Friday, March 9, 2018
Looking for Thirza
Perhaps the name written on the back of some of those old photographs was really Thiega. But sometimes, the writing looked like it was trying to spell Thirza.
Handwriting can make such a difference. In this case, it will make the difference between locating a false lead, or finding the right ancestor's descendants so I can return not one, but several family photographs I've found in a northern California antique store.
Actually, all I had to go by from some of those photos was simply that first name, whatever it turns out to be. Thankfully, I had my mentor and genealogy angel Sheri Fenley on hand during that shopping trip to the antique stores of Gold Rush country; she was certainly ready to guard me from hasty decisions. Otherwise, I might have put some of those pictures back on the store shelf and walked away from them.
The more I research the possibilities, the more I realize that was a close call. Apparently, the "Thirza" affixed to the reverse of each of those pictures seems to be the thread that ties them all together, just as we had hoped. Whoever Thirza was, her cherished stash of family photographs were no longer treasured—a thought that always gives pause to contemplate just what might have happened over the generations in her family's story.
Among the photographs was one, dated 1920, of a young woman, two baby pictures, and a very old and faded portrait of a young man. It was this last specimen that included an inked-in name just above his head—the only full name provided which I could read, out of all those photographs.
Next week, we'll begin piecing together the story of Thirza. Or Thiega. Or whoever she—or they—might have been. In the meantime, I'm quite thankful that that recurring name wasn't something as common as Jane. Or Mary. As we've already discovered, it is possible to return a photograph to long-lost relatives with only a first name supplied, but it does require using at least a few other hints—accurate ones, at that.