Saturday, August 25, 2007

Family pictures

In the process of meandering about in my family history files while working on ancestral descendants, I have reacquainted myself with some names and connections. A flood of documentation, paper and electronic, has been retrieved, and I find myself ever more intrigued by these people and their lives.

One great-great uncle, Eli Cain, remained in the Indiana county where he, his parents and seven brothers had settled in the 1820s.. It is said they walked to Franklin County, on the Indiana/Ohio border, from Delaware. Of the eight boys, one moved on to Tennessee, and the others scattered to various other parts of Indiana.

I am fortunate to have a portrait of four of these brothers, (including Eli) taken in Connersville, in 1899. A cousin helped me confirm the identification of all four (I knew a couple and he knew the others). They were in their late 80s and early 90s by then. Good genes or virtuous living? Perhaps both.

I have been trying to find descendants of Eli and his brothers for some time, which, while going against the preferred practice of working back in time, is an interesting, wide-ranging project. Cain is not a particularly common name, but so many of the boys were named John or Edward or William! And there are a number of girls named Sarah, Mary and Elizabeth, with the associated nicknames. It makes determining the connections something of a task. Sarah becomes "Sadie" even on her tombstone. Elizabeth can be Lizzie, Betsy or Bess. Laura is called Lulu. And middle names are sometimes just mysterious initials, or become the given name of choice.

This project has given family pictures a new aspect for me. There are some as far back as the 1880s, and while there was identification for most of the people, my recent research has given them much more meaning. Elmer and Ellsworth, my father's twin cousins, looked like scamps as youngsters, ready to slip away the minute the photographer finished. I notice, in two family pictures, another child sits between them – perhaps to hold them in check? (An aunt told me one did jail time as an adult)

I am still trying to devise charts that show the Big Picture, with the help of chart-making programs and my big magnetic dry-erase board. Eventually ...


If you are as intrigued by cemeteries as I am, you won't want to miss the KQED-TV program Sept. 5, titled "Cemetery Special."

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