Pictures To Prove It

As we were swapping family photos over e-mail, a newly-discovered relative of mine told me, “I love photos also. In fact, when I am doing work on a family, I like to have their photo to look at. I think it brings reality to the numbers.”

I took that to heart this week and decided to research one particular photo I’d found online a few years ago. My great-great-grandmother, Grannie Maudie, two of her sisters, and her daughter pose in front of a 1940’s era service station. From what I read, Maudie’s sister, Phoebe, actually owned the station, but the researcher who posted the information didn’t know where the station was located.

Luckily, I discovered this back in 2001, and had plenty of time to approach Memaw about it before she passed. Maudie was Memaw’s grandmother, and Memaw had spoken enough about “they was a bunch of girls in that family” that I figured she might know something about the service station. After all, she used to say that Aunt Miney (MY-knee) was the first person in the family to own a car, and I believe she said it was a Model T. (I’m still not sure who Aunt Miney is, but I’ll piece it together someday.) So, I wasn’t surprised when she knew exactly what I was talking about, and told me that the station had been out on Route 10.

After that, I didn’t think about the service station for quite some time. I always knew I’d come back to it eventually, though.

This week, as I was pulling out family photos to inspire me in my genealogical research, I came across a print of the service station picture, and decided that I wanted to make it the cornerstone of my current project. I want to get as much information as possible about the women in the photograph, the service station, and how it came to be.

In getting my facts straight, I realized that I’d had a couple people recorded in the wrong families entirely, and that I didn’t have much information on these ladies. I had dates, thanks to Mrs. Smith’s research, but no sources. And I’ve become a stickler for sources lately.

So, tonight, I’m requesting death certificates for three of the four women in the picture: Phoebe, Delia, and Ida. I already have Maudie’s. I’m hoping to see whether they had Social Security Numbers — if they did, I can order up their Social Security Applications. Those will tell me where they were employed, if anywhere, at the time they applied for the SSN; their home address; their places of birth and their parents’ names; and a few other random goodies. Unfortunately, I’m fairly positive that Maudie never had a SSN, as her death certificate lists none, and she died in 1950, before it became mandatory for all U.S. residents to have a SSN. Phoebe also died relatively young, in 1957, at the age of 64; however, she may have had to have a SSN, since she was the owner of the service station. I have high hopes for Ida and Delia having SSNs, as they seem to have survived a little longer, and I think I’ve found them both in the Social Security Death Index.

I think I’ve geeked out on genealogy long enough for one night. I’m off to write three $5 checks to the Florida Department of Vital Statistics, record the requests in my research log, and get them ready to go in the mail tomorrow.

I’m hoping that having some focus in my research will help me untangle this confusing web of multiple marriages and not-quite-legal adoptions and divorces and separations and step-children and OMG. Why couldn’t these women be a little less strong-willed and a little more marriageable? 😉