As a family historian, I am very grateful that some branches of my family were hoarders; over the last hundred years or more, letters and papers were rarely thrown away. Unfortunately, this has left me with a huge archival problem which really does now need to be addressed!

This morning I decided to open one of the boxes labelled “Wright Family Oddments”. I have previously part-sorted some of the archives but know that some of the contents are mixed up with some correspondence in the wrong location. Most of the contents of this particular box is Christmas Cards from the early 20th century but there were a few interesting misplaced items such as this bereavement card for my grandfather’s sister. She died at a very early age following a complication after childbirth. In the same box was a letter written to my grandfather from his cousin Alice shortly after Nellie’s death and demonstrates the family’s strong belief in an afterlife in a glorious heaven. I have transcribed a few paragraphs of this letter for you:

My dear old Wilf,
This afternoon when I was out with my friend I was talking to her about today and said it was the 18th, but she corrected me and said it was the 19th. I had such a fright for your birthday came into my mind, so of course I hurried back and here I am in the library.

Well, first of all I must wish you very many happy returns of the day and do hope that you will have a really happy day. It will be sad for you in one way, Wilf , I know just how you will be feeling and it is hard to think that everything is for the best, but we must not doubt it for our Heavenly Father is too good to be unkind. Oh Wilf, life is happy enough down here but what will it be like at that glorious day when we all meet our loved ones again! It makes us think, doesn’t it, when we hear of different ones whom we know and love have been taken from us, for we never know when our call will come, but still if we are ready, we shall have nothing to fear. Wilf, I shall never fear death, after seeing dear Jack (her brother Alfred John) pass away, it seemed just like falling into a lovely sleep, and really that is all it is.

The letter then goes on at length describing happy memories of bygone days before concluding:

Your affectionate Cousin, Alice x x x

Finally, it is worth noting that Alice was just 20 when she wrote this letter to her 21 year old cousin. Wilf married my grandmother Lilian Wright in 1914 and died from cancer in 1952 aged 69; Alice disappeared from all records after the 1901 census, but is thought to be one of the unidentified persons in my grandparent’s wedding family group photograph.