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Monday, August 6, 2018

GEO Magazine Article

Click for larger image
In December of last year I was contacted by a writer for GEO Magazine, a German-language educational magazine, not unlike National Geographic. He had stumbled across this blog and found it intriguing enough to want to share the project with readers in Europe.

In their March issue, the article was published. I will share it here with you, translated from German:


American Kathleen Irwin, 55, bought 575 old photos from peddlars over the past 30 years. With her blog she wants to unite the people in the pictures with their living family.

Kathleen Irwin did not let go of the first photo. Who was the woman on it? And why was the picture with the antiquarian and not in a family album? Irwin began to explore the biographies of people on old photos - and to contact their descendants. You can read the stories on the blog "Old Photos Found".

GEO: How did you come to research the story of strangers?
K: 30 years ago, I bought an old photograph, of a nameless woman from about 1890 with a high lace collar and pinned-up hairstyle. I looked at her every day and wondered who she had been. I felt it was a tragedy that she had become anonymous. It was not until about a decade later it occurred to me that it should be possible to reunite such photos with their family.

How do you go about it, how do you do research?
My husband and I travel a lot for work. And we love antique shops. I try to bring home at least one old photo from every trip. However, I can only research a corresponding pedigree if a name is on the photo. Important for me are specialized websites for genealogy research. Many families also are recorded in newspaper archives and census documents.

Do you see yourself as a benefactor or as a detective?
Definitely as a private investigator! I just want to experience everything that can be found out about a person.

Do you remember a research that has been particularly memorable?
Yes, I found one of my favorite photos in a thrift shop in upstate New York - a photo from 1895 of a charming young man named James Carroll. At first, I only bought it because it was such a beautiful portrait that I'd like to keep forever. But when I discovered Carroll's name on the back, it was clear that I must start looking for his family. I researched and found out, for example, that his father was a physician who was instrumental in fighting the spread of yellow fever. In the end, I found his family on the internet, and returned the photograph to them.

How do members respond when they contact you?
Often they write letters to me, sometimes they also attach a check to compensate me for my efforts. But the real reward for me is the sincere words of thanks - or, for example, reports about how much the person on the photo resembles a living family member.

How well do you know your own family history?
Pretty good. My father has roots in French and Canadian, from which I descend from eleven "Filles du Roi" - young European women whose emigration to North America was financed in the 17th century by the French King Louis XIV. On the maternal side, I descend from family of Pocahontas and William the Conqueror.

Part of the photograph collection



I do not have this photo. It is in the possession of Erin Pittman who emailed the digital copy to me, so I could do the research necessary to determine if there are any existing family who might wish to have the photo.

What is known about John Ohlander is that he was a friend of Erin's gr-gr-grandfather, Taylor Holt. The photo was among Holt's personal effects, which Erin is now sifting through.

Taylor Holt appeared to have become acquainted with Ohlander when the two worked in Mexico for the American Mining company in the first decade of the 1900s.

John Ohlander was born in Sweden May 18, 1860 and immigrated in Sept 1888. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 12 Oct 1896. He lived in Chicago and Minneapolis. On paperwork to go abroad in 1900, he states that he is single and lists an emergency contact person as his brother Sven Ohlander, Winona Street, Chicago ILL.

On a July 1917 passport application to go to Mexico, John Ohlander states "From 1898 to 1899 I resided in South America on a mining proposition. I left the US in 1900 for Mexico, return to the US in 1902 and resided here until 1903. From 1903 to April 1906 I resided in Mexico. From 1900 to 1906 I was in the employ of the Mexican Lead Company of 82 Beaver Street, NY City, and from 1906 to 1916 I was employed in Mexico by American concerns, principally American Smelting & Refining Co." 

Died in Manhattan NY 9 Sep 1929. I do not find evidence that he ever married or had offspring. In order to find some family for this photograph, I will have to rely on his brother Sven.

Brother Sven, born 1863 in Sweden, died in Chicago 7 April 1937. Records indicate his parents were Johan and Christine Ohlander & spouse was named Josephine.

1910 CENSUS > Illinois > Cook > Chicago > 1411 Winona Street
OHLANDER, Sven, head, 45, born in Sweden, imm. 1888, clerk in Real Estate office
OHLANDER, Josephine E. wife, 36, born in Sweden, imm. 1889
OHLANDER, Alfred L, son, 3, born in Illinois

GATES, Helen

1807 - 1890
original frame

Here is an old photo which I did not purchase. This photo was found at the Stone Soup Antiques Gallery in Ballston Spa, NY, and is a lovely portrait of "Helen Gates", but without disassembling the frame, there is no way to know what location might be associated with this woman.

The asking price was $125, so it was quite a ways out of my budget. But just in case someone out there is researching the Gates family … I will post the photo I took along with the information given on the price tag.

My best guess for a time period is circa 1870. The fashions appear to be post Civil War, but not by much.

If you want to inspect the photo more closely, click the photo above for a larger image. If you want to inspect the original, go to Stone Soup Antiques Gallery in Ballston Spa and look for this gilded oval frame hanging on a supporting pillar in the third booth from the check-out desk as you proceed counter-clockwise from the entrance.

I am not finding Helen Gates with those dates (1807-1890) on either or but will check a few other resources and report back here.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

KEPNER, Amos Koch

Amos Koch KEPNER
Philadelphia, PA

This photograph was found at the Glenwood Manor Antiques in Queensbury NY, yesterday. has lots of source material for Amos and his family.

1850 CENSUS > Pennsylvania > Montgomery > Limerick
KEPNER, William, 38, farmer
KEPNER, Sarah, 45 (her maiden name is Koch)
KEPNER, Catherine, 16
KEPNER, Daniel, 13
KEPNER, Christianna, 11
KEPNER, William, 9
KEPNER, Amos, 8

1862, 4 Nov - mustered out from Camp Philadelphia, Infantry, 2nd lietenant, 179th PA Militia, age 19.

1870 CENSUS > Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Ward 20
KEPNER, William K, 29, retail grocer
KEPNER, Amos K, 27 retail grocer

1880 CENSUS > Penns > Philadelphia > 1212 Columbia Ave.
KEPNER, Amos K, 37, Grocer, born in PA of PA parents
KEPNER, Mary, 32, wife, keeping house, born in NY of NY and Conn parents
KEPNER, Eulaila C., 4, daughter, born in PA
MAYBERRY, Martha A., 39, servant, born in PA
KEPNER, William K., 39, brother, born in PA

NOTE - The servant enumerated on the 1880 Census, Martha Ann Mayberry, is actually a niece of Amos, being a daughter of Amos' sister Catherine.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 June 1904
KEPNER - On Sunday, May 22, 1904, at his home in Wallingford Conn. AMOS K KEPNER, aged 60 years.

According to , Amos K Kepner was born 26 Dec 1842, and died 22 May 1904. He is buried at North Greenwich Congregational Church Cemetery. (The headstone at right was found and photographed by Find-a-grave volunteer Pat Larrabee).

His wife was Mary Close Palmer (1848-1940).

Daughter Eulaila (1876-1957) married Dr Carl A. Williams (1872-1956)

Friday, August 3, 2018


Worcester Massachusetts

This photo was located this week at Stone Soup Antique Gallery in Ballston Spa, NY, in a booth which contained several photos of families in Vermont.

No year is given on the photo, but it appears to have been taken around 1890.

The photo bears a trademark of "Baker, 406 Main Street, Worcester." No State is mentioned. There are several towns in America named Worcester, including Vermont and Massachusetts. According to, a website I often use to pinpoint locations of turn of the century photographers, there was a studio called "Baker & Knight" located at 406 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.

The inscription on the back clearly says "Cora" but the surname is less obvious. It looks like either Buemond, Burmond, Briemond, or Brumond. She is identified as being 4 years old at the time.

The first record I found on about this Cora Buemond was a Vermont Death Record.  It shows that she was born 17 June 1885 in Paxton, Mass. (a town about 8 miles NW of Worcester, Mass). So I think I am on the right track, and that this is the girl in the photo.

This Cora May Buemond died May 25, 1957 at age 71, in the town of Saxton's River, VT. (I bought other photos from the same booth that day, one of which was taken at a studio in Saxton's River.) She lived most of her life in nearby Rockingham VT. Her parents are reported as Henry Alonzo Buemond and Lilla L. Simonds, both of whom were born in Rockingham Vermont. Her husband was David Nelson Stearns (1882-1978, son of Henry Aaron Stearns and Ann B. Dartt).

(Please see also recent post on ALDRICH family as the mother in those photos has maiden name of Dartt.)

1900 CENSUS > Vermont > Windham > Rockingham
BUEMOND, Henry A., head, May 1855, 45yo, born in VT or English and Irish parents, farmer
BUEMOND, Lilla, wife, Jun 1860, 39yo, born in VT of NH and VT parents
BUEMOND, Cora M., daughter, Jun 1885, 14yo, born in Massachusetts
BUEMOND, Pearl L., daughter, Jun 1889, 10yo, born in VT

The headstone for sister Pearl (or Pearle) clarifies the spelling of the surname as BUEMOND. Pearl married Homer Tanner and lived to be either 99 or 100 years old.

1910 CENSUS > Vermont > Windham > Rockingham
STEARNS, David N., head, 27, married 5y, born in VT of VT parents, plumber and tinworker
STEARNS, Cora M., wife, 24, 3 children/3 living, born in MA of VT parents
STEARNS, Nelson H., son, 4, born in VT
STEARNS, Norman J., son, 3, born in VT
STEARNS, Marion L., daughter, 1, born in VT

1920 CENSUS > Vermont > Windham > Rockingham
STEARNS, David N., head, 36, born in VT, plumber
STEARNS, Cora M., wife, 33, born in MA
STEARNS, Nelson H., son, 14, born in VT
STEARNS, Norman James, son, 12, born in VT
STEARNS, Marion L., daughter, 11, born in VT
STEARNS, Gardner Burnap, son, 8, born in VT
STEARNS, Faith Evelyn, daughter, 6, born in VT
STEARNS, Helen (Ellen) May, daughter, 1, born in VT

The 1930 Census shows the following changes:
The family now lives in Saxton's River VT. Husband David is now a retail merchant. Sons Norman (22) and Gardner (19) both live at home and work in a gear factory. Also at home are daughters Faith (16) and Ellen (11).

The 1940 Census adds a great deal of useful information. It appears that the Great Depression of the 30's drove a couple of the adult children back home to live with David and Cora.

1940 CENSUS > Vermont > Windham > Saxtons River> Pleasant Street
STEARNS, David, head, 56, plumber
STEARNS, Cora, wife, 53
STEARNS, Norman, son, single, 31, laborer at cemetery
STEARNS, Ellen, daughter, single, 21, public school teacher
STEARNS, Nelson, son, married, 33, plumber at FS Fontler? Co.
STEARNS, Gladys (Walker), wife of Nelson, 41
STEARNS, James, son, 7 (son of Nelson & Gladys)
STEARNS, Willis, son, 5 (son of Nelson & Gladys)
KENISTON, Faith, daughter of David & Cora, married, 26

The headstone for Cora's parents (Center Cemetery, Heath Massachusetts) shows Henry A. Buemond (1855-1932) and Lilla L. Simonds (1860-1932). Lilla's memorial at Findagrave  indicates her parents are Joseph Simmonds and Harriet Derby-Simmonds. She has a sister named Eva Simonds.

This obit for Henry Buemond was found in the Springfield Republican (Mass) Newspaper, Monday Feb 29, 1932.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

ALDRICH family

John and Rose ALDRICH
UPDATE - These two photos of the ALDRICH family have been claimed by a relative and are going home!

I acquired these two photos yesterday at the Stone Soup Antiques Gallery in Ballston Spa, NY. Although not dated, I suspect the photos were taken around 1900. Clearly they were taken at the same studio, probably on the same date.

There is no indication of location, but the photos were found in a basket that included several from the state of Vermont, so it is possible these are from that area too. It is at least a good place to start.

At, I entered all the information I knew for certain, which was basically the couple's names. 

The first thing that comes up is the 1900 Census for Bethel, Vermont, in which we find the family of John E. Aldrich, his wife Rose and their three sons.


1900 CENSUS > Vermont > Windsor > Bethel
ALDRICH, John Edward, head, April 1860, 40yo, born in Canada of Canadian parents, farmer
ALDRICH, Rose, wife, Sept 1870, 29yo, married 10y, 3 children, 3 living, born in VT of VT parents
ALDRICH, William, son, Sept 1888, 11y0, born in VT, in school
ALDRICH, Roy E., son, Jan 1892, 8yo, born in VT
ALDRICH, John A., son, May 1895, 5yo, born in VT

Vermont Vital Records shows a marriage record for John E. Aldrich and Rosa Arvilla Dartt (daughter of Alba Dartt and Hattie Hough or Howe) on Februay 3, 1889. (He is said to be 34 years old, but that does not seem correct if the 1900 Census is correct.) It is his first marriage. His father's name is William, and his mother's name is given as Sarah. Other records say John's mother is Mary Masterson.

(Click for larger image)
There were also two daughters born to John and Rose:
1903 - Mary Isabelle ALDRICH. Died 1994.
1905 - Bernice Mabel ALDRICH. She married Edward J. ABBOTT and lived to age 60. She died in Windham VT 7 May 1965.

1909, Oct 18 -  John E. ALDRICH died of tuberculosis.

(Click for larger image)
Also found is a record in Vermont Death Records for second son Roy Ernest ALDRICH (born 21 Jan 1893). He died at age 29 of bronchial pneumonia brought on by "La Grippe" (Spanish Flu) on 6 Apr 1922. He was unmarried at the time and working as a farmer.

14 August 1932, youngest son John Andrew ALDRICH married for the 2nd time to Irene Abbott in Springfield VT. This record indicated that father John E. Aldrich was born in Chateauquay, Quebec, Canada.

In January 1945, eldest son William Alba ALDRICH at age 55, married for the second time, to Mildred Phillips Avery in Brattleboro VT. He is a woodworker.

In May 1958, William A. ALDRICH married for the third time to Ethel Prouty in Brattleboro.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

WESTERVELT, Charlotte E.

(Maiden name not known)

This photograph of Charlotte Westervelt was found at the Stone Soup Antique Gallery in Ballston Spa, NY yesterday, in one of the first two or three booths. It is framed, behind glass, but was too expensive for me to purchase it. So I snapped this image to use on the blog.

I believe the photo was taken circa 1897-1900.

There is this Charlotte E. Westervelt who was born between 1870 and 1875 (based on age given in various Census records).

1910 CENSUS > New York > Schenectady > Schenectady > 130 3rd Ave
WESTERVELT, Henry B., head, 35, woodworker at Electric works
WESTERVELT, Lottie E., wife, 35, married 10 years
WESTERVELT, Mildred E., daughter, 1y4mo (born 5-Sep-1908)

1925 STATE CENSUS > Schenectady > 151 Third Ave
WESTERVELT, Henry B., head, 50, cabinet dept
WESTERVELT, Charlotte E., wife, 55, house wife (not sure why age has changed)
WESTERVELT, Mildred E., daughter, 16, high school

1930 CENSUS > New York > Schenectady > Schenectady > 151 3rd Avenue
WESTERVELT, Henry B., head, 55, born in NY of NY parents, cabinet maker
WESTERVELT, Charlotte E., wife, 60, born in NY of NY parents, no occ.

Henry died in Schenectady, 21 Aug 1946, age 71.

Daughter Mildred E. Westervelt married 24 Sep 1927 in Schenectady to Wilson J. Becker, asst foreman at a refrigerator factory. Mildred died October 1984 in Schenectady.