I only have one photograph of my 3x’s great grandmother – Ann Frances Green Gardiner. Recently a cousin came across an old photo album of her mother’s that had been tucked in a closet for years. To my absolute delight there was a photo of Ann of her taken in June of 1872, when she was 45 years old. What a treasure – I love that after all these years heirlooms keep surfacing.
If you are conducting research in the Western, Maryland vicinity and in particular Frederick, be sure to visit the Historical Society of Frederick. According to their website the Society was founded in 1892 and later incorporated in 1911. The facility is well managed and the staff and volunteers are most helpful. Current events, hours and directions can be found on their website and by clicking the hyperlink provided above.
To aid you in preparation for your visit the Society you may want to check out their online catalog – ARCHIVES & RESEARCH CENTER CATALOG. Happy hunting and let me know if you ever need assistance.
Since 1979 the Maryland State Archives has worked in conjunction with others to scan over 2 million pages of Maryland newspapers. The collection dates range from the 1700′s to 2000 and is available mainly by microfilm. The following link will connect you to the MSA “Guide to Maryland Newspapers.” You never know what you may find in the paper! Good luck.
Woman’s research begins with old photo’s – Article from the FrederickNewsPost.com by Courtney Pomeroy
Woman’s research begins with old photos
Originally published December 23, 2012
By Courtney Pomeroy
Sharon Crisafulli’s latest favorite photograph is of people she never met.
Taken at a 1936 wedding in Koblenz-Winningen, Germany, the picture shows just the bride and the groom. It was taken from below, as if the photographer was sitting in a chair. The couple face the lens arm in arm. The bride’s eyes are closed, but her mouth forms a wide, tooth-baring smile, and she clutches her bouquet. The groom’s eyes are fixed on the camera. With his hands in his pockets, he appears to be in the middle of uttering a sentence. A joke, maybe? His bride looks to be laughing, after all.
Crisafulli can’t know for sure. Part of the reason she likes the picture so much is that she never will.
“It’s not a great picture,” she said. “But it’s the one I keep coming back to time and time again.”
While the details of moments captured in antique photographs remain a mystery, Crisafulli gets a thrill from finding out what she can about the people in them. She is good at it, too. She just came across the wedding album containing this picture in November, but she already knows plenty about the couple, Harald Koethe and Anneliese Schwebel. She has even found a living relative of Schwebel’s, and she plans to return the book to the family.
Crisafulli did not come across the book by accident. She collects such treasures. She calls them items of “genealogical interest,” and her hobby is researching the people they belonged to and, if possible, returning her finds to their descendants.
The blue, leather-bound wedding book turned up at, of all places, the Feagaville Flea Market in Frederick.
In her day job at Long & Foster Real Estate, Crisafulli is a sales manager. She inherited her extracurricular activity from her father, who enjoyed doing research into family lines and local history, she said.
“He just instilled in me this love of genealogy,” she said.
Most of her research is on local families, including the Clarke, Gardiner, Sullivan and Fealy lines. She scours websites such as ances try.com and genealogy blogs similar to her own — trace myorigin.com. Sometimes, she researches names from random antique gravestones.
Earlier this year, her hobby gained new meaning. While researching her Clarke family ancestors (as in Clarke Place in downtown Frederick), she came across an old post on a message board from the year 2000. The writer mentioned that she had the death notice of Horace Clarke. Crisafulli, hoping she could connect more than a decade after the post was written, responded and asked the woman to send photos of the Clarkes, if she had them.
To her amazement, the woman replied, and she had pictures — including one of Crisafulli’s great-grandparents on their wedding day. The woman turned out to be distantly related to Crisafulli by marriage. She had inherited the decades-old family album and gladly turned it over when she realized it had belonged to Crisafulli’s great-great-grandmother.
“I have this incredible family treasure that I feel was just a gift out of nowhere,” she said. “I want someone else to get that satisfaction.”
So, she tracked down Anneliese Schwebel’s nephew.
A recent blog post is a plea for information about living relatives of Samuel Estill and Rosa Mills. Crisafulli has their marriage certificate, which dates back to 1872.
Her mother, Betty Gardiner, admires her daughter’s efforts.
“It’s just incredible how dedicated she is to it,” Gardiner said. “A lot of people have fun watching TV or something. Well, this is her fun.”
When Crisafulli gets lost in one of her projects, Gardiner is reminded of her late husband.
And, at their 2010 family reunion in Ireland, Crisafulli’s talents came in handy.
“She knew so much and enlightened all of the cousins,” Gardiner said.
Crisafulli knows plenty about her own ancestry. But she wishes she could find out more about Schwebel.
“She has become so real to me that I feel like she’s a heroine in my favorite novel,” she said.
Because Schwebel’s family included Nazi soldiers, Crisafulli has been unable to learn much through historical societies and other sources in Germany, she said.
What she does know, courtesy of an online database of World War II casualties, is that Harald Koethe died in the war in 1944, less than a decade after his wedding to Schwebel.
“I want to know what happened to her after Harald died,” Crisafulli said. According to her research, Schwebel lived until 2000.
While she may never piece together the rest of Schwebel’s story, Crisafulli has told her daughters, who are 21 and 19, that she hopes to someday have a grandchild named Anneliese, in honor of the beautiful German bride in the small, blue book.
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I love google and use it in my genealogical research daily. Not knowing how the search engines and all of their little robots crawlers worked I am often amazed and sometimes frustrated by the search results. Today however, with the help of my good friend google, I have unearthed a family treasure.
While searching for information on “Horace Woodward Clarke” the following query was returned:
“Trying to identify a picture that may be a Clarke. Picture was taken in Stewartstown, York Co, Pa. No dates – no names. But with the pictures was this card: Mrs. Horace Woodward Clarke gratefully acknowledges with deepest appreciation your kind remembrance and sympathy. If you are interested you can e-mail me.”
My heart started pumping quickly and my palms got sweaty (genealogists can relate). I scrolled to the end of the post and saw that it was dated November 2000. Hmmm twelve years ago – I clicked the email listed and typed ”
“Hi there: I know that this is a stab in the dark, but I saw your posting from 2000 about the above photo. If you are still around I would love to compare notes and assist you if I can.”
I stared at my inbox (for what felt like an eternity) waiting for the dreaded bounce back message. Nothing….it must have been delivered and the address must still be valid.
After an exchange of emails and answering questions we verified that I was indeed related to the surnames in the photo album. What is ironic is the holder of this album is in no way directly related to me nor any of the people in the album. It had been inherited it from her Aunt who had passed away nearly ten years ago.
Keep in mind at this point I still had not seen any of the photographs in the album. I just provided surnames and geographical information. Just to make sure that we were on 100% certain photograph scans would be completed and sent to me.
On Monday morning while sitting at my desk an email came in from the email address (the album holder) that I now had memorized. The subject line read, “pictures.” Now for the moment of truth. I clicked on the email and the picture below was embedded:
My jaw dropped as I was looking at the wedding photograph of my great grandmother and grandfather. I am never this fortunate. Must of my clues result in dead ends. Today was a different story!
After identifying several other photo’s we knew that some how, some way that this phot album had once been in the hands of my ancestors.
We set a meeting to get together and view the album together. I must confess that I did not get very much sleep the night before our meeting. A million questions floated through my head as well as visions of dead ancestors dancing in my head.
On the day of our meeting we set around her dining room table. Tears filled my eyes with each page I turned. Familiar faces (and some unidentified) where staring back at me. Through deductive reasoning and inscriptions on the photo’s we concluded that in my hands was the family album of my three times great grandmother – Ann Frances Green Gardiner (1827-1902) .
Ann F. Green was the daughter of Giles T. Green (1803-1863 ) and Deborah Kirkwood (1802-1846). had no idea . On the back of a photograph of a handsome man was written…To my Ann Frances Green from her father.
Now, after 20 years of researching, I can place a face to the name. Through the use of google’s Picaso Ablum I uploaded all of the photo’s and sent sharing requests to all living relatives that may 1. enjoy seeing the photo’s and 2. help identify some of the nameless faces. After combing our family trees we finally determined a connection between our two lines. Dot was the niece of my fist cousin twice removed husband. The couple where childless and after they passed the sister of Clarence retained the album. Dot would hold this album until her death in 1991 – over 25 years after the death of her brother. It then went into the hands another family member who maintained the album for another 20 years. This last holder of the album was the 1st great grand niece of husband of 1st cousin 2x removed. How is that for a “distant” relative. However distant the relation may be she is someone that I will always hold close to my heart. She is a kind and generous soul, who gave my back my great grandmother’s photo album and the gift of a lifetime.