In December of 2011, at the invitation of my second cousin Bill Strubbe and his wife Kim, I took my first trip to Cincinnati. I had never met them; Kim and I connected through Ancestry and after just a few short weeks they offered for me to come to stay with them a few days to discuss our shared family history and for me to do some on-site research in and around Cincinnati.
|'Selfie' by Bill Strubbe with Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana 2011|
As I stood looking at them in utter disbelief, the discussion around me was what a shame that no one knew what they were or how to read them. I remember thinking how lucky I was that I'd spent the time to learn French and German as I discovered documents in German, Dutch, French and Portuguese. I was able to assess most of them on the spot; but after a short while we decided that I should scan what I could (I was scheduled to leave in the next morning) and I would transcribe and translate the scanned images. Right before Nancy left for the evening, she turned to me and said that she’d decided I should bring the documents home with me to properly stabilize and archive them and that I could bring them back “the next time you’re in Cincinnati.” Of course, you know I didn’t turn her down!
The document that caused me the most concern was what I believed to be a letter, which clearly was from 1851. Here’s what it looked like the first time I saw it:
After conservation (being removed from the cellophane and humidified to remove the wrinkles), it looks like this and is much more legible:
The letter is signed “Nicholas Ravold” a name I’d never seen before. Recently, with a few hours on my hands for research, and armed with my more open mind about sources, I decided to see what I could find on the Ravold line. Right there, on Ancestry.com, is a tree that has PHOTOGRAPHS of Nicholas Ravold, his wife, Elizabeth Hensgen, and most of their children and children's children. Stunning! Is all the research sourced and accurate? No, it's not. But, it's a fabulous start and with this letter and another one written in 1864, I'm able to connect other research with what I have. I asked permission from the owner of the tree to use the pictures, which was granted without limit (I’m not sure she completely appreciates that scope…lol).
|Nicolas Ravold (b 1799) Elisabeth Hensgen Ravold (b 1803)|
So, once again, I have primary documentation (an original letter) to help support the research I have on this family. All because of collateral lines and “bad genealogy” from Ancestry.com. MMMMMM…nom, nom, nom…