Old photographs with unnamed faces gaze at me asking to be identified and treasured. Labeled photographs ask for their story to be revealed and shared. I’m fortunate that several of my ancestors saved and passed on so many pictures. However, there are other family lines with gaping holes where there should be smiling faces. What happened to their family photos? According to Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective,“Photos aren’t inherited in a direct line, most times they pass to a relative interested in preserving them. When that doesn’t happen pictures go missing, get destroyed or are sold.”
Using serendipity, cousin connections, and blogging, I’ve managed to fill in some of the missing faces. Taking inspiration from Cathy Meder-Dempsey’s blog, Opening Doors in Brick Walls, and her articles about Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can, I decided to write a series of posts about discovered photographs.
THE FIRST BIG DISCOVERY
His pale somber eyes gaze at me from the computer screen. Unruly dark hair pokes out behind his pronounced ear lobes. A full mustache drapes over his lips and a slightly graying goatee hides his chin. Although the photograph depicts only a head and shoulder view, he appears slender. So, this is what you look like Thomas Ackley Nichols? I’d scoured the internet for months looking for his portrait. Serendipity struck on the day I published my first blog about Thomas A. Nichols when I found his photograph on a “defunct” website. You can read more about his story here.
Cousin connections and blogging led me to two additional photographs of Thomas. I think the original photograph is the center image and the two identical photographs are copies and reverse images. Although Thomas is not wearing a hat nor can we see a belt buckle, his buttons on the first and last photo are reversed.
- A third cousin read my blog and shared the photograph of Thomas on the left. He also emailed me images of Thomas’s second wife (Lillian Bull) and their three children.
- A distant collateral cousin connected with me through ancestry.com; we share a 7x great-grandfather. She generously sent me a collection of Nichols’s family photographs, including the photograph of Thomas on the right.
Some of the photographs in the Nichols collection are labeled, unfortunately, others are not. Prior to receiving the images, I had very few photos of Thomas and his extended family. He had two wives, six children, and fifteen grandchildren, so my hope is that someone among his descendants is interested in family history and can identify the mystery pictures. I look forward to introducing additional members of the Nichols family and comparing family resemblances.
© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.
 Taylor, Maureen, “A Mystery Photo from the Big Easy,” The Client Files (https://maureentaylor.com/mystery-photo-big-easy/?mc_cid=f8a8de703d&mc_eid=670c5a87f4 : accessed 10 February 2017.