Thursday, December 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Another Priceless Family Photo FOUND

Courtesy Yvonne Jackson, Australia
This photo is my great great grandparents George and Flora (Chitts) Allen with their infant daughter. Prior to locating this photo, I had never seen their faces. My great grandfather, George Henry Allen, was the only family member to leave Australia and, as far as I know, all of the other descendants of this couple are still living there. Apparently, my grandmother, Wanda Allen Moore Bloomfield, kept up a correspondence with our family in Australia, but, unfortunately, with her death that link was lost.

The hunt for my Australian cousins and the eventual discovery of this photo was quite an undertaking. First, I searched Ancestry's Public Family Trees to locate the names of any descendants. Luckily, I did come across some information on George and Flora's grandchildren in Australia and followed their families as far as I could. What I was especially looking for was an unusual name among the descendants. Eventually, I found it -"Bartheyl". My next step was to go to Facebook and search for that surname. As luck would have it, there were only four and they were all members of the same family in Australia. I sent a polite message (to the one who looked the oldest) inquiring about possible shared Allen heritage. Just two days later, to my great pleasure, I received an affirmative response. My newfound cousin then referred me to another Australian Allen cousin, who shared this photo with me. It was quite a search, but incredibly well worth it.

The photo was labeled on the bottom "George and Flora Allen, Baby Flora." If that is indeed who is pictured here, then this photo had to be taken in either 1886 or 1887. "Baby Flora" was the last child born to this couple due to Flora's premature death in early 1888. Flora Georgina Allen was born in 1886 in Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia. Since she looks about one year old here, it was likely taken within months of her mother's death.

I find it a bit strange that none of their other three children (Angelena Elizabeth b.1876, George Henry b.1880 and William James b.1884) are pictured here. This makes me question if the photo might be misidentified and the little girl here is actually their eldest child, Angelena. If that's the case, it would mean that the photo was taken c.1877-8. On the other hand, the provenance of the photo does point to it being "Baby Flora", since it is her descendants who shared it with me. The description that my cousin gave me of the original, leads me to believe that it is an ambrotype. According to Wikipedia, in the United States, the ambrotype was only popular in the 1850s and 1860s. However, Australia may have had a different time frame for their adoption and discontinuation of photographic processes.

Regardless of who the child is, this photo is very meaningful to me. One of my favorite parts of genealogy is finding "new" family photos. George and Flora have been gone since 1913 and 1888, respectively. Who would have thought that I would be able to discover this treasure more than 7000 miles away and a century later?

To have the opportunity to look upon the faces of my ancestors is priceless.

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  1. As always - fascinating post. I have noted your nomination on this week's Sepia Saturday blog and encouraged support from fellow s-s'ers

  2. Thanks so much, Alan. If it wasn't for Sepia Saturday, I wouldn't be nominated. Some of my best posts are inspired by your theme!

  3. I'm delighted for you that you managed to track down a "New Old" family photo - you've inspired me to see if I can trace some for my faceless ancestors. Congrats on the nomination :-)

  4. Thanks imagespast! I hope you find some "new old" photos too!