Thursday, August 19, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Great Aunt Gladys' photo albums

Gladys' siblings c.1898
My great great grandmother Jennie Cole Kint Purdy Phelps (1864-1950) had six children by three different husbands. (That's a story for another day!)  Gladys Phelps (1898-1986) was her youngest and my great grandmother Blanche Purdy was third. Gladys did not have children. As a result, when she died in 1986, her possessions were passed on to her nieces and nephews, including a number of photo albums. My father's sister inherited them, mostly intact, with just a few mysterious shadows of photos removed by other family members. She held on to them until recently when she decided that, as the family historian, I should have them. As you can imagine, this decision has brought me great pleasure!
I have treated all of her photos with great care. Unfortunately, I was forced to carefully disassemble the albums that she so lovingly arranged because they were affixed with old glue and had already suffered some damage. I scanned each page to capture the arrangement in case it had some special meaning that would give clues to the mostly unidentified photos. Among the many photos of the gargantuan flowers Gladys grew in her garden and bus trips to Vegas were some real family gems.
Included in the albums were many photos of my great grandmother, but the one pictured the most was their brother Clifford Purdy. He and his wife Martha were also childless, so the gift of the album gave me an excellent opportunity to memorialize the lives of those, without descendants, who might otherwise not have been remembered. In fact, a faded newspaper clipping obituary contained in one of the albums gave me just enough clues to trace Martha's interesting life and family.
These albums enabled me to know Gladys and her siblings to a much greater degree. I just wish I had a collection like this for each of my family members/ancestors. Ironically, Gladys herself may have stood in the way of me learning much more about her mother Jennie's family and Jennie's second husband, Jonathan E. Purdy, my great great grandfather, of whom I have never seen a photo.  Reportedly, when Jennie died in 1950, Gladys donated to the Salvation Army boxes full of tintypes from Jennie's long life. What I wouldn't give to have inherited those too!
Gladys 6 yrs, 1904
Gladys 15 yrs, 1913
Gladys&George Roberts 1922
Gladys&George Roberts 1980


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