Genealogy Research 100 Years Ago.

Sue Thomas shared this letter her grandfather, Hargiss Slaven of Oak Hill, West Virginia, received from "cousin" James Slavens of Kansas City. James was doing genealogy the OLD fashioned way-- finding names and writing letters. Does anyone have the family history that John was working on? I have a couple versions of Finas Slaven's history, and have seen one done by Thomas Slavens in (if I remember correctly) the 1940's. It would be interesting to see how their data compares to what we know now.

Here's a scan of the letter's front and of the letter's back. Here's a scan of the envelope-- before the days bar codes, ZIP+4 codes, and the modern conveniences... although it shows that it is was missent. James also sent along his business card, and a lineage card. Wouldn't those be great to pass out when you go visiting your family's old haunts? Thanks to Sue for sharing!

The scans are likely too large for people using phones or tablets, so here's a transcription of the letter:

Mr. H. H. Slaven,
Oak Hill, W. Va.
November 10, 1917

My Dear Sir--

As a memorial to my father the late James W. L. Slavens, I am writing a Genealogy of the Slavens or Slaven families. Descendants of John Slaven born in Tyron (sic) County Ireland, a weaver by trade, who came to America when seventeen years old and settled in that part of Augusta County, Virginia which is now Rockingham County. He married Elizabeth Stuart of Scotch descent. Several years before the Revolutionary War the family removed to that part of Augusta County that is now called Highland County.

The names of their children were: (1) Comfort, born Nov. 4, 1750 she married William Higgins, (2) William, born June 3, 1753, (3) Elizabeth, born Feb. 10, 1755 and married Abraham Ingraham, (4) Naomi, born Jan. 30, 1758 and married John Galford, (5) John, born April 10, 1760, (6) Isaiah, born June 12, 1762 (7) Reuben, born July 10, 1763, (8) Daniel, (9) Stuart, (10) Henry.

The original spelling of the name was SLAVIN, then changed to SLAVEN, one son at least (Isaiah) added the letter "S".

The enclosed card shows my lineage. Will you please fill out the ancestry blank and return it to me at your earliest convenience. The completed work will be free distribution, not to be sold. Trusting the pleasure of hearing from you, I am,

Yours Respectfully,

James M. Slavens (signed)

P.S. You will please pardon the style of letter but for one person to trace descendants of 10 branches requires a great deal of letter writing. I devote a good deal of time to it, and enjoy it very much. I expect to visit Virginia and West Va. next year.

Your name was mentioned by Mr. Wilbur D. Slaven of Lewisburg, W. Va. whoes (sic) family record I have. Last month I added 171 names of relatives of West Va. and Virginia. Descendants live in 27 states.

I have written this date to O.S. Slaven, Scarbo W. Va. which I see is close by to you.

I will truly be pleased to hear from you.


I have the record of Howard Hull Slaven of Meadowdale, Va. There is sure a lot of them. My great grandfather Isaiah son of John of Tyrone Ireland had only 17 children-- 15 lived and married and raised large families.

Many thanks to Sue for sharing this bit of history!

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