Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Got Something From a Go-To Place

When researching our ancestors, what do most people do but pursue their family history via the many online resources now available to us. So, to find out what I could about Rachel Webb, the woman in the abandoned photograph from the antique shop in northern California, of course I checked what documents I could find, thanks to and

There is, however, one other go-to spot I keep on my must-see genealogy list: Find A Grave.

Fortunately, I found a memorial for Rachel Webb almost immediately. While it was great to find her listing, that also presented another twist. Rachel's memorial at Find A Grave includes a photoa photograph different from the one I rescued in Sonora.

The catch was: the details were so tiny, I couldn't determine whether it was a picture of the same woman as the one I was looking for.

Again, there was a way through this dilemma. The volunteer who created the memorial happened to mention that the picture was "graciously provided by Cathleen."

I fervently hoped that either the Find A Grave volunteer was a Webb family member, or that this person could at least put me in touch with the source of the photo. I just had to see the face on this photo up close.

Rachel, as it turned out, was not buried far from her Chicago home. If you remember the map I posted the other day, showing her address in the Chicago area known as Evergreen Park, you'll realize the green area on the map, just north of her home, is actually a cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery. And that, shortly after September 4, 1930—now eighty eight years agois where the Webb family buried her.

Seeing that too-small picture, I decided to send a message to the Find A Grave volunteer, in hopes of seeing a bigger version of the photo.

I wrote. And waited.

Meanwhile, I was back to researching everything I could find on Rachel Webb and her family. After all, I'm quite curious to learn how a hundred-year-old photograph of a Chicago woman ended up in a small town in the northern California foothills.

About the time I followed the trail of each of Rachel's daughters and their descendantsfinding nothing besides a couple weak leads to southern CaliforniaI stumbled upon several family trees at Ancestry containing Rachel and Francis Webb. Then, not on the links provided by the search engine at Ancestry, but by following links of links, I ran across the very photo I had seen on Find A Grave.

There is something important about provenance to a genealogist. Thankfully, Ancestry provides a waythough not a foolproof oneto ascertain just which subscriber was the first one to post the picture. For that first listing, a fair guess would be to assume the source of the photo has been determined.

In finding that earliest post, I noticed something special about the name of the provider. The subscriber's first name just happened to be spelled the same way as that of the person who graciously allowed the same image to be shared on Find A Grave.

It wasn't long after I sent a message, via Ancestry, to this subscriber when I received my request: an enlarged copy of the photo I had found on Find A Grave. Take a look for yourself and see if it isn't one and the same as our Rachel.

Better yet, the source for this photographnot to mention the well-researched tree, itselfis actually a great-great granddaughter of Rachel and Francis Webb.

Above: Photo of an eighteen year old Rachel Lewis, not long before her 1856 marriage to Francis Webb in Marshall County, Indiana. Permission to include this photo here kindly granted by Cathleen, Rachel's great-great granddaughter.


  1. Wow just wow, Yes one and the same woman! Way to go! I bet Cathleen will be thrilled to get your photo!! :)

    1. Oh, yes, she has said so, herself. And her tree on Ancestry shows the care she has taken to provide photos of many of her ancestors, which she has so kindly offered to share here.

      I think this will be my fastest turn around, from posting about a photograph to returning it home. My head is still whirling! As more and more people turn their attention to researching their family history, we may see this sort of quick response happen more often. I'll certainly like that, and I know you will, too, Far Side!

  2. Pretty lady! I love looking at photographs from this time period. How wonderful that you will be able to reunite your found one with the family.

    1. Cynthia, I'm glad that is one of your passions, too. I'm always amazed that there are so many such abandoned photos, considering at least we find them so fascinating! I'm glad a family member feels the same way, and the photo of the older Rachel is now making its way back home.


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