As an historian and genealogist, one of the saddest things for me is to find a box of old photo in an antique store with no name written on the backs of the photographs to identify the person or persons pictured. The photos were possibly left in a drawer or an album at a time when everyone in the household knew the identities of these people and no one felt a need to document who they were. Then overtime, everyone who knew who they were, dies or is too young to remember them.
If I find a box of old photos in an antique shop, and I usually do, I will flip through them and imagine who each person was, what they did, where they lived, and what life was like for them. And if I’m lucky, I’ll find some with names on them. Sometimes the shop will have a $5-$10 price tag on each photo, but most of the time, they will let them go for no more than a dollar each. Just ask.
That’s when the detective work begins. If the handwritten name can be read and if the back of the photo has the photographer’s location, and many of them do, those two facts can be searched together online. For some of the people I can not find an adequate record, but for others, I am able to give these people their story.
My hope is that when ancestors search their name, they will be able to find them here.
Meet a few of the people whose stories I have recovered:
Nettie Adele Troop
This is Nettie Adele Troop (or Throop) from Pittsfield, NY. She was born in early 1869 and she had one brother, Eugene, who was ten at the time. Her father, George Troop was a carpenter and joiner and her mother, Martha, kept house. The large age difference between her and her brother was due to her father enlisting in the Union Army in 1864 during the Civil War.
By the time Nettie was eleven, her family had moved to New Berlin, NY where this photograph was taken.
Nettie later married William B. Lent around the age of 20 and they had one son, Walter Eugene Lent in 1890. They moved to Kings, NY where her husband worked with the railroad as a conductor.
Unfortunately on November 23, 1894, Nettie passed away at the age of 25. Her husband and young son moved in with his parents in Cortlandt, NY until at least 1905.
Sometime after that he married a young woman named May, before 1910. May must have passed away within the next several years because by 1918 he has married again, to Eva, and they have one daughter named Eva Lent who was born in 1919.
Nettie and William’s son Walter Eugene Lent married in 1915 when he was 25 and followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as an electrician for the railroad in New York City. He and his wife had two sons and they named one son George, for Walter’s grandfather, George Troop.
Meet Miss Alice Burrows, the school teacher. Born in 1871 in Sanford, Broome Co., New York, to William and Sarah Burrows, she was their third child. She graduated in 1889 from Binghamton Central High School and became a teacher. In fact, this photograph was taken the year she graduated.
At age 20 she taught at the Helen St. School and made $320 that year. She lived in a boarding house at 43 Seminary Av. with other women who had similar occupations.
Over the years she lived in many different dwellings, but always stayed within the local vicinity of Binghamton, New York as she moved to teach at different schools.
In 1899, she was a boarder at 42 Murray St. In 1900, at age 29, she moved to another boarding house at 103 Oak Street across from the present high school in Binghamton . It is not known if this school was there when she lived there or whether she taught there.
A couple of doors down the street lived a widower in another boarding house. They evidently got to know each other well at that time because by the end of the next year they were to be married.
But before they married she moved to 16 1/2 Arthur Street and taught at the No. 15 school on St. John Street.
At the end of 1901 she and Mr. Herrick J. McCormick, a widower aged 52, were wed. Her teaching days and her moving days were over (as far as I can tell). He was an insurance adjuster in Binghamton and they moved to the house that became the last dwelling in which she would live, 180 West End Street.
In 1906, they had their first child, a son Wayne Lawrence. Two years later their daughter Marian was born.
Lawrence became a clerk and a chauffeur in Binghamton. He married and had a son who served in the Navy in WWII.
Alice and Herrick McCormick were married for over 40 years until Mr. McCormick passed away in 1942. He was almost 93.
I researched what I believe to be documents pertaining to Mr. Samuel Seitz, given his age and location, realizing that there are other Seitz families in Ohio and many are Amish or Mennonite and have many of the same biblical names. But I believe the information I recovered proves to be his.
Mr. Samuel Seitz reaped the sorrow of his times. He was born Oct. 30, 1841 to Peter and Rebecca Seitz. He had at least eight brothers and sisters, five of which died before he turned twenty-one.
He registered for the Civil War draft relatively late, by June of 1863, but two of his young adult siblings had died since the Civil War had begun so I believe that is what caused a delay in his signing up for the draft.
He married Phebe Darringer on Valentines Day in 1864 and enlisted ten days later on February 24, 1864 with the 21st Ohio Infantry, Co. G. By the time he joined them, they had already helped to take Vicksburg and then participated in the Battle of Chattanooga and the Chickamauga Campaign. The 21st Ohio would later join Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in his “March to the Sea” burning everything and leaving a trail of destruction through Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah.
After he returned home, he and Phebe moved to Perrysburg south of Toledo where he worked in manufacturing. They had three daughters, Coradelle, Rebecca, and Ida. But in July of 1879, Phebe died. In 1880 we find him widowed and living with eight year old Ida in Blanchard, east of Ottawa, Ohio. Coradelle and Rebecca were 14 and 12 in 1880, but I could not find where they were living.
He married again in August of 1880 to Elizabeth Crist and moved to Leipsic, Ohio. They lived there till at least 1900. But the 1910 census shows him renting as a boarder and divorced. Elizabeth died in February 1910 in Homer, Michigan.
The last ten years of his life must have been full of sorrow and depression because we find him in January 1920 renting a house in Leipsic, OH living with a boarder. By July, he had died of cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol is the most common cause of cirrhosis although it can be caused by hepatitis as well. Either way, he died a slow death.
Did he become an alcoholic? If so, did he drink in excess to cope with all of the loss in his life or to deal with post traumatic stress disorder from serving in the Civil War? Could alcoholism have contributed to his divorce? We may never know for sure, but his face in the photograph looks rather weary.
– Unknown –
Then there are individuals like this man who really are lost to time. No name, no place. Just sitting in a box. I picked up this photo and bought it only because he looked like he had an interesting story.
I wonder what it is?