Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Bounty of Photographs

The last three days has brought me just that—a bounty of photographs. Old ones, family ones.

On Monday we received a package in the mail from Lynda's cousin Robyn. She had been in touch with Lynda via Facebook and e-mail, saying she had some Cheney family photos passed down from her mom. Given that I function as the main family historian, she thought we should have it. Also included were some papers: a souvenir marriage certificate for their common grandparents, a deed, and some other things.

One of the photos is a view of the Cheney ranch, south of Fowler, Kansas. It shows men on horseback or on foot, women on horseback, and four children, probably boys, atop a shed; twelve people in all. You can see a number of outbuildings, including a large barn, a stone shed that is still standing, buildings that show in other photos, and I think the homestead house in the background. In the foreground are cattle in a barbwire corral.

I already have a copy of this, but it is only a photocopy of it. And, either on the original or on the first photocopy, someone wrote what each thing was and drew arrows all over the photo! Not smart. This one is clean, the top right of the photo being damaged, but it shows only sky and could probably be restored. Other photos include siblings, uncles, scenes. At least one other photo is one I've never seen before, and I've never had a real one of the ranch scene.

On Tuesday I received a phone call from my nephew, Chris. He was contacted by a man in England. That man had photos of our family (though I don't think he's related) that were in the possession of my grandfather's oldest sibling, Mabel Todd. The photos sent so far are of the two brothers who came to America, and one wife (not my grandmother, though that's supposedly coming. Actually, the one I'm calling a wife of the brother of my grandfather is not identified, but it's by the same photographer who shot the brother, so it makes sense. I don't know if more photos are coming or not, but I think so.

It's amazing what's out there for your family history is you only look. This contact from England was out of the blue. Chris wasn't even researching Todd genealogy at the time, when up pops the e-mail: Hey, I'm in England, I've got pictures of your family; want them? That's called a random act of genealogical kindness.

Now, when I issue the next edition of Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West, I'll have a decent quality photo to include of the ranch scene, not that old one that was barely viewable. And if I ever write a book about the Todds, I'll have a bit more to go on.

Now, someday, I hope to organize everything. I had an antique dresser that's close to full of photos. Some are ones we took back in our constant picture taking days; some are accumulated Todd-Vick-Sexton family. In a couple of binds I have Cheney-Stephens family photos, also needed organization and better preservation. Oh how I need to get to all of that and not leave it to my children when I reach room temperature.

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