Saturday, October 20, 2018
It's no secret that I got my inspiration for rescuing abandoned family photos from one particular blogger. She's known as "Far Side of Fifty," and her blog, Forgotten Old Photos has been making a daily appearance since her first post almost exactly nine years ago. That's a lot of dogged pursuit of descendants of missing ancestors.
I'm sure I'm not the only one "Far Side" inspired. And I know others have since joined in this pursuit from the comments they've shared with me after receiving a rescued picture I sent to them. In addition to this connection with those who've inspired others they meet, it's likely there are even others who have no more idea of what we're doing than we have of the conquests they are making in the same endeavor.
Take this one example from a fellow member of my own local genealogical organization. Someone posted a link on our society's Facebook group explaining what had just happened, or I never would have known about it. It seems this fellow society member had spotted an old wedding photo at a boutique, sometime over a year ago, and immediately wanted to have it.
"It's not for sale," the owner of the shop told her. And that was that.
Except...when this woman got home, the more she thought about it, the more she dwelt on the thought of family members of the bride and groom who would want to have that missing photo. After thinking about it for a long time, she returned to the shop and asked permission to make a copy of the photo. She wanted to do what she could to help find family who would be the rightful owners of the wedding picture.
Projects like these take time. Eventually, the woman told someone at a local heritage organization—someone who might be enlisted as a partner in this project. Together, they spread the word as far and wide as they could. A local television station and the local newspaper agreed to carry the story, complete with interviews of the two women who initiated the search. Earlier this month—not long after the original reports—our local newspaper followed up with the explanation that the now-eighty-two-year-old groom, currently living in Texas, heard from family that his wedding photo was the subject of media reports.
While both Far Side and I search for missing family members via our blogs, others such as my fellow genealogical society member use other media. Some of us are fortunate to make connections with major media; others attempt that same connection through social media or other means. Whether by word of mouth, website, newsletter, local display, or other means, we're all getting the word out there, the best we can.
While it's good that there are more of us with a heart to reunite these photographic family heirlooms with interested descendants, I often wonder if we could amplify the reports of our own efforts by networking to spread the news. And yet, how many people automatically think of examples of such collective efforts as "Dead Fred"? (No, not that Dead Fred; I'm talking about a website where people can search through surname catalogs to see if any of their ancestors' photos were posted, a place where members, for a fee, can upload photographs they've found, as well.)
It would be empowering to come up with a way to amplify each other's attempts at rescuing family photographs. Just think of how many pictures could be reunited with descendants—a task which, at present, seems to be no less daunting than seeking a diamond-studded needle in the proverbial haystack. Those of us who feel called to that mission need a way to network with and support each other, if nothing else. It certainly was encouraging to me to discover that someone else in my own organization had the heart for the very same project.
How many others of us are out there?
Friday, October 19, 2018
Brick walls are sometimes best conquered by reading between the lines on the documents we can find on our ancestors. I'm seeing that borne out again, now that I'm puzzling over the photograph I found of Annie Goodman Tucker and Dollie Goodman, the sister I can't find in any documentation. In the meantime, discovering how Annie and her sisters grew up in Tennessee with half-brothers who were born in Georgia, I'm at a loss as to how to explain her marriage in Illinois.
All I want to do is find out just how Annie Goodman of Nashville, Tennessee, managed to travel to Jersey County, Illinois, to marry Samuel Tucker in 1884. Really. Oh, and also figure out just who her sister Dollie Goodman might have been—the one we found in the picture abandoned in a northern California antique shop.
While my guess that Annie and her widowed mom might have traveled to Illinois in the company of her half-brothers from her mother's first marriage didn't work out—all her half brothers died in Nashville, apparently—I still have one more guess to check out. That one leaves the answer in the hands of the girls' team: Annie's sisters from her mom's second marriage to Henry Goodman. But even there, it was obvious that her sister Emma was listed in Nashville city directories—at least up to 1887.
That left me with the task of looking up records concerning marriages for Annie's known sisters Emma and Alice; remember, I hadn't been able to find any record of a Goodman sister named Dollie, whether actual name or nickname, until I found a first mention of her in the Nashville city directory.
But Emma married a man by the name of John McCann in Nashville, and died there in 1929. It was obvious Emma wouldn't hold the key to any explanation of how her sister Annie ended up marrying a man in Illinois. Yet, as we saw yesterday, Annie's widowed mom, Sarah Goodman, and her other sister, Alice, seemed to have disappeared from Nashville city directories in the mid 1880s. As it turns out, that little hint, reading between the lines in the city directories, provided a clue to scour the records elsewhere.
What we already know is that Annie married Samuel Tucker in 1884 in Jersey County, Illinois. That, in case you are as geographically challenged as I am, turns out to be a distance of about 350 miles from their home in Nashville. Inquiring minds want to know: how did she meet him? How did she make that trip from Nashville to Jerseyville? I was puzzled, knowing the customs of that time period, and the possibility that Annie's father might already have passed away. It seemed unlikely that a young woman of that time period would just strike up a friendship with a bachelor from a town far removed from her hometown.
But what about that other sister, Alice? There was no sign of her continued residence in Nashville, nor any marriage record for her there.
As it turned out, that younger Goodman sister followed in Annie's footsteps, marrying a man in Jersey County, as well. Her intended was John T. Harris, son of Thomas P. and Nancy Tally Harris. They married in Jersey County on March 19, 1886, according to an entry in the Jersey County records. While the record listed Alice's father's name as Andrew—not Henry—we can be reassured we have the right Alice Goodman, for the witnesses to the ceremony were none other than Alice's sister Annie and Annie's husband, Samuel Tucker.
Reading between the lines on that record shows us one more unexpected detail about the Goodman family's connection to Illinois: Alice listed her place of birth not as Tennessee—which would have been expected, given her two older sisters were born there—but as Alton, Illinois, only twenty miles south of Jerseyville. Though Alice gave her age as sixteen at the time of her 1886 marriage, I tend to think she might have only been fifteen years old at the time, based on the fact that her name wasn't included in the Goodman household for the July enumeration of the 1870 census in Nashville.
At any rate, though the Goodmans lived in Nashville in 1870, sometime between that July 2, 1870, enumeration and the time of her birth, Alice and, at least, her mother were living in Illinois.
Why? After all, the Goodmans returned to Nashville after that point—at least until Annie's marriage to Samuel Tucker in 1884 and Alice's marriage to John Harris in 1886.
As it turns out, Annie and Alice weren't the only Goodmans in that part of Illinois. There may have been another Goodman connection.
The two excerpts above from the Jersey County, Illinois, marriage records are for Alice Goodman's entry (above) and her husband John Harris' entry (below). Both images courtesy FamilySearch.org.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
City directories can tell a family's story, but the narrative spills out line by line, year by year. Directories may be a tedious recounting of the family's history with just the facts of name, address, and perhaps place of employment. Lacking any better details, that's at least a start. And since I'm stumped with Annie Goodman and what led her to leave her home in Nashville, Tennessee, to marry a man in Jersey County, Illinois, I may as well use every tool at my disposal. Besides, there's that nagging puzzle about the mysterious Dollie Goodman who showed up in a photograph I found of Annie Goodman: I have yet to find any documentation of just who that Dollie Goodman was.
My guess was that Annie, who married in 1884, would not likely have made such a long trip to arrive at her wedding location in Illinois by herself—at least, if my understanding of the customs of that time are correct. But assuming that her widowed mother escorted her that distance is difficult to prove, mainly because it seems both her mother and her father had disappeared from the scene after the 1880 census. Running on the theory that Annie's half brothers from her mother's first marriage provided escort service turned out to be a poor hypothesis; as we saw yesterday, each of those three half-brothers remained in Nashville.
Not knowing exactly what became of Annie's parents bothered me. I wasn't finding any information through the usual means—not living near Tennessee, I need to glean from what online resources are available to me—so in desperation, I decided it was time to pull out those year-by-year accounts of who lived in town, and grind through each annual tome.
Starting with 1880, the same year in which we found Annie's parents in the U.S. census, her father Henry was listed in the city directory. Thankfully, his occupation was listed in the census as blacksmith, and the directory corroborated that detail, along with a similar rendering of the home address—this time, on "Buena Vista Pike" instead of Buena Vista Street. Still, what are the chances of two blacksmiths with the same name, but on two different streets with almost the same name?
Moving to the 1881 city directory, the Goodman blacksmith was still on Buena Vista, but for some reason, this time his name was rendered as George. Was Annie's father's name actually George Henry Goodman? Or was this an overlooked typo on the part of the directory's editor?
In the 1882 city directory, Annie's dad was back to being listed as Henry, and now his shop was on Main Street, though his house was located at Jefferson. By 1883, blacksmith Henry Goodman was working at South Tenth, and he moved his home around the corner from Jefferson to Park.
Joining him, in the 1883 Nashville directory, were two other Goodmans: Miss Annie Goodman and Miss Emma Goodman, both of whom worked at the Tennessee Manufacturing Company, and both of whom were likely Henry Goodman's daughters.
Unfortunately, after that, there is a gap in the online resource for Nashville city directories. The next directory I could find was for 1886, a gap of three valuable years. Still, there are a few details that caught my eye. Gone was Henry Goodman the blacksmith, but in his place was a Henry Goodman who worked at the National Manufacturing Company, and who boarded at Jefferson—same home location as we found in the 1882 directory.
There was, however, that something else which had caught my eye: there were two other Goodmans now listed in the directory, along with Henry—neither of whom was Annie. Both of them worked at the same place as Henry, and both of them were listed as boarding at the same location as Henry. One was Emma Goodman, Annie's sister whom we had seen listed in the 1883 directory, who was now boarding with the Henry whom I presume would be her brother, rather than her father.
The other one was someone named Dollie Goodman.
The next year's directory tells one more piece of the story. In 1887, along with the Henry Goodman who was working at the National Manufacturing Company, we see an entry for one more Goodman who had been missing from the picture in the previous directories. It was Sarah Goodman, listed there as widow of Henry.
While the gap between 1883 and 1886 in the available Nashville city directories could hold valuable clues for us, even with their absence, it is possible to form another hypothesis about what happened to bring Annie Goodman to Illinois. Perhaps Annie's mother, by then possibly the widowed Sarah, left town with Annie before her 1884 marriage, then returned to Nashville in time to be listed in the 1887 directory.
The good news of all this grunt work is that we've found our first clue—other than her photograph—that Dollie Goodman actually existed. But there is one more thing we also discovered, mainly from its absence. While we found Dollie, and observed entries for her brother Henry and her sisters Annie and Emma, there was no mention of the other sister, Alice. It is by figuring out that absence that we'll be led closer to the answer we're seeking on just how Annie from Tennessee ended up married in Illinois.
Both images above from the Nashville city directory, courtesy of Ancestry.com.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
How many times have I seen a woman, married once, subsequently with children, then widowed, then remarried with more children. Then widowed. Again. And then, in her later years, taken in by the oldest son from the first marriage.
Not being able to find any sign of Sara Jane Baldwin, widow of James Breeden and subsequently wife of Henry Goodman, I thought it might be worthwhile to test that scenario and see if this was an applicable hypothesis in her case. After all, though Sara Jane's first marriage occurred in Georgia, her second family lived in Nashville, Tennessee. If she were subsequently widowed again, it might make sense that she went with her daughter Annie to Illinois, where Annie, herself, was married.
So I took a long look at what became of Sara Jane's three sons by her first marriage to James Breeden. It was easy to determine their names, both from the two boys living in the Breeden household in Georgia for the 1860 census, and for the three Breeden boys who were in Sara Jane's home with her second husband, Henry Goodman, in the 1870 census.
Even in the 1880 census, it was fairly easy to spot the oldest of those Breeden sons, for son George Breeden was living in the household listed just before the Goodman household on Buena Vista Street. There, we found George to be a married man, though it took some reading between the lines to determine his wife was the older daughter of Mike and Lizzy Molter, by the name of Caroline. While the way the enumerator handled that census entry was confusing, it also appeared that George and Caroline Breeden had a daughter, whom they nicknamed Carrie.
Sara Jane's second son Carrol Breeden, in the Goodman home at the age of eleven at the time of the 1870 census, was listed as a driver for the Woodland Street Railroad in the 1885 Nashville city directory. He was even listed in the Nashville directory as late as 1893, so it was clear that he was not the one leaving town on a cross-country adventure for his half-sister Annie's wedding in Alton, Illinois.
Sadly, their youngest brother James would not have been in the Goodman-Tucker wedding party, either. An 1874 death register for Davidson County, Tennessee, revealed that one fifteen year old James "Breedon" from Georgia died on October 30 from tetanus.
Though Annie Goodman's half brothers Carrol and James would not have taken their (likely) widowed mother Sara Jane on an adventurous move to Illinois, could the connecting link have been oldest brother George? Even that could not be the answer, as you may have already noticed. While I searched for any sign of a George Breeden in Illinois by 1900, I was not able to locate any evidence. And small wonder: the very line next to his brother Carrol's entry in the 1885 Nashville city directory tells the story: Caroline Breeden, listed as widow of George, lived on the very street where we had found her in the 1880 census.
If George Breeden was gone before 1885, it is likely that he was not the one to lead his half sister Annie Goodman to Alton, Illinois, the place where she married Samuel Tucker in 1884. But if the Breeden half brothers were not the nexus for the tryst between Annie Goodman and Samuel Tucker, could it have been any of the Goodman sisters?
Furthermore, we can't let these rabbit trail diversions cause us to forget our original incentive for exploring all these possibilities: that mystery sister Dollie Goodman. Who was she, and where did she fit into the picture? At this point, I still haven't found any evidence—other than one photograph—that Dollie Goodman even existed.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
In trying to determine just who Annie Goodman's sister Dollie might have been—the young woman sitting next to Annie in a photograph taken in Ontario, Oregon—I can find no clues from census records. That might be due to the gap we family historians all bemoan, the missing 1890 census—but there still should be another way to figure out this puzzle.
Annie, born in Tennessee in 1863 to Sara Jane Baldwin and her husband, Henry Goodman, showed up in her parents' household in the 1870 and 1880 census, but I can't find her parents at any point after that. And to try and figure out who Annie's younger-looking "sister" Dollie might have been, I suspect we would need to look at records subsequent to that 1880 enumeration.
Annie, by then, was in her own household, as the wife of Samuel James Tucker, whom she married in Illinois in 1884, so there was no sign of any Dollie in records from that date onward. But where was Annie's mother? Or father? And how did Annie, a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, end up marrying a man in Alton, Illinois?
Hoping that I would somehow find Dollie in that mess, I pushed back a generation to Henry Goodman and his wife, the former Sara Jane Baldwin. I'm not sure this detour will ultimately lead me down a path to find Dollie, but I am finding other details, nonetheless.
The first detail that stood out to me was in the 1870 census. There, back in Nashville, were the couple, Henry and Sara Jane. But before we can locate the record for their oldest daughter Annie in that same 1880 household, we see the entry for three young males. Under the surname Breden (or possibly Baeden), we find thirteen year old George, eleven year old Carrol, and nine year old James.
Of course, the 1870 census doesn't provide us any guidance as to how—or even if—those three boys were related to Annie's parents, but one possible guess, considering that time period, might be that Annie's mother was previously married and then widowed.
I checked to see if there were any marriage records in Davidson County, Tennessee, for a Sara Jane Baldwin and any man by the surname Breden, but I didn't find any. Annie's mother, however, gave her birthplace, in that 1870 census, as Georgia. Wondering whether she might have been married in Georgia, I searched there for her maiden name. (I wasn't confident in the spelling of that Breden surname, so I opted to go the route of the bride's name.)
I did locate an 1855 Chatooga County, Georgia, marriage record indexed online with a groom's name listed as James E. Bruden—a possibility, since looking at the actual handwriting allowed me to imagine that it might just as easily have been translated as Breeden, phonetically close to the Breden surname we had already encountered. To double check, since I had already found the names of the two potential sons ten years of age or more from the 1870 census, I searched for a census record in 1860 with that grouping of names.
Thankfully, there was one possibility: an 1860 census record from nearby Walker County, Georgia, which included James, Sarah, three year old George and one year old Carroll. An encouraging addition was the entry in the household of two teenaged "boarders" with the surname Baldwin, the same as Sara Jane's maiden name.
The reason I took the trouble to ferret this out was for my research hypothesis: could it have been possible that Sara Jane, widowed a second time at Henry Goodman's untimely death—which I have yet to verify—followed any of her (potential) sons to move from her home in Tennessee to Illinois, and possibly from there even further to Oregon? My next goal is to find Sara Jane by seeking whatever became of those three boys from the Goodman household in the 1870 census.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Along with several other photographs I found in an antique store in northern California was one labeled "Annie Goodman Tucker + Sister Dollie Goodman." I already had figured out that this picture, plus many others also found at that same shop, were once in the possession of the Brockman family of Sonora. The wife of this Brockman couple was related to a family with the Tucker surname; Annie Goodman had married Samuel Tucker and they and their family lived, at one time, in Oregon, site of the photography studio where this photograph was taken.
We've already met Annie Goodman Tucker, although it was at the other end of her adult life, just months before her passing in 1925. Comparing her picture at that date with this earlier version, we can guess that, of the two women in today's photograph (shown at the end of this post), Annie was likely the woman seated on the left.
I say "guess" for two reasons: one being a sense that these two faces featured don't exactly look like they represent the same person; the other reason being the discovery of another of this family's photographs mislabeled with the wrong identities. See for yourself whether it is likely that the younger of the two faces could have, years later, morphed into the second version.
There is yet another reason I am doubting myself for identifying photographs. While I've been able to find Annie in her family's records over the years, and while those records include the names of her siblings, there wasn't one single sister who was named Dollie.
Now, I realize that people often used nicknames to refer to family members, but there is a limit on how such terms of endearment are used. For one thing, the name Dolly was indeed often used as a nickname—but it was more likely to be used as a nickname for someone named Dorothy, not Emma or Alice, the names of Annie's two sisters. I tried searching—so far, without any success—for any information on either of these two sisters to see whether I could locate any hint that either Emma or Alice was so doll-like as to merit such a nickname despite such an unsimilar given name.
I'm still hunting for any clue as to the identity of Dollie Goodman. In the process, I may have run across another branch of Annie's family, which might provide some answers...maybe.
Photograph, top: Side by side comparison of a younger possible Annie Goodman Tucker and her older self from a 1925 photograph. Below: source of that younger version from its original, undated setting, taken in Ontario, Oregon, and labeled, "Annie Goodman Tucker + Sister Dollie Goodman." Side by side comparison courtesy Chris Stevens. Photo currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Some books should be read slowly. They command the attention required of valuable content, but demand the balance necessary to apply the brakes on readers so enthused with the subject matter that they race through the chapters. That's how it's been this month for me, reading Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering.
Granted, I read a good portion of the book while flying halfway across the continent. I'm still reading. Thankfully, I realized the need to slow down and absorb the material. Parker's subtitle—How we Meet and Why it Matters—embodies my call to action for the upcoming months and year, and I need to pay attention to the book's content for the sake of my own meetings.
This year has been my first year serving as president of our local genealogical society. While the year has gone well, I haven't lost sight of just how we could be, if we were a forward-thinking, innovative group. I want to push my gatherings in that direction toward further organizational development.
And so, I read slowly. Even now, after a month of reading the Parker book, I'm only on page 169 of 294—yes, I include the endnotes; I read those. I go back and reread portions of the book, absorbing every last whiff of the essence of the possibilities Parker has instilled in her pages.
I'm not reading those pages merely for application to generic meetings; I have a certain set of gatherings in mind. It wouldn't be hard to guess, having read the posts on this blog, that my focus is on the gatherings of our local genealogical organization—and that guess, if it were yours, would be entirely accurate. I want to re-imagine genealogical societies, especially the local ones, to see what next level we can step up to. I'm enthused to consider those possibilities—more to the point, to see them become a productive reality.
With that mindset, I was so heartened to see, the other day, a post by Canadian blogger Gail Dever in her blog, Genealogy à la carte. In that post, she asserts, "Genealogical society members and directors should watch these videos" of presentations given at the North Texas Genealogical Society Summit. Her main reason for that assertion: in her experience, boards of directors of local genealogical societies are struggling more with survival issues than they are with the type of growth issues enjoyed by organizations which pro-actively engage in strategic planning.
Gail's post pointed to three tools as an antidote for such ailing organizations:
- The YouTube video of the North Texas event with speaker David Rencher of FamilySearch, addressing "Future Vision for Genealogical Societies."
- The booklet put together by David Rencher and Ed Donakey, Society Management—Now and Into the Future.
- Handouts and videos from the rest of those pertinent proceedings of the North Texas Summit.
The need for genealogical societies to re-envision themselves in a new century with a new call to action is real. Those societies which are satisfied to hold the line with their status quo will find themselves moving backwards at length. If our wish is, as Gail put it, to thrive, we need to explore the possibilities of where we could be, say, in five years—and then articulate that in a solid, workable plan.
Society meetings are not for the mere purpose of "doing it" because that's the way we've always done it. With an entire world open to us of possibilities that can transpire in well-planned gatherings, as Priya Parker puts it in The Art of Gathering, we need to take our responsibility seriously of exploring the science and art of constructing events that not only meet the needs of our members (and the greater community context in which they gather) but exceed them in a compelling—even delighting—manner.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
After kicking off 2018 with my now-traditional jaunt to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, three different genealogical conferences have filled my year so far. One was a must-attend event on my annual list: the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree at the end of May. This year, I added two new entries to my year of learning. Taking my role as president of our local genealogical society seriously, I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference this past August in hopes of picking up organizational development pointers. And because I need to challenge myself a little more, I added a trip to Kansas City last weekend to become a first-time attendee at the Association of Professional Genealogists' Professional Management Conference.
Each learning opportunity spoke to a different side of my genealogical pursuits. And each event spoke with a different voice. I find I need that variety to assure my learning opportunities cover all the bases in my need to know.
After several years of attending traditional-format conferences, I've become weary of the business-as-usual learning style at traditional conferences. The talking head presenting in front of rows of passive observers is an efficient model for only those people who have exactly the same learning needs. Once a learner has already picked up the basics on a given introductory topic—say, how to use the U.S. Census records—the urge to return for more fades. That is the prime reason I shifted my learning venues to the institute model: a whole week devoted to delving deeply into one specific topic.
The call of the promising conference format still beckons, though. There is something so serious about week-long learning that stops networking and social interaction dead in its tracks, and I find there is still a place for the shorter intervals of conference learning rhythms. So I ventured back this year, under cover of those supposed excuses: "I'm representing my society" or "I'm open to professional growth." What I really wanted was another chance to connect with people in ways that lead to productive partnerships. Maybe we're just too serious at institute learning venues to really reach out and touch those other learners' ships passing in the night.
That led me to the FGS conference, where, dismayed to see I had already either heard several of the speakers or their topics presented before, I spent almost the whole time networking with fellow attendees in the hallways, in the exhibit hall, or in the back of the room after class sessions finished. What I came home with far exceeded what I could have accomplished if I had just forced myself to sit through more of the same classes; with the exception of the first, society-focused day, FGS was like almost any other genealogy conference.
Stretching me in the other direction, my experience last weekend in Kansas City introduced me to a peer-to-peer model of presentation, with chances to learn from others not only through official class sessions, but through discussions during the breaks and, in one case, well into the evening. The topics presented were a lively mix of business perspectives, genealogical standards, and innovative applications. Speakers were far more accessible for after-session discussions, proving invaluable.
Since I teach, I am constantly on the lookout for innovative approaches to working with the adult learner. That became not only the topic covered during the sessions I chose to attend in this most recent conference, but the theme of discussions sparked by those learning events. It's hard to balance the responsibility to convey information to those who've come to our classes with the desire to find new ways to transmit that message. Audiences hardly wish to pay for failed experiments, yet yearn for a way of learning that goes beyond the disappointments they experience after enduring those time-worn training sessions—those classes which fail to bring them back for more, or even to lead them to apply what they've heard.
I'm still on the search for instructional techniques to apply to my classes—and would be overjoyed to see such ideas employed during those traditional genealogical conferences (which now only seem to bring back attendees as long as they are beginners). Kudos to the conference planners at APG for daring to experiment with different presentation formats—like the scheduled discussion groups and "poster sessions"—and for the speakers who dared to break ranks and infuse some class participation into what otherwise would have been straight lecture time, hour after hour.
If we hope to reach generations accustomed to a more participatory style, we need to be brave enough to break the lecture-only mold and dare to enter the learning worlds of connective, collaborative effort.
For 2019, anyone?
Friday, October 12, 2018
As we explore the collection of abandoned family photographs found in an antique store in northern California, it becomes clearer that each of those white-labeled hundred-year-old pictures are connected to the others. We've moved from the picture of the Erastus Manford Purkey family to their son Burt and his siblings, and a more recent photo of his two sisters, and then a younger brother. Burt's wife, Maude, became the bridge to identify the portrait of an older couple, which turned out to be Maude's parents, Samuel J. Tucker and Annie J. Goodman.
Reaching back further in time, we now find a photograph of a much younger Annie Goodman and one of her sisters. Though we learned from the death certificate of Annie's daughter Maude that Annie was likely born in Nashville, Tennessee, the photograph was taken at the Kidd Studio in Ontario, Oregon.
The picture of two women, sitting side by side, is labeled, "Annie Goodman Tucker + Sister Dollie Goodman." What great fortune to have found such a trove of family photographs, all labeled with thorough identification.
We are able to corroborate who is in Annie Goodman's childhood home, starting with her own marriage record from Jersey County, Illinois. The 1884 record, which confirmed Annie's birth in Tennessee, showed her parents' names as Henry Goodman and Sarah Baldwin.
Since that same marriage record indicated Annie's age to be twenty one, it would be a simple matter to pull up the census record and find her in her parents' home, either in 1870 or 1880. Doing so, however, presents us with a slight problem: though the photograph I found in that California antique shop indicated that Annie had a sister named Dollie, there is no such sister to be found, either in the 1870 census or that of 1880.
Granted, Annie did have two sisters, one named Emma and one named Alice. Neither name seems to lend itself well to a nickname of Dollie, though, leaving me puzzled as to whether this family's photo collection is prone to labeling mistakes.
And so, I'm off to explore yet another family to see whether there is a Dollie hidden anywhere within the branches of the Henry and Sarah Goodman family tree.
Three images regarding Annie Goodman Tucker, from top to bottom: First, the photography studio's imprint from the picture labeled "Annie Goodman Tucker + Sister Dollie Goodman" (photograph in possession of author); second, section from the entry in the marriage records of Jersey County, Illinois, showing Annie Goodman's information, courtesy of FamilySearch.org; finally, clipping from the 1880 U.S. census for the Davidson County, Tennessee, household of Henry and Sarah Goodman, also courtesy FamilySearch.org.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Since the hundred year old photographs I am examining are of people whom I don't even know, I need to look for every clue I can find to help identify time, place, and subjects. As we've already seen demonstrated so many times, just because I find a picture in northern California doesn't mean that was home base for the subject's family—the photos could have come from Ireland. Or Quebec.
In the case of "Grandpa and Grandma Tucker, my mother's folks," I once again relied on the assistance of a greatly amplified computer scan. I can find more detail camouflaged in a picture that has been scanned at a high resolution than I can with my own eyes, even using a trusty magnifying glass.
Take the picture we examined yesterday. The likeness of someone's Grandpa and Grandma Tucker—whom we now can assume were Samuel James and Anna Goodman Tucker of Oregon—was presented in a beautifully embossed sturdy paper frame with no other notes than the line I quoted above, and an additional note, written on a now familiar-looking white label affixed to the reverse of the frame. That note only added the information that the picture was likely taken "circa 1925."
Since there wasn't that much information provided—our only clues were that I found the photo in an antique store in Sonora, California, and that it seemed to be part of a collection of pictures bearing that same white-labeled provenance—I hoped to find some other confirmation that we are on the right track in identifying the right Tucker family. After all, Tucker is a fairly common surname; it would be easy to misidentify our subjects' photograph.
That's when I took a closer look at the photo, itself. Using the scan—not the original photo—I enlarged it as much as I could, then scrolled down to the bottom of the frame to see if anything else could be found. After all, the embossed treatment on the paper had so many swoops and swirls, it would be easy to hide a detail of significance.
There was, on the bottom of the frame, right in the center, curious insignia that I thought might reveal some useful details to us. As I took a closer look, I could make out a fancy letter "S" at the far edge of the swirling decoration, but the frame had such a busy background design, my eyes began tricking me into thinking I was seeing words where maybe there weren't any.
Taking a second—and then a third, then a fourth—look at the enlarged image, I did make out something else that, in contrast to those circular designs, looked like block letters. Not all the letters could be discerned easily, but if I strung together the letters I could read, I began to see more. It looked like K L - M A T - - F - L L.
Some of the letters seemed more soundly imprinted than others. I kept thinking, "What ends in F - LL?" It was then that I realized there was a second line of information, a word ending in, possibly, C O N—or was it G O N?
"Something-Falls?" OREGON? Klamath Falls? The guess made sense to me—better than my hopeless eyes could determine. After all, our Samuel and Annie Tucker did live in Malheur County in Oregon.
Not being familiar with Oregon geography, my next step was to check out distances on Google Maps. Unfortunately, Malheur County and Klamath Falls were not exactly cheek and jowl. An eight hour drive apart, in fact.
There was one redeeming piece of information, though—something that connected Anna Jane Tucker to Klamath County, Oregon. It was her death record, dated November 27, 1925—same as the estimated year of her photograph with her husband. Not long after, Anna Jane Goodman Tucker was buried in the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery, in that same Klamath Falls, Oregon. It was another twenty five years before her husband joined her.
As it turned out, the Tucker family had likely relocated from Malheur County to Klamath County before the 1920 census. By the time of that record, farmer Sam Tucker already owned his land, free and clear, and was working that land with his two youngest sons, Carl and Ralph. Somehow, after the couple had their portrait taken—at whatever studio in town used that swoopy-swirly letter "S" as part of their logo—among the copies they distributed to friends and family, one made its way to their granddaughter, the wife of the Brockman family relative who, eventually, moved to Sonora, California.
As far as that photograph traveled to make it to its hiding place in the antique store up in the northern foothills of California, hopefully, it will soon make a return trip to be reunited with an interested Tucker family member.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
When we viewed the photograph of Earl Purkey yesterday, I mentioned that he was married, briefly, to a woman whose maiden name was Eva Tucker. That is not the only Tucker we'll see in the Purkey family constellation, however. Eva's sister Maude Alice also happened to marry a Purkey brother—Earl's older brother Burt.
It was likely through Eva's sister's line that the photographs I found in Sonora, California, eventually ended up in my hands. You see, Maude Alice Purkey's daughter was the one who married the Brockman brother whose mis-identified photograph of Adolph and Vernie Brockman got this whole chase started in the first place.
Let's take a closer look at the parents of Maude and Eva Tucker, since—as I'm sure you've already guessed—I also have become the proud owner of another abandoned family photograph, that of "Grandpa and Grandma Tucker."
While this photograph did not provide any further information about this couple's names, it did mention one more bit of evidence: the explanation, "my mother's folks." If we assume the "voice" of the person labeling all these family photographs was a daughter of Burt and Maude Tucker Purkey, it's a simple matter to determine just who Maude's parents were.
We have ample opportunity to find Maude and her sister Eva in the household of their parents. Born in 1888, Maude was a nearly a teenager when we find her in the 1900 census record for the household of Samuel and Anna Tucker. Maude, Eva, and their five brothers were living in Malheur County, Oregon, at that time.
One record to assure us of Maude's parents' names, though, is hardly sufficient. What if, for instance, there were two Maudes and Evas with the surname Tucker. After all, the surname Tucker has multiple national origins, is widely distributed throughout the United States—and the world, for that matter. Back at the time Maude's dad was courting her mother in Alton, Illinois, Samuel was one of over 1,800 people bearing that Tucker surname throughout the state. By the time the family had moved to Oregon, things could only have multiplied.
An additional reassurance, however, was finding the death certificate for Maude Tucker Purkey, herself. According to that 1944 record, Maude's father was listed as Samuel J. Tucker of Alton, Illinois. Her mother's name was given as Annie J. Goodman of Nashville, Tennessee.
If we have the records right on this "Grandpa and Grandma Tucker, my mother's folks," then when we look at the photograph below, we are catching a glimpse of Samuel J. and Annie Goodman Tucker in their later years.
Above: Photograph of Samuel J. and Annie Goodman Tucker, found in an antique store in Sonora, California; currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of the Tucker family.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Among the pictures in the stack of abandoned family photographs I found in a Sonora, California, antique shop was one labeled, simply, Earl Purkey. Since we had already found some other photos with that surname—Purkey—the easy conclusion would be that Earl was part of that same family. Indeed, we had already seen another photo of the Purkey children, and "Leslie Earl" was one of the names on that photo's label.
Erastus Manford and Rebecca Olive Lewis Purkey. Leslie Earl provided us with the clue that, when his parents left Wisconsin to head out west, they didn't just move to Pocatello, Idaho. They apparently went first to Snohomish, Washington—at least, according to their son's World War I draft registration card, which told us that that was where he was born.
That registration card also let us know that Leslie Earl Purkey arrived in Washington on June 22, 1889—though his family soon moved to Idaho, where his sister Myrtle was born by 1892.
By the time of that same draft registration card, Leslie Earl Purkey was twenty seven years of age and still single—but not for long. An index on Ancestry.com hints at his Oregon marriage in 1920 to someone whom I later discovered, backtracking through records, was named Eva Rawlin—at least, that was what she was known as, subsequent to her previous marriage to Australian immigrant Robert Francis Rawlin. Before that previous 1905 marriage, she was known as Eva Tucker—a surname we'll need to remember for future reference.
Though Leslie Earl Purkey's marriage didn't last long—Eva apparently remarried—one son was born to this union. Whether that son is still alive—and, if alive, would be interested in receiving this photograph—I don't have any way of knowing. But once again, I'm putting it out there: here's one abandoned family photograph from almost one hundred years ago, with hopes that someone in the Purkey family would love to have it just as much as I'd like to find photos of my own ancestors.
Above: Undated photograph labeled "Earl Purkey" from a studio in Pocatello, Idaho; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of the subject.
Monday, October 8, 2018
Antique shops aren't the first stop I make when thinking about delving into family history, but apparently for some, that is one location where those coveted old photographs may be found. It's just that we have no way of knowing which shops will have our family's treasures. Those photographs might be found anywhere.
Just as we send out graduation photos nowadays, or slip a recent family portrait into our Christmas cards to friends, our ancestral relatives must have done the same. Compound that with the tendency for families to pass down those "old" photographs from generation to generation, and today's descendants often end up with pictures which cause them to scratch their heads and wonder, "Who were these people?"
Thus, out they go to the estate liquidator. Or the local thrift shop. Or...
Apparently, the entire collection of old photos from the estate of the Brockman family of Sonora, California, ended up in an antique shop in town. That's where I found them—only I didn't yet know I had stumbled upon a collection which had likely once been housed in one place. But with several of the pictures being labeled with what now has become a familiar sequence of surnames, I am certain of that assessment.
Take the photo we'll be looking at this week. The now familiar label on the back of the photo, in the same style of handwriting, gives us the identity of the young man pictured on the reverse: Earl Purkey.
Of course, the haunting reminder that hits me, when I realize such logistics, is that somewhere, somehow, some friend of my second great grandfather William Henry McClellan in Florida might have received what to me would be his coveted photo. But who has it now? Likely some great grandchild of that unknown friend, who is staring at that McClellan photo and wondering, "Who on earth is that?!" And some antique store in Virginia, or Oklahoma, or Colorado becomes the likely recipient of the long-forgotten likeness, not me.
There's got to be some sort of system to reverse that predicament, a way to help those forgotten photos to find their way back home again. True, it seems like the hunt to find the needle in a haystack of abandoned stuff. But we've found ways to crowdsource our answers to impossible problems before. There's got to be a way...
Sunday, October 7, 2018
While you are reading this—at least, if it is on this Sunday—I am likely counting the minutes until I land at my home airport after spending half the week in Kansas City at the Association of Professional Genealogists' conference. Thus, if you are an astute observer of the human condition, you will realize that my biweekly count of genealogical research progress had to, by necessity, be cut short for this time period.
Still, I am pursuing that goal of filling in as many blanks in my mother's family tree as possible, before that January SLIG class on researching southern roots. And, these past two weeks, albeit compressed, weren't too shabby. I was able to add 263 documented names to that family tree, leaving the total now at 15,149.
Of course, stuff happens, and it's the kind of stuff which requires record keeping updates in some of the other trees, too. News of a likely DNA match made me realize I had gotten some new hints on my Ancestry tree for my father's line, thus inching up his tree total by two to 516. And a death in my mother-in-law's extended family brought me an obituary with some details (eleven name additions, in fact) which needed to be added to her tree; it's now at 15,714. Somehow, only my father-in-law's family saw no action; his tree remains stuck at 1,514—though even there, I might see progress, if recent email exchanges with another DNA match of Irish descent can lead us to a jointly-held ancestor.
Sometimes, I wish I could be the researcher I wish to be for each of these family lines. The reality of the matter is that sometimes, we are able to zoom ahead in one line—stumbling across a long-sought but elusive document revealing all, perhaps—while stagnating in another research realm. When a specific research plan zeroes in on one branch of the family—inadvertently requiring all others to languish for the moment—we have to realize that is the price we pay, in progress, on those other trees. Genealogy research sometimes feels like a zero sum game, but it is only because we have a finite amount of time available to us. Thus, the choices and the measurement of progress.
That, however, is a half-empty philosophy, when a half-full philosophy would much better suit me. I prefer to think of the researcher's time dilemma as one tool to help us hone our goal-setting radar, and counting as one means to allow us to visualize just how much progress we are making. If we are really awash in possible ancestors—theoretically (though not necessarily true, back through all the ages), with the number doubling every generation, as we go backwards in time—measuring our progress at least gives us a sense of how much territory we cover with each incremental time span. For a finite mind like mine, I need to see that measurement of progress.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Each month, I try to spend some time—just a few minutes out of one day—to give back to the genealogy community from what I've gained. One of the ways I do that is by volunteering to help get digitized historical records online at FamilySearch.org. That's the reason behind my once-monthly "Now Indexing" posts: it's a type of accountability that keeps me doing my small part on a regular basis. Small tasks done regularly can add up, over the long haul, to make a difference.
Of course, this week, I returned to the record set that holds my interest right now: the naturalization records for the New York City area. The projects I pick, admittedly, do have a selfish tinge in all this volunteering altruism—and I actually came close to working on a surname in my own family this week—but the fact is, the more we all work together to get those digitized records online and searchable, the more people this resource can benefit.
This month, I also added a twist to the project. Instead of just indexing as plain ol' me, picking out whatever project I wanted to work on, I set up a group to do indexing. I got the idea back in August while attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne. One of the key speakers from FamilySearch helped us explore ideas on how to accelerate the rate at which records can be brought online. Of course, a key bottleneck is transforming those digitized pictures of records into searchable documents. That is where the service called indexing comes in. Indexing is FamilySearch's planned format for making that conversion from picture to word possible.
Our local society has been wanting to help bring records of local interest online at FamilySearch. We've already tackled other indexing projects there—but that was years ago. Things have changed immensely since then, including the option to now index directly online. We want to revisit that process and see what we can do, collectively, to make things happen—at least for the record sets for our own geographic area.
With the advent of the online indexing format, I noticed that it is possible to set up a group for indexing projects. Thus, rather than just volunteering on my own, I can set up a team to take on a project. Teamwork comes with all its pluses: encouraging each other, training each other, challenging each other to do more—and perhaps even setting up competitions among team members to achieve even more in a fun, collegiate manner.
So this week, I took the first step and set up an indexing group for the members of our local genealogical society. We'll follow that up by selecting specific indexing projects to tackle, and get to work. As the admin for the group, I can see how we are progressing and which of our members are participating. As I learn more about the ins and outs of coordinating an indexing group on FamilySearch, I'm sure I'll realize other ways to help our group help others in the genealogy community.
While I asked someone at the FGS conference about the specifics of setting up such an indexing group for our own society, I'm sure that option is open to anyone else. All you need to do, once you have signed up for a free account at FamilySearch (which is required now, even for general research on the site), is to click on the "Indexing" tab across the top of the page, select "Overview" from the drop-down menu, and, on the new page, click "Web Indexing" on the second line of the header.
Once you are to that point, if you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you will find a section on the left labeled "Groups." To the right of that word is a button labeled "Find Groups." Clicking on that button drops down a short menu with two choices: "Find Groups" or "Create Groups."
If you find that a group you are interested in has already set up an identity on FamilySearch, it is possible that you can request to join it and become part of that group's efforts to help bring more digitized records online through indexing.
However, if you are part of a local genealogical society—especially if part of your organization's mission is to preserve records of local interest—I hope you will consider setting up a group on FamilySearch so that your own members can participate as part of your society. It's easy to set up a group—and if you are already a part of your society's leadership, you are in a position to take the lead in training and encouraging your members to make a difference through a simple volunteer project that they can do at home, in their leisure.
Of course, if you don't have a local society to work with, and if you can't find any other group to join, you can still just volunteer to index as an individual person. But if you want some company and if teamwork helps you be more productive—even in volunteer efforts—then feel free to join our brand new group. Just search for "San Joaquin Genealogical Society," click the request to join (it's free) and join us as we work on ways to give back to the genealogical community for all that others have done for us.
Above: Our "baby" web indexing group, just formed this week, is all set to start working on indexing projects as a group. Once we launch the project for our members, we'll see that membership number move up from the lone member (me) already registered. Next comes a training session for our members, then selection of an indexing project to tackle, and we'll be off and running, doing our part.
Friday, October 5, 2018
Learning that several of the hundred-year-old photographs I've rescued from a northern California antique shop actually are of people related to each other makes me remember to slow down and take my time in identifying these subjects. After all, just as we saw with the picture I described yesterday, it may turn out that I have more than one photograph of the same person.
In this case, it turns out I have another picture of the daughters from the children's photo we saw last week. The two girls from that picture were labeled as Mabel Theresa and Myrtle Ivy Purkey. I'd estimate the younger of the two sisters, Myrtle, born in 1892, was about three or four years of age at the time of that portrait. Since their baby brother (not in the photograph), Verna Louis, didn't arrive until 1897, perhaps fixing the date of the photograph as 1895 or 1896 would make more sense.
With the photograph I began telling you about yesterday, we get to see the girls when they were a little older. By this time, younger sister Myrt looked like a teenager, perhaps ten years or more after the previous portrait was taken.
While the previous photograph—the younger version of the siblings—had no identification of the photography studio, the newer picture did. It was taken at The Black Studio in Pocatello, Idaho, the same town where the Purkey family showed up in the 1900 census—in fact, where the family likely lived, ever since Myrtle's birth there in 1892.
If the Purkey sisters' picture was taken when Myrt was about sixteen, that would mean a date of around 1908. However, her older sister Mabel got married early in 1907—to Thomas C. Pratt in Bannock County, Idaho—and I suspect this portrait might have been something taken before that date, perhaps as a memento of a time when they were both still sisters at home. It's hard to tell, though, because in the picture, both of the sisters have their hands behind their backs, depriving us of a glimpse of any telltale ring. Perhaps they were actually older than my guess, and Mabel was already married.
Still, as this is not my own family—and thus I am not privileged to the family legends passed down through the generations in the Purkey, Pratt, or Brockman families—we won't know for sure until we find a descendant who might be interested in receiving these photos back home again...and filling in the blanks on this family's stories.
Above: Undated photograph of sisters Myrtle and Mabel Purkey, taken at The Black Studio in Pocatello, Idaho; picture currently in the possession of the author until claimed by a direct descendant of either of the two Purkey sisters.
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Oftentimes, when I find an abandoned family photograph in an antique store, it is a one-off event. While I can research the subject of the portrait, based on the clues I find marked on the picture or its frame, up until this most recent rescue mission, I hadn't found any photos that connected with others.
And then I found Rachel Webb, and returned her photo to a direct descendant—before discovering that another family member's photo was in the same batch I had purchased from the same antique store in Sonora, California.
Keeping this in mind, I am proceeding very carefully, as I move through the rest of the photos. After all, so many of the bunch I found in Sonora all came with the same sort of label on the reverse, all apparently written in the same hand. You know there are going to be other connections coming to the surface in this bunch.
When I ran across the photo of two young women, labeled only with what looked like, "Gramp's sisters - Myrt + Malie," I figured a productive first search would be to revisit the family tree of the Brockman in-law whose other photos I had already identified. That meant looking at the line of the Purkey family descendants from Indiana, Wisconsin, Idaho—and then, eventually, California.
My hypothesis was that "Gramps" was a grandfather of the Brockman descendant whose recent passing in Sonora precipitated the loss of those family photos. Keeping in mind my concept of determining the "voice" of the written records I find, the only "Gramps" I could find who had sisters anything close to those names was actually that Brockman descendant's mother's father, so that would indicate we are talking about someone in the Purkey family—the same line as the lively children we discussed the other day.
Taking a look at the Purkey family tree, it turns out that the two daughters in the family of Erastus Manford and Rebecca Olive Lewis Purkey were very likely the ones nicknamed Myrt and "Malie"—although it turns out I misread that second name, which was probably Mabe. According to the 1900 census, the Purkeys had a daughter named Mabel, whose birth was listed as November of 1883. And the only other daughter—the rest of the Purkeys' six children in the 1900 census were sons—was listed as seven year old Myrtle.
Thus, with a little assistance from a document dating back to 1900—and considering the provenance of the many other photographs I obtained that apparently belong to the same family collection—we can conclude that the photograph of two young ladies found in Sonora, California, were likely that of the two Purkey daughters from Pocatello, Idaho, Myrtle and Mabel.
Above: the only identification provided on the photograph of two young women, found in an antique store in Sonora, California; the type of label and the handwriting similarities point to the likelihood of the same source as the other pictures I had found at that same location.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Sometimes, in rescuing abandoned family photographs from antique stores, I'm led on a chase through the generations of the family tree of total strangers. I try to piece together the picture—especially in this case, where I've stumbled upon the collection of an entire family—but not knowing these folks like my own relatives, I've got to slowly examine every detail.
Take the name of Rebecca O's father. In the census record, his name was listed as Amasa Lewis. In Rebecca's own death certificate, his name was given as Mason. And on the only memorial to be found for his final resting place, the entry is likely his nickname: Amasy.
Since I have such a weakness for following rabbit trails, it was the cemetery memorial that caught my attention enough to want to share the details here. Amasa Lewis apparently remained in Marshall County, Indiana, where, while seeking records of his daughter, we had found him in the 1870 census.
Not long after that—possibly by 1875—Rebecca Olive's father had died, and was buried in a place known alternately as the Argos Town Cemetery and the Argos Memorial Park, among other names.
If you check the memorial entry for Amasa Lewis today on Find A Grave, you will see there is only one monument containing the names of the many people buried there. Apparently, there are no individual headstones remaining to mark the graves—at least at this time.
The Find A Grave entry for the cemetery itself provided an explanation, thanks to a volunteer who was resourceful enough to post it on the website. Apparently, a letter was sent by the town council in 1945 to all interested parties. The message explained that, since no one had been buried there in the past forty five years, and since none of the near relatives of those buried in the cemetery were even alive at that point, the council wanted to do something about the neglected appearance of the land.
The town council had received requests to turn the abandoned burial grounds into a memorial park. According to the council's August 1, 1945, letter, the cemetery by then was seen as no more than "an unsightly weed patch, filled with tangled vines, briars and broken marker stones." Based on instructions from a 1925 Indiana state statute, the council made a record of the information on all the stones which were still legible, filed that record with the Argos Public Library and the Marshall County Historical Society, then removed all the debris and weeds from the plot of land, transforming it into "a place of memorial beauty."
At a later date, the monument which includes the names of all who were buried there was erected on the site of the old cemetery, which now had been converted into a memorial park. It is there on that monument that we find the name of Rebecca Olive Lewis Purkey's father, though once again caught in the struggle of just how to spell the surname. This time, "Louis" won out, and her father is now memorialized as Amasy Louis—not even on his own headstone, but on a monument recalling the transformation of a cemetery into a memorial park.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Finding the surname Lewis on a photograph for a woman from Marshall County, Indiana, makes me recall another woman whose photograph I have recently rescued from a northern California antique shop. Granted, Lewis is a fairly common surname—albeit frustrating to research, given the propensity of record keepers to inadvertently swap spellings from Lewis to Louis. But coupling the name with the location made me wonder whether there was any connection between the "Rebecca O." Lewis Purkey of the photograph I'm currently working on and the Lewis family of a previous project.
The curiosity was great enough to convince me to take a walk back through the decades since finding Rebecca Olive Lewis' marriage record from 1882. Even in that document, if you take a look at the original entry, the woman's maiden name was rendered two different ways—at the top of the entry as Louis, then below, on the return after the marriage ceremony was completed, as Lewis.
Since we already knew from the 1900 census that Olive, as a married woman, reported her birth to have occurred in Indiana in September of 1862, let's start by finding her entry in the 1870 census. Fortunately, at that time, the Lewis family was residing in Marshall County, and we see that Olive—listed there with the same moniker as we saw in her later family photo, "Rebecca O."—was the second oldest of the five children of Amasa J. and July A. Lewis. An encouraging sign was that her mother declared her own birthplace to be Ohio, just as we had seen in Olive's entry concerning her in the 1900 census.
Following the records for this Amasa Lewis of Marshall County, Indiana, moving back another decade—of course predating the arrival of Rebecca Olive—we find a possibility for his entry in 1860 under the name M. J. Lewis. The wife's name there in that Marshall County record shows as Julia—probably the more accurate spelling rendition of her true name—and their one child, who was listed only as "baby."
What is interesting about that entry is the one appearing directly above it. Likely for one of Amasa's relatives—we'll check further on this—the listing was for a Joseph and Susannah Lewis. Included in that Lewis household was a family by the name of Webb: Francis and Rachel Webb and their two young daughters.
Seeing that connection, I wondered just how Amasa Lewis and Rachel Webb might have been related, so I pushed back another generation. This time—we're back to the 1850 census by now—the Lewis family of the elder Joseph and Susannah was in Cass County, two counties to the south of Marshall County. There, in their household was Rachel, predating her marriage to Francis Webb, along with four other children with the Lewis surname. The youngest of those five children in Joseph and Susannah's household was named Amasa.
Of course, when we are dealing with any census record before the 1880 census, we have no guarantee that the children showing in a man's household were actually his own. But we do, at least, have a record showing some sort of connection between Amasa Lewis—whom we later learned was father of Rebecca Olive Lewis Purkey—and the woman known as Rachel Lewis Webb.
Things get complicated when we reverse our time-traveling engines and fast forward to Rebecca Olive Purkey's last days. Despite having her death certificate completed with information provided by a granddaughter, the document makes permanent the listing of her father's name as Mason Lewis.
No matter which way the name was actually rendered—and we'll explore more about Rebecca Olive's parents soon—going back, decade by decade, through the documents reveals that there was some sort of relationship between Olive Purkey and Rachel Webb. That explains, for people as curious as I am, why the same collection of abandoned family photographs included both of these women. Despite the appearances of the different married names, these two Lewis descendants were likely aunt and niece—with the niece turning out, herself, to be grandmother of the woman whose collection unwittingly ended up in my possession.
Above: Remember Rachel Lewis Webb, the woman with the penetrating gaze whose photograph from Chicago not only contained her name but location of her home? It is she who likely was related to the Rebecca Olive Lewis who married Erastus Manford Purkey in Marshall County, Indiana.