Monday, August 29, 2011

Same Props (Mystery Monday)

Here are two photographs, both Cabinet Cards, with different subjects but the same props.  There’s a hint!

Male-01-smallerBoth of these photographs came from the collection of Amanda H Davis Edmonds.  Amanda was in born Fayette County, Alabama but moved to Hill County, Texas when she married.  The photographs in her collection would likely be friends or family of the Edmonds, Davises, or Olives (Amanda’s stepfather). 

The photo of the young man is clearly marked as being from Texas, but up until this week I had thought that the photograph of the woman was from Alabama.

I was thinking about using the woman’s photograph for a Mystery Monday post, but decided to send it to a distant cousin who still lives in Fayette County, Alabama, first to see if she looked like his branch of the family.  No resemblance.
While I waited for a response from Alabama, I looked through more of my old photographs because I thought the small table in the photograph looked familiar.  Amazingly, I found a match.  If you look even closer at the two photographs, you’ll notice that the backdrop is also the same between the two.  Bingo!  Even though the photograph of the woman is not marked, it was likely taken by the same photographer.

The woman’s blousy sleeves place the timeframe in the 1890s, and the markings on the young man’s photograph puts the location in Hill County Texas.

Now, instead of looking among the Alabama relatives for the woman, I know to look in Texas.  The world just got a little smaller.

Hmmm…Maybe she’s his older sister…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Volunteers

This past week I was the beneficiary of the efforts of a Find A Grave volunteer who went over and above the call of duty.  I just had to give him a shout out.

Uriah Collins, 1955Grammy sometimes spoke of her “Uncle U”.  His name was Uriah Collins, and he was actually her great uncle, her grandfather’s brother. During part of her childhood, Grammy lived with her grandparents (Albert Buell Collins and Amanda Jane Perryman Collins).  Uncle U lived down the road in Hidalgo County, Texas.

Uriah Collins and his wife Ida Barber Collins are buried in Abilene Texas.  I discovered that their oldest son was also buried in Abilene Municipal Cemetery through Find A Grave, but here was no photograph.  I requested a photo of Ralph Stillman Collins’ grave marker.

If you are unaware, Find A Grave has a matching system that notifies volunteers and photo requests based on where the volunteers live and where the cemeteries are located.

I quickly forgot about my request as I worked on other parts of my family history.

Ralph CollinsThen I got the notification that a volunteer had posted a photo of the stone for Ralph Collins.  I excitedly clicked on the link for the James Faulkenberry, the volunteer who uploaded the photo, to post a “thank you”.  End of story, or so I thought.

James shared with me his story of the search for Ralph Collins’ grave.  He found a large Collins marker and stones for Uriah and Ida Collins and suspected he was in the right place.  However, there was no stone for Ralph.  Ralph Stillman Collins 2Determined, he returned the next day with his shovel, hoe, and probe.  His efforts paid off, however – he found Ralph’s marker long covered by grass and dirt, 2 to 3 inches down.  He cleared the stone and took the photo.

Besides the obvious extra effort, there are a couple of other things that I’d like to point out about James.  First of all, he is not related to the Collins.  He did this purely out of a volunteer’s generosity.  Secondly, this was Abilene in August.  The temperature was in the triple digits both days he was out there at the cemetery.

When I asked James for permission to use his name in this post, he granted it and said,
I really try to go the extra mile when the cemetery web site says there is a marker and I can't find one!  That's why I try to have a hoe or shovel in my pickup when I go. 
I look for a grave marker in the section where someone is buried, even if the website says there is no marker.  A couple of times, even after 10 or 20 years, the funeral home marker is still there and still readable!

He also sent me pictures of his adventure, including this one that shows how the graves are arranged.

Ralph Stillman Collins 1
Here’s sending a big shout out to James Faulkenberry for his extra efforts to help a stranger and preserve a grave marker.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mystery Soldier (Mystery Monday, Military Monday)

It has been said that many Civil War soldiers had their pictures taken in uniform.  There are several Confederate Soldiers in my family tree, only one photograph of a young man in a Confederate uniform.

What we know:
  • Male-04-BackThe photo was taken in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at Magee Photographic Art Studio.
  • The original is a Cabinet Card (4 1/4” x 6 1/2”).
  • The photograph should have been taken between 1862 and 1864 based on the subject matter.  However, Cabinet Cards weren’t introduced until 1866 in America.
  • The photo was part of the collection of Amanda H Davis Edmonds.  Amanda Davis was born in 1861, so the photograph must have come to her indirectly.  Amanda grew up in Fayette County, Alabama, and moved to Hill County, Texas, when she married Augustus Newell Edmonds.  They had friends and family in both states.
  • Likely candidates are family or friends of the Davis, Edmonds, or Olive families.  (Amanda’s mother married an Olive after the death of Amanda’s father.)

The leading candidates:Edmonds-Augustus-Newell-From-Flickr
  • Augustus Newell Edmonds (1846-1920).  Husband of Amanda H Davis.  Company K, 8th Alabama Cavalry.  Unlikely due to lack of physical resemblance, but the photo could be of a brother or cousin. 
  • William T Olive (born 1838, died after 1910).  Stepfather of Amanda H Davis.  Company H, 41st Alabama Infantry.
  • Meedy White Melton (born 1832, died about 1876). Uncle of Amanda H Davis (brother of her mother).  Company H, 41st Alabama Infantry.
  • John A Edmonds (born 1842).  Brother of Augustus Newell Edmonds.  Company A, 26th Alabama Infantry.
  • Wiley Dyer Bagwell (1842-1923).  Husband of Elizabeth Menervy Edmonds who was a sister of Augustus Newell Edmonds.  Company G, 1st Alabama Partisan Rangers.
  • Reubin Davis (1840-1922).  Distant relative.  Company I, 26th Alabama Infantry.
  • Eli Montgomery Davis (1837-1908).  Distant relative.  Company F, 41st Alabama Regiment.

The obvious mystery here is “Who is in the photograph?”  There’s a secondary mystery as well:  “Why is a man posing in a Confederate uniform after 1866?”  Is it possible that it’s not actually a Confederate uniform?  If not, maybe identifying the uniform can help with identifying the soldier.

Comments welcome!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Perryman Quilts

Grammy’s Aunt Beulah (Beulah Collins Williams) tells the story of the family quilts.
Beulah's quiltQuilt made by my mother Amanda Jane Perryman [1860 – 1945] about 1883.  She married in 1885.

The cotton for lining and padding was grown on her father’s farm in Kentucky.  She carded the cotton, spun it into the thread for sewing and also for weaving the lining.

She made 3 of these quilts, different patterns but same qualities.  They were given to my 3 brothers.  Oldest brother died in 1908 and quilt was given to me.
quilt-1885 - Carlos
I do not know who currently has Arthur’s/Beulah’s quilt.  I assume that it is loved by one of her grandchildren.

The photo at left is the corresponding quilt that was given to Carlos Collins.  Grammy still has it.  The quilt is about 125 years old.

The remaining quilt was given to Ray Collins.  Grammy says that it was well loved and eventually “used up”.

Grammy’s tip:  One of the best ways to store an heirloom quilt is laid flat on an unused bed.  She doesn’t have an unused bed, so hers is rolled in white cloth and stored in a closet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Copiers and Scanners

Among the many family history documents and artifacts that I have received from Grammy, I found the following typed note:
The following is transcription of a piece that my grandmother, Amanda Jane Perryman Collins, wrote many years ago.  The document was in my possession for years.  Then I made a typed copy and sent the original to my uncle, Ray Collins.  That was before the days of easy photocopying.  Several years ago, 1984 or 1985, I was able to obtain the original document again and have since made a photocopy.  The original was written on cheap tablet paper and did not copy well because of yellowing and disintegration.  However, having the original document plus research enabled me to read it with more understanding concerning names etc.  Research has shown that not everything is correct but even that gives worthwhile clues.  As near as possible spelling, etc., is as it was in the original document.  I have added punctuation in some cases to make it easier to understand.
In this day, having a quality scanned copy of a document or photo is almost as good as having the original.  When you have the original, one of the first things you want to do is scan it anyway!

Photocopiers are great.  They provide an easy way to get the entire context of a document that you can’t physically possess.  They also allow you to make a copy to highlight and markup; you certainly wouldn’t want to mark on the original.  But the quality of standard black-and-white photocopies gets worse with each copy.  A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy might not even be readable, especially if the original photocopy was made with earlier copier technology.

But scanners are even better!  Now I can make a digital copy for myself, share it with relatives, and attach the image to my family tree.

I am very thankful for scanners.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mystery Monday: Mystery No More

These photos were among ones that I obtained from Grammy earlier this year.  Based on the context, they were probably taken in Hill County, Texas, around 1900 but I did not know who the family was.

  • Both photographs are clearly of the same family. Same number of people, same relative ages, same general appearances.
  • Neither photograph was taken in a studio. They both appear to have been taken on a farm. Perhaps they were taken by a traveling photographer.
  • Although the baby looks to be about the same age in both photos, I am guessing that the sepia photo (below) is later because the son appears to be wearing the same jacket as in the other photo, but is outgrowing it.  He is also taller in relation to his seated father.
  • The mother is wearing the same dress in both photos, although she is wearing a tie at the neck in one photo but not the other.. The quilt behind her is also the same.
  • The father is wearing the same suit. His hair seems a bit longer in the first photo (above). Perhaps he got a haircut.
  • In both photos, the father is holding a folded document of some sort.  This was often done to indicate an educated person.
The more I looked at these photos, I began wondering if the father might be Charles William Edmonds, born Fayette County Alabama, lived in Hill County Texas.  I sent the photos to my second cousin Beverly and her husband Fred to see if they knew who the family was.  Beverly is a descendent of Charles William Edmonds.
Bingo! We now have names!
  • Father:  Charles William Edmonds
  • Mother:  Manerva Josephine Davis Edmonds
  • Older son:  Curtis Leon Edmonds
  • Older daughter:  Abba Gertrude Edmonds
  • Younger daughters:  Hestra and Celestia Urline Edmonds
  • Baby:  Augustus Hill Edmonds
Knowing who the baby is also gives a relatively short timeframe for the photographs.  Augustus Hill Edmonds was born in August of 1893, so the photos were most likely taken in 1894. 

Fred and Beverly believe that the photos might have been taken on the same day, perhaps on Augustus Hill’s christening day.  What do you think?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Keeping the Departed In or the Cattle Out

We’ve long heard jokes about cemetery gates and whether they are intended to keep the living out or the departed in.

EntranceCropped_1030I recently visited Rogers Cemetery, a rural cemetery in Rogers, Texas (Bell County) to see the graves of Grammy’s great grandfather (John W Prince) and great grandmother (Mary Childers).  The photos were available on Find A Grave, but I wanted to see them myself.

When I arrived, the caretaker was mowing and had the small drive blocked.  I parked on the side of the road, and ventured in.  I carefully crossed the entrance in my shorts and flip-flops and spoke with the caretaker.  Unfortunately, he didn’t recognize the names or gravestones that I was looking for.  Unfortunate, since there are over a thousand graves in this cemetery.  The most he could do was point me in the direction of where he knew at least one Civil War soldier was buried.  That was helpful, since John W Prince was a Civil War veteran.

CattleCrossingCropped_1031I headed in that direction, but was bothered by the rough, dry grass on my nearly-bare feet.  No rain and 100+ temperatures for over a month makes for a parched cemetery.  I decided to return to the car and switch to sneakers.  That’s when it dawned on me that the entrance was a cattle guard!

I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me.  In rural areas of Texas, cattle guards are common.  I have usually seen them at the gates of ranches with the intent of keeping the ranch’s cattle from straying outside of the gate.  Why not for a cemetery?  Except here, the intent was to keep stray cattle out instead of in.

For the record, I was successful in finding the graves:  John W Prince, wife Mary Childers Prince, daughter Helen Prince Treadwell, and son-in-law Anderson Barclay.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Jeweler’s Clock

Sometimes in the movies the story is told backwards.  That’s how I’m going to tell this true story.

A fascinating old clock hangs on the wall at my brother’s house.  Grammy passed it on it to him some 20 years ago.  The clock is a pendulum wind-up clock with gold leaf lettering from the establishment where it once hung:Jewelers Clock
J. Levinski Co.
417 Austin St.
Waco, Tex.

Prior to keeping time at my brother’s house in Tennessee, it hung on the wall in my parents home in Oklahoma.  Prior to that, it hung on the wall at Aunt Nettie’s house in Fort Worth.  Nettie Wilma Fitzhugh Lessor was my father’s stepmother’s sister.

We visited at Aunt Nettie home in the late 1960s.  The first thing my dad saw when we entered the house was the Jeweler’s Clock hanging over the fireplace.  He  complained that the clock was his and therefore shouldn’t be hanging at his aunt’s house.  Aunt Nettie was gracious and gave my dad the clock that day.

Aunt Nettie had probably had the clock for at least 20 years.  Her sister, my dad’s stepmother “Mother Nell”, had given it to her while my dad was in the US Navy during World War II.  Even in the mid-1940s, he had been upset and concerned that his parents had given away or disposed of some of his belongings in his absence.

The clock had no direct ties to the family back then.  From 1940 through 1943, before becoming an officer in the Navy, my father, Lee Edmonds, attended Baylor University, the hometown college, and commuted on the bus. In a family of 5 students (he was the middle child) money was tight, and he worked off some of his expenses with a campus job doing janitorial work.  As part of the job, he found the discarded clock in a closet on campus, inquired about it, and was allowed to keep it.  He lugged it home on the city bus.  That’s how the clock came into our family.

I found myself wondering about “J. Levinski, Jeweler” and did a little research.  I found a photograph of the interior of the jewelry store taken in 1907 in Waco Texas: A Postcard Journey by Agnes Warren Barnes at Google books.  In order to respect the copyright, I won’t include the picture here, but you can follow the Google books link to see it.

Jacob (Jake) Levinski is listed in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census at 724 N 19th Street in Waco with his wife Sarah, daughter Ruth, and sons Julian and Philip.  His occupation is listed as owner of a jewelry store and his sons also worked at the store.  Bingo!  Depending on which census you want to believe, he was from Germany, Poland or Russia.  Further investigation turned up a 1892 Passport application which lists Prussia, in Germany, as his birthplace.  Russia on the 1910 census was probably just a misunderstanding.

According to that passport application, Jacob Levinski was 5 feet 6 inches at 31 years of age.  He had blue eyes, a large nose, a small mouth, around chin, an oval face, dark brown hair, and a dark complexion. 

Jacob Levinski died in September of 1939.  Jacob and his wife Sarah are buried at Hebrew Rest Cemetery in Waco.  Assuming that his sons did not take over (or succeed at) the jewelry store business, it probably closed shortly after his death.  This would explain the abandoned clock, but does not explain what it was doing in a closet at Baylor University.Colonial to Levinski map

Since there has never been any indication of a connection between the Edmonds family and the Levinski family, there is a another strange coincidence that I’d like to point out:  The Levinskis lived just 3 blocks from the Edmonds family.

Any curious researching souls are welcome to add comments about any tidbits regarding Jacob Levinski and his jewelry store.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mystery Monday: Mystery Couple

Among the hundreds and hundreds of black-and-white negatives and photographs that I have scanned over the years, I found this one.  I have no idea who this couple is, but they definitely are handsome!

Here are some facts that I do know, based on the other photographs in the batch and on visual cues in the photo:Myster Couple - Cropped
  • The photograph was likely taken in Waco, Texas.
  • Either the woman, the man, or both, are likely friends or relatives of the Lester Loyd Edmonds family of Waco.
  • The picture was not taken at any of the family homes that I know of in the city.  There is a chimney (cropped out) that is different.
  • The photograph was likely taken in the early 1940s.
  • The couple does not appear to be married.  No wedding ring.
  • The man is not wearing a belt, but does have a lapel pin.  Can’t tell whether he is wearing a white tie, or no tie at all.

I’m sure there are plenty of cues in the clothing that could more precisely pin down the date.  Comments are welcome.