Monday, December 3, 2018
A Week for Homecomings
This past weekend, three antique photographs successfully made their way home. With the exception of the photo album I sent home to Ireland over a year ago August, and the set I found of the family of Alta Barnes, I can't say I've ever sent home more than one picture to one place. The Knapp family collection, though, has been different.
For one thing, I found several photos for sale in the same place—an antique store in Sonora, California. We're still not sure just who the person might have been who left this collection behind—I say "we" because I and some avid Knapp family researchers have been sharing notes as we muse over this puzzle—but whoever it was, it was someone who had what might turn out to be the family's only copy of any pictures of William Malphus Knapp. Perhaps that person was a family member; perhaps just a good family friend.
Then, the Knapp family was a sizeable family with several lines which moved out west by the turn of the century—yes, I mean that century, the one which can now claim to have generated hundred-year-old photographs.
One of those lines—among many, from the looks of the trees posted at Ancestry.com—was that of William Malphus Knapp's son, William Milton Knapp. Yes, the one who, as Knapp descendants agreed in email conversations over this photograph, was likely pausing to have his picture taken before his 1922 marriage to Agnes L. Houser in Oklahoma.
Milton and Agnes had four children, one of whom was the father of the husband of one of those researchers I found on Ancestry—a researcher, I might add, who actually responds to messages sent to her. It wasn't long until I had packaged up not only Milton Knapp's photo, but that of his father, William Malphus Knapp, and the portrait of the Knapp family taken a while before Milton's birth in 1903.
The three photos safely made their way to Colorado, arriving there just this past Saturday. I can't tell you how much it causes me to hold my breath when I release these irreplaceable treasures. No amount of insurance would bring back a lost photograph like that. I'm always glad to receive that email that says, "Got it!"
And when the Knapp family photos made their way home, they came with a secondary gift: the chance to share them with family members and enjoy the inevitable comments on how those people look so much like close Knapp family relatives now. Visiting family members over the weekend had already connected the dots between both of the Williams and men from the current generation.
But the best part of sharing the photos was when the researcher, herself, remarked, "I still find it interesting that of all the family members we contacted over the years, no one had a photo of William Malphus Knapp." When no family member could come up with a copy of his picture for this diligent researcher, it surfaced from elsewhere. Whether from a distant family member with whom this researcher had no contact, or from some long-forgotten family friend who had moved to California, the photograph had surfaced—actually, two with Malphus, himself—in the most roundabout of ways.
But that's not all. Following soon after this contact came another Knapp family member's message to me about yet another photograph. Hopefully, we'll soon get confirmation that that picture has arrived safely home, as well.
Above: Closeup of William Milton Knapp, possibly taken on the occasion of his wedding in Oklahoma in 1922; original snapshot now in possession of a Knapp family descendant.