Thursday, August 30, 2018

Getting Ready to Share Some History

It's been a rough few months for my genealogy research and education. There just hasn't been time. Now I am forcing myself to make time, though, because my mother and I will be heading to Canada in a few weeks for a family visit, research trip, and conference (BIFHSGO).

Our first stop will be the family farm in North Hatley, Quebec that we visited for a reunion last summer. Our second stop will be Ottawa, Ontario where will be staying with my Godmother and second cousin. Her father was my grandfather's baby brother, William John White "Pin" Smith.

Always on the lookout for ways to share my love of family history with my family, I created this collage print on Snapfish (no affiliation) from my grandfather's photo albums and will frame four copies for my Godmother and her three children.

Uncle Pin is the youngest youngster in all of the group photos. Also pictured here are my great-grandparents and all of their other six children who lived to adulthood.

I'll also be bringing unframed prints of the "official" Smith family portrait.

I'm a bit on the fence about which version of this portrait to share. I prefer the cropped version, but I know the other would be more helpful for those who aren't family historians and need help identifying all the siblings. I don't like the yellowing on that border and don't have the Photoshop skills to make it white, but Donald has me 90% convinced to include it anyway.

I'll also be taking prints of this photo of another generation of the family, my 2nd great-grandparents, and their adult children.

You know I love my photos but they generally don't help you get to know anyone. In order to share a little bit of who Uncle Pin was, I've also made color copies of this letter that he wrote to my grandmother when her youngest brother was killed in the last weeks of World War II.

I hope that all of my cousins will be as touched by this letter as I always am and that they will be interested in getting to know their grandfather and great-grandfather just a bit.

As I make more preparations and have time to share them, I will let you know.

Here is a transcription of the above letter.

13 Apr 45
Capt. W.J.W. Smith Capt.
2 Cdn. Night Vision Tng. & Testing Unit CAO

Dearest Marj:

     I received official notification from Army Records of Lawrence being killed in action, only yesterday, and I cannot tell you just how sorry I was to read the letter. Please accept my sincere sympathy. Time alone can heal the wound of sorrow you must feel. I trust you will have some consolation in the knowledge that his death like that of so many others, is for the salvation of millions.
     Shortly after receiving this letter, Emmy's nephew Ronald, walked in my office, looking remarkably well, if somewhat weak. This, too, was a bit of a shock to me, as I had just received a letter from Canada saying he had been severely wounded for the second time, and that he was not expected to recover. Apparently penicillin & God had worked a miracle, and although he's now short of some important internal parts, he should live to a reasonable age. He'll be returning home before very long.


Two fine boys. I couldn't help but thinking of the oft quoted, "One shall be taken, and the other...". I guess faith in God, and the knowledge that Christ, too, gave his life that others might live, can do more to calm the troubled heart than anything.


I hear from George most regularly, and he seems to be getting along very well. He asked me to forward a gift he got for you, which I shall do early next week as I will have a suitable box and wrappings by then. Please extend my condolences to your family. A kiss to Janet for her last card, and love, Pin.

1. Smith family including Smith, William John White "Pin". Collection of photos scanned from albums created by George W. Smith of Thetford Mines, Quebec ca. 1910-1917. Collage photo created by the author, photo albums now held privately by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Rockville Centre, NY and digitized in 2018. The album was passed from George W. Smith to his wife Marjorie E. Dean to their daughter to their granddaughter.

2. Smith, George Robert family photo taken on Christmas Day abt. 1914, privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Rockville Centre, NY and digitized in 2018. This copy was part of a manuscript about the Smith family that passed from George W. Smith to his wife Marjorie E. Dean to their daughter to their granddaughter.

3. Smith, Benjamin family photo, privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Rockville Centre, NY and digitized in 2018. The original came to the author from her mother, a great-granddaughter of Benjamin Smith.

4. William John White Smith, Canadian Army Overseas, to Marjorie Elizabeth Dean, letter, 13 April 1945; Smith Family; privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Rockville Centre, New York.