The word is out that I’m a sucker for old stuff, so I’m a leading candidate for a call when people are cleaning out their filing cabinets. Not that I mind. Can anyone appreciate orphaned manila folders the way I do?
Several years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a manila folder labeled LYNCH SURNAME, containing some of my father-in-law’s genealogy notes. It isn’t a thick folder because my father-in-law wasn’t the genealogist of record in his generation. That would be his cousin Eileen, whose career as a dedicated researcher and volunteer probably warrants its own book, never mind a separate blog post.
The treasure of the folder is a draft of a letter that I presume my father-in-law eventually sent in response to a query by his genealogist cousin about their Beatty forebears. It contains some interesting notes on the family, along with a couple of priceless anecdotes.
• “I never knew my granddad Beatty except as ‘Dick’ Beatty. He was a singing teacher and used singing books w/numbers instead of the musical symbols as is used today. I have seen some of these books.” (This doesn’t sound exactly like shape note singing, which my father-in-law mentioned his grandfather teaching, and which does use note symbols — but I sure wish I’d seen these books, too!)
• “I think I mentioned to you the occurrence where Jim Bob crawled up into a hollow tree and Bill having seen his father chop rabbits out of a tree, proceeded to start chopping about where Jim Bob’s head was. Their mother our grandmother missed the boys and went looking for them. She found them before Bill cut too deeply into the tree and almost surely would have killed Jim Bob.”
That last story sounds like it came straight out of a novel, which is not surprising. Stories like that don’t grow on trees. Even hollow ones.