Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Unexpected Photo

Family history researchers often encounter unexpected 'finds' related to their research. Recently, our daughter stopped in at a local bakery to pickup a few favorite 'honey buns' for her family. Looking at the signs of the few businesses between her vehicle and the bakery, she saw a 3ft by 4ft photo of her grandfather and great aunt in front of a small photographers shop. The photo was taken in 1917 and was being used to advertise restoration of old damaged photographs.

She immediately called me to confirm the identity of the two young people the
photo. Yes, they were my father and aunt. Our family had a small old aged and worn copy of the photo but had no idea that another copy existed.

Apparently, a copy of the original photo was in the archives of the American Fork library and when they cleaned out their files, they gave the photo to the owner of the photo shop. He thought that it would be the perfect subject of an advertisement showing his ability to restore old photos for customers.

My wife subsequently purchased a 8"x10" copy of the photo and now our family has a very good photo of my father and aunt as youngsters.

What were the odds of me holding a precious copy of the long lost photo of my father a few minutes ago? High to non-existent! But... when we are involved in family history research the rules associated with odds making don't seem to follow the norm. Maybe they originate somewhere in string theory.

In my experience, when we work hard to find our ancestors, we frequently encounter similar 'fantastic' finds. Photos magically appear, family records surface and brick walls in our research crumble unexpectedly. If you haven't already enjoyed similar finds, stay focused in your search and expect items to unexpectedly appear from a hidden dimension.


Alan said...

My wife is the genealogist of the family. She identified a particular cemetery as the burial place of one of her ancestors just prior to a 1,000-mile road trip from Texas to Michigan. We budgeted an hour to look for the ancestor.

Once we got there we discovered there were thousands of headstones! It was going to take several days for my wife and I and two sons to hunt for the ancestor's headstone. So, giving up, we slowly drove out the cemetery's rutted dirt road.

Lo and behold, there was the ancestor's headstone right next to the road.

Serendipity happens, but you have to keep your eyes open.