Monday, January 25, 2010

Uncle Josiah Rhodes Holden



This post will introduce Sarah’s Uncle, Josiah Rhodes Holden. His letters must have meant a lot to Sarah as they were bundled together and tied with a string. The image above is the first letter she received from Uncle Josiah. It is addressed to Sarah in Easton, Pennsylvania and dated 03 May 1872. He starts his letter with, “You may know me as Uncle Rhodes.” From that point he mentions he is in Washington, D.C. visiting his son, and would like to stop by and visit Sarah, whom he says “I have never seen you, but remember your mother as a child.” The reason I know this is the first letter she received is because Sarah records it so. On an old envelope which holds the bundle of letters she has written in her very neat, tiny handwriting, “the first letter Uncle J. R. Holden sent.”


Sarah and her Uncle Josiah carried on a correspondence that stretched from 1872 up to his death in 1887 at the age of 90. I can’t but help think that it was her Uncle’s letter of introduction that may have sparked Sarah’s interest in her past. Josiah’s letters are filled with small little mentions of family. He often mentions Sarah’s mother but he never talks about Sarah’s father or at least directly so. The assumption I have made is that Sarah’s father must have been long dead and her mother was still living. I have been unable to discover Sarah’s parents names.  Uncle Josiah does mention he sent to his brother Milton for Sarah's address, though he never mentions him as her father. OK, this is where I will make my confession – I haven’t really looked! Let’s leave it as a surprise. 


Josiah Holden appears to have been an early settler in Michigan. I also have Michigan roots and this has made my little project even more interesting. Josiah lives in the city of Grand Rapids and what is even stranger, he lives there at the same time my family does. I wonder if my ancestors knew Josiah? How weird is that? The only frustration I have with this project is that I don’t have Sarah’s letters to her Uncle. He mentions the letters, but only in a circumspect way. So as we go through this subset of Sarah’s letters we will have to extrapolate what Sarah had written to her Uncle. It makes it a little more fun, sort of like detective work.

The next letter is dated 20 Oct 1872 and is written on a piece of paper with the letterhead of the Kent County Republican Committe.  Kent County is the county in which Grand Rapids is located.  He starts this letter by mentioning his six week visit to his only daughter and her husband.  They live in Manistee, Michigan which is about 100 miles north of Grand Rapids.  He then goes on to describe his journey thtrough New Hampshire and Massachusetts, always calling on friends and family though few are mentioned by name.

He ends this second letter with a warm thanks for the 'Many acts of kindness and attention' that he and his wife recieved when they visited William and Sarah in Pennsylvania.  He asks for a photograph of William and Sarah along with little Freddie.  Evidently little Freddie had endeared himself to his great uncle Josiah!

Let's see what the next couple of letters brings...

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