I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Friday, February 5, 2016

Wilbur Fisk Gile, 1832 - 1888, Lawrence, Massachusetts

It's been a while, but you may remember the posts I wrote regarding the Mary E. Harrison photo album I found a few years ago. Mary was born in Maccan, Nova Scotia and moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1886, she was given the album as a Christmas present from Mr. W. F. Gile, of Lawrence, and accordingly, Mary saved the first page of her new album for Mr. Gile. The image appears above.

I did a little digging into the life of Mr. Wilbur Fisk Gile, and was pleased to see that a record of his life appears in a number of places.  According to his Mason Membership card, he was born on the 4th of January 1832 in Groveland, Massachusetts. The card also provided a death date of 5 February 1888, which matches the inscription in Mary's photograph album1. His occupation is listed as Attorney and Teacher. With that information, I easily found his birth information on Familysearch.org, which provided the names of his parents:  Thomas W. and Judith Gile2.

A plain old Google search turned up a book entry for  Wilbur's second wife Sarah France Norris. They were married in 18673. The book entry confirmed much of the information I have already found. It also provided two little words, which made me sigh just a little: "No Children."4 It would seem Mr. Gile did not leave any descendants, or at least Sarah, did not.  I searched out his first marriage, and found that he married S. Kate Poor on September 17, 18575. There does not appear to be any children from that marriage in the 1860 census6. Nor did I find children in any of the subsequent censuses in which Mr. Gile appears.

The gift Mr. Gile so generously gave Mary still exists, and hopefully, someday it can be reunited with one of her family members.

1 Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990; entry for Wilbur Fiske Gile [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
2 Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCKS-HLM : accessed 5 February 2016), Wilbur Fiske Gile, 04 Jan 1832; citing BRADFORD,ESSEX,MASSACHUSETTS, ; FHL microfilm 0599732 IT 1.
3 Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N4NF-9YH : accessed 5 February 2016), W. Fisk Gile and S. Frank Norris, 20 Jun 1867; citing 205, Lawrence, Essex, Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,433,025.
4 Morrison, Leonard Allison. "Lineage and Biographies of the Norris Families in America," Damrell and Upham: Boston, 1892, p.93
5 "Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NW19-81W : accessed 5 February 2016), W Fisk Gile and S Kate Poor, 17 Sep 1857; citing 227, Lawrence, Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,433,015
6 Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line].Year: 1860; Census Place: Lawrence Ward 6, Essex, Massachusetts; Roll: M653_498; Page: 441; Image: 446; Family History Library Film: 803498

Friday, July 3, 2015

Knitting Was Her Passion: Marion Baird, An Image From 1896

I found the above photograph at a local antique shop. I am always intrigued by early interior portraits like this one of Marion Baird. It's as if we've been invited to afternoon tea in Marion's parlor. Naturally, she will keep knitting through our conversation because she's the industrious type and feels that even if she's socializing, she should be doing something productive with her hands.
Someone (perhaps the subject herself) was kind enough to provide a few details about Marion on the reverse of the image:

The photograph was taken by R. Emerson, Halstead.  Marion was born October 24, 1803, making her 92 when she was photographed. Does she look 92 to you? I would have guessed she was younger than that.

Upon searching Ancestry and Familysearch for Marion, I encountered a couple of problems, or more accurately, facts that needed to be uncovered before a search could really begin.

1) Where did our photographer operate his studio? I couldn't find a photographer R. Emerson, of Halstead mentioned anywhere, which is fairly unusual. It's our only clue to a location. Is it Halstead, Essex? Halstead in Leicestershire?  Kent? Kansas, USA?

2) Is Baird a maiden or married name? 

I am inclined to think we're looking overseas in England, seeing as I live in an area with deep British roots. And, I couldn't say why exactly, but I think she was from the UK. I was looking closely at a Marion Baird, born about the right time in Colchester, Essex, who appears not to have married, and was living with her unmarried Reverend brother, Samuel Bawtree Baird in Pattiswick, Essex at the time of the 1891 census.  But without a bit more info, it's still only a hunch.

So, who can find me R. Emerson, the photographer, of Halstead?