Monday, May 21, 2018
The Last Trip Home Is Happening
Some hundred-year-old photographs, when I find them discarded in antique shops, clearly provide all the information needed to send them back home to family.
Some of those others, though, are so precious that I can't bear to leave them languishing in the dusty bin where I found them.
So it was with the circa 1917 photograph labeled with the names of "P. Emile" and Lucien Hallée. On an Azo postcard marked "made in Canada," the handwriting, in French, was obviously the work of a proud parent living far, far from California, the place where I found the photograph.
While I could try my hand at researching the family trees of French-speaking Canadians, resources available to me—despite my international subscription to Ancestry.com and access to the international records at FamilySearch.org—limited my ability to confidently confirm the identity of the children's family. After a while, I began wondering if I would ever be able to return the photograph to family members. I needed help from someone closer to the geographical source of the picture.
That's where Montreal blogger Gail Dever came in. Willing to post an entry about my dilemma on her blog (and Facebook group by the same name), Genealogy à la carte, she also posted an entry in a Facebook group concerned with Quebec genealogy. An answer to the puzzle came back within a few hours of her blog post, describing the right family. One of the blog's subscribers sent the photo and article to a Hallée family, just on the chance that it might be the right family.
But the recipient didn't speak English, and asked a cousin to translate the message. That's what led that person to respond in delight with the explanation of how the two children in the hundred-year-old photograph were related to her: uncles.
From that point, it wasn't long before she and I were communicating via email. And now, thanks to crowdsourcing and some helpful readers, Gail Dever's willingness to help connect a French Canadian family with a picture of their ancestors has resulted in another photograph making its way back home from the foothills of northern California.