CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 1, Number 32
By Damon Veach
PRESERVING PHOTOGRAPHS: In the last two columns, Iíve discussed how to use census records, death records, and cemetery records. Now letís take a look at the photography angle in the preservation of a familyís lineage. First of all, get some relative to identify any old pictures you have. Once this is done, you can move forward with your research. If this isnít done, then chances are the people photographed will be lost in time. Even older relatives sometimes canít recall those people in the pictures, but at least record what is known regardless of whether you can put a name to a face. Other pictures may reveal that same face with an identity. Here is a sample of what I mean.
In this picture, I know that Arminta (Sinclair) Adams is the one seated in the middle of the picture. Even though I only know a few of the others, I do have the names and have sketched out a number layout to put the names to the faces or positions. Only two or three are unknown, but somehow I think they are related to the family. Arminta is my great grandmother, and my grandmother Lillie (Adams) Foshee is the little girl on the right with a ribbon in her hair. Her sisters are lined up in front. This is such a fantastic picture and one that I will always cherish.
Another picture was provided to me by a distant cousin in Kansas and a descendant of the Martindale branch of the family. That picture has all the Veach family members, and it was taken in front of the old homestead in Strawn, Kansas that was built for Arthur and Ankah (Mellett) Veach. It is similar to the above picture, and I have also identified as many individuals as I can. The one thing I do appreciate is the copy of a picture of the old family home taken before it was torn down to make way for the rising waters due to the building of the John Redmond Reservoir.
When I first started my research, I only had a few names and places provided by my Grandmother Veach (Harriet Adaline Wilson Veach), so with only this small amount of information, I wrote a letter to the mayor of Burlington, Kansas, where I thought most of the family records would be found. This is one time when a letter really paid off with a wonderful piece of family history. Note the stone mounted over the front doors at the roof line. When the house was torn down, this stone with the date and builderís name was saved, and the mayor himself had the stone sitting in his back yard just waiting for any relative to call for it. I immediately got the family together, and off we went to Kansas to retrieve this historic stone. It is now at home in my historic garden in the Spanish Town section of downtown Baton Rouge.
Every picture tells a story, and it is really important to identify the people and the places quickly. I have been fortunate in my quest for family information and have a large collection about all family members which I hope to someday have on display in the Veach Ė Foshee Memorial Library Collection located in the Mansfield Female College Museum in Mansfield, Louisiana. Copies of all these pictures are also posted on the Veach web site that is maintained by my nephew Don Veach of Slidell.
Whether the picture is of an individual, a place, or some family memento, there is a story there just waiting to be told. These are most likely not valuable from a monetary standpoint, but as a part of oneís family history, they are extremely important and deserve to be saved so that future generations can enjoy them. I cannot stress enough the importance of putting the names on the backs of pictures. Talk to your older relatives now. Even go so far as to meet with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins to determine who might have the most interest in preserving these things. Most will express an interest, but few will step forward to do all the work. I stepped forward, and I am so glad I did.
DOCUMENTS IMPORTANT: In addition to all those pictures you might have, there are lots of other items that contain so much of your family history. Of course a lot of this material can only be found in courthouses, but be sure to get any copies you can to add to your files.
However, you have lots of materials right there in your personal collections that contain important information. Take a look at this.
This page from the old Adams family Bible was falling apart so I had it laminated to preserve it. There is one birth date on the back, and it also has a personal note from Arrie, my grandmotherís sister Arizona Adams, stating that she loved all these names recorded here. In another family Bible that I have, my motherís sister wrote a note that she was really lonesome that day. Here I found all the Foshee births and deaths recorded. I have found so many things that my grandmother had saved, but what really came as a shock was when I found this plastic holder with a little dress folded and stored in it. I did not have to open it. I recognized it from a picture I have hanging in my bedroom. My aunt, Myrtle Inez Foshee, who died when she was about four years old, was pictured with her parents Elijah James and Lillie May (Adams) Foshee, Dovie Foshee (the oldest daughter), and a son Alonzo Foshee. I believe that this is the only picture in existence of her. She was the second person buried in Cool Springs Cemetery in DeSoto Parish.
A friend of mine is manager of Rudolphís Christmas Store in Baton Rouge, and each spring he drives a big truck up to New England to collect antiques for one of the businesses located in this complex of stores. He has acquired a number of old Bibles, and we are in the process of copying this data now. Somewhere someone is looking for this information, and I want to make sure that it is recorded and available through this column format. Bibles often contain the only records of a familyís lineage.
Another form of preserving family history is by way of death notices. The one pictured here is about my grandfather Joshua H. Veach, who brought the Veach family to Louisiana and settled in DeSoto Parish in the early 1920s. He was pastor of Cool Springs Primitive Baptist Church before leaving there to accept an offer from the Primitive Baptist Church in Gonzales, Texas. My father, Paul Andrew Veach, married my mother, Birdie E.J. Foshee, and they remained in Louisiana. The other boys scattered out into Texas.
On that trip to pick up the stone from the Arthur Veach homestead, I stopped off at the newspaper office in Burlington, Kansas, and I came into possession of another fantastic piece of history. It was a reproduction of a little volume of data from early Coffey County, Kansas. There in complete detail was the story of how the family came to Kansas by way of Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. It was then that I started to search for the elusive Wilson family data. They were listed in this book, but there wasnít as much information as I had found on the Veach family and other allied lines.
I had done some research before in the old Goodspeed volumes of family histories, so I checked to see if one was done on Kansas. There was Ė and here in detail was my Wilson lineage. As Iíve stated before, compiling a family history is like working a giant crossword puzzle. As you go along in your research, the pieces of your family history keep falling into place.
Most of the information I have gleaned has come from old pictures, even some old tin types or Daguerre types. Two of the ones I have were reproduced into prints, shown below. The first is Elijah James Foshee, my grandfather, and husband of Lillie (Adams) Foshee. The second one is of his parents, Morris Smith Foshee and Delphy (Horn) Foshee, who obtained a land grant for Civil War service and came to Louisiana to establish the Foshee lineage in DeSoto Parish.
In the next format, I will discuss some of the other ways you have of tracing your family history. Itís a long and difficult journey sometimes, but it is such a joy when you find something of importance. It is out there somewhere. You just have to take the time to search for it. The rewards are well worth the time, effort, and sometimes expense in acquiring copies of this valuable information.
COLUMN INFORMATION: Correspondence to this column should be directed to Damon Veach, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337. Books and society publications are reviewed if sample copies are submitted with each request, and queries are published free of charge. These queries can be any length but should have a Louisiana connection by heritage or residence of researchers working on lines in other states or countries. Dated notices should be submitted several weeks prior to the scheduled event. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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