Family history has been a passion for genealogists in our family for nearly two centuries. My Gr-grandmother Margaret Stearns Olmsted's people were particularly interested in their origins and began making inquiries about their early roots back in the 1830s. She, along with the brother Ned Olmsted and sister Kate Olmsted Price, were early members of the Olmsted Family Association, which was active for many decades and then after a lapse in the 1950s and 1960s was revived - with strong support from its Canadian branch - in the 1970s as the Olmste(a)d Family Association. I became a member last year, and because it communicates largely by newsletter rather than by website, I have not been able to share all the information I have pertaining to the original OFA with my newly discovered distant relatives. I shall not attempt to do so here, either, as it would be of little interest to most of the readers of this blog to know whatever happened to certain collateral branches of my family tree. However, some of the Olmsted items in my archive are worthy of a wider viewing, and I shall reproduce a few of them here.
The oldest document in my files associated with the Olmsted family is a deed from 1788 for the sale of property in Ridgefield, Connecticut that was witnessed by Ebenezer Olmsted (1748-1801), my Gr-gr-gr-gr-great grandfather. He was a Lieutenant in the Revolution, and actually fought with the 5th Connecticut defending his hometown at the Battle of Ridgefield. He married Esther Ingersoll, a truly remarkable woman who deserves her own post and one of these days I shall write it for her. Esther outlived him by nearly 1/2 a century, as discussed in the comments here. Her children were scattered to the four winds -none of the 12 who lived to adulthood remained in Ridgefield. My direct ancestor was the eldest son in this family, Moss Olmsted, a merchant mariner and captain who moved to Philadelphia and according to our family papers witnessed the epic naval duel of the USS Wasp and the British brig Frolic during the War of 1812. His 1807 marriage certificate survives in our family papers.
In the late 1830s, two of the children of Moss Olmsted and Sarah Gilmore started trying to find out more about their family history. There are pages of correspondence between brothers Anthony Isaacs Olmsted and Henry Morse Olmsted and other Olmsted family researchers, most notably with Henry King Olmsted whose Olmsted Family Genealogy (1912) is still the main source for those tracing their Olmsted roots. Both of these men passed their extensive archival collections to their great-nephew, Edward "Ned" Olmsted, and these in turn went to his sister Margaret Olmsted Ogden and next her daughter, my Great Aunt Margie, and now to me.
The Olmsted Family Association was formed in 1910 and held regular reunions, usually biennially except when WWI intervened. Gr-great Uncle Ned was the most active member in our family, serving the OFA in various capacities including as its Vice President and President. Copies of the reunion proceedings from 1914, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936 were retained by him and exist in our files, while the 4th reunion badge from 1916, at left, belonged to my gr-grandmother Margaret Olmsted Ogden.
What astonishes me as a genealogist who enjoys unprecedented access to resources through the electronic media is the remarkable correspondences and archival detective work that my ancestors undertook to determine their family origins. They have left their descendants a tangible and fascinating legacy of primary source material and we are all the richer for it.