Vocal variety comes into play for Speech 6 of the competent communicator manual. The objectives are to:-
– Use voice volume, pitch, rate, and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
– Use pauses to enhance your message.
– Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally.
I used this speech to show how one simple letter can start you on a quest resulting in a rich family history. This is the speech entitled “Perseverance Pays Off” which I delivered on 19 November 2012: –
Perseverance Pays Off
What makes us strive to achieve our goals? Is it our genetic disposition or do we learn along the way that persevering will bring us success? Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests, as you may be aware my father and I have a keen interest in genealogy and my family history. But how did this interest start and what is the relevance to my speech title?
Soon after my paternal grandmother died in 1985 my father came across some old letters. His curiosity was piqued and therein began the laborious hours week after week spent trawling through church records. His search soon began to eke out small titbits of information, and the bait to continuing the search was not in vain as it resulted in a list of eight children born to John Beare and Elizabeth Maynard. Births and baptisms were listed but no equivalent deaths so what became of these eight children? They were born in the early 1800’s, an era when Irelands population was heading for an estimated 7 million. Economic depression had come on the heels of two foreign wars. The Napoleonic wars end with final British victory over France, and the War of 1812 with the United States. Soldiers returned to a time of protest, low wages, and high food prices. Two more victories for steam were achieved – an “iron horse” showed the success of rail-locomotives, and the first steam ship crossed the Atlantic in 26 days. Conventional sailing ships still took at least 60 days. All of these factors, the search for work, and the looming famine led to mass emigration from Ireland. So did these eight children emigrate? And if so where? This brings us back to the old letter my father had found. It was written by Jane’s husband, Josiah Roberts, on her behalf and addressed to her brother George.
29th December 1892
My Dear Brother George,
As I have not heard from you for so long a time, I was so uneasy I thought I would write again. Hope that nothing is seriously the matter with you or any of the family.
I have had a very bad cold I am not as well as usual now. My daughter Louisa died in October after having suffered excruciating pain with a very severe attack of Gangrene. This attacked her in the lower limbs and they were affected so badly that by her consent and the doctors the limbs were amputated. There were four doctors present and she seemed to rally after coming out. This was in the afternoon but suddenly about the middle of the night she took a turn and died immediately.
I took this very hard as it was my only daughter living, but such as this is God’s will.
Your sister Jane
As Jane was unable to write, her husband Josiah wrote the letter and added a PS.
P.S. If it is possible a speedy answer to this letter would let us know how you are and I thought it better to write as she is always speaking of you and Sarah (her sister).
Jane and Sarah were my great great grandaunts, and George my great great grandfather. So here we had mention of three of the eight children.
The letter came from PEI, which, after searching the atlas, we discovered was Prince Edward Island, a small island off the east coast of Canada. Dad decided to write to the postmaster of the island to see if he could shed some light on what had happened to Jane. A few weeks passed with no news until one day eureka a letter arrived with the postmark PEI.
It was from the postmistress telling us that not only was there still a living descendant of Jane on the Island named Laura Roberts, but that she herself was also related!
A flurry of letters followed over the next few months, family trees were exchanged and confirmed and then came the stunning announcement; Laura and her sister in law Beatrice were coming to Ireland for a holiday. My parents contacted their travel agent and arrange to collect the two ladies and bring them home for dinner. The big day arrived and all went smoothly. An emotional reunion between my father and Laura ensued and the piecing together of the family history began.
Jane had emigrated to Prince Edward Island, where she met and married Josiah Roberts. Josiah had also emigrated to PEI along with his parents from Plymouth England. Jane and Josiah produced seven children, two girls and five boys. Most of these children in turn married and had children, down to the current generation of Laura and her children. Over 100 relatives descended from Jane and Josiah.
In 1990 a few years after Laura and Beatrice visited my parents decided to visit PEI. A large family gathering was arranged and my father got to meet many of his distant cousins. The tales emerged of different ancestors, some of whom had migrated to the far side of Canada, where we believe their descendants still live. It appeared life was a little quieter on the island with only one liquor store and they produced five generations to our four here in Ireland.
In November 2011 we read with sadness the passing of Laura who had only died a few months earlier in April. However there are still many surviving relatives living on the Island and across Canada and we hope to make contact with them also.
Jane died in 1894, two years after that letter was written, and is buried on Prince Edward Island, in that same area Murray Harbour where she and Josiah had raised their family.
So in conclusion I ask you to consider this. Who would have believed that one old letter over 100 years old could have become the basis for creating so much of our family history? My father and I persist in our quest to find every descendant of that family of eight children. You can take the negative route of saying who cares, dump that old letter and dismiss the past. Or you can take the positive to follow up, dive in and explore the rich rewards that persistence brings. We have now traced five of the eight siblings and what an adventure it is proving to be with living descendants located around the globe. Remember if what you seek is just out of reach one more step will bring it within your grasp.
I hope you enjoyed this speech and my brief delving into family history. I welcome all comments so please feel free to leave a message.
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