Thursday, March 15, 2018

Meet Mildred

How to explain the winding path I followed from my research question to the answers I've found...

This project I've taken on to send the pictures of Thirza Cole and her (presumed) relatives back home to family has turned out to be more complicated than I thought it would be at first. Granted, despite having found her photograph in an antique store in Jackson, California, I already knew it would be unlikely that she was a resident of that area. Besides, one of the pictures I found along with hers, clearly marked "To Thirza," came from Greeley, Colorado. Whoever Thirza was, I figured she had relatives back in the then-tiny town of Greeley.

My first step, once purchasing all these photographs containing Thirza's name, was to research each of the identities indicated on the front of each picture. I tried to locate the name on the Greeley photograph, for instance, in the census records for Greeley. Some of the other photographs, though, didn't even have geographic indicators anywhere on the photograph, so I'd try searching for the name, then seek out a family connection with Thirza.

When those attempts failed me miserably, I tried another approach: just build a family tree for Thirza, herself. This was a challenge for two reasons: for one, thanks to handwriting difficulties, I wasn't sure whether her name was Thirza or Thiega; and secondly, I still had to verify whether Cole was her maiden or married name.

With all those challenges, I just kept poking through documents in several directions, grasping at any possibilities and noting them, just in case.

Now, to try and reconstruct how I found out what I've discovered about Thirzaor at least a likely candidate for her identityI'm not sure I can replicate the search, step by step. Complicating the matterat least for those needing a straightforward explanationis the fact that my mind does not work like the sequential path of a reasoned outline with step one leading to step two and only then moving to step three.

My mind, unfortunately, works more in a scattershot mode. It's similar to the technique known as mind-mapping, a process co-opted by genealogist Ron Arons in his recent book, Mind Maps for Genealogy, but I assure you, I've been following that process for much longer than Ron has been teaching the method.

The challenge is to translate my haphazard mind-mapping discoveries into a logical, blow-by-blow explanation. I'm not sure I can adequately complete that task. So for the next few days, I'll just give you the splat on each of the photographs in Thirza's collection, but just be aware that I've not yet uncovered the nexus. There are still many unanswered questions.

Today, we'll start with Thirza's copy of a baby picture. The photograph, as I mentioned, is from Greeley, Colorado. It was taken by photographer F. E. Bakeralthough checking in Greeley publications for any indication of that studio, all I could find, much later than the time of this photograph, was an ad for F. E. Baker, the realtor and land investor. Perhaps photography as a business just didn't work out for him.

The picture's subject was named Mildred Rigg. At least, that's what the handwriting seems to say. It also looks as if the name were either over-written, or erased and then redone, or that the ink was possibly not working well on the pen. Fortunately, it was relatively easy to locate a Mildred Riggs in the 1900 census and the 1910 census, both of them in the same countyWeld Countyas the town of Greeley.

This Mildred was the daughter of Millard and Josephine Riggs, and happened to be born, according to the 1900 census, in January of 1898. Thanks to some online newspaper editions of the Greeley newspaper, plus some other documents found at, I was able to locate a few more details about this Mildred, but not anything to sufficiently explain her link to our Thirza. Of course, that is provided that Mildred Rigg and Mildred Riggs are one and the same Greeley resident.

Above: Undated photograph of baby Mildred Rigg of Greeley, Colorado; photograph currently in possession of author.


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