Sunday, November 22, 2009

School Pictures

A couple of months ago, I received a letter from a distant relative, who found a family tree chart I sent to the Brown County, Ohio Genealogical Society over 15 years ago. We are both researching the Ogden family of Brown County. My paternal grandfather, James Quincy Davis, was the son of James Ulysses Davis and his wife, Rosa Ogden.

A few weeks ago, my distant relative was kind enough to send me copies of grandpa's school pictures from 1916-17 and 1917-18. He attended the Shiloh School, a one-room schoolhouse in Brown County. He would have been 10 to 12 years of age in these pictures. Even though one of the pictures contains a caption indicating which child he is, I didn't think it was him. I have a picture of him when he was around 14 and I know what he looked like. Also, my mom looked at him and was doubtful because he didn't have the "Davis ears" (large and protruding). I was disappointed.

Then, last week a friend allowed me to borrow his copy of the group photo from our fifth grade class trip to Washington, DC. At first glance, I didn't recognize anyone. As I looked more closely, trying to find myself in the photo, I was able to identify a few more people, but not myself. I scanned the photo and zoomed in. I identified some more kids, but still not me. I still don't recognize most of the kids and have not found myself in the picture. I saw most of these kids every school day for at least seven years, not to mention that I have been looking at myself for a long time now.

So, what lessons have I learned? Don't make assumptions and label photographs! I'm still not sure that's grandpa in the school picture, but I'm also sure I'm not quite as observant as I thought.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Lost Children

One family heirloom in my possession is "Detsie's cup." I don't know anything about this cup, except that it supposedly belonged to Detsie Ballein (pictured at right), the eldest child of Elma and Hite Ballein and the sister of my paternal grandmother, Jennie Esther Ballein. It's just a small metal cup with a little handle and some engraving on it. Perhaps it was a gift from first time parents to their little girl. Detsie was born January 10, 1897 and died on August 27, 1899. It occurs to me for the first time that I don't even know where Detsie is buried. A little lost life; one of many in the days before advances in medicine. And, sadly, a life often forgotten in the course of genealogical research.

My maternal grandparents, Mary and Edd Donaldson, also lost two children. Ernest Mitchell Donaldson, known as Mitchell, was born in 1922 and died as an infant on January 8, 1923 from pneumonia. I don't believe I have ever seen a picture of Mitchell. Everett Dudley Donaldson was their second child, born in 1918. The story goes that at the age of five, Everett stepped on barbed wire and contracted tetanus, which took his life. It had to have been an emotional and time in my grandparents' lives. In 1922, Mitchell was born. In January 1923, Mitchell died. In January 1924, Rosemary was born. In March 1924, Everett died. Not only did they need to cope with the loss of their sons, but explain it to their other sons, Clarence and Edward. This picture shows Everett and big brother Clarence and little brother Edward on the pony. Mitchell and Everett are buried in Troutwine Cemetery in Lynchburg, Ohio.

Family trees are full of these little lost lives. We know little about them, except perhaps their birth and death dates. However, we need to honor the memory of these children and the families who loved them by remembering them as more than birth and death dates in the family tree.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Impassioned Plea!

I'm frustrated and I need help. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have been searching for the parents of my great-great grandparents, Thomas Dudley and Iva Lettitia Tankersley Dudley for several years. I have chosen to pursue Lettitia's parents, guessing that researching a less common surname might make my odds better. And, if I can find Lettitia's parents' names, maybe it will make it easier to find Thomas' parents. Although I continue my own research, I am also hoping that someone out there will someday read this blog post and contact me!

Iva Lettitia Tankersley was born around 1811 in Virginia. She married Thomas Dudley on 11/17/1830 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Marriages of Pittsylvania County, Virginia 1806 - 1830 by K. B. Williams lists her name as "Malitia Tankersly." The marriage bond was posted by Nicholas Dillard, a teacher in Pittsylvania County. Soon after their marriage, Lettitia and Thomas moved to Ohio, settling in Clark Township, Clinton County, Ohio.

She and Thomas had 11 children, Absalom (born 1833), Robert (1835), Campbell (1838), William (1841), John (1844), Jane (1846), twins Jesse and Berryman (1848), Mary Ann (1850), Lewis (1853), and one whose name I can't find. Thomas had died by 1870. In 1880, Lettitia was living with her daughter Mary Ann and her husband, Jeremiah Himes. I found a family tree online which indicates that Lettitia died in 1891, but didn't provide a source or contact information for the compiler.

So, if you know the names of Lettitia's or Thomas' parents (or any other information about them), please leave a comment. I'm desperate!