This week in #52ancestors and #52familyphotographs I thought I would try to crowd-source the identities of all the people in this photograph.
Florence Wells and family
This image is pasted into a photo album created by my grandmother Kathryn Prince Jones Preston. The accompanying notation says Florence Wells and family. Most of the images in this album date from the first year of her marriage, 1924. With that clue, and a list of Florence and Moses Wells‘ children:
The only grandchild who could have been the right age for this picture would be Helen Grace Wells, b. 1916, daughter of Willard and Grace Hewlings Wells. I have no idea who the two men and the younger woman are. Florence is on the left. Possibilities are Mattie and Samuel Horner and Willard K. Wells. I am hoping that my Haines cousins will have some insights.
That moment when the identified photograph ends up being more confusing than the unknown? That’s this weeks #52ancestors and #52familyphotographs rolled into one!
The man sitting in the plus fours is my great grandfather’s older brother. Born Elwood Andrew Jones on 12 October 1869 to Benjamin and Mary Carroll Jones, He may have worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad as an engineer. In 1891 he married Amy Emmons. They lived in Pemberton and raised five children: Inez, Paul, Oscar, Gladys and Myrtle.
I think the people named on the label are as follows left to right:
Sometimes in genealogy you go sideways and squirrel off in a seemingly directionless research path that leads to fascinating discoveries. That’s what happened this week with my desire to post this lovely picture of Mortimer Oldham Heath. #52ancestors #52familyphotographs
I love his curls, the hat and the intense stare (which I know is probably due more to the discomfort of mid-nineteenth century photography than any message he is trying to send down the ages).
Mortimer O. Heath was born in Lytchett Maltravers, Dorset, England on 16 December 1853 to William Mortimer and Emma Heath. He emigrated to Littleton, North Carolina in 1872 where he lived among the vineyards in the area, sketching and drawing activities of those around him. In 1878, he returned to England for a short visit. In 1880, he returned to the US, landing in New York harbor. In perusing the passenger list, one also sees Miss Susan E. Jones, 26 year old spinster (as noted on the passenger list under occupation). Five years later on 25 November 1885, these two married at St. Clements’ Episcopal Church on Cherry Street in Philadelphia.
Susan Emlen Jones was the fourth of five children of Richard and Alice Woodmansie Davis Jones.
Sadly, Mortimer succumbed to tuberculosis on 27 April 1891 at a resort in Tryon, North Carolina. He is buried in St. Andrew’s burying ground in Mount Holly, NJ.
Last January 2018 I decided to try an experiment: from the birthday list generated by my RootsMagic program, I would make a list of ancestors and blog about one person per week for 52 weeks. I knew that I would have trouble following the schedule and topics outlined in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. My job as well as various commitments would have derailed me if I had not been able to write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to publish each week. But the weekly inspiration from those who were following Amy were really helpful and when I could I tagged my blog with her topic.
What I learned
It is really hard to write 52 fully researched, carefully prepared, fully documented and illustrated essays. But that’s not the point of the exercise, so please keep reading.
The birthday theme only goes so far. Some weeks I just gave up on finding the perfect match and just picked someone I thought interesting.
My writing got boring. I found myself writing every post in chronological order: born, married, died, buried.
I really resented having to stop researching and just start writing. I found myself saying “just one more source” way too often. When this happened I had to remind myself that this was not “the end.” I could always come back if I found more.
Some ancestors just aren’t that interesting. “Lives of quiet desperation” aside, quite a few of my female ancestors, especially, just left me very little to work with.
You really can write 300-700 words quite easily if you just start writing.
You can have really interesting conversations with family members around what you got right and wrong (in their opinion) and learn new tidbits of information as you go.
What I want to do in 2019
52 weeks of family photographs. I am going to try to post a picture of a family member, group or dwelling place, write a short post identifying what I know and what I don’t.
I am also going to try to go back to all the folks I passed by on my birthday list. This may not result in long essays but I really enjoyed giving a voice to these people, and I want to continue writing.