You might be a history nerd if you decide to purchase some old photos from your home town antique store just to see if you can find them on Ancestry.com.
You might be from a small town if said old photos from your town's antique store turn out to be your distant cousin!
If you've ever browsed through antique stores, you know there are all sorts of cast offs from decades past. There's only so much stuff that can get passed down through families before the leftovers end up in an estate sale. Some of those cast offs unfortunately end up being family photos. Often it's because none of them are identified on the back.
One of my treasured finds while researching family history is the discovery of an old family photo. So when I found a basket of old pics with a few names on them, all inscribed "To: Maggie" I decided to buy them for a dollar and have some fun. Among the stack, was one photo marked "Miller's Studio, Nappanee, Indiana" so I had a hunch the whole stack was from a local estate.
Once home, I couldn't wait to see if I could find these old folks on Ancestry.com. I found out that this lovely girl is Gladys Hepler:
And it turns out she grew into an accomplished young lady who became the editor-in-chief and Valedictorian of her class at Nappanee High School. And a quick internet search finds her two years later working as Coppes in the offices. I was able to post an email through Ancestry to a few family members who might be interested in getting these originals back. It would be fun to mail them!
But the best find is this photo of Grace Evans (right) who turns out to be my great grandfather Earl Reed's (left) 3rd cousin!
I found that she married Clayton A. Reed, whose death certificate states he was a foster child--so she didn't marry her cousin! Phew. But another interesting tidbit found on Find-A-Grave states that Grace was Clayton's second wife, the first being an "arranged marriage" to the niece of prominent Coppes Kitchens owners, but apparently that didn't work out (that tidbit was not verified, but was researched by another researcher). In another photo, she's pictured (upper left) with friends: Myrtle Eby (lower left) and Pearl & Grace Alexander (right).
Another quick search and I found that Grace & Pearl Alexander are sisters who never married, and Myrtle Eby married Norman Stump who is first cousins with Gladys Hepler. All of the photos from the basket are addressed to "Maggie" who I believe is a grandmother, or friend. The 1920 Census finds Myrtle working as a "stenciler" at a factory, which I suspect is Coppes factory.
It looks like Coppes Kitchens served not only as a major industry in Nappanee at the turn of the century, but a social hub that may have been the central connection for these girls. Don't they sport a great quintessential Gibson Girl look?! Ah, life in my small town....
Oh, and the garden project we started out with? That white picket fence worked out pretty cool! I always joked with my husband that we'd have a white picket fence someday....
Please mark the backs of your family photos!
Have you ever discovered old family treasures like that?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots.Nurse Practitioner by day.Wife, mother, writer by night.Coffee drinker--any time.Find me at: www.anneloveauthor.com