Friday, February 21, 2014

Sepia Saturday: The One That ALMOST Got Away

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows three men in suits.  My three men did not wear suits in their normal workday.  They were a cab driver, a metalsmith, and a mechanic by trade; they were hunters and fishermen when time allowed.  Always best friends.

But I didn’t know even that much until just recently.  For a long time the photo was simply my Granddaddy Slade and two other guys and a bunch of fish.  OK, so Granddaddy went fishing.  That was the story.  Not much of a story.

Fred Slade and friends fishing trip 1951
Granddaddy Fred Slade is on the left
"Kentucky" is on the right
click image to enlarge 

My Aunt Betty remembered the tall man as “Kentucky,” a name Granddaddy called him, but she had to find his signature in my grandparents’ funeral guest books to recall that his name was actually Orville Thom.  But she didn’t know the other man.

Ancestry Dot Com gave me the basic information about “Kentucky,” a tinsmith for the federal prison in his native state Kentucky (wasn’t Granddaddy clever?) before relocating to Virginia as a metalsmith for the Naval Air Station.  At one time he and his wife lived in downtown Portsmouth, not far from where my grandparents lived, so perhaps that is where they met.

Still not much of a story. 





Let me digress.  This past week a number of blogs and tweets about the RootsTech genealogy conference have shared glimpses of new technology on the horizon and snippets of speeches challenging the ways genealogists and family historians think about and act on their research.  One speaker quoted again and again is Judy G. Russell of The Legal Genealogist.

Her main message was that our stories are lost within 3 generations if we don’t share them.  I keep thinking about that.  This photo of 3 men fishing is a perfect example.  What’s the story? 

Let me digress again.  On the day that I was preparing my contribution to Sepia Saturday, Legacy Family Tree presented a webinar on using old newspapers in family research.  So I sat in.  While listening, I opened a second window on my computer and signed up for a 30-day free trial of Genealogybank, an online resource for historical newspapers, obituaries, pamphlets, government documents, and military records.  One of the surnames I entered was SLADE.  I refined the search with my grandfather’s name and dates.  And look what popped up:

from Greensboro [North Carolina] Daily News
Wednesday, July 11, 1951








It’s the story of my photo! 

Now I have the Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Thom, Bonney, Slade fishing July 10, 1951
Orville "Kentucky" Thom, Ollie Bonney,
Fred Slade all of Portsmouth, Virginia
July 10, 1951
on the Cherokee off the coast
of Oregon Inlet [Outer Banks, NC]
(I bet Capt. Ken Ward took the picture!)

My original title for this blog was “Old Men and the Sea.”  But I changed it to “The One That Almost Got Away.”  Every fisherman has a story about “the big one that got away.”  My story isn’t a big fish, but it’s a piece of my family story that almost got away in a mere three generations, just like Judy Russell said.

I hope I can lure you over to Sepia Saturday to see what stories others have to share.

45 comments:

  1. We are so lucky that digitalized newspapers are becoming available to help us with our research. They are filling in many a gap and providing a few little shocks. That was an interesting post.

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    1. Thank-you. Yes, I agree that these newspapers online are so helpful. But I also find myself grumbling about newspapers that I WISH were available online.

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  2. How lovely to find the newspaper article that goes with the photo. It makes all the research you do worthwhile.

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  3. The newspaper article really makes the photo more meaningful. Great find!

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    1. It does -- it's pretty interesting that an ordinary fishing trip was considered newsworthy.

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  4. That's a great story! Pure luck, pure chance -- and look what you got! Wonderful...

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    1. That's what is exciting to me -- how all the stars aligned to help me find the story behind the picture.

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  5. Every once in a while fate dishes up the answer to a question in an unexpected way and isn't it nice when it does! Great story and resolution!

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    1. Nothing better than when fate is on my side!!

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  6. What a clever title and post. I truly enjoyed it :) And you are correct about keeping stories alive...I have made sure to tell the family stories over and over to my kids...we have very few photos. I do have my husband's grandmother's journals from a 2 decades but the others are "lost."

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    1. Good Girl! We're a family that repeats stories too.

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  7. You make an interesting point about the importance of telling stories. Glad that this one didn't get away.

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  8. Wendy, you won't regret your subscription to GenealogyBank. It is so worth it to find these little details about our ancestors' lives! And now you have confirmation of the name of that third man your aunt didn't know.

    The bonus point is that, now that you've posted the information you brought forward from that previous generation, you are online, and future generations will be able to find your records of this event when they search the Internet, wondering "who were those men?" We are making so many more of these details searchable when we add them to the mix online, just like you have done.

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    1. Already this subscription is proving its worth. While I like finding the cold facts of birth and death dates, discovering the little details of daily lives is so satisfying.

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  9. I agree, a great newspaper find.. I'd never heard of a sail fish before, but that was certainly a beauty.

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    1. Sail Fish are rather common here. Lots of seafood restaurants and fish-related businesses love to have one stuffed and mounted on the wall.

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  10. Serendipity has been alive and active with you this week. I need to get back to more extensive genealogy and research to find my own unanswered questions about photos and their stories. Great finds for you! Just shows how photos do have something to say...but to find it is the search..

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    1. I love all the words people are giving me -- Fate, Chance, Luck, and now Serendipity. That's the word I wish I had thought of!!

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  11. Wow, that's a great fish story. I can hear your squeal of delight when you found that. I've had a subscription to Genealogybank for a while after I was introduced to it from another blog. My first search provided an answer to a mystery that I had nearly given up on. In 2 minutes I found a short newspaper notice on marriage licenses that saved taking a long vacation drive to Lincoln, Nebraska and spending who knows how many hours in a public library. I'd rather go fishing.

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    1. Hardly "breaking news," but this little blurb in the paper rendered great information for me. I would never have thought to even go to the library to look at old newspapers thinking I might find a story to go with this picture.

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  12. Great sleuthing, Wendy. What a wonderful find! Don't you love digital newspapers?!

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  13. Well done, Wendy. You must have been delighted to turn up the story behind your photo.

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  14. What a wonderful find! I enjoyed the way you told the story of the photograph and your discoveries - a great post. .

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  15. Now that is amazing, and just what makes our journey back so darn wonderful!

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  16. I'm so proud that you found this information! You are just something girl! I'm glad you have provided this blog so our kiddo's will know about their family. Violetta would be proud.

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    1. It's here but my kids don't read it.

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  17. I love that you found the story for your photo! There is so much information in old newspapers.

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  18. Fantastic serendipity! Everyone who wonders why we get so turned on by genealogy should hear this story!

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    1. I know! People not into genealogy just don't get it.

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  19. Amazing fish! I'd never heard of a sailfish before today. How wonderful that you have the full story.

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  20. When you combine family history, fine old photos, and good blog writing you always come up with a fascinating post, and this is no exception.

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  21. What a catch! Wonderful story Wendy and it sounds as though that subscription will be of use again and again. You’ve done your bit for keeping the story alive as well.

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    1. "Catch" -- ha ha -- I love a punster!

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  22. That's pretty incredible!

    I've got a friend who is a genealogist who is always talking about how so many people focus on dates and timelines and forget to collect the stories. I'll give her a plug here if you don't mind. She created a really nice easy small piece of software called Sort Your Story for this exact reason. She wants people to collect the stories about each person and then put the information together in books so the stories will be passed around and shared.

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    1. Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

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  23. Well done, Wendy. Excellent research and a good yarn.

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  24. That is incredible! Genealogy bank has provided me with some great stories as well and filled in a few gaps, too, but you really scored. Great story.

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  25. This is fantastic Wendy! What a wonderful find!

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  26. Well, well, well, look at you now!! Excellent work!!
    Most of my family pictures would be a testimony to Judy's statement.
    I like how you digress...

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  27. Wendy,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/02/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-february-28.html

    Have a fantastic weekend!

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    1. Oh Jana -- thanks! I do appreciate your support and encouragement.

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