02 October 2010

Detective Work

As I've explored my family history I've found that genealogical research involves quite a lot of detective work. Not just combing through years of census records, searching through microfilm and delving into the stacks at the genealogical library, but also piecing together lives from the old photographs in Charlotte's collection.

I have been scanning hundreds and hundreds of photographs from the original medium format film negatives. Charlotte had them organized in envelopes, labeled by year, but apart from that I have no other information on most of them. I have to infer a lot from the date and the context of similarly aged negatives.

An example of one of these puzzles, recently on the scanner...

Who are the three young children seated with Charlotte in this 1929 photograph? It is clear for the other photographs in the 1929 envelope that sometime that year, Margaret and her four children went on a road trip in their new car. It appears they visited Wayne, Toronto and Niagara Falls, so it seems very likely that these children are some of Charlotte's relatives back in Wayne, Michigan.

By looking through the 1930 census records for Wayne, Michigan for all the Raymo descendants, I find a likely candidate family.

Marion (Raymo) Bills was the daughter of Ralph Raymo and Fannie Norris. Marion was Charlotte's first cousin. Her three children, Ann, Janice and Robert would be aged about 7, 5 and 2 respectively in 1929. This seems to be a excellent match for the children in the photograph.

Can I find more evidence to support this hypothesis? I then remembered, thanks to Susan, I had a Charlotte photograph album from 1960 that had (labeled) photographs of the grown up Bills children.

Robert Bills and his wife Marjorie, Janice McIntyre and Ann Koch
Wayne, 1960

Yep! It's them, thirty one years later, with almost the same facial expressions!

Next up...finding Marion Raymo and Arthur Bills.

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