Monday, October 8, 2018

Finding More Family in Antique Shops

Antique shops aren't the first stop I make when thinking about delving into family history, but apparently for some, that is one location where those coveted old photographs may be found. It's just that we have no way of knowing which shops will have our family's treasures. Those photographs might be found anywhere.

Just as we send out graduation photos nowadays, or slip a recent family portrait into our Christmas cards to friends, our ancestral relatives must have done the same. Compound that with the tendency for families to pass down those "old" photographs from generation to generation, and today's descendants often end up with pictures which cause them to scratch their heads and wonder, "Who were these people?"

Thus, out they go to the estate liquidator. Or the local thrift shop. Or...

Apparently, the entire collection of old photos from the estate of the Brockman family of Sonora, California, ended up in an antique shop in town. That's where I found themonly I didn't yet know I had stumbled upon a collection which had likely once been housed in one place. But with several of the pictures being labeled with what now has become a familiar sequence of surnames, I am certain of that assessment.

Take the photo we'll be looking at this week. The now familiar label on the back of the photo, in the same style of handwriting, gives us the identity of the young man pictured on the reverse: Earl Purkey.

Of course, the haunting reminder that hits me, when I realize such logistics, is that somewhere, somehow, some friend of my second great grandfather William Henry McClellan in Florida might have received what to me would be his coveted photo. But who has it now? Likely some great grandchild of that unknown friend, who is staring at that McClellan photo and wondering, "Who on earth is that?!" And some antique store in Virginia, or Oklahoma, or Colorado becomes the likely recipient of the long-forgotten likeness, not me.

There's got to be some sort of system to reverse that predicament, a way to help those forgotten photos to find their way back home again. True, it seems like the hunt to find the needle in a haystack of abandoned stuff. But we've found ways to crowdsource our answers to impossible problems before. There's got to be a way...


  1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some magic service could reunite us all with our family's photos!

    1. Hopefully, Miss Merry, we will be able to put our heads together and figure out how to set up such a "magic" service.

  2. Wouldn't it be nice to find them all homes!:)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...