Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Another Hundred Year Old Photo
It was back on February 13 when I sent a Facebook message to the only descendant I could find in the family of Alta Barnes. Since I had found not one, but five, photographs of Alta's family, I really wanted to send those abandoned hundred year old pictures home. But you know how Facebook messenger can be—especially for those of us who are trying to reach out to people who are not "friends"—it is never certain that the message actually gets delivered.
I remember a while back when Facebook expected people to pony up one dollar for the privilege of contacting not-friends. At other times, I had heard that the message just doesn't get sent—leaving those who gathered up enough guts to contact a stranger to twist in the wind of self-doubt.
I didn't really know where I stood, in the current not-friend contacting policy at Facebook. Judging from the lack of any answer, I figured the current protocol was to leave the messenger guessing.
Late last Thursday evening, though, my Facebook message-in-a-bottle got answered. I wasn't even looking for it, so was just about to shut down everything for the night. Thankfully, I spotted it and sent back a hasty note.
With relief, I can now let you know that one of the biggest family photo collections I had found since starting this abandoned photograph project is now headed home. Although the photos will not be going to Alta's grandchildren—at least not yet—they will be mailed to a family member. For that, I'm excited. Hopefully, this relative is in touch with Alta's grandchildren and will be able to share from the collection.
It's been interesting, as I do this project, to see how some people are so enthused to receive such an old family picture, while others are next to impossible to even contact. I guess that goes to show us that genealogy is not the uppermost consideration in some people's minds, as inconceivable as we may find that thought. And while some people just adore old photographs, others look at them as just so much clutter to be discarded. In my mind, I've started imagining a Groundhog Day scene where the descendants boxes up old family photographs, send them off to some secondhand store to get rid of them at a profit, and turn around only to find the photos being returned to them, time after time, in a never-ending time loop of the same scene.
At least, my experiences haven't brought me to any descendant at that extreme. Yet.
For now, the photos of Alta Barnes and her siblings will at last be on their way back home to Oklahoma. The biggest group to have stumped me is finally going to be reunited with family.
Above: The photograph of big sister Alta Barnes and her baby brother Jimmie and younger sister Helen are finally headed home, along with the rest of the photographs of the Barnes family.