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Photograph Showcase: Three Guardian Angels

 

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Great Grandmas – Mary Jo Shumway, Deane Alice Duval, & Charlotte Whitesides

 

That wee little chap up there is my amazing oldest.  A few months after he was finally home from the NICU, we had a family gathering all about him in Lewiston, Idaho.  Those lovely ladies with him are three of his great-grandmothers who traveled from Star Valley, Wyoming, Kaysville, Utah, & Spokane, Washington to join us that day.

Now that boy of mine is nearly twenty and serving an LDS mission in South Carolina.  He has been gone for 20 months & 2 days.  He will be home this August.

Four months after my son left, Grandma Mary Jo passed peacefully in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s.  Nine months after that, Grandma Deane passed peacefully at home from Leukemia.  And then on Tuesday, Grandma Charlotte passed peacefully in a care center from Liver Cancer.

And so, that amazing boy of mine has gained three guardian angels who have loved him his whole life long.  I can’t think of three women I would trust more to watch over my boy.

 

 

Do you have a living grandparent?  If so, call them today.  If you are the living grandparent, reach out to your precious grandbabies today.  That link is so precious.  ❤️

 

 


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Courage To Seek the Man Who Left

 

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Vince, December 1956

I have one living biological grandparent.

Vince.

That is all I have ever called him.  I didn’t decide to call him that, my Mom, her Mom, and her siblings did.  I don’t know when they decided to do that.  I’m sure they must have called him Dad at one point.  But for my entire lifetime, he has been Vince.

As a young child, I was completely unaware of his existence.  I’m not sure when that changed.  But when I was 16 years old I met Vince for the first time.

Meeting wasn’t his idea or mine.  It wasn’t even my Mom’s idea.  It was Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara’s idea.

They tricked him.

His mother had been in a nursing home for many years.  Dan & Barbara were daily visitors.  But there came a point when they knew she didn’t have much time left.  Dan insisted that Vince come and see his mother.  It took some persistence, but finally, Vince and his wife Dena planned a trip to Spokane from California.  Dan also insisted on taking Vince & Dena out to dinner one night while they were in Washington.  What Vince did not know is that Dan & Barbara called my Mom and her siblings and told them that Vince wanted to see them all.  They set up a family dinner at my Uncle’s home.  The evening of the family dinner, all of us minus one cousin were gathered at my Uncle’s home.  Dan & Barbara had Vince & Dena in the car and as they approached, Dan explained what was actually happening.  Vince was shocked but had no graceful way out, and so for the first time in many, many years, Vince was with all of his children at the same time.

As a 16-year-old who had been shielded from basically all of the feelings of my Mom and her siblings towards Vince, I did not view this as an important moment.  The only part of that evening I can recall in detail was the only moment I spoke with Vince.  I had been playing the piano.  As I finished and stood, there was Vince sitting in a chair near the piano.  He said to me, “What is your name?”  I answered and he asked, “And who is your parent?”  I answered and felt more than a little bit of annoyance that he had no idea who I was.  That was it.  I answered and walked out of the room.

That was the entire extent of my experience with Vince, my grandfather, during my growing up years.

When I married my husband, my Mom insisted that we send Vince & Dena an announcement.  I was ambivalent but complied.  Vince & Dena sent me a gift.  It was a precious moments figurine of a couple on their wedding day.  I was not softened.

Almost ten years later I was copying VHS tapes of our family movies of that year for each of our grandparents.  It was our Christmas gift.  As I started the last tape I realized that I had another grandparent.  It struck me that even though I viewed him as simply ‘Vince’, my mother’s biological father, I was 1/4th – him.  And I didn’t know a thing about him.  I made one more copy and sent that along with a handwritten letter explaining my a-ha moment and the fact that I knew nothing about him and I wanted to.  I gave him my address, phone number, and email address along with the letter and 2 hour VHS of my children.  That Christmas we were out of town visiting family.  When we returned, there was a voicemail from Vince.

I bet I listened to that voicemail at least 20 times.  I had reached out and asked for contact but I was nervous to call him back.  Before I had worked up the courage to do so, he called again.  I had caller id and knew it was him.  I answered.

We talked.  He shared that this has been hard for him – I never did clarify what was hard, my reaching out, or the separation from his children.  He went on to share that the divorce had been hard.  Seeing his children after the divorce had been hard – not the seeing them part, but the returning them part.  Apparently, my Grandma made that moment very uncomfortable for everyone.  There was a lot of strife.  He slowly saw them less and less.  His family was not happy about the divorce.  But they were even more unhappy about his remarriage to Dena.  They felt it was shameful that he married his sister’s divorced next door neighbor and worried what people would think.  Vince was feeling pushed away by everyone.  He got a job offer out of state and took it.

He ran away.

I can’t really blame the guy.  He was young.  Divorce was taboo.  My Grandma was a fighter.  His family was embarrassed.  He ran away from his problems and created a new life.

He told me that he thought it would be better for his kids if he quietly stepped out of their life.  What he said next was so sad.  “I hoped that when they were old enough they would look me up.  They never did.”

My letter and VHS opened old wounds.  But it wasn’t all bad.  We talked a few times on the phone.  I learned a bit about him.  He showed interest in me and my children.

And then my entire world imploded.  I didn’t have the energy necessary to feed this newly formed relationship with Vince.  I allowed it to wither away to a Christmas Card relationship.  I didn’t know how to explain my sudden disappearance to him.  So I didn’t.  I sent Christmas Cards and other items of interest.  He sent Christmas Cards as well.  When my oldest graduated from High School, Vince sent a card and money order.  My son thought I was crazy when I photographed his signature on the money order.  But I had never seen his full signature before.  And likely wouldn’t again.

Then sometime last year I decided I really wanted Vince to take a DNA test for me.  I printed a very large fanchart for him.  He was in the center.  His mother’s lines look pretty good, but his father’s line is completely blank.  I also printed my fanchart so he could see a comparison.  I once again handwrote a letter asking if he would take a DNA test for me.  I told him I would purchase it and send it to him.  I mailed my package and waited.  My Grandma asked me over and over again if he had agreed.  It seemed like she was going to call him and give him an earful if he hadn’t and that seemed like a bad idea.  It was only a few months later that my Grandma passed away.

I started thinking more and more about Vince.  He was my only living biological grandparent.  (Biological is an important distinction here because my Grandpa is very much alive.)  I hadn’t spoken to him in years.  I had only met him once.  I felt this strong sense of urgency that I needed to see him and talk to him as an adult.

I mentioned what I was thinking to my Auntie V.  She said, “Well, if you want to do that you better do it soon.  I hear his health isn’t very good.”

I decided I needed to do it.  What I couldn’t decide was if I should show up at his door unannounced or call ahead.  Finally, I decided to call Aunt Barbara and ask her opinion.  She thought I better call first.  She said, “He’s not mean, he’s just absent.”  She told me he would not make an appointment and then not be there (like his sister once did).

So I called.  No answer.  I left a message.  I explained that I would be passing through and wondered if I could stop in for a brief visit.  I told him I would call him back the next day.  I did just that.  He didn’t answer.  I proceeded to call him back and got a busy signal.  I called 21 times that day and only heard that annoying busy signal.  I decided to quit trying to call.  Showing up seemed best.

 

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Me, still hopeful about collecting some DNA from Vince on the day we set out.

 

So last week, during Spring Break, I loaded my family up and we drove to the middle of California and stayed in a hotel in Vince’s town.  The next morning we got up, packed the car and drove toward his home.  Until we encountered the locked gate around his community.

I can’t adequately express what I felt as we sat in our car staring at that gate.  I was so close!  I had two DNA tests in my purse.  I had a million questions.  His house was mere feet from where I sat and I could not get to it.

Several cars came and drove through.  I toyed with the idea of just following the next car.  But I wasn’t sure what would happen.

I called Vince, again.  He didn’t answer.  Again.

We sat there.

And then a nice woman turned the corner of the sidewalk and was about to enter the neighborhood on foot.  My husband got out of the car and talked to her.  He explained that my grandfather lived behind the gate and we were trying to get in.  She asked his name.  After my husband’s reply she said, “Oh Vince, I know Vince.  He is such a great guy!”  I was already weirded out by my husband calling him my grandfather, but her response was even more difficult to reconcile.  She said that she probably shouldn’t tell us this but if we went around to the front and typed in a specific code we could enter the neighborhood.  So we did.

As we pulled up to Vince & Dena’s home, Vince was outside getting the mail.  I hopped right out of my car and walked up to him.  With a million complicated feelings going on inside of me, I offered my hand and said, “I’m Amberly”.  He was quietly shocked.  His ignoring me hadn’t worked.  But as Aunt Barbara said, “He’s not mean, he’s just absent.”  And so he let me and my family in.

For the first time in my life, I had a face to face conversation with my grandfather.  A real conversation.  Not just the exchange of a few words.  And for the first and second time in my life, I hugged my grandfather.  We weren’t good at it.  But we hugged, twice.

We also talked.  I didn’t tell him, but I recorded our hour-long visit.  He shared a few stories.  Answered a few questions.  Showed me a few family treasures.  And he took a picture with me and my children.

He would not take a DNA test for me.  He wouldn’t even talk about it really.  I could sense that it wasn’t worth pushing and so I let my long-sought dream slip through my fingers and I focused on what he would give me – a bit of his time, bits of information.

It was a really nice visit.  Vince is very quiet.  Very gentle.  Very organized and orderly and clearly likes things to be neat and calm and peaceful.  As I sat there I had to really concentrate to see that man I knew from old photographs.  But he was there.  His dark eyes were intently focused on me as we spoke.  I knew with absolute certainty that there was no way he and my Grandma could have made their marriage work.  They could not be more different.  I also felt a sense that he and Dena had very carefully constructed their world to protect them from past hurts.  And here I was opening old wounds.  But he let me.

It took a lot of courage for me to fight my way to his doorstep.  But I feel a sense of peace now that was worth every bit of my effort.

I will likely never see Vince again.

And that is okay.

I will probably still call him Vince.  But describing him as my grandfather as I type is becoming less and less uncomfortable each time.  I may always think of him as Vince, but after last week, I think I will be okay with also thinking of him as my grandfather.

The moment that will stay with me until I leave this life is the moment he spread his arm wide, inviting my teenager into his embrace for a photo.  Vince squeezed and jostled my son a bit, just like my Uncle does.  My son smiled.  And then we all stood together for a few pictures.

 

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It turns out 6-year-olds also don’t view a moment like this as important.  No real smiles from my little darling, but this photo is a treasure anyway.

 

I can’t possibly heal the deep wounds of the past.  But last Tuesday I accomplished something that I hope will open a way for Vince’s posterity to know just a little bit about him.  To think of him as more than just the man who left.

I hope I built a bridge of sorts.

I hope.

 

 

 


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52 Ancestors – The Duval Triplets – Three Babies with Four Names

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Two of the Duval Triplets born to Leon Howard Duval & Annabel Freda Yock, 10 August 1932

 

The Birth & Death Story

 

Wednesday, the 10th of August 1932, triplets were born to Leon Howard Duval and Annabel Freda Yock in the new Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Montana.1  This hospital opened in 19302 and the Duval babies were the first triplets3 to be born in that hospital.  All three babies were boys and were the third, fourth, and fifth sons born to Leon and Annabel.

Prior to the birth of the triplets, Leon and Annabel were living in Playwood, Washington where Leon was a harbor employee4.  Annabel traveled to Great Falls to stay with her mother-in-law, Alice Duval (my 2nd great-grandmother) at 708 3rd Avenue SW for the express purpose of giving birth to her children in Great Falls.5  She had arrived shortly before the children were born.

On that Wednesday morning, the first baby was born at 11:37 am and weighed 2 lbs. 10 1/2 oz.6  Baby number two was born at 12:07 pm and weighed 3 lbs. 1 1/2 oz.7  The last baby was born at 12:10 pm and weighed in at 3 lbs. 6 1/2 oz.8  A newspaper report claims that all three boys had blue eyes and that two of them had dark hair while the other was fair.9

It is interesting – and overwhelming – to note that Leon and Annabel’s other sons were just three and two years old at the time the triplets were born.10  This may explain why Annabel would travel such a great distance to give birth.  Her mother-in-law was not the only Duval family member living in Great Falls at the time.  All of Leon’s living siblings and their spouses were living in Great Falls in both 1931 and 1932 – Vera and Bill Hunter,11 12 Frank and Estelle – my great-grandparents,13 14 Dolores and Fred Cleveland,15 16 and Valmore who was 15 and 16 in 1931 and 1932.

Just two hours and twenty minutes after the final triplet was born, one of them passed away at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, 10 August 1932.17

On Thursday, 11 August 1932, another triplet died.  The final living triplet was reported to be doing well.18

Saturday, 13 August 1932, private funeral services were held for two of the Duval triplets at O’Connor Chapel and then the babies were buried in Highland Cemetery.19

 

Family Records

 

The birth and death of the triplets were recorded by my great-grandmother in numerous hand-typed family records as seen here:

 

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

 

Grandma Duval was inconsistent in her names for the triplets.  She used four names for three babies – James, Joseph, John, and Stanley John.

When I first began working with her records, there was not an online collection of Montana birth or death records I could use to verify and clarify her notes.  I was stuck with a bit of a mystery.

The two facts she consistently identified were that James died 10 August 1932, and that John died 11 August 1932.  I felt confident about adding dates, but I struggled to identify the correct names for each baby.  I wondered if Leon and Annabel would name one boy John and another Stanley John.  I was leaning toward James and Joseph being the correct names for the two triplets who did not live.

 

Records to the Rescue

 

The Montana Birth Index, 1870-1986 includes three Duval babies born in 1932 in Great Falls.  Two were listed simply as ‘Duval’ without first names, born 10 August 1932.20 21  And the third baby is actually my grandmother, Deane Alice Duval, born 27 June 1932.22

One triplet is missing from the birth index.

The Montana Death Index, 1907-2015 includes two Duval deaths in Cascade County in 1932.  John Duval who died 10 August 1932,23 and Joseph Duval who died 11 August 1932.24

So how does that compare to Grandma Duval’s notes?  She listed:

  • Stanley John Duval, born 10 August 1932 – correct – verified with other records not mentioned in this post.
  • James Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 10 August 1932 – there is no triplet named James, but these dates are correct for the triplet named John.
  • John Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 11 August 1932one of the triplets was named John Duval, but these are the dates for Joseph Duval.
  • Joseph Duval, born and died within 1 1/2 days of birth – correct

All in all, Grandma Duval didn’t do too bad.  She added an extra name in there and listed the wrong death date for John Duval.  But the important thing she did is create a record.  She gave me a starting place from which I could search for records to verify and clarify her record.  This is particularly important because the birth and death records in the indexes DO NOT list parent names.  I would not have stumbled upon them accidentally.  Her records pointed the way for me to correctly add John & Joseph to their family group.

I am still a bit surprised that Leon and Annabel named one triplet John and another Stanley John.  John is not a family name among the Duvals and it is not the name of Annabel’s father.  Because I do not have the birth record for Stanley John I suppose it is possible that his middle name was not given at birth but was added later.

Years ago, my own grandmother shared a story with me, one that I cannot possibly verify, about what led to the triplets’ early birth.  It is not a pleasant story.  I will simply state that based on that story and other tid-bits Grandma shared with me, it appears that Leon and Annabel had a rather tumultuous relationship.  That supposition seems to be backed up by the fact that Leon’s oldest son, who was 13 at the time of his father’s death, took the name of his step-father and went by Leon Revel for the remainder of his life.  Only his youngest sister did the same.

 

Details of an Unusual Photograph

 

Let’s have another look at that photograph from the beginning of this post, shall we?  I’ll make it a touch bigger.

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John & Joseph Duval, 13 August 1932, Highland Cemetery, Great Falls, Montana

 

This photograph has always fascinated me.  It’s terribly sad to see two small babies side by side in a casket but there is so much more in this picture.  Let’s break it down.

Two babies in one very small, open casket.  A large headstone when there are several visible graves with only placards.  The open hole that doesn’t look nearly deep enough with the shovel visible under the casket.  The old 2x4s supporting the casket.  The unkempt grounds. The car in the background that is so close to other graves.  The shadow of the head that is definitely a Duval head.  (Definitely may be too strong a word here, but I’m going with it anyway.  Heather, do you see it too?)  Is it Leon?  I think it looks more like my great-grandfather’s shadow.

I have two other photos in my collection of bodies in open caskets.  One is my granduncle Darrell Skeen Peterson, the other is my 2nd great-grandmother, Emma Esther Jerrain.  What makes this photo unique is that it is the only open casket photo in my collection that is at the gravesite.  Not just at the gravesite, but literally on top of the open grave.

 

Last Thoughts

 

My impression of Leon and Annabel colors my view of not only the birth, but also the deaths of John & Joseph.  I feel less sorrow than usual as I write about their early deaths.  I actually feel some relief for them.  That isn’t fair.  My usual tears for a mother who buried her babies did not flow as I typed.  I hope my impressions of Leon and Annabel are unjust and biased.  What I do know for certain is that John & Joseph’s lives were incredibly short, unfairly short.

Stanley went on to live a full life that unfortunately ended in his death in a house fire in 1991.  He was an army veteran who raised four daughters.  I have corresponded with one of those daughters.  I shared photographs with her.  She had never before seen a photo of her grandfather Leon.  She didn’t know anything about Leon.  He was her brick wall.  I helped her with that.  She is a lovely person and I am so glad to call her cousin.

Whatever prejudice I may hold for Leon & Annabel, in the end, they are part of my family.  I love my family.  All of them, warts and all.  I hope I have honored the memory of their triplets today.

 

 

 

Note – There are three interesting tid-bits I need to add.  1 – Annabel spells her name inconsistently as Annabel and Annabelle.  As in her own signature is seen spelled both ways.  2 – John Duval’s grave shows up in FindAGrave, but Joseph’s grave does not.  3 – The certificate numbers for the two ‘Duval’ birth records are G F 10413 and G F 10415.  I wonder if the missing record is G F 10414 and it somehow didn’t make it into the online index?

 

 

 


  1. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  2. LaPorte, Margaret, Columbus Hospital : One Hundred Years, (Seattle, Washington: Providence Archives, 1992), photo p. between pp. 23-24; PDF download, www.providence.org (https://www.providence.org/-/media/files/providence/about/history/columbus-hospital-one-hundred-yearsweb.pdf?la=en : accessed 21 Mar 2018). 
  3. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  4. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  5. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  6. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  7. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  8. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  9. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  10. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  11. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 101, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Alvera); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  12. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 91, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Elvera M); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  13. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 67, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  14. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 60, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  15. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 54, entry for Cleveland, Deleres Mrs.; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  16. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 48, entry for Cleveland, Fred D (Dolores); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  17. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  18. “Second of Triplets Dies at Hospital,” Great Falls Tribune, 12 August 1932, p. 2, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18016405/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  19. “Private Funeral Services to Be Held for Duval Infants,” Great Falls Tribune, 13 August 1932, p. 7, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015465/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  20. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10413; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  21. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10415; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  22. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Deane Alice Duval, 27 June 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10325; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  23. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for John Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  24. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Joseph Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 


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Photograph Showcase: Mother Daughter Moment

 

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My Mom & her Mom, Deane Alice Duval, December 1959

Last week I was able to spend some time with my parents and other family members.  My mom had a minor out-patient surgery and I went to help.  While she was napping post-surgery, I set up the scanner we bought her for Christmas.  She currently has her younger brother’s baby book/photo album and that was at the top of her list to scan so that it can be returned.  His baby book is in excellent shape!  So are the photos.  As the steward of thousands of family photos, I was surprised to see so many I had never seen before.  Including this precious shot.

What a happy discovery!  Isn’t it a beautiful photograph?  It definitely needs to be printed, framed, and displayed somewhere in my home.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a wonderful photo discovery this week!  If not, I hope you choose to digitize and share with your loved ones a photo that is special to you.

 

 

ps – If you are new around here and are shocked by the fact that I have thousands of old family photos – my great grandparents were photographers.  😉

 


44 Comments

A Cautionary Tale of Digital Loss

 

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Daniel Ramon Costello & Barbara Ann Deno Costello, my granduncle & grandaunt at their home in Spokane, Washington.

 

 

I am sick.

Heartsick.

Like, really, really heartsick.

Almost four years ago I went on a trip to Spokane, Washington to visit my Grandma and interview her.  I saw, and also interviewed, other family members including my Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara, and my fabulous Auntie V.  It was a fantastic trip.  My sister and Mom drove up to be there too.  I had brought along a digital audio recorder to capture all of the conversations.

Grandma told me stories I had never heard.  She talked about being a single mom in the 60s.  She described being a rescue diver for years and the moment she decided she couldn’t do it anymore.  She answered questions about family members who she knew, but my Mom and I did not.  She described people and places.  She went over photos with me identifying people and adding details about those people and the events in the photos.  She talked about how hard it was when her father went to prison for a year.  We talked and talked and talked.  I captured it all on my little digital audio recorder.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Barbara told me about John Costello and Mary Brown Young, my great grandparents.  I knew Mary, but John died when my mother was a child.  They shared how sorry they were in later years that they hadn’t asked Grandpa Costello more questions about his family in Spain before he passed.  Uncle Dan talked about his time in the service during WWII.  Aunt Barbara started to tell us about how sad my biological grandfather was when he and my Grandma divorced before my Mom and aunt cut her off.

My Auntie V shared some insights, when we were alone, about various family members from the past.  Her “unvarnished truth” to balance what Grandma had shared.

My Grandpa told me detailed stories from Viet Nam that are so fascinating.  I’ll leave it at that since he is still living.

All of these gems and much more were recorded on my handy little digital audio recorder.

I returned home from my trip and was immediately swept back up in daily life with my children who were 16, 13, and 2.  I was able to process some new data and information, but my trusty little audio recorder didn’t make the cut.

More than a year passed and one of my uncles from my dad’s side of the family needed to borrow my audio recorder for a family reunion I wasn’t able to attend.  I wrote up a short list of instructions and stood holding that recorder, struggling with whether or not to leave the micro sd card inside.  It has an internal memory that was more than sufficient, but what if the contents on the sd card were somehow erased?  After going back and forth I popped that oh-so-tiny micro sd card out and set it on my dresser.

I think.

Here is the moment in the book where you want to scream at the character, “No!  Don’t do it!!”

The recorder was used by my uncle at that reunion and then returned and placed on top of my dresser.

I think.

This week I am going back up to Spokane to help with an archiving project, among other things.  I will see Aunt Barbara, my Mom, Auntie V, and Grandpa.  Grandma and Uncle Dan have both passed away.

I need to be able to record and I debated – do I use my digital audio recorder or do I use my phone?

I pulled out that recorder and thought I had better pull the audio files off of it.  I plugged it into my computer and searched the files.

There were five.

Four nonsense practice files that last just a few seconds and a 33-minute file from the reunion.

That is all.

I must have checked the micro sd card slot at least 15 times hoping for something to appear that simply wasn’t there.  I even used a flashlight just to be certain.  I went through the folders on the internal memory over and over hoping to find something more but coming up empty every single time.

Panic set in.

I started tearing apart every place in my house I could imagine myself considering “a safe place” for that teeny-tiny-little micro sd card.  (Carefully, of course, but definitely fervently.)  All the while I was racking my brain and praying for a memory to pop to the surface.  Did I really just set that invaluable sd card on my dresser?  That miniscule, but more precious than gold, fragile tiny card on the edge of a dresser?!

That seems like a terrible decision.  And the thing is, I don’t know for sure what I did.  I just know that there is not a micro sd card inside of that digital audio recorder.

So far I have found one micro sd card – but not the one I need – but seriously, where did that come from? – and one regular sd card.  What is happening here?  Why aren’t these properly stored?  Why is my organizational system falling apart?!  What on earth?

Why didn’t I transfer those files immediately after my trip?!

Why didn’t I transfer those files while I was still on my trip?!!!!!  I had my laptop with me.

And this is the point where I could ramble on and on about my laptop being super full and being a busy mom with big and tiny children and being the Relief Society President in my ward and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You know that moment I mentioned, the one where we all want to scream at the character, “No!!  Don’t do it!!”?  Well, I didn’t listen.  If I could have even had a tiny glimpse of my present anguish, I would have moved mountains to get those files transferred to AT LEAST two other places.

But I didn’t.

And now I am heartsick.

So terribly heartsick.

Real tears have been shed several times now as I continue to search and continue to come up with nothing.

 

There are two very small glimmers of hope.

One, my Mom interviewed my Grandma about 2 years ago and still has that recording – that I will immediately move heaven and earth to transfer to AT LEAST two places the minute it gets into my hot little hand.  There are two major disappointments with this – one, I love you Mom, but I ask better questions 😳 – and two, my Mom says it’s all fiction.  But let’s be real, would I know the difference?  And is my Mom’s opinion of Grandma’s stories accurate or fair?  I don’t know.

Two, I just might still find that micro sd card.  I believe in miracles.  I’ve experienced miracles plenty of times.  I don’t know if I actually need a miracle this time or just more time searching, but I’ll take that treasure anyway it comes to me.  So I’ll hold out hope that somehow, someway, those hours of audio files will make their way back to me.  And no matter the path it takes, I will consider it a miracle.  But I have learned a VERY BIG lesson.

NO MATTER HOW BUSY I AM, THERE ARE SOME TASKS THAT NEED TO BE DONE IMMEDIATELY.

Good preservation requires having multiple copies in multiple places.  So guess what I will be doing over the next month?  Assessing and addressing my current level of preservation of family photos, home movies, and priceless papers and artifacts.

 

But I still really, really, really want to have that oh-so-precious and oh-so-tiny micro sd card back.  Please.

 

I’ll take any good vibes, happy successful treasure hunting thoughts, or prayers you want to send my way.  I could definitely use them.

 

And friends, I hope you will learn from my mistake and avoid a similar bout of sorrow and loss.  What do you need to digitize, duplicate, or store in another place today?  Don’t wait.  Please, don’t wait.

Good luck.

xoxo

 


22 Comments

Photograph Showcase: The Anniversary Pendant

 

DUVAL, Deane, wearing the aniversary pendant

Deane Alice Duval, wearing her mother’s anniversary pendant

When you are the daughter of photographers, you have your picture taken a lot.

Like, a lot, a lot.

So when you are the great-granddaughter of photographers, you have seen a lot of photos of your Grandma.

Like, a lot, a lot.

So sometimes, the photos kind of blur together in your memory.  And sometimes, bits of stories and treasures in those photos go unnoticed.

And then, every now and again, a detail pops out of a photo and smacks you in the face for the first time.  The detail was always there, but it went completely unnoticed until one day, it didn’t.

I scanned this photo.  A long time ago.  But I scanned it.  That means I looked at it at least three times.  Once before I put it on the glass, once on my computer screen, and then again when I pulled it off the glass.  But who knows how many other times I looked at it?  I don’t.

But just last night when I was flipping through images to choose a photo to share, a detail in this photo jumped right out at me for the first time.

 

DUVAL, Deane, wearing the aniversary pendant - crop

The pendant my Grandma is wearing didn’t belong to her.  I don’t know if it ever did.

There have been three owners that I know of.

First – my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit.  According to my mother, it was an anniversary gift given on the first anniversary of her marriage to my great-grandfather in 1931.

Second – my mother.  I remember her wearing it a lot when I was growing up.  Only ever on Sundays, but still, she wore it a lot.  I frequently wore my mother’s jewelry but I don’t remember ever wearing this.  I loved it, but I never wore it.  Maybe I wasn’t allowed.  I don’t remember.

Third – me.  A surprise.  Last year when I went for a visit, my mom gave it to me.  I didn’t know what to say.  I don’t think I ever told her how much I loved it.  But of all the pieces of jewelry she owned, it was the one item I would have chosen for myself after she is gone.

Treasure doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about it.

But finding it in this photograph last night – there just aren’t words to explain how this photograph struck me.

Four generation of women.

One pendant.  A gift to symbolize love.  A love that is one-eighth of my story.

 

A treasure, to be sure.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Leaving California and The Coffee Cup

 

DUVAL, Deane and Francis Duane, leaving California - edited

Deane & Frank Duval

 

My great-grandparents were adventurous at a time when being adventurous kept your family fed.  They traveled around with their little family of four, working where they could find a job, and leaving when the job ended or they needed more – more opportunity, income, etc.  Eventually, they settled in Spokane, Washington and started a photography studio in their home.  But before settling down was what seemed best, one of their stops was in Pacific Beach, California.

According to their daughter, my Grandma, as they were traveling through California, they stopped and her dad decided it was a great place for a restaurant.  So for a time, they owned and ran The Coffee Cup.  This photo taken in front of The Coffee Cup has a simple inscription on the back:DUVAL, Deane and Francis Duane, leaving California - back

Leaving California.

As I have studied the photos from this time period and gone over my notes I am a little bit puzzled.  Was the Coffee Cup in Pacific Beach or in a different part of California?  This photo doesn’t look very much like the San Diego I am familiar with.  Also, there are photos of my Grandma in Pacific Beach that seem to be taken well after this photo.  Did they make two California stops?  I really wish that simple inscription contained one very important detail – the date!  😉

Oh well, I imagine as I continue going through photos, the timeline will become more clear.  So for now, I am going to enjoy this awesome photograph of my Grandma and her younger brother sitting atop their trailer in front of their little restaurant as they leave it behind in search of the next adventure in their journey.

My great-grandparents were such excellent photographers!  They gave me no end of photos to stare at, wonder about, and puzzle over.

I am so grateful.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!  If not, maybe label a photo or two so your great-granddaughter won’t be left to wonder.  🙂