Faces of The Past

Arguably, my favorite part of researching my family tree is discovering photographs. A photograph is a meeting, an introduction of sorts. It says, “look at these features, you have them too! You’re separated by decades and centuries, but still, you’re family and it’s obvious.”

This is a picture of my great great great grandfather, Robert Garrison. It was taken in 1922, the year he died, but also the year my Pop Pop was born. It’s certainly not the oldest picture I have in terms of year taken, but it is of my oldest relative and that makes it my favorite. Robert was born in 1842 – 19 years before the start of the Civil War, 72 before World War I, and 97 before World War II. He was born in Newtown, Queens, to Robert and Eliza (Baker) Garrison, in between his brothers George and Stafford. He worked on ferries his entire life (I once found an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archives about a ferry crash at the hands of a Robert Garrison, but I’m not sure if it was him). He married his wife, Adeline Jones, in 1863 and after her death in 1905 moved in with his daughter, Adelaide Garrison-now-Jeffreys, and her family. The Jeffreys were a huge family with something around 11 kids and various friends/extended family members coming and going. It must have been nice for Robert to spend so much time with all of his grandkids. (My Pop Pop moved in with my family when I was a kid and so this detail is interesting to me and makes me feel closer to Robert Garrison and the Jeffreys.)

Maybe it’s the history buff in me, but I get so excited thinking about the fact that my Pop Pop lived at the same time as someone who would have been 146 the year I was born. Even more exciting is the fact that I get to see what he looked like. Isn’t that incredible?

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5 Responses to Faces of The Past

  1. Sheryl says:

    Great photo! It’s really provides a glimpse into your great great great grandfather’s personality. I also find discovering photos to be one of the most rewarding parts of researching family history. In my family I’m surprised how few photos there seem to be of past generations–so the ones that I have I really cherish.

    • kerlanger says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? So much of genealogy research has to do with staring at names and dates, so to actually put a face to those facts is incredible. I have to think that more pictures of these people exist somewhere in a box in a distant relative’s attic. People don’t tend to throw those sorts of things out; they take them after someone dies and forget that they even have them, but they don’t get rid of them. If only I could drive to every distant relative’s house and go through their belongings haha. Perhaps one day!

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  3. Karen says:

    Great photo, it is one of my favourite things too, it is so wonderful when researching when you can add faces to names, it really “brings their stories to life”. Lovely blog btw 🙂

    • kerlanger says:

      Thank you for the compliment! Adding faces to the names is probably my most favorite part of genealogy work, which is unfortunate because you don’t get to do that too often. Unless you’re related to royalty, of course, and then you get to have portraits of your ancestors going back centuries… Not the case for me and my peasant ancestors, but that makes it all the more exciting when I finally do find a picture!

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