Mystery Monday: Finding Bell Brodie


Every once and awhile, it’s really good to do something different in your research. I find it keeps me from getting burned out on my larger goals and lets me have a little bit of fun. I was on my way home from a frustrating day at the DMV when I decided I was going to find out once and for all who Bell Brodie is.

Bell Brodie Letter 1st and 4th pages
Bell Brodie Letter 1st and 4th pages
Bell Brodie Letter, 2nd and 3rd pages
Bell Brodie Letter, 2nd and 3rd pages

My first step is to gather what I can from the letter. I’ll probably have to come back to this letter and re-analyze it many more times. I hope that I’ll be able to find more nuggets of detail as I learn more. To start though, I want to just have something to get me jump started.

  • Bell Brodie is writing to her “Dear Cousin”.
  • The letter is dated for September 1866 and is addressed from London.
  • Bell mentions that “Your mother and Alick” were staying with Bell. She even addresses the woman staying with her as Aunt several times in the letter.
  • Bell calls the person she is writing to, “Dear Jennie” in the middle of the letter.
  • Bell mentions the fun they had when she sailed up the Hudson in New York. Though she says next that she wished Jennie and Alick had been there at the time.
  • Bell tells Jennie several things to tell Alick, making it seem like Alick is not present even though in the beginning she mentioned he’d been staying with her 10 days.
  • On the 3rd page, Bell mentions Jennie’s mother again and this time mentions “Allie/Attie/Altie” sending his love to Jennie and his father.
  • Bell mentions Sister Hellen is getting married the next week and will live at Port Stanly.

These are the more obvious clues I picked from the letter. I’m going to start with these and go from there. If you’ve picked out anything more obvious that can help identify Bell Brodie, please let me know! I welcome any assistance.

Without even consulting my family tree file, I also know this letter came from the records of my Great Grandmother Llewellyn. This means it’s connected to my paternal Moore/Thorward lines in the New Jersey and New York area.

I’m not in any rush for this project. What I’m really trying to do, is learn how to be smarter about all the information that I have on hand. I feel like I might be missing some vital information that’s hiding between the lines. It’s all part of the process on being a more experienced, and more advanced genealogy researcher.

3 thoughts on “Mystery Monday: Finding Bell Brodie

  1. John Millspaugh says:

    Hi Kathleen, my name is John Millspaugh and my wife is Grace Leonard, whom I think you have communicated with in the past. Grace and I are working together on her ancestry which includes Jennie Menzies, her great grandmother. This is an old blog post so you may have already figured this out but we’re pretty sure this is a letter to Jennie Menzies Love from her first cousin, Isabella (Bell) Ferris Brodie who lived in the city of London in Ontario Canada. We’re working on a video of the ancestors which includes the Menzies family. I can send you a little of what we’ve learned if you like.

    • Kathleen says:

      Hello John!

      Yes I had come to the same conclusion but please send me what you can as well because we all could have different information.

      I have also been meaning to send an email to Grace recently as I’ve been in contact with a Ferris descendant who when I sent her copies of the letters was able to actually line the names, places and events up perfectly with her Ferris ancestor and his children. It was amazing, within a couple of hours she was positive the letters were written to her ancestors.

      I was also able to piece together a possible sibling to Agnes Hamilton Love through obituaries and newspaper articles.

      I will sit down and get all that information together for you guys as soon as I can. I am going to make a to do list for myself so it doesn’t slip my mind again.

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