I’m going to write about something which I am intensely passionate about. This is such a hot button topic with me that sometimes it’s hard to keep cool at the thought of what people have done. I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before, but I guess now is as good of a time as any. This is going to be more of a rant than anything else because it’s very personal and I’m very passionate about this.
Until 2011, we had 1 family picture predating 1900. My grandfather was born in 1898 so of course we had a picture of him in 1900 and a few others of him because he was a school master so he was in year books. My grandmother was also a teacher and we had pictures of her for the same reason, the year book. Beyond that, we had a single picture of his parents and no one else in the family. It was no different for my grandmother’s side either. We had a couple pictures of her parents, but that was because they had to come to visit in the 1950’s. Beyond that we had nothing.
My third great-grandfather died in 1896. The appraisers of his estate listed a family Bible and family pictures. There were only 3 heirs to the estate, so what happened to those pictures and the Bible? That’s a mystery I would love to solve with my imaginary crystal ball so I could see what happened to them and, if possible, go retrieve them.
Why is this a hot button topic with me? Because there are millions of pictures out there hanging in restaurants (like Cracker Barrel), hiding in antique shops/malls, and on eBay or other auction sites. I want to know what happen to our family pictures. Why do we not have any?
But why am I mad about this?
Because at some point, I either have relatives that refuse to share anything or even talk to me (no reason, they’re just mean like that), or I have relatives that at some point said “I don’t care” and threw them away, or burned them, or sold them. The only reason I have a picture of my great-grandfather is because my father took it when his dad passed away (many years before I was born) and it has hung in our house for longer than I’ve been alive. If it wasn’t for that fact, the picture may have disappeared to be lost to time or destruction.
Five years ago when I first started this journey into my own family, I developed the belief that somewhere out there is someone that knows what I want to know and has what I want to see, it’s just simply a matter of finding that person. In some cases, I’ve been fortunate and found them. In some cases I wasn’t and they died before I could talk to them, once it was by two weeks.
I went cruising on eBay just randomly looking at old things. I’ve been through there before looking for an old unmarked family Bible with a particular design from the 1880’s because I wanted it for my own family. I wanted to record their history in something that was around when they were alive to pass on to my children. I can’t believe the amount of pictures. Some are named, some are unnamed. Almost all of them have a photographer’s mark on them so you can at least date the picture by type, location, and photographer.
I’m seriously considering buying a bunch of them but what’s stumps me is what to do with them. I feel like I’m rescuing them somehow, but what to do with them? I have ideas, but it’s going to require a lot of work to find these people, to put the names and faces together and it’s going to require nationwide participation from tens of thousands of people to accomplish the task I am thinking of. I’ll definitely be writing more about this later.