Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Uncle Rollin's Letter: My Webster Family: Coming Full Circle - From The U.S.A. to Brazil and Back Again - Part 3

This is part of a series of posts dedicated to the immigration story of Debs Webster and his family.

Rollin Waterman Webster-1952
Rollin Waterman Webster

This sweet gentleman is Rollin Waterman Webster.  The photo was taken in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois.  He would be about 81 or 82 years old at this time.

Rollin wrote to my Grandfather Debs Warren Webster after Mr. Harper C. Pendry's help in reuniting them.  Here's Rollin's letter:

Rollin Letter to Debs pg 1
Rollin Letter to Debs pg 2
Rollin Letter to Debs pg 3
Rollin Letter to Debs pg 4

Rollin's Letter:

Dear Nephue Debbs, I received your nice letter and I am very glad that you got my address we have been here since 1947.  We bought this 6 room house, a large attic and basement, and a 1 car garage.  I keep my bicycle out there, I shop a lot on my cycle, I have no car but my Son Francis J. next door has a car, he is a 6 ft 2 in tall and a Cook Co, sheriff he use to be a Fireman on the R. Road for 7 years, he is also a very good piano player.  I started him taken lessons when he was about six years old he playes around quite a bit, my oldest daughter is married and has two children a girl 15 and a boy 6.  Her name is Marge Gill, I lost a boy in 1912 Raymond Daniel 7 years.

Now Genevieve Anthony my youngest daughter about born in 1910, 41 years she has two children Carol 16 and Billie 10 years, they live with us, we payed $10,500.00 in 1947 for our house.  I am retired from the Railroad I worked 31 years as Stationary fireman and Engineer on car repairer. I started in Denver, Col, in 1890 then worked for the I.C. R.R. 10 years and the Santa Fe 21 years.  Now I get a Pension $118.00 per month.  I also get social security old age Pension.  I am feeling very good lots of people think I am in the 60ies.  I play my violin banjo guitar and piano most evry day my violin cost $105.00 in 1901 banjo 25.00 guitar 15 and piano $500.00 small 44 inches latest style.  My son Frank has a good piano, his mother died in 1915. I married her sister Ellen in 1916.  She has a brother and sister left her brother is in Ireland.  Ellen is about 6 years old never had any children.
Debbs the picture of yourself and wife is a very nice.  I hope you will come here and locate.  I think you would like Chicago Illinois.  We have over 3,000 population now.  I think you could get plenty of practice.  I have two sets of false teeth they cost me $195.00 in 1936 their very good yet.  Our brother Frank Webster died in 1932 he was 5 years older than me, sister Lura died in 1942 she was 9 years older than me, your father Watson Emery Fred Webster was 7 years older than me.  My sister Lura Dell Burket died around 1898 she was 46 when she died.  I am the only Webster left in our family.  We are all well and hope to see you folks soon.  I suppose you would have to become American citizens in order to stay here.  The last time I seen your father, two sisters and yourself was when came here from S. Americ to Chicago then I seen you again in Loueasanna soon after you left Chicago.

Debbs your oldest sister that you left in old Mexico that married a Mexican who got to be a dentist, do you hear from her or is she dead  I forget her name your youngest sister died, but I forget their names, if you no your sister address, I wish you would tell me.  I also forget the town that you left when you went back to So America, in Louisana.

So good luck and goodby our best wishes and write soon

My thoughts on Rollin’s sweet letter to my grandfather -

This letter is chock-full of genealogical gold as well as interesting tidbits of information.  I highlighted in bold the pertinent genealogical gold nuggets.  Rollin talks about his siblings, his children, who he married, where he worked and when, and even information about Debs and his family visiting him in Chicago, etc.  Priceless!  Thanks Uncle Rollin!
Another interesting bit of information is the population of Chicago at the time this letter was written.  Rollin put the population at 3,000 people.  I don’t have the exact date of this letter, but I think it’s safe to say it’s sometime between January 1952 and July 1952, because the latter date is when my grandfather and his family immigrated to the United States from Brazil.
Also, I find it cute that Rollin listed the prices he paid for things in his letter:
  • $10,500 – house in 1947
  • $105 – violin in 1901
  • $25 – banjo
  • $15 – guitar
  • $500 – piano
  • $195 – two sets of false teeth in 1936
Uncle Rollin’s letter is truly a treasure in our family!  Do you have any old letters tucked away somewhere that could hold genealogical gold?
The next installment of my Webster family’s journey back to the United States will find them on the ship The S.S. Brazil headed to New York City. 
I'm also looking forward to sharing with you some early 50’s postcards that I recently found in my grandfather Debs Webster’s scrapbook.  Some in this collection look like they were purchased on their road trip from New York City to their final destination in Southern California.

Thanks for reading!

Copyright © Jana Last 2012


  1. How did Uncle Rollin know these are exactly the kinds of information family historians love to find? I couldn't tell you what I paid for something yesterday.

    1. I know right? He was a man ahead of his time!




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