May 30, 2015

Rare Helen Keller – Anne Sullivan Photo Found

Newly discovered Helen Keller - Anne Sullivan photo

You may have seen it in the news or online, but if not, there has been found a previously undiscovered Helen Keller – Anne Sullivan photo found in a collection donated to the NEHGS.

An NEHGS staff member discovered the photograph while combing through a large photography collection recently donated by Thaxter P. Spencer, 87, of Waltham, MA. (Full story can be read here.)

The signifcance of the photo is that there are very few images of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan when Helen was a child. This is a truly intriguing photo and I hope you have the time to read the full story by clicking on the link I have included above.

On a more personal note, just this week I had the heart-warming experience of sharing a photo of my ancestor Eleazer Smith with a new-found cousin. It was early evening and the phone rang, and Katie introduced herself and how we connect with the Smith family.

Eleazer Smith, Great Great Great Grandfather to Carol Yates Wilkerson

She had found online where I had said that I have a photo copy of Eleazer (Ale) Smith and she wondered if I still had it in my possession. The photo was generously copied by another cousin named Christine Brady who lives in Tennessee and given to me for my records.

When I was given this photo it was as if a pot of gold had been dropped in my lap. I never thought I would see a photo of this GGG-Grandfather. And now, I have shared it with Katie and I know she feels the same way. Ale was born in 1803, and since he looks to be a young man in this photo, it was most likely taken in the 1820’s or so.

Many of my family photos can be found on Webshots.  I have posted them there as public albums so that any of my cousins and kin can see them and download them if they like. I don’t see myself as the ‘owner’ of the photos and documents I have, but ratehr the ‘caretaker’ and as such, it is my goal to keep them safe but also share them with as many people as possible. That way, history is not lost. Do you feel the same way?

John Osgatharp In Rev War Record At Footnote

I started using the new website Footnote last week, and within about 15 minutes I found a record with my 3rd Great Grandfather’s signature on it. John Osgatharp was a Justice of the Peace in Jackson County, Tennessee when the document was signed on 20 Dec. 1843.

John Osgatharp signature

As a certified handwriting analyst, I was interested in my ancestor’s writing and what it could tell me about him. Taking into consideration that handwriting of the day was dictated by the social flamboyance of this Victorian era, John’s cursive form of writing was not surprising. Being able to read, write and spell tells me that he was an educated man. His position in the county as Justice of the Peace also speaks to his being respected by his peers. Some other things I have noticed is that he most generally crosses his T’s with the bar high on the stem, denoting high goals, but not unreachable. The hook at the end of some of his words says to me that he might have had something in his past that he always thought about, and most of his letters like O’s and small a’s are closed, showing that he was able to keep his mouth shut. Probably a good thing if he was a Justice of the Peace.

This record, as a genealogical source has everything going for it. Names (Miles, Osgatharp), the date (at least twice), location (Jackson County, Tennessee) and references the Revolutionary War. I should mention too, that John’s own father, Richard Osgatharp (official spelling believed to be Osgathorpe) was a Patriot in the RW, serving from Burke County, North Carolina. I have a copies of two of Richard’s pay vouchers issued in Morgan County, NC and plan to add him to my Patriot list for the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It has only been a few days since I began using Footnote, but if this is any indication of what kind of documentation I will be able to find on the site, it is well worth the price of subscribing. I suspect it will only get better as they add more and more documents over time.