This is a guest post by Ava Cohn - known as Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist - who writes The Photo Genealogist blog*
Sometimes it takes more than the proverbial village to solve a mystery.
This is the tale of three cities, of a mystery photograph and of how an intricate web of relationships helped a family researcher learn more about a lost branch. Perhaps it can serve as an example of how similar mysteries can be solved in your family.
This story starts in Hampshire, Illinois, where I met Michele Halt after one of my talks on old photographs. She showed me a photo of a proud and distinguished soldier in full regalia. Who was he? The photo came from a family album passed down to the females in Michele’s Radley family for over 100 years. Each time the album changed owners, new photos were added.
Michele’s grandmother’s great-aunt, Maggie Radley Mole, started the meticulous family photo album. There was only one problem - Maggie knew everyone in the photos so she never labeled or identified them - nor did any of the album inheritors label their photos. Only one person was identified and he wasn’t the soldier.
Today is Memorial Day in the US.
Over the weekend, flags fly at half-mast, graves are decorated with flowers and family members pay their respects at national cemeteries. Ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers - of all wars and conflicts - take place across the country.
In many places, Boy Scout Troops - as part of their commitment to community service - place flags on each soldier’s grave.
See below two newspaper articles on the holiday, from the New York Sun (May 31, 1872) and the Hawaiian Gazette (May 30, 1911). Click on each article image to see the original page from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site, and learn more.
The day was first observed in 1865 to remember fallen Civil War soldiers; it was then called Decoration Day.