#52Ancestors: Favourite Photo

This week’s topic is a very difficult one for me. Very few photographs have been handed down over the years and the ones I do have I won’t share on the blog for privacy reasons. The majority I have are photographs of living family members rather than from generations back. Though I have seen extended family sharing photographs on their family trees online, I had only seen photographs of living relatives. The photos shared were of people I had never seen before, though I finally recognised myself in those pictures having wondered who I looked like my entire life.

I remember my granny telling me that when she was first married, she and my grandpa moved away to live near his family. I think if she could have remained there, she would have, but her father kicked up a fuss about being left by himself so they came back. She said that when they arrived they found him putting a whole lot of stuff into a skip, including photographs. He had been a keen photographer, so the idea of him throwing things into a skip haunts me as I try to find out more about that side of my family tree. What did he throw away?!

My granny wasn’t keen on me researching our family history. I do wonder if it was because she didn’t know a lot about her own family tree. I did ask her questions and I did learn from her little nuggets of information, but when I gave her booklets with the trees I had drawn up, she didn’t seem excited or too interested. She did love the book I gave her that was a reprint of her great grandfather’s book (which is now in my possession along with another of his books).

After my granny died, I continued researching. I took a DNA test and connected with newly found cousins. I discovered that her father appealed against going back into the trenches in World War 1. The appeal papers are available on ScotlandsPeople and through those I discovered that my great grandfather had health problems and had been turned down by two regiments because of his heart. His employers had joined his appeal to remain at home, but despite this, his appeal was overturned and he was sent back into war. I often wonder if the PTSD from the war was a reason why he seemed to be a strict or even an angry gent. I know my gran told me that her father never spoke of the war, but the times he mentioned anything it was to do with his love of the horses and looking after them.

That’s only one branch of my tree though. My plan that started last year was to start collecting other images of photographs. I started using Ancestry‘s new app for taking photographs on my phone of the original pictures. I managed to take a few pictures when I was last visiting my family from old photo albums. Some turned out better than others, but I think that is down to the age of my phone rather than the app itself. I just don’t want to lose the knowledge of who the people are if these photos end up eventually in my possession, so I’m asking now while I have the opportunity to do so, before memories fade.

A difficult topic for me to cover within a blog. I’d love to have the wealth of images other people have. I have spoken to other DNA cousins who have had even fewer photos of our shared family than I have! I was able to share images of siblings with one DNA cousin who only had photos of the family of the wife of my DNA relation but none of the husband or his branch. A lot has to do with the lack of money available to them. Why spend money on a photograph when you can barely feed your children or put shoes on their feet?

Do I have a favourite photograph? I have a few, but perhaps my favourite is of my grandfather as a child with his uncle, who was about the same age as he was. A photographer had come into their town and I get the impression he was taking photos of the poverty of the people involved in coal mining around the time of the Great Depression in Scotland. Neither of the boys were wearing shoes or socks on their feet. It’s the earliest snapshot of the life he had grown up in. A very bittersweet picture of the two boys. It makes me thankful of how his life changed for the better and how wonderful and loving human he was. I would love to know if the photos taken were ever used in a collection and where I might find those…