Sunday, August 14, 2016

Presentation “Carrie’s Letters: Bringing Ancestral Letters to Life”

(you can click on an image to enlarge it)

Yesterday, I had the amazing privilege of being the presenter for the San Diego Genealogical Society at their monthly meeting.  It was a great honor to present Carrie’s Letters: Brining Ancestral Letters to Life for the Society I also belong to. 

I began with how my father was given a box of letters, which I realized he had about 8 years ago, that were written by my paternal great-grandmother Carrie Terry Warner.  My presentation was about how a box of letters can become so much more interesting when you transcribe them and investigate the events the author of the letters is referring to. 

While I worked at transcribing the letters I felt at times like a little girl sitting at Carrie’s feet while she told me ‘stories’ about herself and those around her.  In addition to learning information about Carrie and John and their family I was also able to learn so much about the happenings in Baiting Hollow, N.Y. from 1885-1910.  After I transcribed the letters I set out to find out more about the family members and events mentioned in the letters.  I was frequently able to find newspaper articles about events she told her sister Ella Terry Billard about.  I was surprised to see that without telephones and computers the account Carrie relayed about an event like ‘the train depot robbery’ in nearby Riverhead, N.Y. was so accurate.

These are some things that were mentioned in the letters that I was able to find:
  • copies of the books Carrie had read on Google Books (Lena Rivers and Marvels of the New West)
  • copies of magazines on line that Carrie referred to and being able to purchase them to see what Carrie read               (The Delineator and Mayflower Seed Catalog)
  • information on my paternal Great-Grandfather’s service as ‘Postmaster’ in Baiting Hollow, N.Y.
  • the actual land deed for my great-grandfather John B. Warner’s first land purchase


I was able to share about my paternal grandfather’s birth and learned that it was his older brother Terry Warner who was actually the one who named him.

I was pleased with the interaction of members who shared information and or experiences they have had with letters as well.  Some members when I explained a dilemma I’d had in understanding something in the letters like the term ‘fools cap’ knew exactly what is was.  This reinforced what Paula Stuart-Warren discussed in her workshop at Southern California Genealogy Jamboree about researchers working together and not by yourself.

A special THANK-YOU to The San Diego Genealogical Society for the opportunity to be a presenter and share my passion for Carrie’s Letters.  See the following blog posts for additional information on Carrie’s Letters;
I also want to thank fellow blogger, member of SDGS and friend Diane Gould Hall for the photos!

I tried videotaping the presentation. If I am successful in downloading the presentation and the quality is good I will let you know how to access it if you are interested in viewing it.

Enjoy the journey,


  1. Loved reading about this and how you are bringing your ancestral letters to life. I learned so much about my ancestor by doing the same thing and told about it on my blog

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the information on Carrie's Letters. I look forward to reading your blog and hearing about your experiences Grant.

  2. Just recommended your blog on Facebook. Posted it on two of my boards on pinterest.

  3. Thank-you so much Grant for the mention on FB and Pinterest!! I appreciate it.

  4. Hi Debby, I am so grateful you have our great grandmother's letters and have shared them in this format. I am a granddaughter of Hollis V. Your nephew Paul and my son Daniel are good friends.
    Best to you! and Thank you.

    1. Thank-you Marie. Yes, and I went to school with your brother Hollis and know Daniel and Paul are friends. So glad you are interested in Carrie's Letters and our Great-Grandparents' lives. I'll need to get your email so I can share more about your Grandfather from the letters. Carrie was a pretty amazing lady and tomorrow is actually her birthday. Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. I'm a little late with my comment, but you did a wonderful presentation Debby.