Tuesday, August 13, 2019

We've Been Down This Path Before

Ever get the sense you've traveled down the same path before? It can be years later, or taken from a different direction, but once the trip is over, you realize this hasn't been the first time you've been down that path.

In our case, this research trip all started about one year ago, when I and my intrepid genealogy guardian angel Sheri Fenley took a drive up to the foothills of northern California. I was on the hunt for some well-labeled cabinet cards at the antique shops of Sonora; she was along for the ride (and maybe a good cup of coffee or a fun lunch spot).

By last September, I was wrestling with the identity of the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Brockman of West Point, Nebraska. It took us about ten days to discover that, though we figured out the identity of Adolph and Vernie Brockman, the photograph bearing their names probably belonged to another couple—leading to a detailed examination of the extended Brockman and Nieman families.

Disentangling ourselves from that dilemma, in the next month, we moved on to examine another photograph found in the antique stores of Sonora, California. This one led us to the Purkey family of Wisconsin, Erastus Manford and his wife, Rebecca Olive Lewis Purkey. By the middle of October, last year, I had already realized the connection between the Purkey and Brockman families, and had also found the marriage connections between two of the Purkey sons and women whose names were Tucker, which explained another photograph I had found, of an older couple by that Tucker surname, living in Oregon.

That was when I realized that the wife in that Tucker couple had a maiden name of Goodman, and that she likely came from Tennessee. Apparently, she had a sister named Dollie, whose identity I never could satisfactorily trace.

From that point, I moved on to another of the many photographs I rescued from Sonora's abundance of antique facilities. The next photo featured a relative from a different side of the extended Purkey family—Pleasant Fuller and her son—and from there, on to another photograph leading us in an entirely different direction. Soon after that, I set aside the photograph projects to focus on my upcoming Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy class that January, and my subsequent Florida research journey.

I haven't touched those family photographs until now, nearly a year later. From the few photographs I still have left to tackle, I pulled this one on the Tucker family, thinking nothing of all the connections I had bumped into while researching the Brockman, Purkey, and Goodman photographs last year. Nothing from those Nebraska or Wisconsin locations rang any bell, once I began the puzzle of this picture from Wahoo, Nebraska. I had to work my way down this family tree branch before I began to realize I had crawled up this branch from the opposite direction once before. Now, instead of approaching an elderly couple posing alone, I was dealing with a young couple and their many children. Instead of looking at the wedding photo—supposedly—of Adolph and Vernie Brockman, I was now tracing the photograph of the parents and siblings of the mother of "Mom B," wife of Adolph's younger brother.

How was I to know all these in-laws would connect? Of course, I should have suspected that, in one antique store in one tiny town, the chances of uncovering the results of one specific estate sale might be high. But it was not highest on my mind when I purchased all those photos. And they likely won't find their way to descendants who turn out to be related to each other. Each photo represented another branch of an extended and migrating family.

Next on my agenda, of course, will be to figure out who might be a descendant interested in receiving this photo of the young Tucker family. From that point, the next challenge will be to actually make contact and extend the offer.  


  1. I wonder if every photo there came from the same box in an attic? Gosh, I wish you would find these treasures for my family!

    1. Miss Merry, that is precisely why I started doing this photo rescuing project: I wish someone would find my family photographs, too! Yet, while "what goes around comes around" may not work every time, despite the positive energy, it is certainly gratifying to send a picture home to a diligent family historian.


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