Thursday, September 13, 2012

Emma L. Pidgeon



This is little Emma L. Pidgeon.  Researching her and her family has been one heartbreaking revelation after another.

First, some background.  Although the photo was taken in Philadelphia, “Pennsgrove” was written on the back along with her name.  After searching a bit on Ancestry.com, I found Emma was the daughter of William Atkinson Pidgeon, a salesman, and Margaret (Maggie) S. Flanigan, a dressmaker.  She was born the 2nd of November 1892.  Born the third of three children, she had an older sister Grace, born in 1889, and an older brother Henry (Harry) Flanigan Pidgeon born in 1890.  The next step was to check the 1900 census and follow the lives of this family to see what happened to them.  Unfortunately, this census provided some startling results.  I sadly discovered that by 1900 both Grace and Emma were deceased, and only Harry was still living.  This was a terrible sign of the times where it wasn’t uncommon to lose one or more children early on.  As the CDC points out, in some cities in 1900, up to 30% of infants would die before their first birthday, an unfathomable thing in today’s world of healthcare.


I still do not know exactly what age Emma died, or what caused her death, but it’s likely she died prior to age 5 and from an illness.

Since I learned, conclusively and sadly, that Emma does not have any descendants, I decided to continue to research her parents and her brother Harry.  That's when I came upon my next startling revelation.  It turns out that William A. Pidgeon died in 1908, at the age of 41.  Without an online obituary, I was unable to determine what happened to him, but it is reasonable to deduce his death caused great hardship, both financial and emotional, for his wife and only remaining child, Harry.

In 1910 Margaret & Harry were still living in Pennsgrove, NJ.  Harry, at 19, was a clerk for the railroad office.  His mother Margaret was still a dressmaker working on her own account.

On June 5th, 1917, Harry registered for WWI duty.  He was married at the time, and was now a Railroad Master.  Some details from the registration form give a bit of a picture of him.  He was stout, of medium height, with light hair and blue eyes.  If Harry did see action in the war, he had returned home safely by 1920.  He and his wife Priscilla (3 years older than him) were living with an aunt and several others.

Harry's mother Margaret died in March 1930, at the age of 61.  At that time, Harry & his wife Priscilla were still childless, he at 39, her at 42.  Harry still worked for the railroad, and at the time they were still living in Camden, NJ.  I was unable to find Harry & Priscilla in the 1940 census, but given their ages in 1930, it seems doubtful they had children.  This left me with the sad realization that there wasn't any close family who would want Emma's photo.  Still, I decided to press on and try to find out what happened to Harry and Priscilla.  At the very least I felt I owed them that.  Unfortunately that wasn't as easy a proposition as I intially hoped.

Harry was found in the WWII registration files, and still living in New Jersey.  Given his age, however, it's highly unlikely he served as he would have been in his 50s at the time.

After this, I was left with very little to go on.  From social security records, I find Priscilla Pidgeon died on the 29th of September 1974 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Harry appears to have died in the intervening years prior to this.

And this led me to a dead end.  I wish I could give you a happy ending here.  Unfortunately, I have yet another family-less photo.  I do still hold out some remaining hope, though, that some distant relative of Emma's will see her and want to honor her memory.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Small Smattering of Unknown Photographs

Thanks to everyone checking out my blog!  I really appreciate all the nice comments!  I will be posting a new researched photo soon, but to tide you over, I thought I'd post a small selection of my favorite unknowns.  :)

First, I must admit, I don't tend to hold on to these photographs since it's almost impossible to identify the family from which it originated.  So, while I do still have some of these in my possession, others have been acquired by collectors.  This is an acceptable compromise for me as I feel they will take good care of these pictures.






The first photo I love is a nice tintype of two girls, a dog, and a tiny puppy.  It's rather rare to see animals in photographs of this age (to this day I think this is the only one I've come across) which is a big part of the reason I find it so great.

Presumably the two girls are sisters, but who knows for sure!  It's photos like this though that make me realize that in a lot of ways, things really aren't so different now than they were back then.







Here's what I like to call a "personality" photo.  Let's face it, most photographs of the time are rather plain portraits of a person, with little to no smile, partly because they had to sit forever to get their photo taken.

This photo however (also a tintype), is of an obviously flirty woman.  Perhaps this photo was sent to a husband/boyfriend/fiance?  Or perhaps she just wanted this photo for herself!  I wish I knew the background behind this image, as I'm certain she has an extremely interesting story to tell.





And this last photo just looks like fun! :)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unknown photos

Although some of the photos I've found have been lucky enough to have names attched, many do not.  I'd be willing to estimate less than 5% of photos have their subjects identified.  Because of that rather startling statistic, I have decided to dedicate several pages to these unknown photos.  There will be links on the side to view these.  Hopefully someone will recognize one of them.  They will be arranged by state, wherever possible, and possibly by city.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Loftin Family of Atlanta, Georgia


These are without a doubt some of my favorite photos I've ever come across.  Colorized carte-de-visites (or CDVs) and some with names attached.  I just knew I HAD to find out who "Our Little Carrie Belle" was.


First, a bit more about the photos.  For those who aren't photo-geeks, CDVs are roughly 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches in size, and were the popular photo format from about the mid 1850s to the 1870s, when the larger cabinet cards became the more popular option.  Although not foolproof, I've found this is a good way to get a rough idea of when a photo was taken.  Now back to the photos at hand.

To start with, I had two captions to work with.  The first, "Our Little Carrie Belle", and the second, "Mrs. F. M. Loftin".  And although the rest of the photos did not have names attached, I knew they were all likely part of the same family because they were all taken at the G. J. Gables Gallery in Augusta, Georgia.  Some were older than others to be sure, but they all appeared to be from the same family.  To Ancestry I went!

Luckily for me, the 1870 census recorded a 3 year-old "Carrie Bell Lofton" in Atlanta, Georgia, living with her father, F. M. Lofton age 27, her mother Carrie Bell (Oakman) Lofton age 20, and her younger brother Frank Lofton age 1.  Her father "F. M." as it turns out, was also named Francis.  So as it turns out, both children were named after their parents.

I had to wonder what the elder Carrie Belle Loftin & Francis M. Loftin's lives were like.  Their daughter Carrie Belle was born in 1867, just two years after the end of the Civil War, and 3 years after the burning of Atlanta.  I could not find anything to show if Francis had served in the war, but even if he didn't, it assuredly was a daily thought.





Sadly, I found that Francis Loftin died young in 1873, leaving his wife and 3 children.  I then searched the 1880 census wondering what happened to Carrie and her children?  I was in for a shocker!  As it turned out, Carrie Belle Oakman Loftin would marry the photographer G. J. Gables in about 1875.  The same man who had taken the photo of her daughter as a baby.  They would eventually have two children together.


Her marriage to Mr. Gables would not be her last, however, as she would outlive him as well.  Carrie would marry her final husband, William Lomas in 1903, whom she would also outlive.

The younger Carrie Belle Loftin, as it turned out, married a man named David Patman Daniell and had many children.  Her mother, Carrie Belle Oakman Loftin Gables Lomas (talk about a lot of names!), died in 1921 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Now I know how these photos likely started their journey to me some 80 years later!)


Although I can't identify most of these people exactly, I believe the man is probably Francis Loftin himself as the green chair he's leaning on appears to be the same one his wife is standing next to in one of the photos above.  It's possible they were taken at the same time, perhaps for their wedding.

If George J. Gables was the photo colorist, he was an excellent one.  Whoever did the careful work paid extreme care and attention to even the smallest details, and they really do bring the subjects to life.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

With a Name Like Mayo Lambie...


This next photo was taken in St. Johns, Michigan, a small town about 25 miles north of Lansing, Michigan, near the center of the state.  I'm always surprised when I find a photo that originated outside of the area where I live.  I guess I should state, I live in the DC area, and for one reason or another, most of the photos I come across tend to be taken in or near Philadelphia.  Photos like this, however, make you wonder what track it took to get to you?  Was it sent to a distant relative? Did the family move after the photo was taken?  Were they perhaps on vacation when the photo was taken, and the fact it was taken in Michigan means little?

In this case the photo became even more interesting when I turned it over.  The name written on the back read, "Mayo Lambie, adopted by Gabriel A."  Since neither Mayo nor Lambie are common first or last names, I initially questioned whether I was reading it correctly.  Was it perhaps "May" or "Mary", or was the name possibly a nickname of some sort?  Since I had nothing else to go on, I went to Ancestry.com, and decided to see if anything would pop up.  Luckily for me Mayo Lambie was indeed this little girl's name and she did live in Michigan.

According to baptismal records, she was born, May 15, 1888 to Nellie and Alexander Lambie in Essex, Michigan.  This made me stop in my tracks.  You see, in the 1900 census, Mayo Lambie was living with Alexander Lambie, age 44, a dealer in clothing, and his wife Libbie, age 41, along with Libbie's father Charles Olcott.  Mayo is not listed as adopted and her mother is listed as having 1 child and 1 child living.  Because Mayo Lambie is not a common name, I knew I had the right one, I just didn't know why the photo inscription insisted she was adopted by a Gabriel A.

The 1910 census solved many of my questions, however.  Again, Mayo is living with Alexander, Libbie, and this time Alexander's father John Lambie.  This time, though, Libbie is listed as having 0 children and 0 living, and while Libbie was born in New York, Mayo's listed as both parents born in Michigan.  This seemed to seal the fact that she was adopted and it was not kept a secret.  The only question left was who was Gabriel A?  Although I have no proof, it is my belief that Alexander's name was really Gabriel Alexander.

My next object was to see what happened to Mayo?

Checking the 1920 census, I found out Mayo had married a man named Thomas Townsend, a retail merchant at a clothing store.  Given that her father also worked in clothing, it seems likely he either introduced them or he secured Thomas a job after they married.  In 1920 they were both 31, but they had no children.

When I clicked on the 1930 census, I held my breath, hoping against hope to find Mayo and Thomas had a child, otherwise I would strike out finding descendants again.  As luck would have it, there was a 6 year old boy named Richard Townsend living with them.  Taking a slightly closer look I realized something else interesting.  Just like his mother Mayo, Richard was adopted!  I don't know what the odds are to find several adoptions in a family line, but I admit, this one made me smile.

In 1940, Thomas, Mayo, and Richard had moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and Thomas was now a painter for a construction company.  Although I can only speculate what brought them to Florida, my guess was economics.  In 1930, Thomas was unemployed.

With the ending of the available census records, however, I've hit a roadblock finding out more.  Did Richard marry?  Did he have kids?  I was able to find out that Mayo Lambie Townsend died in St. Petersburg, Florida, March 2nd, 1983 at the age of 94.  Surprisingly, I wasn't able to find the death of her husband, Thomas B. Townsend.  It doesn't seem likely he's still alive and kicking at 124, however.

As for Richard, from World War II records, I know he enlisted in the army in 1943 in Florida.  After that I don't find him again until his death is recorded in the Social Security death index.  Although I don't have absolute proof, I do believe Richard passed away the 15th of May, 1990 in Pittsburgh, PA.  Based on the locality, this is perhaps how I ended up with Mayo Lambie's photograph.

At this point, on the ground research is needed to solve this riddle.  This is one I intend to solve, and will update you on any breakthroughs.

Buelah Kendrick



To start off this blog, I decided to start with the photo I have thus far put the most effort into identifying.  Given her rather unique name of Buelah Kendrick, and knowing that she was 4 months old when this photo was taken in Washington D.C., I figured I had a reasonable chance of finding out exactly who she was, and contacting a relative.  Well, as it turned out I was right and I was wrong.

Buelah Kendrick was born about 1899 to Grant S. and Katie Coppersmith Kendrick.  She was their only child.  She was married before the 1920 census, when she was 21, to a slightly older (at 30) Adelbert Charles Eastburn.  In the 1920 census, Buelah and Adelbert were living with her parents, as well as her grandfather, William Coppersmith, and a great-aunt, Harriet Bogue/Bogne.  Buelah's family were longtime residents of the Virginia/DC/Maryland area, so perhaps the fact that her husband Adelbert was born in New York made him that much more interesting to her.

Buelah and  Adelbert lived fairly long, presumably comfortable lives.   Adelbert was a native of Yonkers, NY.  He went to Brown University, where he obtained a degree in Electrical Engineering, a relative rarity as a college graduate in his day.  After graduation, he joined the Reserve Army, where he served as an officer in both World War I and World War II.  In World War I, he was a researcher for early military searchlights.  He retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Despite their long, and presumably happy relationship, Buelah and  Adelbert never had children.  Buelah died January 4, 1982 and was interred in Arlington Cemetery.   Adelbert followed soon after on October 21, 1982.

This left me with a conundrum on my hands.  Here I had an identified photo, but she unfortunately had no descendants.  Additionally she didn't have any siblings, leaving her without nieces or nephews.  I decided to then focus on  Adelbert's family, to see if perhaps he had any siblings whose children or grandchildren might want to keep Buelah's photo.

Adelbert Charles Eastburn was born to Charles Adelbert and Catherine Eastburn, the second of two children.  He had an older sister, Anna.  Hoping that Anna had descendants, I decided to see what I could find out about her.  It was then that I learned Anna never married.  I struck out again.  There were  no nieces or nephews on either side of the family who might want to keep Buelah's name alive.  I'll be honest, this was a sad moment for me.

The final thing I discovered, was that Adelbert and Buelah left a large sum of money to Brown University, where they established the Adelbert C. Eastburn college scholarship.

http://brown.edu/academics/medical/financial-aid/scholarships/ams-scholarships

Perhaps because Beulah's was the first photo I decided to put time and effort into researching, I admit I have become quite attached to her.  So, until I find someone who might treasure Buelah's photo as a welcome keepsake, she will always have a special place on my mantle.

Hello!

A while back, I went to an auction, looking to purchase a few things cheap and then resell them.  Sort of a hobby of mine.  Well, this time turned out differently than any other.  I arrived and found a box of old orphan photographs.  Several boxes in fact.  I immediately felt an overwhelming sadness come over me.  I suppose this is a good time to say, that I've been a genealogist for most of my life.  Not for pay, but for fun.  And staring down at those faces just made me want to cry, because almost certainly there was at least one that a researcher out there would love to have, if only there was a name attached.

I am not ashamed to admit, I felt very protective over these photographs.  So much so, that I ended up purchasing them and nothing else.  Going home that night, I admit I felt slightly foolish, being so attached to photos of people I had no knowledge of and probably never would.

Since then I've purchased other lots of photographs, and I now specifically seek them out when on the rare occasion I attend an auction.  Most of these have simply been scanned into my computer, one more face to add to the database.  Likely to never be identified.

A few lucky photos, however, have given me hope that they may be reunited with someone who will cherish them.  A few were lucky enough to have names attached.  I will sporadically be updating this blog with a new photo, a new name, and my attempts at finding out which "John Smith" they are.  Perhaps, with luck, they will find their rightful family.