The 30-Year-Old Letter

For those who do not know me well:  I love mysteries, genealogy and puzzles (except Sudoku and mathematical word problems) — and when something encompasses all three, you can safely bet I am there until the wee small hours trying to figure it out … and trying  MiLady’s (my wife’s) patience on a work night too.

Just last week, another cousin found me!  I don’t know how, she just did, and sent me electronic copies of a four-page letter in her possession.  It was written over thirty years ago, and she had no idea who wrote it.

Decyphering the handwriting, I copied all the names and geographical reference points, and then dug into my many volumes of research notes.  It took close to a week, but I was able to identify all the persons in the letter except for three of them.

I thought it was interesting: an ATKINSON relative from my maternal 3x great-grandfather’s line wrote to a KIDD relative from my maternal 3x great-grandmother’s line!

The letter was filled with descriptions of  three generations’ of relatives, and mentions of many situations when both sides of the family intersected with  chance meetings and circumstances — for example:

  • you visit the local Doctor’s Office and find the physician is a 2nd cousin to you as well as the spouse of your future sister-in-law;
  •  your parents bought a farm next door to a quiet family with an uncouth, runny-nosed brat whom you will marry 15years later;
  • your older brother worked in Alberta laying railway line with another batch of in-law cousins;
  • etc, etc, etc

When I finished identifying all the people, I was shocked to find my 3x great-grandfather (Thomas ATKINSON I),  his wife (Bethia KIDD) and twelve of their fourteen children listed.  Bethia’s siblings were also listed (minus two).

I was proud and confident, when I wrote back to my new-found cousin and explained who was who in the letter.  I managed to give a little detail as to the woman who wrote the informative note too.  Miss Mildred McGill was 69years-old when she addressed “Mister Kidd.”

She explained hardships.  The loss of her mother and uncle, the selling of the family farm and the last of the dairy cows, and the hope that general farming will prove more prosperous with crops of wheat, oats, corn and soy beans.

Sadly, within four years of writing that letter, Mildred would be dead.


  1. This is a very cool thing to have been shared with you. To have such a wealth of info in this letter is such a marvelous gift. Plus it’s always nice to find family, however distant they may be.

    Cheers Dearie

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