One of the things I like to do in my spare time is look through old newspapers (which I always feel weird about, but they’re really interesting!). They’re a good source for genealogy research, not only because they give you a little more than name and date, but they add a context to people’s lives that you can’t find in census records.
I’ve had a number of lawyers, politicians, etc. in my family, so they tend to show up a fair amount in newspapers depending on their prominence. Mostly it’s just articles, but recently I came across a few pictures. I can’t even explain how excited I was; pictures are so rare!
This is my great grandfather, Charles A. Wills, from a Brooklyn Eagle article in 1912. This is the youngest I’ve ever seen him (he would have been about 31 or 32 at the time), but the resemblance to the older man I’ve seen in pictures is uncanny. I recognized him almost immediately.
The picture (which I’ve cropped – his coworkers were standing alongside him) came along with another and a short blurb about the Kings County Supreme Court, where my great grandfather worked until his untimely death in 1937. I found an article from when he first passed the Civil Service Exam in 1910 that said his starting salary would have been $1,600 a year. I also managed to locate his obituary, which was an exciting find since no one in my family (at least that I’ve talked to) has even been able to pinpoint exactly when he died. It listed what Infantry division he served in during WWI, which is something I’ve been trying to figure out for years. I took that information and ran with it and found out some things about his military service, but I suppose that’s a story for another day.
(I’ve just realized that this picture was taken almost 100 years ago. How cool is that?)