Friday, March 27, 2009

Joslin Family :: First Contact

In the files of my grandmother, Hazlette Brubaker Phend Dunn Ferguson, there is a letter dated November 12, 1968 that was written to her by Edith S. Wessler. This was in response to grandma's inquiry regarding "Ohio Joslins" in the Genealogical Helper.

Mrs. Wessler had published "The Jocelyn-Joslin-Joslyn-Josselyn Family" in 1961. Although the book did not include specific source citations, it has been considered by many Joslin researchers to be the "go to" book for information, especially on the early ancestors. But grandma didn't have that book available at the time.

In her letter, Mrs. Wessler indicated that she was not a professional and doesn't charge for her research, which encompasses a multitude of descendants of Thomas and Rebecca Jocelyn, the immigrant ancestors who settled in Massachusetts in 1635. Mrs. Wessler invited my grandmother to send as much information as she could about her Joslin family, which grandma did, responding on November 17th "with self addressed & postage enclosed, also attached information." What information she enclosed is not known since she didn't keep a copy of her letter (or the letter has been lost).

On November 20, 1968 Mrs. Wessler responded to grandma's letter. Some of the information she included doesn't really make sense to me now, but I have the advantage of hindsight and later research. But the exciting thing to me, and I suppose also to my grandmother at the time, was the inclusion of a portion of a letter that Mrs. Wessler had received in 1962 from Irwin L. Joslin. She says "I will now quote the major part of a letter received from a Joslin in your branch of the Family. (The twins you mention caused the identification.)"

Irwin's letter to Mrs. Wessler provided information on his siblings and his father's siblings but the "important" parts (dates have been removed) were "My father was Virgil Newton Joslin… the son of Luther M. Joslin… the son of Lysan Joslin, born in Indiana - date unknown - died about 1904 in Kansas." And "My grandfather was one of 11 children of Lysan Joslin. The oldest was a girl, Elizabeth. Next oldest was my grandfather - Luther; then John, who went from Ind. to Calif. Another son was Andrew, who lived in Kansas at one time. There was a set of twins - Elmus and Elmer, and two girls, Ida and Della. That is all I know about my line. . ."

Mrs. Wessler acknowledges that "The data he gives are not identical to yours - but there is enough to know and identify his Luther M. with your Melissa Miriah (as brother and sister)." Her letter continues for another full page, providing information on some other Joslin families.

Now I can imagine the excitement that my grandmother felt when she read the information from Irwin's letter! But at the time, I was a 20 year old who had no interest in that stuff.

Four months later, grandma received a letter from Irwin, dated March 3, 1969. He states that he had "corresponded some with Mrs. Wessler who wasn't much help to me, at first - then she sent me the enclosed letter of 12-16-68." Irwin goes on to say "I am positive this is my line of Joslins. It appears that your grandmother Melissa & my grandfather Luther were brother & sister." He included information about himself and his immediate family and concluded by saying "I would be very glad to hear from you and perhaps some day we can sit down to visit & compare notes."

The letter that Mrs. Wessler sent to Irwin on 12-16-68 appears to be a compilation of the data from the transcribed bible pages that grandma had in her possession. At that time, grandma already "knew" that Lysander's parents were James and Abagail (Goodrich) Joslin and that his wife Lydia's parents were Henry and Ann Robison. In Mrs. Wessler's letter to Irwin. She says "Nothing known about James, father of Lysander, other than that there were four or five more children, and that he went to Whitley Co. Ind. in 1834. His wife Abagail, was born 1805, Delaware Co. O.; d. Whitley Co. dau. of Bela and Sally (Church) Goodrich. Bela Goodrich was born in Conn. In 1776; was in the War of 1812."

Next up: Grandma replies to Irwin's letter.

Note: Due to possible copyright issues regarding the letters written by Mrs. Wessler, I've chosen not to post images of those letters. I'd probably be "safe" in posting images of the letters from Irwin but they include quite a bit of information on living people, so they won't be posted here either. It is Irwin's brother, sister-in-law, daughter, and nephew with whom I'll be taking the Joslin Heritage Tour in September.


Patti Browning said...

It's always wonderful when you find old genealogical correspondence between researchers! I know because my grandfather kept a few letters from his correspondance with another researcher on one of his lines and they've been very helpful to me as well.

Elkhart county, hm? A branch of my Browning family went to Elkhart County. wouldn't that be wild if we were related?

Jean Oldham Heuman said...

I am the Jean Oldham Heuman you mention in your research. I lived for 50 years in the Boston area (Stoneham), MA. I am now retired since 1992 and live in Venice, FL. I just returned from the annual pilgrimage back to Ohio where all my Joslin relatives still live.
My younger cousin, Gwen (Joslin)Hiles is continuing my ancestral research. She is V.P. of the Delaware Co. OH Genealogy Society. We visited Jonas Joslin, Jr.'s grave in Liberty Township, Del Co, where the family first settled.
There are deeds of land between Jonas, Sr., and your James. In addition to my first book, THEY WENT TO OHIO about 1984, an update was written later. The Society has copies of all five of my books on different branches Dickerson, Graves, Noble, etc. who married into the Joslin family.
I will be glad to help you with any question you may have about your tour and info about James.