If I Only Knew Their Names

For a junior genealogist like myself, who enjoys prying into the previous lives of my ancestors, discovering a new name to add to my family’s growing tree is a feeling like no other.  It gives an identity to those previously unknown.   A researcher is doubly blessed if they are lucky enough to posses actual photographs of their ancestors and can add a face to a name. Such photographs also document the history of early photography and add an extra layer to the family story.  For me peering into the eyes of an ancestor adds an even bigger excitement and vintage photographs are genuine gifts.  Last year I attended a lecture given by photo detective Maureen Taylor.  I find it amazing that if you know what you are looking for a picture surely does speak a thousand words, but for me it is not always easy to hear them! Picking up visual cues in old photo’s is a welcomed challenge for me. I am lucky enough to have some vintage family photographs from my mother’s side of the family, but I am also unlucky to have so many unidentified photographs that remain “nameless”  Many of the photo’s were marked in ink but the author referred to them as “sons and daughters of” only deepening the mystery of these lost family members and friends.  I thought I would share some of these faces with you today, in the hopes that my fellow photograph detective’s might be able to catch some clues.

John Plummer's daughter #1

This is a photograph of my 3rd cousin (daughter of my great grandmother’s brother) I love the flapper style of clothing which would date the photograph to about the 1920’s. If I knew enough about cars, I could probably learn a lot about the photo from the car parked in the background.  I am of course intrigued by the tropical looking trees.  This family was from England, but this photograph may have been taken on a holiday.

John Plummer and Family2

My Great,Great Uncle John Plummer ( pictured above center)  is the father of the My unknown 3rd cousin.  This photograph was simply marked “brother John family and friends.” The mountains in the background offer beauty, but not many clues as to location.

I wish I knew

Finally, this photograph was found with the same book of photo’s.  This appears much younger than the rest and is one of few color photographs in the album. “The Mad Men” clothing style and home interior give this photograph an early 60’s feel.   After that, this photo and all those in it are a complete mystery, and I will be honest, I didn’t notice the dog….until now.

Do you have any mysterious family photographs?  Do you find photographs to be an exciting tool for genealogists?  I would love to hear from you!

The Genealogy Series: Greetings From Niagara Falls

It has been slim pickings lately on the upcycle front.  It seems everyone (myself included) is battling the impact felt from mother nature. Thrift store stock is limited and picked through, and the curb sides are piled with (you guessed it…snow)  Thank goodness I have yard sale season to look forward too as it is only about a month or two away.  To remain occupied, I now look around the house and get ideas on how to improve on things we already have.  One such item is my husband’s side table,  which adorned his childhood home. I have wanted to work on this piece for a very long time. This table has seen better days, and I am in the process of hand sanding it, a messy and sometimes slow process.  Working on it made me think of treasuring and preserving those family heirlooms, even if they are worth no more than sentimental value. For me, the more sentimental, the better.

Recently, I have been scanning and uploading old family photographs, and trying to unlock their mysteries. It has been a while since I have blogged about family history and genealogy but don’t let my inactivity on the subject fool you.  Sure, I take a rest from it from time to time, sleep on it, put it away, but it is always pulled back out, and revisited. I came across this wonderful photograph of my Great Grandfather Harry Long with my Great Grandmother Daisy (Plummer) Long at Niagara Falls NY.

Harry and Daisey at Niagra

Photo taken some time between 1935-1945

Many things do change with time, but natural beauty can last for generations.  Millions of people have passed through New York or Canada to see the wonders of Niagara Falls.  They pose with their loved ones in front of its massive beauty.  It reminds me that although the years become an obstacle keeping us from knowing our beloved ancestors,  the experiences and places that remain allow us to walk in their footsteps.  What is left behind allows those who have passed away to have a “voice”  This I believe brings us closer together.  Different time, but we are not so different.  I think this photograph proves that.  Just an ordinary married couple leaning into the mist as so many others have done before and after them.