? Well, it turns out that we can do a search by first name only through familysearch.org, the LDS website which is free; or through ancestry.com, a paid database which can be used free at libraries which have Internet access.
Obviously, it’s easier to search for an unusual first name than a common one. Charlotte Lasell’s letter mentions Ossian twice, first as a possible traveling companion to Medford with Charlie’s father, and second as the person in whose stead Ross Doore would be going to the state Grange in Augusta.
Using familysearch.org, I plugged in only the first name of Ossian, the country of United States and the state of Maine. One of the first several options that came up was Ossian A. Hurd, 29, of Bradford, Penobscot County. The transcribed census record on familysearch.org also listed wife Agnes M., 29; son Leland A., 3; mother Addie R. Hurd, 52, a widow; brother Franz E. Hurd, 28, a blacksmith; and sister Mary A., 20.
Ancestry.com also found the Hurd family in Bradford when I entered in only the first name, Ossian, and the state, Maine, U.S.A. Here I was able to view the image of the census itself, and ponder the handwriting and spelling of census enumerator Merton A. Marshall on Supervisor District 2, Enumerator District 149 and sheet no. 6.
This issue of “Looking Back at Bradford” also offers memories of Bradford Corner General Store in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s by Dorothy Chase Jones Winship; information on Clyde Elwood Chase and wife Lula D. Bishop by grandson Stephen Jones; information on the 1912 incorporation of John B. Curtis Free Public Library; and thoughts on the GenTech conference 2013 by newsletter editor Muriel S. Parker.
Membership in Bradford Heritage is just $4 a year, sent to Bradford Heritage, 1163 Main Road, Bradford, ME 04410-3008. If you have something that might be shared through the newsletter, email Muriel S. Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to mention the 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society early because it will be held during May only at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road, Bangor. The free program, “Researching Our Veterans,” which is open to all, is a talk I have written about looking for information and records of U.S. military veterans. There will be handout lists for those attending.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email email@example.com.