Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!

Email:

Navigation

Categories
July, 2014 (3)
June, 2014 (5)
May, 2014 (4)
April, 2014 (4)
March, 2014 (5)
February, 2014 (4)
January, 2014 (4)
December, 2013 (5)
November, 2013 (4)
October, 2013 (4)
September, 2013 (5)
August, 2013 (4)
July, 2013 (4)
June, 2013 (5)
May, 2013 (4)
April, 2013 (5)
March, 2013 (4)
February, 2013 (4)
January, 2013 (4)
December, 2012 (5)
November, 2012 (4)
October, 2012 (5)
September, 2012 (4)
August, 2012 (5)
July, 2012 (5)
June, 2012 (4)
May, 2012 (4)
April, 2012 (5)
March, 2012 (4)
February, 2012 (4)
January, 2012 (5)
December, 2011 (5)
November, 2011 (4)
October, 2011 (5)
September, 2011 (4)
August, 2011 (5)
July, 2011 (5)
June, 2011 (6)
May, 2011 (7)
April, 2011 (4)
March, 2011 (5)
February, 2011 (3)
January, 2011 (5)
December, 2010 (4)
November, 2010 (5)
October, 2010 (4)
September, 2010 (4)
August, 2010 (5)
July, 2010 (4)
June, 2010 (5)
May, 2010 (4)
April, 2010 (4)
March, 2010 (5)
February, 2010 (4)
January, 2010 (4)
December, 2009 (3)
November, 2009 (5)
October, 2009 (4)
September, 2009 (4)
August, 2009 (5)
July, 2009 (4)
June, 2009 (5)
May, 2009 (4)
April, 2009 (5)
March, 2009 (6)
February, 2009 (5)
January, 2009 (5)
December, 2008 (4)
November, 2008 (4)
October, 2008 (6)
September, 2008 (5)
August, 2008 (5)
July, 2008 (4)
June, 2008 (6)
May, 2008 (5)
April, 2008 (5)
March, 2008 (4)
February, 2008 (4)
January, 2008 (5)
December, 2007 (4)
November, 2007 (4)
October, 2007 (6)
September, 2007 (4)
August, 2007 (4)
July, 2007 (5)
June, 2007 (4)
May, 2007 (3)
April, 2007 (2)
March, 2007 (1)

Search

Archives

<July 2014>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
293012345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
272829303112
3456789

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links










# Monday, December 16, 2013
A Gleasure Family Story
Posted by Maureen

Last week I wrote about Ben Naylor's letters from the Gleasure Family in Ireland and the photos in the collection. Here's more of the story.

When Frank Gleasure emigrated to Natick, Mass., about 1900, he left behind a number of younger siblings.

For several years, his brother Joseph wrote letters imploring his big brother to let him move to America, too. He told of studying so he'd be ready for an office job. His dream was to move closer to his brother and seek his fortune in Massachusetts.

Joseph Gleasure Litowel2.jpg
Joseph Gleasure, circa 1905
On Dec. 13, 1905, Joseph wrote: "I expect you will take me out to America about next March or April. I would not stop here any longer, I am totally sick of it.  If I stopped here any longer I would be getting too old nearly to be taken in an office. I am always thinking of what kind of a job I would get after landing. I would like to be in the Excise or Customs or some job you would be sure of. I think it is easy to get into the Excise or any Government position. Any how, I must till I get over first and then I would know what would be best."
Two years later, Frank finally agreed that his brother could join him in America. The 21-year-old Joseph arrived in Boston May 10, 1907. He didn't find his dream job in Customs or Excise.  He ended up working on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in Boston.

Not every American dream brought fortune and happiness. Often, immigrants found economic disappointments and tragedy. Only a few months later, Frank had to write to his family and provide sad news. While coupling cars at Boston's South Station on Dec. 19, 1907, Joseph was caught between two cars that collided, killing him instantly.  The newspapers reported that his death was one of two similar incidents that day.

You can read more about the incident on Ben's blog.

By searching the letters, Ben found the first mention of a camera. Joseph took the candid pictures featured in last week's posting. In his Dec. 13, 1905, letter he sent his brother Christmas greetings and enclosed a few pictures.

You can search the Gleasure Letters by using the Blogger search box in the upper left hand corner of the screen.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | Immigrant Photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, December 16, 2013 5:52:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, March 03, 2013
    WDYTYA London and a Launch
    Posted by Maureen

    What a busy week! Last week at this time, I was walking through Shakespeare's birthplace recovering from two action-packed days of looking at photos at Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I have some pictures to share.

    As soon as I came home a new project launched: The Last Muster series of books that focus on images of Revolutionary War era folks is becoming a documentary. Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad shared the news. 

    If you're curious about what it's about, watch the trailer in Diane's post and read Judy Russell's blog post at The Legal Genealogist.

    Back to London.

    Guess who I saw when I was there?  Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine podcasts AND Janet Horvoka of Family Chart Masters, aka the Chart Chick. It was cold in London, thus my fleece jacket and scarf.

     WDYTYA1.jpg

    English genealogists love a certain American product too. Couldn't miss this booth:

    WDYTYA2.jpg

    Love to Learn, an English company specializing in online education, gave us a nice place to work with photographs. James Morley of What's That Picture.com and I met with folks on Friday and Saturday. The lines were long again this year. People waited up to two hours to show us their photos.

    WDYTYA4.jpg

    WDYTYA3.jpg

    We saw some amazing pictures, such as the pair of painted daguerreotypes held by these women.

    WDYTYA5.jpg

    This year I decided to count the number of pictures we saw. The total for the two days was over 500!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • cased images | Photos from abroad | Revolutionary War | unusual clothing | women
    Sunday, March 03, 2013 6:40:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 22, 2012
    Photos and Family History Vacations
    Posted by Maureen

    Last weekend I spoke at a meeting of the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia (GRIVA). My last lecture of the day covered family history vacations and discussed ways to use photos of homes, cemteries and other places to create an itinerary. I talked about visiting old family homes in person and virtually (using Google Earth).

    I also mentioned what to do with those vacation photos afterwards. I suggested posting them on sites like Historypin.com and Whatwasthere.com.

    Then I turned the meeting into a forum and let folks share their family history vacation tips. They asked if I would share their suggestions with the readers of this blog and I said YES! So if you're planning a family heritage tour, here are a few things they recommended.
    • Don't forget to visit the courthouse. One woman stressed the importance of looking for legal documents.

    • If you know the name of the cemetery where your ancestors are buried, but you can't find it, try calling the local funeral homes. A man said that a quick phone call helped him find the cemetery.

    • Take pictures of gravestones in the vicinity of your ancestors' monuments. Those folks might be relatives and you don't know it yet.

    • If your ancestors lived along a waterway, try consulting old nautical maps. They often show docks and can help you pinpoint a residence.

    • Look at church windows. Your ancestor may have paid for a memorial window.

    • Call the local public library to see if they have a history/genealogy collection. Verify the hours, too—websites don't always have up-to-date information.

    The GRIVA attendees also shared some general travel tips:

    • One woman loves to take Grayline tours of a city to orient herself.

    • If you go to Europe, take a small suitcase. Larger cases are too much work to lug around.

    • Another woman says she travels with old clothes and shoes. At the end of the trip she throws them away, leaving plenty of room for all the trip treasures she's collected.

    If you have a family history trip tip, please share it in a comment (below).  


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • candid photos | house/building photos | Photos from abroad | Web sites
    Monday, October 22, 2012 5:38:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [14]
    # Tuesday, September 04, 2012
    The Story Behind Unknown Faces in Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week, I featured Julie Magerka's genealogical photo mystery. As you know, I believe that every photo tells a story.  By piecing together the clues present in a photo—photographer's imprint, props, faces, clothing and photographic format—you can let that photo talk.  Even if you can't identify who's in an image, those basic elements may eventually lead to new discoveries.

    MagerkaGrammaFamily.jpg

    Julie's photo encouraged her to investigate her Romanian roots. While the photo seems like a simple group portrait, the story represented in the image is anything but ordinary.

    MagerkaGrammaFamilycloseup.jpg

    Julie's grandmother's name appeared on her son Rudolph's birth record as Julia Magierka. The record was marked that the baby was "illegitimate." Julie's Dad always used the spelling of Magerka for his surname, without the i in the surname used by his mother.

    Julia Magierka met John Turansky/Turiansky supposedly when he was a prisoner of war during World War I, and she was a translator. The couple married and had a daughter. John immigrated to Canada first, then about a year later, Julia and Rudolph's half-sister, Anne, followed.

    Rudolph didn't immigrate to Canada for another decade. Family story-tellers used to have a lot of theories about the fact that Jullia left him alone. Perhaps he lived with the family depicted in this photo.

    Julie is hoping that further research will reveal the names of the other people in this people. All she knows at this point is that there is definitely more to this photo story. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor, all available in ShopFamilyTree.com:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | group photos | Immigrant Photos | photo-research tips | Photos from abroad
    Tuesday, September 04, 2012 3:14:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, June 27, 2011
    Photo Wishes Really Do Come True
    Posted by Maureen

    There are two success stories this week: an answer for the contest winner and a current connection for a 20th century mystery!

    First, there is a solution to the picture of the men dressed like Indians that I covered in Contest Winner Mystery and Contest Winner Revisted. A few people wrote to me and suggested that the men might be members of the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM).

    A year or so ago, I enlisted the help of David Lintz of the IORM for another photo. He confirmed my suspicions (and those of readers) that this group of men dressed in loin cloths could in fact be members of the IORM. He sent me a list of the tribes active in Cincinnati from 1851 to 1905. From 1896 to 1902, there was only one tribe in the city: Wyandot Tribe No. 5.  There were two earlier tribes that worked in German and Lintz thought that perhaps Charles Schmidt was once a member of one of them. However, the only tribe that fits the time frame of the picture is the Delaware Tribe No. 20, which was founded in 1866 and remained active until 1896.

    If Juliann Hansen's ancestor was a member of the IORM, he would have been eligible for membership at age 21. It's time to take a closer look at those painted faces for her great-grandfather.

    contest winneredit.jpg

    Lintz thinks that this photo depicts the Degree Team. He told me that there were usually 16 to 19 members, if the tribe had that many, trained in ceremonies. These men held the initiation ceremony for new members and  raided members through the three degrees of the order.

    Way back in March, I featured a page from Carol Norwood's mother's shipboard scrapbook in Around the World with Family.  Last week she wrote to me to say she'd made a connection.

    Norwood.jpg

    Her mother's scrapbook included autographs from fellow travelers, poems and drawings. One of the signatures was from Babeta Hofmeyr, who was on the ship Poelau Tello with Norwood's mother and aunt. Hofmeyr's son is still living and wrote to Carol.  

    I'm so happy for Juliann Hansen and Carol Norwood!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, June 27, 2011 8:14:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 07, 2011
    Around the World with Family
    Posted by Maureen

    Reader Carol Norwood is a dedicated genealogist searching for more details of her mother's life in far off Indonesia.

    Her mother Cita Dromer lived in Sumatra from 1927 to 1940. About a month ago, she sent scan of her mother's Poezie book (a type of scrapbook for poetry and other keepsakes) to The Indo Project. According to the group's website, "The Indo Project is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and celebration of Indo culture and history through education and raising public awareness." They liked her mother's Poezie book so much they featured it in their newsletter. The album documents a fascinating period in her mother's life.

    There are, of course, a couple of mystery photos. Norwood knows who's depicted in them, but she's trying to track down a living person. poezie.jpg
    Since she's possibly still living, I'm not going to mention her name. When Carol's mother immigrated to the United States on the ship Poleau Tello, this South African girl was on board. The two became friends and wrote in each others album.

    Carol has tracked down the girl's family and is hoping for a reunion. My fingers are crossed too. I'll keep you posted.


    1940s photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, March 07, 2011 3:14:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Wednesday, March 02, 2011
    Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011
    Posted by Maureen

    I'm posting a couple of days later than usual this week because I was in London for Who Do You Think You Are? Live. (Plus, I had a little downtime with my English friends.)

    ftm booth.jpg
    Maureen solves photo mysteries at WDYTYA? Live.

    A series of last minute serendipitous things happened this year. I was able to provide photo consultations as a partnership with a British website What's That Picture? I met that site's creator, James Morley, three years ago at WDYTYA? Live. We've teamed up to take the site to the next step with an interactive timeline of photos supplied by users of the site and powered by Flickr. James is the technical genius behind it. Take a look at the timeline here. It's still in it's infancy, but we have big plans for it. You can add your dated family photos to it.

    This press release appeared on the site and in the WDYTYA? Live newsletter just before I left for London. As soon as the show opened Saturday morning, the line (or queue, as the British call it) started forming. I've lost count of how many photos I actually looked it. Seems like hundreds, and it probably was. It was a fascinating experience to look at family photos from across the Atlantic. 

    I love looking at pictures from all over the world.! There are subtle differences in clothing, especially men's work attire. The historical context of the images also has to be considered. English history has different milestones. I saw a lot of World War I images and some from the Boer War. One of the military pavilions would send folks to me to assign a photographic time frame to a picture, so they could go back to the military booth to find more information. We were sending people back and forth for the whole show!

    I also managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the National Archives in England to meet with their photo specialist. Wish I could spend weeks looking at what they've got there! I was looking for something special, so I just might have to build another visit into my itinerary for next year.


    Photos from abroad | Photo-sharing sites
    Wednesday, March 02, 2011 2:45:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Friday, February 27, 2009
    Wish I Were There!
    Posted by Diane

    Hope it’s OK if I butt into the blog for a second. Maureen’s on a whirlwind trip to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live family history show in London, where she’s staying with genealogy Facebook friends.

    She says hi, and she sent a picture of the group queueing up to get in. More pictures and some words to go with them next week.



    Mind the gap, please!


    Photo fun | Photos from abroad | women
    Friday, February 27, 2009 9:24:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, August 26, 2008
    Postmortem Images
    Posted by Maureen

    Remember how last week I mentioned that this column would feature a "viewer discretion advised" image? The sight of a deceased person in a photo is the reason for the warning.

    Like it or not, our ancestors began photographing the dead members of their family in the early 1840s. If you think you'll find such an image disturbing or unsettling, please don't continue reading. 

    Theresa Klepadlo-Berio submitted this photo with the following e-mail message: "I have had this photograph for years and have always wondered it it's an actual funeral or what...All I know is that it was in an old photo album of my grandparents' and they were from Poland."

    terri082508weird.jpg

    It is in fact a funeral. The elderly woman in the casket is being photographed before her burial. The people surrounding her are probably family members. This picture is a key to her family history in Poland, and a a great example of how one photograph can help you connect with your heritage.

    I spent a bit of time fixing the contrast and adjusting the sharpness of this image using my favorite photo editing tool—Picnik. (It's free!) Once I improved the picture the markings on the side of the coffin jumped out at me.

    terri082508weird2.jpg

    The words are still very difficult to read, but I took a chance and entered what I thought I saw into Google. Eureka! The words are spoczywaj w pokoju pax.

    On the Pennsylvania USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project Web site was a translation: "Rest in Peace." A closeup of the woman's hands isn't clear enough for reproduction here, but she's holding a cloth and either a book or a photograph.

    I immediately called Terri and asked her more about her family. Turns out there's a family tradition of photographing the dead! This is the only postmortem picture in her collection, but as we chatted she mentioned that her father's family used to pose relatives around the deceased. That suggests that this image here contains at least a few relatives. But who?

    That's something I hope to write more about in the near future. Terri's going to send me some information on her family history. With any luck we'll be able to figure out who's who and when this was taken.

    This image is also a good example of how the picture is just one piece of the family puzzle. Forensic research is needed to put the whole story together. More later...

    In a related piece of news, a story this month in the Ventura County Star focused on one photographer's fine art pictures of parents with their deceased infants. Historically, mothers have long posed for a final picture with their deceased infants. The imges are usually heartbreaking and really upsetting to view. However, photographer Leila Jones' work at the Simi Valley Hospital transcends the grief.  She does an amazing job of capturing these last moments.


    photo news | Photos from abroad
    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 3:18:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, February 25, 2008
    Italian Military Picture Part 2
    Posted by Maureen

    Two weeks ago, I promised a second installment of the blog on the Italian soldier photo. Thank you for commenting on the first column. While I puzzled over the v. Fabio Massimo.83, two of you reminded me that v. stands for via, Italian for the road on which the photographer had his studio.

    I'm amazed at the additional material in that postcard and where it led me this week. Gosh! Let's continue reading the evidence.

    • Next to SPQR is an image. Taking a chance, I researched Roman tourist sites. Turns out that columned structure is a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy.  It wasn't inaugurated until 1911, providing another beginning date for this picture.
    • Above the monument is a plume with an interwined EV, which represents the king—either Vittorio Emanuele II or his grandson Vittorio Emanuele III.
    • At the top of the card are portraits of Vittorio Emanuele III (1869-1947) and his wife, Elena (1873-1953), Princess Petrovich of Montenegro. He becamse king July 29, 1900, following the assassination of his father, Umberto. He reigned until he abdicated May 9, 1946. Next to the portraits is the flag of his House of Savoy—red with a white cross.
    • A quick search for secoli fedele made me shout, "I got it!" The phrase "Nei Secoli Fedele" means "always faithful." That phrase on the photo mat identifies the man pictured as a member of the Carabinieri. These men policed both military and civil matters. Follow the link to read more about them and see another picture. 
    Remember the owner of the picture, Justin Piccirillo, thought this man was his relative, Costabile Piccirillo ( 1891-1974). This could be him. Judging by the other clues in the image this picture dates to about 1911, when he'd be 20.

    Case solved!

    PS: I asked a military specialist to take a look at the uniform. I'll report back soon on what he had to say.


    1910s photos | men | Military photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, February 25, 2008 10:58:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Tuesday, February 12, 2008
    Overseas Military Uniforms
    Posted by Maureen

    Justin Piccirilli is an extremely patient genealogist. He first contacted me back in 2005 about these images, which he thinks depict his great uncle Costabile Piccirillo in a military uniform.

    This is part one of a two-part photo identification problem that covers both military history and foreign family photos.

    As you probably know from reading past columns, deciphering clues in a military image is a challenge. There were no standard uniforms in the 19th and early 20th century.

    This gorgeous portrait shows a young man in a dress uniform. I know it’s a dress uniform because of the white gloves and shiny epaulets at the shoulders. Each metal piece of his uniform is freshly polished for this important portrait.

    This full-body picture shows this man at attention with some simple props—a vase of flowers and a doily on a table.

     

    Here, just the man’s head is visible in a picture postcard, framed with illustrated symbols of his native land. The photographer hand-colored the plume red and blue. The photo format gives a beginning time frame for the postcard—photo postcards first became available in 1900.


    It’s an interesting card. Each symbol is there for a reason. Here’s part one of the breakdown:
    • Underneath the oval portrait are the letters SPQR, which stand for the Latin motto of Rome, Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Senate and the People of  Rome").
    • Beneath the motto, the words Ricordo di Roma translate to  “Souvenir of Rome.” You also can see the sons of Rome, Romulus and Remus, nursing from their wolf mother.
    •  At the bottom is the photographer’s name, G. Tibaldi, with the words fotografia artistica. Under his name is V. Fabio Massimo.83. I think the 83 refers to 1883, perhaps the year he opened his studio, but I’m not familiar with this term. Anyone seen this before?

    •  Along the bottom edge are the words fotografo dei RR.CC and Vietata la Riproduzione. The latter is essentially a copyright statement.

    • Four vignettes around the oval depict famous Roman battles and scenes. 
    This identification is a work in progress. I’ll fill you in on more details next time.

    men | Military photos | Photos from abroad
    Tuesday, February 12, 2008 6:55:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]