Friday, April 12, 2013

The Photographer’s Family

As melancholy a piece of news the obituary posted yesterday must have been to the family of William C. Woodworth, removed nearly one hundred years from the event as we are, it presents a temptation for genealogy researchers to, well, follow that bunny trail!

Don’t expect me to go in any logical order, though. Pursuing bright shiny objects, squirrels and bunny trails is an activity which defies logic.

The “bright shiny” in yesterday’s post, for me, was the comment by regular reader “Iggy” (blogger Intense Guy) that William Woodworth's sister, Mrs. F. C. Hoskins, was most likely the wife of a photographer in Michigan.

Back to Michigan. I haven’t researched there since the last time I veered off on a rabbit trail, in search of the Flannigan link that turned out not to be family, after all.

On the other hand, with the advent of so many “orphan photograph” sites, my hope was that I could search through all of them and see if any of Fernando Cortez Hoskins’ handiwork might have been presented there.

I went first to the blog that, in my mind, represents the flagship of Orphan Photograph Rescue Missions: Forgotten Old Photos. Doing a Google™ search there for Hoskins, though, yielded nothing.

I thought perhaps visiting some blogs which organize their categories by name of photographer, I might have better results. However, a visit to Who Were They and Cabinet Card Gallery provided no further leads for this F. C. Hoskins.

I checked out some of my other favorite photography sites, using their internal search options where offered, without any further results. Julie Cahill Tarr’s Who Will Tell Their Story? and Teresa Wilson Rogers’ Forgotten Faces and Long Ago Places didn’t show any results for Hoskins. Neither did Family Photo Reunion. Or Find Family Photos. I even resorted to searching through Geneabloggers to see if anyone else had written about Fernando Hoskins. Nada.

Looking through census records and other documents online, though, Iggy came across further information, so I took his cue and turned the search back to all the usual places to see what I could find, myself. (And hopefully, anyone else researching this Woodworth line who stumbles upon this post can follow the same trail, too.)

Of course, my first hesitation in looking at the documents that can be found online is in assuming that the Lillie Woodworth of the 1870 and 1880 federal census for Wisconsin is the same person as the Lillian Hoskins of later records. There seems to be a missing link. At least, as far as I can see on, there is no marriage record.

However, there are correlating records that can be found. For instance, the Lillie Woodworth of the 1880 census—daughter, as we already know, of L. D. and Eliza Woodworth—shows a father who was born in Vermont and a mother who was born in New York. Lillie, herself, was born in Wisconsin. Strangely enough, so was Lillian.

Fast forward to married life. Lillian, the wife of Fernando Hoskins—sometimes transcribed as Haskins—also happens to have a father born in Vermont and a mother from New York. So far, so good.

The Lillian Hoskins we are tracing—by the time of the 1900 census, living in Detroit, Michigan—shows as mother of six children, all of whom were still living by the time of the 1910 census: Gertrude, Earl, Katie, Franklin, Laura and Eliza.

Further indications that Lillian Hoskins and Lillie Woodworth are one and the same include a California death certificate—yes, evidently more of the Woodworth family had headed west to the Los Angeles region—for Eliza Frances Flickinger. Born in Michigan at roughly the time as that estimated in the 1910 census, the document at this Eliza’s passing in 1990 included her mother’s maiden name: Woodworth.

One other birth record of interest was that filed originally in Cheboygan County, Michigan, in 1883. The original entries, crossed out and overwritten by an amendment dated May 17, 1948, showed the birth information for a child originally named Gertie Eliza Hoskins. The corrected version renamed the child Gertrude, but retained the original birth date of November 5, 1882.

Also corrected were this daughter’s parents’ names. While the record unfortunately does not include the mother’s maiden name, it once again strongly points to the possibility that this mother—Lillian May Hoskins—was one and the same with Lillie Woodworth. The correction also provides the father’s full name—that is where I found the middle name Cortez—and shows place of birth for each parent. Fernando, interestingly, was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Lillian—as is no surprise at this point—was born in the same place as Lillie's brother William C. Woodworth: Bristol, Wisconsin.

While those few items do not produce the definitive proof that Lillie and Lillian are one and the same, they certainly do give me a tentative starting place. Not to mention, if I can confirm that these two women are one and the same, this discovery opens up a whole new branch of the family tree, loaded with tons of cousins—and family trees online, already bearing their records which, notably, lack the information I now can provide on William and Lillie/Lillian’s parents and grandparents.

Perhaps we can connect. I hear collaboration is the new buzz word in genealogy these days….


  1. Jacqi,

    As always it is interesting to read what you write. Yes, when it comes to genealogy, we all have something that can help somebody else. I've been trying to make more of my family history available on the internet and make those connections.

    Regards, Grant

    1. Grant, the Internet has been the best gift, when it comes to making our own research available. Looking forward to the next installation on your own blog!

  2. Goodness. I certainly didn't mean to lead you off on a goose chase! I noticed that the link to Lillie/Lilian was going to be umm.. difficult... and had to stop. I didn't have much luck finding any actual photos F. C. took either...

    Maybe I'll find one today during lunch break... :)

    1. Iggy, no problem. Absolutely. I thrive on chasing geese :)

  3. I have been working off and on on a similar project. It's one of those things I find myself getting up in the night to chase. I will be watching to see what you figure out! :^)

    1. So you can relate, Michelle! It does keep us searching. And when I'm stumped, I'm grateful for the "crowdsourcing" efforts of readers. It's amazing what we can all find, collectively.

  4. This story of Lillie and Lillian shows you persistently and expertly tracking down a genealogical mystery. As you say, in some circles this might not be considered "definitive proof," OK, but it certainly is a set of incredible coincidences that point to an identification. I admire your determination, never to give up! And you have really good instincts and hunches.

    1. Thanks, Mariann. As Michelle mentioned, sometimes its the chase that keeps us going. And the need to know more can sometimes be tantalizing.

  5. I don't recognize that photographers name..but I will keep one eye never can tell. I wonder if I should add a search bar to The Forgottens..I will think on it!
    I have a new mystery too..actually more info on an old mystery..have to decide when to present it..this April or next April..when it is 70 years old.
    I am sure you will find many more cousins! :)

    1. Far Side, I think adding a search bar to your site would be so helpful. There are surely lots of people who come to your site, looking for examples of photographers' work.

      What's interesting on this site here, even though I don't generally post photographs from studios in operation during the 1800s, is that I get lots of people searching for specific photographers--it shows up on my site statistics in search terms...interestingly, many of those searching are from Germany, not local readers. Perhaps some of these 1800s photographers are more widely known than we assumed.

  6. Hello,
    I'm a descendent of Fernando Cortez Hoskins and Lillian Woodworth Hoskins (they would be my great great grand parents). I was born in Pontiac, MIchigan where his photography studio once was. I still live near the area and most of the living descendents do also.

    Contact me at


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