Mystery Scott photo album, part 1

Today’s post is about a photo album that’s intrigued me since I first saw it about four years ago. I’ve shared a couple of the photos from the album in previous blog posts, referring to the album in which I found them as an album that probably belonged to my great-great-grandfather Frank Scott. The album itself is quite fascinating and is filled with photos from the 1920s of a well-to-do couple named “Roland and Flo” who apparently liked to travel quite a bit.

The photo album presents a comfortable but curious mix of people from two distinct socioeconomic strata. The first group includes my known Scott relations (my great-grandmother Gertrude Scott Askew, her sister Cassie Scott, her father Frank Scott, and his second wife Lois Lanudge Scott)—poorer folk working multiple jobs to make ends meet and living in rural Wadena county, Minnesota. The second group appears to center around the couple named Roland and Flo—an apparently well-heeled and well-traveled couple.

But who were Roland and Flo? Until last week, despite having records on over 13,000 people in my family history database, not a single one of those people was named Roland, and none of the women named Flo or Florence were possible candidates for Flo in the photo album. Continue reading

Will the real Lewis Black please stand up?

Lewis Black? photo #3My adoptive great-great-grandfather Lewis Black took on the air of an almost mythical ancestor when I was young. No one I’ve ever known knew Lewis personally (he died in 1901), but everyone seemed to know things about him and have things inherited from him. There’s no question he was a real person—I’ve got loads of research to back that up—but I’ve started to wonder if everything I’ve seen and heard about the man can truly be traced back to just one man—Lewis Black.

I started to suspect this a couple of decades ago, when any question I had about the original owner of any of several heirlooms from our Kansas roots was met with the same answer: “I’m pretty sure that belonged to Lewis Black.” And then came the photos.  Continue reading

Mystery photo #2: Boy and girl with doll (part 2)

I wrote my first post on this mystery photo two and a half years ago. Thanks to my grandmother’s memories, as well as a great find made by my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers in a set of family photos now in her possession, I can now declare the case closed on this mystery.

This mystery photo was actually identified last Fall, but the preparations, anticipation and excitement of becoming a new dad led to me setting this blog aside for several months until just a couple of weeks ago.

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Mystery: Luke R. or Arthur W. McMurry—solved! (part 2)

From Katy McMurry" "Luke R. McMurry in rocking chair."In the first post of this series, I presented a mystery—two photos of an older man that had alternately been confidently identified as both Arthur Webster McMurry (1854–1917) and his father Luke Robinson McMurry (1825–1913). At the end of that post, I was still not sure who the man really was, but was leaning towards him being Luke McMurry.

Right after I published the post, a couple of inconsistencies became apparent that now make me fairly certain that the mystery man is indeed Luke R. McMurry.

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Mystery: Luke R. or Arthur W. McMurry? (part 1)

From Katy McMurry" "Luke R. McMurry in rocking chair."Until last week, I thought I knew what my great-great-grandfather Arthur Webster McMurry (1854–1917) looked like throughout his life. But then Katy McMurry showed me a photo that I could have sworn was of Arthur W. McMurry later in his life, relaxing in a rocking chair.

There was one problem, however—Katy said that this person wasn’t identified as Arthur W. McMurry, but rather was his father. According to Katy, my great-grandfather Frank Ross McMurry (Arthur W. McMurry’s son) identified the photo as being of his grandfather Luke Robinson McMurry (1825–1913), not of his father Arthur. Well, dang.

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Ruth Black’s childhood home (part 1)

Charnton House, Columbia, TennesseeIn a recent post, I presented my recent discovery (thanks to cousin Sharon Black) that my adoptive great-great-grandmother Ruth Jane (Tucker) Black was a southern girl who fell in love with a wounded Yankee soldier (Lewis Black) and then ran away from her childhood plantation to elope with Lewis and start a new life in the north. Since writing that post, I’ve been wondering about the location of the plantation and the identity of the family that she left behind, never to be reunited with either.

While it may seem like an impossible task, there are enough clues to make the attempt to find her family and her plantation worthwhile.

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The fate of Ruth Black’s “soddy”

1905?Another of the finds that my cousin Sharon Black sent along to me earlier this week is a newspaper account of Ruth Black’s old sod house. I had heard tales of the old sod house from my grandparents, Vernon and Dorothy Black, and I have several artifacts from the sod house that they brought back with them from various trips to Kansas in the 1950s through 1970s.

It’s always been a hope of mine to one day see the old sod house, but as I don’t know of any living person who’s been inside the old sod house, or even knows where the sod house is, l figured that the old family house has long since returned to the earth. The following transcription of a 1932 newspaper article that Sharon sent to me appears to support this unfortunate conclusion.

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