Glimpses of the past

So thankful

As we approach Thanksgiving, The Legal Genealogist is oh so thankful for cousins who stay in touch and who are willing to share when they come across things in the boxes they’ve inherited…

Case in point.

I have an absolutely wonderful second cousin who now lives in Texas but is doing her best to move to New Mexico. The move is likely to mean downsizing so she’s going carefully through everything she received from her older sister, who died in 2008, from their mother, who died in 1983, and from their mother’s mother — my grandfather’s sister — who died in 1984.

The newspaper clipping about my Uncle Monte that was the focus of the untold story (last weekend’s piece on my family) came from this cousin, also named Judy, and so did a bunch of photographs.

Take a walk with me through just a few moments of my family’s history, captured and frozen in time…

My great grandparents, Martin Gilbert and Martha H. (Johnson) Cottrell, separated in 1909, with Mattie leaving Texas with her four youngest children, Theo (called Tedd), who was my cousin Judy’s grandmother; Maude; Bert; and Clay, the baby, my grandfather. They moved to Frederick, Oklahoma, where Tedd and Maude ran the telephone exchange.

I do have pictures of these two great aunts, alone and with other of their sisters. But never before had I seen this photo before Judy sent this copy.

That’s Maude on the left and Tedd on the right. We’re not sure if it was in Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas, before they left there, or in Frederick, in Tillman County, Oklahoma, after they arrived there, but oh boy… isn’t this an amazing image…?

Wanna know what a telephone exchange looked like between, oh, 1910 and, say, 1915? Here’s the one in Frederick, Oklahoma.

That’s my grandfather Clay sitting there with the headset on. Wasn’t he adorable?

Now this next one is a bit of a puzzle. It’s either Clay or his older brother Bert. Both served in World War I.

But you know… it almost doesn’t matter which one it is. We can all see ourselves in those eyes.

I’ll take time to share just one more with you… because it’s just so very special. You see, in the 1940s, my grandparents still had bunches of kids at home and very little money coming in. They put some things in storage, including boxes of old family photos. You know the rest of the story already, don’t you? The storage fees couldn’t be paid, the things in storage were sold… or thrown away. So there are so few, so very few, photographs of the older of my grandparents’ children, including my late mother.

But there she is… the little girl front left, with her cousin Helen’s hands on her shoulders. Helen’s sister Ruby (my cousin Judy’s mother) is next, holding my Aunt Carol (who died last month), my grandparents Opal (Robertson) and Clay Cottrell, with my Aunt Cladyne in front blocking her Dad, my great aunts Nettie and Tedd (Judy’s grandmother), and my Uncle David in front.

Glimpses of a time long gone, and into faces so well loved…

Thank you, cousin Judy. Thank you. Thank you.

Print Friendly
This entry was posted in My family. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Glimpses of the past

  1. Celia Lewis says:

    These are wonderful photos, Judy – treasures indeed. My mother’s eldest sister was the keeper of The Photograph Albums in the Terwilliger/Grave family… and they were a relatively wealthy family apparently. All photos disappeared when she went into a nursing home aged 88, as she became charmingly demented, and nothing was found of them. No friendly cousins in Greenwich Village to take them over, and no photos seem to have shown up on eBay. Your cousin gets a big gold star, for taking care of these, and for sharing them. Simply wonderful.

  2. Mary Ann Thurmond says:

    These truly are treasures! My sister Vicki has an entire album of marvelous photos from her late husband’s family—not one picture labeled, and nobody left to identify them. The pictures are fabulous but I suspect that when she’s gone, the album will “disappear.” So sad, I think.

  3. Joy Uhrin says:

    These pictures brings back so many thoughts from my past. Family members are gone and so are the pictures. If we knew then about saving the pictures can you imagine how many there would be.WOW.I have so many cousins let alone nieces and nephews that ask for pictures of family members.(I’m the only one of 12 doing search) if they only realize the worth of it all.Joy

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Joy, it’s hard to get people to understand how valuable these things are… until we start losing the people pictured. THEN the tune changes… and it’s too late. Sigh…

  4. Dick Kahane says:

    Were Clay and Bert in the same unit? It would seem that the soldier in the photo is wearing the collar disc of Company B, 3rd Infantry (the Rock of the Marne).

  5. Kathleen says:

    My aunt just asked me today if I would be interested in a whole bunch of old unidentified pictures from her husband’s side of the family . . . “because you like old things.” They don’t know what to do with them, since they can’t identify the individuals pictured (any photos of my uncle’s parents have been removed from the group and put in an album), and she’s threatening to throw them out. It would be a sin, but I don’t know what to advise her to do with them instead. I can’t take them – I have enough to do just managing pictures of my own family! Any ideas?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I absolutely would contact genealogical and historical societies and libraries in the areas where the husband’s family came from. SOMEBODY should want them, darn it!

  6. JoF says:

    One of the few smart things I did was get my mother to write names on the backs of old family photos. She didn’t know all of them so I just told her to write what she knew. Sometimes, there is a photo of 4 people with 3 names! Still, usually I can get the info from other photos and be sure who is who. She made a few mistakes. One photo with me in it has another little girl who is a year or 2 or maybe 3 years older than I. My mother identified her as someone who was a lot older than that. This is the most obvious mistake. Altogether though, the information is good and stuff I’d not know otherwise. I just wish there was a picture of her father. He died in 1931 and he and my grandmother were not on good terms at the time. So, I guess either there never were pictures of him (odd because there were pictures of all of the kids and oodles of my grandmother) or she threw them out. Sigh. Anyway, I always tell people who have living elder relatives to get them to identify the people in their family photos. My experience with libraries/archives is that while they welcome donations of photos, they don’t do anything to try to identify the people or places.

    • Paula Williams says:

      One of Judy’s (and my) first cousins had corralled our grandmother in a room with her mother, a video camera, and many of our grandmother’s photographs. Said grandmother did not want her face on camera, but agreed to have the video camera behind her. While it would have been nice to have seen the women’s faces, it was, from an archivist’s and genealogist’s perspective, better the way it worked out, as you could see the photos as the stories were being told.

      So there’s an idea for any onlookers!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Those IDs are priceless, Jo, and I sure hope you find a photo of her father somehow someday.

  7. Jeff says:

    You are so lucky! I am jealous!

  8. Debi Austen says:

    These photos are great! I have boxes of photos of family members with no idea who they are and every once in awhile I find a newspaper article about someone with a photo and poof, I find the very same photo in my box of unidentified people. Slowly but surely I’m finding names to put with the beautiful faces.

  9. Trish Dukeman says:

    Judy I would add that I am ever so thankful for cousins who have a blog where they post such treasures. Thank You for this labor of love that you are blessing your family with.

  10. Anne Willson says:

    Well, some of those people who go into homes don’t have family to take their stuff. And yet, you certainly wish you could pass it back up a generation or two. I’ve got a set of records that ended up at a thrift store…what a glorious baby book filled (literally) with photographs. 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks 1 1/2 months, etc. all the way up through 17 years old. Only his mother remarried and his wife divorced him and looks like his only son never got back in touch with him. But he kept clippings of her second marriage and the son’s miltary service. His mother pasted in pictures of relatives born in France in the late 1700s…SOMEONE has to want it!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Ooooh…. oh Anne that’s so sad that such a treasure could end up in a thrift store. Good for you for rescuing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>