Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hat Tip to Those Relatives Who Wrote Their Stories Down, Part 2

If you are lucky, you have a genealogist or two lurking in your family tree who has already done much of the heavy genealogical lifting for you.  I have three relatives whose written work helped me tremendously, each in their own way:

Today I'll cover Esther (Moreland) Leithold.
[From the online copy of "And This is Our Heritage", courtesy of the Hathi Trust Digital Library (original from University of Wisconsin).  Accessed 14 Oct 2014.]
Esther Moreland Leithold (1872-1959), daughter of of Alice (Biddle) and niece of my 3rd great grandmother Matilda (Biddle) Porter (and thus my 4th cousin 1x removed), is the author of "..And This Is Our Heritage," the saga of her maternal grandparents, Maria Evans (1814-1899) and Benjamin "B.R." Biddle (1808-1882).

You can access this work free online via the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

You can scan the web to see what specialty bookstores carry a copy or can print one out for you on demand.  Check WorldCat for libraries that hold a reference copy.

[The Foreward from "And This Is Our Heritage."]
This book is a colorful narrative based on the stories Esther grew up hearing.  I am also assuming it was backed up by the genealogical work she did on her Evans and Biddle ancestors, published as "Genealogy of the Evans' family, the "Virginia Biddles," and other related families.", a work I have not yet seen.  

I never would have known about my 4th great grandfather B. R. Biddle's issue with small-nosed men, and why my 3rd great grandmother's nickname was "Puggie," if not for passages like this: 

[see the original size at the following: page 84 from "..And This Is Our Heritage"]
B. R. Biddle was a tailor and businessman from Virginia.  Early in their marriage he and Maria (likely pronounced "Mariah," like Mariah Carey) lived in Springfield, Illinois in the 1840's, and counted among his friends and neighbors Abraham Lincoln.  B.R. went with a group of other Springfield residents out to California in the 1849 Gold Rush (writing a series of travel accounts that were published back in Springfield), where he and some business associates set up supplies for miners in Shasta.  In 1853 he went back to Illinois to bring Maria and the children to Oregon.  They later settled and died in Healdsburg, California.  

[Benjamin Robert Biddle, page 32, from "..And This Is Our Heritage]
[Maria Evans Biddle, page 12, from "..And This Is Our Heritage."]

B.R. and Maria Biddle raised their granddaughter Esther because her mother (their brilliant daughter Alice (Biddle) Moreland, also here) had not liked Esther's red hair, having an aversion to red-haired people (?!).  
[Alice Biddle, age 16, with fellow graduates Currin and Veach (not sure who is who), from the first graduating class in 1870 of Oregon Agricultural College (later Oregon State University).]

This unfortunate beginning allowed Esther to become intimately acquainted with her grandparents, and she was thus able to pass on stories and information that are so often lost from one generation to the next.  

Esther does an amazing job bringing B.R. and Maria, and their world, to life.    Because of her work I feel as if I know these people, flaws and all, which I can't say for any of my other ancestors (except those I knew myself, like grandparents).  

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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