Lost and Found
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
How a little research and a lot of luck lead to the return of an old family heirloom.
From time to time I show items for demonstration purposes in my presentations. I debate with myself that this could just be an excuse to acquire neat things like daguerreotype photographs or original deeds, but nonetheless, I end up with some cool finds.
In 2019, in hopes that it would tie to MY North Carolina Richardson family AND serve as a neat demo piece, I obtained an autograph book through an auction that apparently belonged to “T.S. Richardson” of Roscoe, North Carolina.
Page 1 of the autograph book
The autograph book encompasses the years 1889-1896 and could be used to demonstrate several things in presentations: how to properly store an old book to prevent deterioration, using substitute sources for the missing 1890 census, and using some ”not mainstream” sources.
In the fall of 2019, I finally got around to really examining the book. As is the norm for most genealogists, I HAD to find out more about this T.S. Richardson.
I learned that “T.S.” was Thomas Sidney Richardson and was not of my line, but he was indeed born in NC in 1860 to Elberta and Sarah Richardson, who were then in their early 40s and already parents to several other children. He married his wife Lou in 1886, but lost her and their daughter in 1887. (interesting article that mentions a fairly obvious error on their headstones can be read here: https://www.satterwhitegenealogy.com/satterwhite-sayings/forgotten-mamas-and-babies)
I followed Richardson in the records from North Carolina to Boston, which correlates well with the autograph book’s signers’ locations and dates. Since I’d identified his family, I began to wonder if I could find living relatives who may want the autograph book.
I would love to say that it took crafty genealogical sleuthing skills to locate a living family member who wanted the book, but it was way too easy for that description to be accurate. As if the genealogy research website’s search engine that I was utilizing could read my mind, I was next directed to his 1930 census record and a user-submitted comment appended to his indexed name caught my eye. I clicked on the user name and her profile informed me that she is a professional genealogist in North Carolina who researches... drum roll... Richardsons. I messaged her immediately. Turns out, she’s a grand niece of Thomas Sidney Richardson and has been researching him intensely for the last couple years as he’s been somewhat of a family mystery!
Needless to say, the journal has made its way back to North Carolina and is with family who will care for it through time and use it to help preserve the memory of Thomas Sidney Richardson.
1. 1870 U.S. census, Chatham County, North Carolina, population schedule, Pittsboro Road North Side, p. 171 (penned), p. 235a (stamped), dwelling 1388, family 1421, Sidney in the Elbert Richardson household; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 January 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1129.
2. 1930 U.S. census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Milton Town, p. 2 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 62, sheet 2-A, dwelling 32, family 32, Thomas S. Richardson; FHL microfilm 2340670.
3. “North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 January 2020), database with images, T.S. Richardson to Lou F. Martin, Chatham County, North Carolina, 1886; citing North Carolina County Registers of Deeds, microfilm series Marriage Licenses 1881-1891, Record Group 048, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
4. Jeri Satterwhite-Dearing, “Forgotten Mamas and Babies,” Satterwhite Sayings, 9 February 2018 ( https://www.satterwhitegenealogy.com/satterwhite-sayings/forgotten-mamas-and-babies : accessed 18 January 2020).