Tommy Adkins, Bob Mills, and the wonders of genealogy

Genealogy chart in Tommy Adkins’ letter to Bob Mills

On October 17, 1979, ten months after the estate of Tom Packard had been closed, Tommy L. Adkins (of 4825 Roscommon Drive in Lansing, Michigan) wrote Bob Mills, asking for help in gathering the history of his family, using a  genealogy pedigree chart. Following this form letter, he notes that “after your  grandmother [Mable Hattie Packard?] past the family just sort of lost track of your grandmothers side of the family,” asking for any assistance, noting he has “records, documents and such on the packard side going back as far as 1636 to Samuel Packard.” He further claimed he had “verified many times over this info every step of the way” and also has the “names of a good many of the brothers & sisters, aunts and uncles etc.” That may be a bit optimistic, because looking back at the claims now, a number of them are clearly faulty.

On October 21st, Bob wrote Tommy Adkins a letter of response, saying that he was  thrilled because “Mabel [sic, should be Mable] Hattie Packard and the Landstroms were household words in my father and grandfather’s  houses.” He further noted that while  he  never met Mable, that his family, and himself, “made several trips to Shelburne Falls and Heath, and exchanged visits with Charlie Packard, John Packard, and Margaret Packard during my youth.” He also added that Tommy’s interest in family history was interesting, since he added information “from a  family chart I made up in 1970 which hangs on our wall at home.”

This is the family chart Bob created

He then hilariously, before accounting  the children of Cyrus Winfield Packard with Dora Mills and Clementina Cheney, calls him “the  prolific old goat that started much of the recent family history with three  wives producing 12  children.” After that, he notes that his grandfather, RBM I (“Uncle Rob”)  “managed hotels in Cincinnati and elsewhere,” dying in 1950, with his wife Hattie E. Mills dying in 1949, also in Cincinnati, with his grandparents  and parents buried in a family plot in Spring Grove Cemetery.

He goes on in his letter by noting that Uncle Rob and Hattie “adopted my father and changed his name to Mills when he was very young,” and that they had a “child of their own, Stanley Sterling Mills, born in 1901 who died in 1934 in some bizarre manner.” He then outlines his own two children, those of his sister Helen, and those  of his sister  Carol. He ends by saying that he is “fascinated with your chart going back to Samuel Packard in 1636,”  adding that he believes “migrated from Hingham, England,” asking  “since my records are very sketchy, could you send me a copy of your history? I would appreciate it very much.” That is how family histories were conducted then and are done much differently now, without a doubt.

The letter ends by him noting his role as a professor of psychology and criminal justice  at the University of Cincinnati, “where I direct our graduate program in criminal justice,” noting that he would be glad to give more details if Tommy would like.

Following this is the response from Tommy, which reveals much about him and his life. The letter, mostly in blue pen ink on hole-punched paper, is undated, but I would say it would have to be written in either late October 1979 or early November 1979. Of course, Tommy was, as he notes in his letter,  delighted to hear fro Bob, adding that they are “cousins through my wife Janet Elizabeth (Hall) Adkins,  who by the way sends her regards  and best wishes.” He  then gladly remarked that it was a  pleasure to be “finally contacted [by] someone in the family who wants to  know the families[‘] history.” He then buffs out the Packards  by declaring it “one of the oldest families in this country,” saying members served in King Philips’ War in 1675-6,  adding that “I feel we all need  to know where we come from so that we can better understand who we are,” which is often a motto for genealogists!

He prefaces his list of family information  by  saying that Bob should bar with him including with his handwriting because “the only time I actually have to keep up with my correspondence is late in  the  evening.” He then lists the generations, which can be visualized as follows, showing 10 generations: RBM  III-RBM II-Cyrus W.-William H.-Barnabas III-Barnabas II-Barnabas I-John-Zaccheus-Samuel. He adds to this that “there were  three Barnabas’s in a row each of the last  two [were] the son of the former.” After that, he was apparently tired, as he  says “that’s about all the energy left in me” as he switches to pencil for some reason (maybe because its easier than writing in pen? He notes that  Harold Packard died one year after Tom Packard which was “a great shame,” and that he has “a great amount of history  on  other members of the family not in our direct  line” which he would send if he had  time.

He closes his letter by talking about himself and his wife Janet  or “Jan.” He notes he is an auditor for HEW, saying that he and Jan moved to Lansing, Michigan from Massachusetts in June of that year Additionally they have three children, he notes, who are as  follows: Thomas A. Adkins (born Feb 17, 1967 in the Panama Canal Zone), Heathe  Jo  Adkins (born June 29, 1970 at Walter Reed), and Sarah Christen Adkins (born September 11, 1971 in Shirley, Massachusetts). The letter ends by  saying he became interested in genealogy three years before (in 1976) and has, since then, “some remarkable  success, [and] also  some setbacks,” while also asking for the birthdays and places of birth of Bob’s children, as it likely seemed like a fair trad to him, perhaps.

What happened to Tommy Adkins?  I don’t know, as I could only find, with  a quick search a person of the same name in Georgia, but not one in Michigan. Searches for the others have been, at this time, unsuccessful, even when looking at who lives at that current address at the present time.

That’s all. Until next time!

Sources used  for this post

Genealogy-letter pedigree form letter and short letter on back from Tommy Adkins to Bob Mills, October 17, 1979

Typescript letter of Bob Mills to Tommy Adkins, October 21, 1979, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Handwritten letter of Tommy Adkins  to Bob Mills, likely late October 1979 or early November 1979, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

One thought on “Tommy Adkins, Bob Mills, and the wonders of genealogy

  1. Pingback: The first in a line of Packards: the story of Elizabeth | Packed with Packards!

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