"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed Taylor Daily Press - 2 Dec 1999

Photographs and your Research

When my grandmother died, we went through her things and found a box of old family photographs. Have you experienced this? There must have been a couple of hundred photographs from the early 1920s through the 1980s. None of them were identified.

The best part of genealogy is the story telling and one of the best tools to help you along with your story are photographs. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

One of the most important things you can do for your family is to properly identify your photographs.

Writing on the backsides of photographs, especially thin paper modern ones will damage or destroy the images. It is important to remember this and keep in mind what type of pen or pencil to use. For example, I received in the mail a wonderful set of photos from a cousin who’d written when a soft felt tipped pen on the backside of the photographs. While this did not leave ballpoint pen tracks on the photo paper, she forgot to let the ink dry (or slip paper between the photos) before stacking the photographs one on top of another. Unknowingly, she transferred the ink from the backside of the photograph onto the face of the photograph under it.

Here are some general questions to keep in mind when you are identifying your photographs:

1. Date photograph was taken?

2. The names of the people? Be sure and identify them left to right so that people will know Uncle Ed is on the left, not the right.

3. Ages of the people?

4. Why was the photograph taken?

5. If it is a duplicate photograph, who has the original?

6. Who took the photograph?

If this is too detail, just remember the simple rule: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

Sometimes I include photographs of gravemarkers and tombstones in my genealogy. Many times I will not have a photograph of Great-Great-Uncle Wayne who died before the Civil War, but a photograph of his gravemarker is the next best thing. I had taken some photographs of family gravemarkers in a small rural cemetery and a few years later the cemetery was vandalized. Those photographs provided a unique record of the original gravemarkers, which were replaced by newer ones due to the vandalism.

It is important to identify these photographs by listing the name and location of the cemetery.

A friend, Herb Clark of Cypress, Texas, is working on a Cemetery Archiving Project for the Internet at: http://ghoti.org/cemetery/. The goal of this project is to create a website which offers a free searchable archive and database of the photographs of gravemarkers and tombstones. What a unique way to use your photographs of gravemarkers and cemeteries!

Your older photographs can help with your research and provide invaluable clues. While looking at a photograph taken in the early 1920s of my great-grandfather’s family, I notice an interesting item, tractor. By finding out about the make and model of the tractor, I was able to determine a better approximation of the year the photograph was taken. So, it is important to look for hints in the clothing, jewelry (that might be a fraternity pen, not just a tie tack), shoes, furniture, cars/trucks, house construction/design, etc.

So, hurry-up and get busy with your own box of unidentified photographs!

On the Bookshelf

Glorieta Pass. 1999. by P. G. Nagel. Hard-cover, 6” x 8.5”, 448 pages, no-index, bibliography. (approx. $25.00, available in bookstores).

While Nagel’s book is a work of fiction, if you are interested in the Civil War, you will enjoy the story of this little known episode in Civil War history. The Battle Glorieta Pass is revealed in great detail and she gives a compelling description of the life of the soldiers. The book is written in sharp and clear language. The details of the sprite of the soldiers, the time and place are perfectly recreated.

You will be particularly interest in reading this book if you had ancestors who were members of the 4th Texas Cavalry (more commonly known as the 4th Mounted Volunteers; 1st Regiment, Sibley's Brigade).

Several counties in the Central Texas area provided companies for the 4th Texas Cavalry. Milam County, Texas supplied two units, Company D (known as the “San Andres Light Horse Company”) commanded by Capt. Charles M. Lesueur and Company E (known as the “Milam County Guards”) commanded by Capt. Charles Buckholts. In fact, Capt. Buckholts who was killed on Mar. 28, 1862 at the Battle of Glorieta is mentioned several times in the book.

For more information on this book, visit Nagel's website at: http://thuntek.net/mandala/glorieta/links.html.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 2 Dec and was last revised on 10 Jan 2000

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604