Friday, August 9, 2013

Surprise! A Stash of Family Papers has been Discovered!

Sitting in the kitchen with my cousin, checking out
some newly discovered family papers and genealogies
I was visiting my cousin and she showed me a stash of family papers that were new to both of us, although her Mom had owned them for a long, long time.  We spent a wonderful evening together poring over the pages, and taking photos of all the documents.  My cousin asked me “Don’t you wish you had these papers 30 years ago when you were starting your genealogy research?”  Of course, having these papers would have made my search easier.  However, it was great to read through them and to see that all my research was correct, and I could corroborate it with these new charts and reports.

Our biggest delight in this new treasure was wondering who wrote it!  The handwriting was exquisite, and this mystery ancestor appeared to truly love tracing the family history.  We both would have loved to have met this person, but he or she probably died one hundred years ago.  We spent the night looking at the information inside the documents, and also trying to identify the mysterious author.  There were little family booklets, several scrolls with family group sheets, cemetery deeds, typed reports, and other goodies to read through.

One of the wonderful things about this pile of paper was that the original author had invented a system of keeping track of each person in the family, and then this creative system had been adopted by other family members down the generations.  Even my dear Auntie had adopted this system and used it for my cousin and her brother.  All these papers had been preserved.  I was amazed that an amateur family historian had come up with this handy little system.

Each family group was in a little booklet, held with a fastener.
The first page was the husband. This is my great grandfather,
with his birth date. Isn't the handwriting wonderful?

On the back of the person's page were his parent's information

The second page was the wife.  This is my great grandmother.  
I love how the author put her maiden name in the loop of the calligraphy!
There is information here that is not found in the vital records, such as the 
time the wedding ceremony took place, and the address. 

Each child had his or her own page in the booklet.
This is my grandfather's page.  Again, here is information not
found in the vital records, such as his birth weight and time of birth!

If you had never seen an ahnentafel chart report, or a pedigree chart, what would you have invented to keep track of a large, growing family? In the days before computers, or the availability of office supply stores with their plethora of paper, notebooks and supplies, what would you have used?

This booklet is in my auntie's handwriting.  She made this booklet
for her own family.  My uncle is the first page...

On the back of his page is his parent's information.
The subsequent pages have his wife, my auntie, and his children, my cousins.  
She duplicated the original old book. 

There was a multipage typed document outlining the Munroe family
back to the 1600s.  We don't know the author of this paper. 
It appears to be a carbon paper copy, and is very fragile.

There were several of these rolled up documents.  They are made of sheets of
paper taped together, and are also very fragile.  This is several generations
of the Munroe family shown in family groups.  There are a few names here
that were new to me, and many nicknames (which will be good clues to finding marriages!)

click to enlarge
This is a detail of the top of one of the "scrolls". 
It shows the Andrew Munroe (1764-1836) family in the same handwriting
as the little family booklets. Andrew is my 4th great grandfather.
Most of the information is in ink, but then in a different hand the marriages 
were added in pencil, which is very faded.  Major Andrew Munroe served in the
Revolutionary War, and he was born in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Although we both had asked my aunt about our family history, and she had shown me many other papers, it was amazing that she had this group of genealogy charts and reports all this time.  You never know what will show up!  There are still several names on these papers that I have not identified, so I have my work cut out for me.  I’ll be investigating these this summer, and I hope it leads to some new branches on the family tree. 

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Congratulations on your fabulous find! It's like winning the lottery.

    Judging from the intimate knowledge the author had of many family members you hopefully can come up with a good theory as to the auhor's identity.

  2. Fantastic!! What a wonderful find. Funny how sometimes our family has these things and don't realize what a treasure they are. My dad pulled out the family bible last year and I was thrilled to see it confirmed my research. Have fun mining all those documents!

    1. Jennifer, I'd love to find a family bible. This story goes to show that "stuff" can still turn up, even after 35 years of research!

  3. Wow, Imagine finding something like that in our own families. If you find the name of the author let us know who they were.

  4. Oh my, what a wonderful discovery! I love the booklets that were made for each family - makes it easy to confirm who goes with who. Have fun!

  5. Oh wow - it's like winning the lottery!! The handwriting alone would make me want to keep these, even if I didn't know any of the people involved. To have them be your family papers - priceless!

  6. What wonderful treasure you've found - and in handwriting as well! Somehow a 'person' comes through with the organization, details, calligraphy, and more. Enjoy these great finds!

  7. Wow Heather . That is incredible . A dream come true . I wonder if they were getting the information from a main family bible , and thus , made the booklets ?

    1. Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if the person who wrote these papers also had a family bible. They seemed very organized, and very interested in genealogy. Now, I wonder what happened to that bible?!

  8. I am having a serious case of ancestor envy right now Heather. What a mahvahlous discovery!

  9. What a priceless treasure you have found. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Oh, how awesome! I'd have Handel's "Messiah" playing in the background of this post, what a treasure! My heart skips a beat seeing old-fashioned writing and yellowed paper, sigh...

    This just goes to show that there's always more to discover, or at least the possibility.

    1. Karen, yes, I thought I had done all I could with the Munroe family, and now I have several mysterious new names to lookup, as well as finding the identity of the author of these papers. It's always something new in genealogy...

  11. Fabulous! Congratulations, Heather!

    Pat Biallas

  12. What a treasure!! You are blessed to have had such a diligent aunt and to have these records preserved!

  13. Congratulations on the treasure find! The genealogy gods were certainly smiling down on you. Goes to show that good things really do come to those who wait... notice the word patiently was not in that little diddy? Lovely LEGIBLE handwriting, so nicely organized. I am pretty sure everyone is so envious right now! Enjoy!

  14. I loved reading about these records. So very nice.

    1. Thanks, Donna! So good to hear from you!

  15. Heather,

    Wow! What a find!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  16. What a wonderful discovery, and how fortunate to have had an ancestor who left such organized records.