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30 August 2010

Clues in Correspondence: Using California Letters to Reconstruct a Family

One of the common misconceptions about the CGS is that the library and society are "only about California." In fact, the library holds resources from all fifty states and members' ancestors come from all over the world. Members have published articles about far-flung family in the NGS Magazine and in state genealogical journals in Louisiana and Missouri. Now Jane Hufft tells how a cache of letters revealed an ancestor's roots in North Carolina.

"Clues in Correspondence: Using California Letters to Reconstruct an Edwards Family in Polk and Rutherford Counties in North Carolina" by Jane Hufft is the first article in the May 2010 issue of the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal.

Jane outlines the information found in eight letters written between 1860 and 1877 to Joseph Green Edwards (1825-1906) who left his native North Carolina for Georgia and eventually California when he answered the call of the Gold Rush. The letters were carefully secured in the Edwards family bible and provide "the only evidence for the North Carolina ancestry of Joseph Green Edwards."


Edwards was the son of Smith and Mira (Green) Edwards, both natives of North Carolina. The earliest surviving letter was written by them in 1860. The other letters were written by Joseph's siblings and all are lengthy missives full of news of the family he had left behind. Hufft quotes liberally from the letters and provides biographical information about each of the letter writers and how they relate to Joseph. The letters also include details of how the Civil War years impacted the family.

Hufft concludes, "Researchers should always make sure that their prospecting is persistent and thorough, in case there is a similar mine of evidence in any branch of their own family." We should all be so lucky!

Jane Hufft is the editor of the California Nugget and serves on the Publications/ Marketing Committee. She has thirty-six years of experience in education as a teacher, project manager and administrator.

"Clues in Correspondence: Using California Letters to Reconstruct an Edwards Family in Polk and Rutherford Counties in North Carolina" by Jane Hufft.   
North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal 36 (May 2010): 101-118.


Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

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