Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Brought to You By The Folks Who Made Me Possible...

"Old Sport"

My great-great-great grandparents, Nancy Ann Alcorn & George Emery Johnson

So, I'm a geneology hobbyist.  Have been since I was a kid.  My sister and I spent 2 weeks in Quincy, IL every summer, until I was 17, with our great grandparents.  They'd go over all this stuff with me and I was in heaven.

I should say that I'm the only person on this side of the family who is into family history.  Well, except for once a year, on St. Patrick's Day, when my drunk half-brother always calls to ask, "So Dude, who was it in our family who came here from Ireland and was a brewer...of BEER?"

I sigh and tell him about Isaac Akright, who also fought in the Revolutionary War, but this rarely gets out before I hear him give a war woop on the line, before hanging up.

What's really fun are the photos.  Especially these two.  George and Nancy were true pioneers - they moved to Illinois and set up a farmstead.  My great grandpa always told me how Nancy was lawn bowling on her 100th birthday with her great grandkids, and fell and broke her arm.  She set it on the spot and went back to bowling.  I love that story.  

And I love these photos.  Back in the 1800's, you couldn't just whip out the digital camera and take as many pics as you wanted.  Photos were rare...and expensive.  What's great about these, is that they weren't sitting in some stiff, victorian parlor.  Not MY family.  No, Gram and Gramps decided to sit on the old wood pile, each holding a pet, and look the other way.  Then, Grandpa goes on to have a studio portrait made of "Old Scout" - his favorite dog.  That's what it says on the back of the photo - "Old Scout - Geo's favorite dog."

Here's another favorite.  This is my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth "Betty" Wilson McPhail.  She's the one in the middle, posing with her two sisters.  Betty does NOT look happy.  I wonder what happened just before they took this picture?  I wonder how many times her parents begged her to drop the attitude?  I'm glad she didn't.  Tells me a little bit about her.
Or maybe it explains this.  Yup, that's me with my parents.  I don't look happy either.  And what's with the weird fake chimney thing we're on?  WTF Olan Mills?  And why were all photos taken by Olan Mills?  And who was Olan Mills?  And why isn't Dad smiling?  Mom looks good though.

Well, that's my little trip down family tree lane.  Maybe this will motivate you to drag out the old photo album tomorrow?  Have a great Thanksgiving.

The Turkey Assassin


Terri Osburn said...

Love these pictures and the stories that go with them. I know virtually nothing about my family on either side. There are a few pictures but I don't know the stories behind them. And nothing back this far.

The Olan Mills thing is true in my family too. There are two giant photo albums filled with 8X10s OM pictures of my sister from her first 3 years. She was the first born.

Then there was me. There is ONE picture of me as a baby. One professional OM picture. That's it. Not that I'm bitter about this. But even when I was 20, we still had OM pictures done. I think I have one in front of a wagon wheel from the 90s. WTH??

And you seriously look just like your mom.

Leslie Langtry said...

LOL! Terri, there's an Olan Mills picture of me as an infant. I had no hair so they taped the bow to my head. And you can see the tape.

I do look like my mom. People often think we're sisters...which is GREAT for her...

Hellie Sinclair said...

I love looking at family pictures from the 1800s. Of course, my family is rather old so most of their pictures DO date from the 1800s. Though there is a picture of a family reunion of the St. Clair clan (my grandmother's side of the family) and it's a corker of a picture, all these women in their best dresses, men dressed up and wearing those flat Sunday hats...and new Model A cars parked "casually" in the background--and in the front of the picture, smiling so handsomely is one of the St. Clair cousins, looking a bit like a Clark Gable (only before Clark Gable was Clark Gable.) Awesome picture.

Leslie Langtry said...

I want to see that! And what a great surname - 'St. Clair'! I've had fun finding family names like Temperance Flowerdew, Thankful Strong, etc. My mom's name is fun - Toni Rae Smiley.

Janene Murphy said...

These are awesome, Leslie! Any guy who shells out the bucks to photograph his dog is good man in my book. And OF COURSE you're dad's not smiling. He's on a fake chimney, dang it. I'm sure he's cursing Olan Mills under his breath. You look adorable, though. :)

Leslie Langtry said...

So true, true...