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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, May 24, 2010
It's a Family Tree Reunion!
Posted by Maureen

Last week I wrote about June Thomazin's search for information on a picture, featured in my Research Rewards post. A relative had identified the subjects, but June thought the photo depicted someone else. All her digging finally paid off.

One of the readers of this blog contacted me to say that she owned a copy of the picture and had additional details. She said that the photo was identified as Wesley and Catherine Newman by Catherine's great-great- granddaughter, who'd received it from her mother. She added, "Wesley was indeed a veteran of the Civil War and died in the Old Soldier's Home."

One of the basic rules of photo research is to seek out distant family members to see if they have identifications for your unidentified images.  It happens all the time.  I'm so happy that June has a "new" cousin to contact.

When I forwarded the e-mail, she quickly wrote back that she hadn't research that collateral line yet and was really excited to have someone to share information with. June wrote, "I'm on cloud nine."

June found her connection through this blog. It's one of those serendipitous genealogical moments. Don't forget to check photo-reunion sites.  Thousands of people a week use DeadFred.com and AncientFaces.com looking for family photos. More and more genealogists are also looking for family on Flickr.com.

Who knows what you might find?


photo-research tips
Monday, May 24, 2010 5:47:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 17, 2010
Research Rewards
Posted by Maureen

When June Thomazin submitted this photo of an elderly couple she also sent me an extensive account of her research.  I'm so impressed by her efforts that I thought it would make a good topic for this column.

NEWMANs.jpg

June's dedicated months to her search for data.  Here's a summary:
In the fall of 2009 June received the above photo from a cousin. It was labeled W.C. Dunaway's parents. According to her research this would mean that the subjects are James William Harvey Dunaway (1829-1880) and his wife Treacy Humphress Bateman (1820-1901). 

She's not sure this is correct, and actually thinks this photo depicts William Calvin Dunaway's in-laws, Wesley (1821-1899) and Elizabeth Close Newman (1826-1919).  Her goal was to determine a date for this photo. Since James Dunaway died in 1880 she's hoping to prove it dates from later than that.

On Nov.18, 2009, June began researching the photographer. She contacted the Kansas State Historical Society, Fort Scott Public Library, the State Library of Kansas, and the Old Fort Genealogical Society. No luck. No one has any information on a photographer named Letton.
 
A John F. Letton appeared in the Masonic Directories for 1881, 1884, 1885 and 1898.  He doesn't appear in any of the Fort Scott City Directories in the collection of the Old Fort Scott Genealogical Society. No listing in 1865-66, 1871-72, 1875, 1879, 1883, 1888, 1889-90, 1891-92, 1893, 1896, and 1898.

In those city directories is a record of Wesley and Elizabeth. They lived in Fort Scott; James lived a few miles away. His widow, Treacy, moved to Fort Scott after his death in 1880.

On the same day, June learns of another picture (below) in another relative's collection. It was taken circa 1888 and depicts William Calvin Dunaway and his family.  It has the same background!

wcdunaway.jpg

June also included notes in her timeline about sources she still needed to check. 

In addition to contacting the facilities named above, June spent time researching the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) ribbon worn by the husband in the first photo (we'll take a closer look at this next week). The ribbon, dating from after 1876, identifies him as a member of the GAR, a veterans group. Wesley served during the Civil War.

Sanborn fire insurance maps for Fort Scott for 1884, 1888, 1893 and 1899 didn't show any evidence of photo studio. Fire insurance maps often reveal details about the occupants of buildings in addition to construction materials.

Nor does Letton appear in Carl Mautz, Biographies of Western Photographers (Carl Mautz Publishing).

In January 2010, June spends more time trying to determine if any of the Lettons mentioned in census records for surrounding states could be the photographer who ends up in Fort Scott. There's a Caleb Letton in the 1870 and 1880 federal census for Jacksonville, Ill.

Additional research on the style of the image, black cardstock with gold trim, suggests it dates from the late 1880s to early 1890s.

In early 2010 June sends the photo to me. She's right about the cardstock. Black was one of the popular colors for cardstock in the mid-1880s. 

The clothing worn by the wife also suggests that the picture dates from the mid-1880s. Her long bodice extends way past her hips and features an opening in the front.  A lace color at the neckline was worn by women from the late 1870s into the mid 1880s.

It appears this couple was misidentified by whoever wrote the caption: "W.C. Dunaway's parents—my great grandparents."  Photo labels are often incorrect, especially when written by someone who didn't actually know the individuals in the image.

June feels this older woman looks like Catherine Newman Dunaway, the daughter of Wesley and Elizabeth.  

One more detail clinches the identification. You'll see two tintypes in the September issue of Family Tree Magazine.  I'll blog about the facial feature that is an identification clue. 

June's research paid off.  She spent at least two long days following up on clues, consulted her family history and then contacted experts to help her. 

Excellent job!!


men | Military photos
Monday, May 17, 2010 7:52:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, May 10, 2010
Sorting Truth From Fiction: Picture Tales
Posted by Maureen

camoros015.jpg

Behind every picture is a story. Some are simple tales of why someone went to have their portrait taken. In other cases, a picture tells the story of a lifetime.

Carmen Camoros sent this soft-focus photo of two young women. She's hoping one of them is her grandmother.  

Carmen's mother always told her that her grandmother had died giving birth to her in 1911 in Puerto Rico. She never talked about her.  After Carmen's mother died in 1979, Carmen packed up her belongings and put them away.

A decade later, she decided to look at them. In it was her mother's empty wallet with this picture inside.  The original is only 2 x 2 inches. Carmen's convinced the woman on the left looks just like her Mom. She's sure that the woman is her grandmother. 

There's a twist in this story. Carmen began researching her family and discovered that her grandmother didn't die in childbirth. She died of dysentery at 28 years of age, when Carmen's mother was 9.  For 5 years, her mother lived with her maternal grandparents until her father's remarriage.

Carmen's right. This photo could very well be her grandmother. The long, flowing dresses are from the first decade of the 20th century, but their hair clinches the date. Both young women wear decorative bands and trims popular from 1911 to about 1915. The large coils on her grandmother's head were one variation on the full styles of that decade.

The chair in the photo is in the Egyptian Revival style of the late 19th century. It was bowed legs and a curved, slatted back. 

It appears the grandmother has flowers pinned to the front of her dress.  The significance of this picture and those flowers is a still a mystery—at least for now.


1910s photos | women
Monday, May 10, 2010 3:16:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 03, 2010
NGS Wrap-Up
Posted by Maureen

Wow. Wow. Wow. That's all I heard at last week's National Genealogical Society conference. It really was fantastic!  More than 2,700 individuals attended the four day event.  I got to meet blog fans, see Facebook friends and examine great photos. I presented lectures on 19th century picture analysis, 20th century photos in family collections and one on immigrant clues in images. 

When I wasn't lecturing I was in the exhibit hall giving private photo consultations and looking at photo-related stuff for sale.  Here's a snapshot view of some of the items I thought you'd be interested in.

I love these photo blocks from Echo Road. You personalize them using copies of your family photos.



Have fun with your photos by using them in games, such as a deck of cards.  These are from the folks at Ancestry Games.



I browsed from booth to booth looking for creative ways to express family history and found these lovely framed interpretations of a pedigree chart from Jill Means of Legacy Design.



Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of some of the other items I saw, but definitely take a look at these websites: 
  • John E. Groberg of Geneartogy had some beautiful oversize photo trees in his booth. 
  • Stories by Me had a selection of photo blocks, games, magnets and other items that you could personalize using copies of your photos.
  • If you're looking for a way to organize and incorporate your photos into your family history, check out Photo Loom.
Back next week with a new photo mystery! I need to rest from all the conference excitement <smile>.

Photo fun | photo news
Monday, May 03, 2010 9:10:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]