Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Ernest Henry Carr (on the far right)
Son of Winnie (Haley) and Silas Baker Carr

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who Is She?

For Christmas I received Maureen Taylor's Uncovering your Ancestry Through Family Photographs. I've been reading and studying it in hopes of learning the techniques I need to identify my own "unknown" photographs.

The woman above is one of those unknowns in my collection. When I first looked at her photograph, I had no clue as to her identity. But after working through Maureen Taylor's book, I realized that is not actually true. While as of this writing, I still do not know her identity, I know more than when I started.

Where I got her photograph may be an important clue. This photograph was originally in a red flocked photo album that belonged to my great grandmother Esther Lee Richardson Talbott. Esther Lee died at a young age and the album remained in the possession of her husband Bossy Talbott. Upon his death, the album went to their only living daughter, Elma Talbott Solomon. All three lived in Halifax County, VA. Upon Elma's death, the album and pictures went to her niece, and eventually to me as the family historian. At the time, I received the album, the photos had been removed from their places in the album (due to the deterioration of the album), but kept together. Unfortunately, any family groupings/associations were lost.

This photograph is actually a carte de visite measuring 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches. On the back is the photographer's imprint: Frayser and Co Photographers, Danville, VA. The imprint is quite elaborate. A Danville, VA photographer makes sense in the family history as Esther Lee's family was from Pittsylvania County, VA. No other photograph in my collection has this photographer's stamp.

I next turned my attention to her clothing. She is wearing a fitted dress with raised buttons and narrow sleeves. The dress appears to be black with a large white collar and black lacy decoration. I've wondered if she is perhaps dressed in extended mourning clothes. Her hair is pulled back and her ears are exposed. Determining her costume time period was the next step and I admit to being quite unsure of myself in this area. My best estimate so far would put her in between 1866-1868 or the time period 1878-1888.

I then turned my attention to the use of props or in this case, the lack of props. She is sitting in a chair that is only slightly visible on the right side of the photograph.

So, who is she? My guess so far (and this is a guess) would have her being a Richardson or an Elliott. Both families are from the Pittsylvania and Halifax County areas of south central Virginia. I also have correspondence showing that Esther Lee kept in close contact with both her Elliott and Richardson Cousins.

What next? More research, of course. I need to find more information on the photographer and the time period in which he operated. I also need to study more on women's fashions and hair styles to identify her costume time period. Once these questions are answered, I'll attempt to match her to someone in my family tree.

I just love a good mystery!

Advent Calendar My Heritage Tree

*This is another re-posting from last December. Hope you enjoy it! (Okay, I confess. I'm a little behind in my writing. I'll catch up this weekend!)

Since I started genealogy a few years ago, I always thought having having a small Christmas tree decorated with homemade ornaments depicting my ancestors would be a nice touch. After all, I have more than enough ancestors' photos to fill a tree. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season this project never gets done.

Today, I'm taking a last look at this year's Christmas tree (also known as Homer) and realized that I do have my heritage tree. I've had it all along.

I inherited my grandmother's glass ornaments years ago when I had my first Christmas tree. You know the ones, the colored glass balls that are still popular today. These have a wonderful patina. Some even have the original hooks my grandmother used to hang them. In a pinch apparently, she fashioned ornament hooks out of bobby pins.

Also on our tree are ornaments representing events in our lives. We have an ornament with our wedding date engraved on it. There are ornaments given to our children as babies for their first Christmas. There are many paper and popsicle stick ornaments our children have made over the years. There are even styrofoam ornaments I made as a child. (No need to discuss how old those are!)

So is a heritage tree I've had all along.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Uncle Walter

Walter Britton Howard was born on 23 Dec 1917 in Cape Fear, Chatham, NC. He was the second child of Connie and Mattie (Maddox) Howard. He's pictured above with his older brother and my grandfather Lester Howard. My grandfather would entertain us grandkids with stories of childhood adventures that usually involved Uncle Walter, too. Sadly we lost Uncle Walter in Aug 1999.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Festival of Postcards

It's time for another Festival of Postcards event hosted by A Canadian Family ( ) . This month's theme is "white". Lots of ways to go with that, but as I am writing this, it is snowing outside. Well... snow mixed with sleet. Okay, more sleet than snow, but in the south, we take what we can get.

The above postcard is a Christmas postcard that was among my great-grandfather Boss Henry Talbott's things. There is no writing on the back, so I can only speculate who originally owned it and for whom it was intended. Perhaps it was bought by his wife Esther Lee Richardson (a prolific writer), but never sent. I doubt I'll ever know for sure.

This postcard caught my attention mostly because I did not immediately recognize it for a Christmas card. It does not use the more traditional themes of the season. I do like the colors, especially on the birds. The snow on the ground is likely more than I'll see this winter.

Here is a second "white" postcard I found in my collection. It is of the polar bear at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The back of this one is also blank, but no mystery here. This is one of several my mother collected on a vacation with her family.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Genea-Santa

Dear Genea-Santa,

Christmas is fast approaching and I thought I'd better get my wish list in now. Christmas cookies and milk will be waiting for you when you come on Christmas Eve. Don't worry, the things on my list are not heavy and are easy to carry.

I'd like proof of where William Harward (Howard/Harwood) come from prior to buying land in Wake County, NC in 1767. I'd settle for just a clue if that's all you can find.

I'd like a birth record stating the parents of William Henry Haley (of Halifax County, VA). Just a reminder, William was born in 1861. His marriage record states his parents were SC Haley and Margaret. If it's not too much trouble, could you throw in the identity and parents of SC Haley? Just as a stocking stuffer?

I'd like the identity of my stash of "unknowns" among my photographs. I believe they are all from Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties in Virginia. That should narrow it down a least a little.

Genea Santa, if this is too much, could I just have a time machine? I can save you the research (I know you are very busy this time of year!) and zip back through time and check with my ancestors directly.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas 1923

This is an excerpt of a letter from Esther Lee Richardson Talbott of Halifax Co, VA to her mother Hattie Richardson of Pittsylvania Co, Va dated "Xmas 1923". Esther Lee was a prolific writer and I have tried to stay as true to her actual writing as possible. Some words were difficult to decipher and punctuation was virtually non-existent. I have added the punctuation in the transcript below to aid the reader.

Xmas 1923

Esther Talbott

Dear Mama and all

I will write you a few lines while everything is quiet and Garnett [her youngest son] is working on a bottle of milk. As usual as mean as ever.

This house is making it very well lots better than expected at Xmas time, but it has been so pretty and warm the children stay out of doors in the warm sun and play a lot. Charlie [Talbott] and family came Sun and [are] here now. The[Their] children and mine play together real good. I don't do much cooking and that ain't but twice a day so I ain't hurting myself at work.

You aught to have been here Xmas morning to seen the kids. Santa Claus brought Elma and R [Ruth] a doll with hair on its head and C [Crafton--my grandfather] a cap pistol, candy, nuts, apples, sugar plums, oranges, bananas, chewing gum. They got up at 3 o'clock. They had some time. E and R [Elma and Ruth] have done pulled their dolls to pieces. First thing they wanted to do was to comb there hair. Boss carried them up to the school house last night to the Sun school Xmas tree. Each scholar got 2 presents. E and R got a little suit case, a picture book , a sack full of sugar plums and candy and a large apple a piece. C [Crafton] got 2 sacks of candy suit case and drawing book and large apple. They are some proud kids. I wish you could have been here and seen Elma tell how Santa Claus looked. She would make a monkey laugh. M got a picture in a little frame and sack of candy and apple.....

Love to all. Hope you all will have a nice Xmas


I remember my grandfather telling me about getting the candy and fruits for Christmas. He told me he was always so excited to get an orange at Christmas since that's the only time of year he got one.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Old Santa Claus

As Christmas approaches, I remembered several letters among my great-grandmother's things from the Christmas season. Over the next few posts, I will share transcripts of all or part of the letters. I hope you enjoy a glimpse into Christmases past.

This is the transcript of a letter written in 1919 to Santa Claus by nine year old Flemming Terry of South Boston, VA. Flemming was the daughter of Nannie Talbott and Henry Cleveland Terry.

South Boston, VA
december 1919

Dear old Santa Clause
I will write to you as it is Christmas. Well Santa Clause I am a little girl 9 years old and I want you to bring me a ______ suit and a pretty little vase and some apples and some ____ ____ , and oranges and candy.
Best wishes to old Santa Clause

Fleming Terry
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