I'm a loyal listener of Lisa Louise Cooke's genealogy podcast, Genealogy Gems. In one of her past episodes, she interviewed certified master graphologist Paula Sassi. I was intrigued by how much information Paula was able to glean about Lisa's grandfather by looking at some of his letters written during the great Depression. So I just had to take the plunge and see what Paula might show me about an ancestor that I have some writing samples from.
His name is Jesse Clark Osgood. He was born in March 1837. His mother died when he was a baby, and his father remarried several times. From what I've learned, he was very close to his mother's family, and they took care of him as he grew. The 1860 census lists him living with his uncle and his occupation as a farm laborer.
He was a soldier for the 26th Massachusetts infantry during the civil war. One of my aunts located four of his letters written to family members that are held in a special collection at the Louisiana State University library. If you've read this blog from the beginning, you'll know this is one of the things that lured me into the exciting world of genealogy.
I sent Paula the letters and here is what she says they reveal:
"The following report is based upon the handwriting of your great-great grandfather, Jesse Osgood.
His writing shows that he was schooled in the typical copybook writing of the time and the form level indicates that he was a traditional person who adhered to the standards of his generation. He functioned at an above average level of intelligence and was logical and future directed in his thought process. He was motivated by both business and social interaction and had very good manual dexterity. His energy and drive improved with time. [Note: this is from the 4 Civil War letters analzyed.]
It is interesting to note how he developed during his time as a Union soldier. In his letter dated June 22, 1863, he speaks of not feeling well and his writing reflects this in the smaller size and tension evident in the script. However, as he gained in experience and improved in his health, he actually developed into quite a vital man. His letter from Morganza, dated June 18, 1864, shows that he had good energy and probably enjoyed staying busy. He could be a very reliable and hard working individual who took his responsibilities seriously. His writing shows both dominance and care and I believe these are the two words that best describe him. He was working as a nurse and could be firm, yet understanding in the way that he administered to the seven men assigned to him.
His writing also shows some stubbornness and a tendency to be opinionated, but this could also be the natural formations of the writing of this period. He was an extrovert by nature and could gain in energy by interacting with people. His letter hints at this because, even though he could not be with his family, he mentions everyone each time he corresponded. He also provides evidence of the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” He talks of the fruit quite often and his writing shows that he maintained his energy and zest for life even during wartime. Other words that describe him are friendly, outgoing, energetic, assertive, caring, proud and honest.
Overall, he was quite traditional and both proud and humble with the ability to move forward in his life and take things as they came. He probably was pretty easy to get along with, but could take a stance if he felt he was right. He also was able to take people under wing and most likely grew into an admirable patriarch of your family."From what I know about him, Jesse continued in the health care field by becoming a dentist after the War. He was the first dentist in Florence, Kansas, when he moved there in 1872 with his wife and son, Clark. (My great-grandfather). He later took up a 'tree claim' southeast of Florence and West of Cedar Creek. Later he bought a farm southeast of Florence, most of his time was spent at his profession of dentistry. He would often load his equipment in his buggy and go to his patients, often times getting paid in farm produce. He died in May 1918 of chronic Bright's disease.