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Finding Fannie Starr

This is a sneak peek of edition 23 of Traces!

A set of 19th-century letters passed down through her husband’s family set Kate Hobbs on a quest to uncover the identity of Fannie Starr and her ‘Dear Uncle’.

When I began researching my husband’s family history, I was given photocopies of four very old letters, written by someone named ‘Fannie’ and addressed to ‘Dear Uncle’. Having no idea who Fannie was, or how she fit into the family history, I put the letters aside. I recently came across the letters again, and suddenly I was hooked! I needed to know: Who was Fannie? Who was the Uncle? And how did we end up with a copy of these letters?

The letters were written between 25 January 1869 and 28 November 1870. The first letter had no address, but indicated that Fannie was in the United States. Subsequent letters provided an address in West Troy, on the Hudson River, north of New York.

From the first letter, I knew that Fannie married Robert Humphrey, a widower who had several children, noting that now being married, the ‘Starr’ was no longer attached to her name. That was the first clue, as I knew that my husband’s third-great-grandmother was Margaret Starr, and assumed Fannie must be from the same family. Margaret, the daughter of Thomas Starr and Susannah Douglass, emigrated to Australia on the ship Irene in 1852 and married James McCrossin in Armidale, New South Wales, in 1854. Her brother, James Starr, was already resident in New England. He married Sarah Ann Moore in Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1839 and emigrated to New South Wales prior to 1847.

To find out what happened next, read the latest edition of Traces.

Image courtesy of iStock

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