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A Holiday Surprise: Descendants Get 100-Year-Old Holiday Cards From Their Ancestors

Oh the joy of receiving personalized Seasons Greetings from family and friends! This stalwart tradition of connecting with loved ones around the holidays may have evolved over the years, but the sentiment to share holiday cheer has endured.

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Though relatives and friends may not be gathering this year as they normally would, the COVID-19 era has taught us that there are many other meaningful ways to connect. While it’s amazing to have the technology to speak to loved ones with a laptop or phone, others might opt for the tried-and-true holiday cards that were once the standard for their ancestors. Such cards may not allow us to hear the voices or see the faces of the cards’ senders and recipients, but their words live on and may be cherished for years to come. .  

Here are some holiday cards from yesteryear that MyHeritage researchers found, and the stories that were unearthed as a result.

Reaching Out to A Sister:

Dear sister, I hope this finds you all well. We are baking for you for Christmas. Don’t forget. Alice

This postcard was sent 100 years ago on November 23, 1920, two days before Thanksgiving, from Alice Shaw of Zanesville, Ohio, to her sister Ada Patterson in Granville, Ohio, which was 28 miles away. 

Digging into the records

Using census records, MyHeritage researchers learned more about the sisters: Born six years apart to Oliver and Emily Hampshire, the two grew up in Granville with nine other siblings. Ada was six years older than Alice and married at the age of 34 but had no children. Alice married at age 19 and gave birth to 12 children.  

Here is a page from the 1880 U.S. Census found in MyHeritage’s historical record collections that lists Oliver and Emma Hampshire and three of their children, including Ada. 

[Credit: MyHeritage 1880 U.S. Census Record]
[Credit: MyHeritage 1880 U.S. Census Record]

Here you can find a close-up of the rows listing the Hampshire family:

The Research team tracked down some beautiful old photos of Ada and Alice. Using the MyHeritage Photo Enhancer, the team brought Alice and Ada’s faces into focus, allowing us to see their remarkable resemblance.

Alice Hampshire Shaw as a child
Alice Hampshire Shaw as a child
Alice Hampshire Shaw as an adult
Alice Hampshire Shaw as an adult
Ada Hampshire Patterson
Ada Hampshire Patterson

The contrast between their household sizes must have been striking, especially during the holidays. Those of us who are celebrating Thanksgiving alone this year will surely relate to what Ada might have been feeling 100 years ago at her table set for two. Perhaps this was what prompted Alice to wish a happy Thanksgiving to her sister with a holiday card, and to remind her that they would be together for Christmas. 

Reconnecting with the Descendant

The postcard provided clues that painted a story of family ties, enabling the Research team to locate the family’s descendant. Susan Kinney, 67, of Gahanna, Ohio, was astonished to discover that MyHeritage had identified Alice as her great-grandmother, and Ada as her great-grandmother’s sister. She was also amazed to learn that her grandmother, Dorothy, had 11 siblings. 

A page from the MyHeritage 1920 U.S. Census collection lists Alice and James Shaw, along with 7 of their children, including Susan’s grandmother, Dorothy.

[Credit: MyHeritage 1920 U.S. Census Records]
[Credit: MyHeritage 1920 U.S. Census Records]

Here you can find a close-up of the rows listing the Hampshire family:

On this page of the 1930 U.S. Census, the Shaws are listed with their 5 youngest children.

 [Credit: MyHeritage 1930 U.S. Census Records]
[Credit: MyHeritage 1930 U.S. Census Records]

Here you can find a close-up of the rows listing the Hampshire family:

Their family tree, created on MyHeritage, shows the relationship between Ada, Alice, and Susan.

The Shaw Family Tree on MyHeritage (Click to zoom)
The Shaw Family Tree on MyHeritage (Click to zoom)

Kinney was excited to see the postcard, and admitted that she knew little about her family history.  

“We are a very small family,” she said. “I don’t know of any descendants of these people. I didn’t even know my grandmother had all these brothers and sisters. I only knew one brother. 

“It’s just fascinating to me that I never knew about all these relatives.” 

A Special Bond with Grandma: 

Dear Grandmother,

Wouldn’t you like to have a big fat turkey like that. Good by[e]

Yours truly

Bernice B.

This colorful holiday card was sent in Wisconsin 100 years ago, on November 23, to Mrs. E. M. Baer from her granddaughter Bernice. It took some investigating, however, to uncover the rest of the story. 

Unearthing the card’s history

Using census records, our researchers were able to build a family tree on MyHeritage and determine that Elizabeth M. Baer had a granddaughter named Bernice Margaret Burns. In particular, the researchers found Bernice’s name, birthdate, and place of birth recorded in a 1906 book found on MyHeritage, Genealogy of the Bear Family and Biographical Record of the Descendants of Jacob Bear, 1747–1906.

[Credit: MyHeritage]
[Credit: MyHeritage]

Bernice was born in 1905, meaning that she would have been 15 when she sent the holiday card to her grandmother. Perhaps Bernice liked the colors of the turkey, or perhaps the woman’s face on the postcard resembled her grandmother’s. 

Or perhaps — like many of us this year — she missed her grandmother at Thanksgiving, and reached out to her in the only way she could. 

Meeting the Descendants

MyHeritage user Hannah Bartlett, 28, a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was amazed to see the postcard written by her great-grandmother Bernice. She connected researchers to her aunt, Dawn DeRidder Shumway, 63. 

Here’s Hannah Bartlett’s family tree on MyHeritage. Elizabeth, Bernice, Dawn, and Hannah are circled in red.

Bartlett Family Tree on MyHeritage
Bartlett Family Tree on MyHeritage

Dawn had wonderful memories of her grandmother Bernice. In particular, Dawn recalled her generosity. 

“She would give the grandchildren presents and money at Christmas,” she said. 

Bernice Margaret Burns
Bernice Margaret Burns

Looking Ahead

If there’s one thing that can be learned from these holiday cards, it’s that traditions can still be maintained, even though we might be celebrating differently. This year, despite the pandemic, we will still reach out to our loved ones—perhaps even with postcards like these. 

If you are looking to give the gift of family history this year, consider giving a MyHeritage Gift Membership. The gift membership is now on sale for 50% off and gives the recipient full access to the MyHeritage Complete plan, which includes all MyHeritage tools and features and 12.7 billion historical records. 

To look at all of MyHeritage’s offerings for your loved ones this year, check out our Holiday Gift Guide.

May we someday look back on this year and remember a time when, despite being forced to distance ourselves from family and friends, our connections endured. 

The post A Holiday Surprise: Descendants Get 100-Year-Old Holiday Cards From Their Ancestors appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Source: My Heritage

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