Photograph Showcase: A collection of moments from Grandma’s life


Deane Alice Duval

born – 27 June 1932, Montana

died – 17 September 2017, Washington

My heart is full.  There is so much to say, both here, and privately.  So many things that need to be recorded and preserved.  My Grandmas were both instrumental in helping me begin my genealogy journey.  Both are now gone.  Grandma Deane shared with me everything she could.  Photos, documents, stories, facts, family rumors and legends.  Everything.

I was able to be with her the last two days of her life.  What a tender, difficult, healing, heartbreaking, and precious time.  I wiped the last tears she ever shed.  I held her hands.  I swabbed her mouth with a wet sponge.  I rubbed her feet and legs.  I kissed her forehead.  I stroked her cheek.  I told her I loved her again and again.  But I will never be able to repay all that she did for me.

Farewell to my oldest and truest genealogy partner-in-crime, cheerleader, and occasional corrector.  When I called to share my discoveries, I was greeted with a “well hi, sweetheart”, with her unique Pacific Northwest accent flavored by her family’s recent English and French immigrants.  I will miss that.  I imagine the next few new discoveries will be bittersweet because I won’t be able to call and talk to her about them.

Thank you, Grandma, for everything.





Photograph Showcase: Adorable Grandmother


I recently found this beautiful 8×10 photo of my grandmother in pristine condition, in a picture frame, in a stack of picture frames, in the closet of a guest room in my parent’s home.  With my mother’s permission, I rescued the dusty frame from the pile.

This adorable little girl was the only child at the time this photo was taken.  She was 22 months old.  The photo was taken at The Twitter Studio in Great Falls, Montana.  The photo was later hand-painted with oil paints.  Because there is evidence that the photograph was removed and returned to the frame – the paper backing is torn and taped back together with very old cellophane tape with the studio sticker still on the paper backing – I believe that it was hand-painted by my great grandmother Hope Estelle Maffit.

I love her little dress, socks, and shoes.  I also love that her hair isn’t overly styled.  It looks like her mother just worked with her natural curls.  I wonder if the stuffed dog belonged to my grandmother or if it was a toy in the studio used to help children hold still?

I’m so delighted that my mother was willing to let me rescue and scan this photo while it was still in such perfect condition.  A treasure for sure!


Photograph Showcase: Playing on a fence

DUVAL, Frank and Deane on fence

Frank & Deane Duval.  12 September 1938 in Divide, Montana.  Photo taken by their father.

DUVAL, Deane and Frank on fence, photo back

Photo back with Francis Henry Duval’s notes.

I love this photo of my grandmother and her brother playing on a fence.  I also love the notes on the back written by their father, my great grandfather.  He was developing his photography skills and like all good students, he was a note taker.

You may notice how light my grandmother’s eyes are.  She has very bright blue eyes.  So does her brother.


Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Two

Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus - From, CC BY-SA 2.0

Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus – From, CC BY-SA 2.0.

In Part One of the Maggie Douglas tale, I discovered Maggie’s existence.  Here’s a recap:

My great grandmother Mary Brown Young traveled from Scotland to Montana with her mother and siblings at the age of 7.  The first travel record I found was a border crossing record based on a ship manifest.  Along with Mary and her immediate family, Maggie Douglas was listed on the same ship.  She gave Mary’s father, James Young, as the person she was joining in the United States.  She claimed he was her cousin.

I had never come across a Maggie Douglas in my research.  Not even the surname of Douglas.  The record had quite a bit of information but I was really scratching my head about who Maggie was and how I was going to track her down.

I knew that Maggie last lived in Clydebank and that she claimed James was her cousin.

Okay, but what did she mean by cousin?  First cousin, second cousin, third cousin?  And then of course there is the whole removed business.  Because Douglas is not a surname in my tree I looked at the female relatives of James Young, his aunts in a few generations.  I checked for women that I had not fully researched and didn’t yet know the names of their spouses.  The trouble was, Young is a terribly common last name in Scotland.  Added to that is the fact that my Young family followed the naming tradition and the women are named: Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Janet, Jessie, Agnes, and Isabella.  Nothing else.  Talk about a needle in a haystack.  There is a good reason most of them lack spouses in my tree.  Trying to hypothesize Maggie’s parents was getting nowhere pretty quickly.  I moved on.

I knew that Maggie claimed her intention to join James in Montana.  I even had an address.  I started searching for a trail in the United States after the date of the border crossing record.  I knew that James and his family left Montana for Washington State before 1920.  I searched for a Maggie/Margaret Douglas born 1884 in Scotland with residences in Montana and Washington.

I found one possible census record:

  • Margaret Douglas
  • age: 40
  • Born about 1880 in Scotland
  • Home in 1920: Spokane, Spokane, Washington
  • Address:  109 S. Wall Street
  • White, Female
  • Year of Immigration: 1906
  • Head of household
  • Divorced
  • Parents both born in Scotland
  • She rented
  • Alien status, able to read, able to write
  • Occupation:  Housekeeper in a club

Close.  Definitely possible.  Flaws?

  • Her age was off by four years.  But, it was listed as 40.  A nice round number if you live in her building and don’t know her exact age.
  • Divorced.  Maybe?  I don’t know.
  • Year of immigration should be 1910 not 1906 but again, what if she wasn’t the one giving the information?

This address is 3.1 miles from where James and his family were living in Spokane in 1920.  That definitely seems like a point in favor of this being my Maggie.  The problem is that there was no way to know for sure.  No family members listed with her.

Working on the assumption that it was possible this was my Maggie, I looked for additional records.  I searched the Washington State Digital Archives for a death or marriage record.  I searched for the 1930 and 1940 census.  I searched findagrave and billiongraves.  Nothing.  No continuing trail.

I was not okay with giving up.  I decided to try my luck at finding her birth record in Scotland.  I’ll sum this part up really fast – plenty of time and pennies, no luck.

I wasn’t sure why, but I REALLY wanted to know who Maggie Douglas was.  I wanted to know if I was related to her and if I was, how?  But I was out of leads.  Nothing to go on.  With great reluctance I stopped my search.  I made a few notes for myself and closed the research file.

Do you feel sad?  I did.  Walking away from a genealogy puzzle is not something I like to do.  But all I had was one piece of a many pieced puzzle.  One piece is not usually enough.  This time it really wasn’t enough.  Not yet anyway.


To be continued…




Who is Maggie Douglas? Part One

Mary Young Costello, April 1988 in front of her home on Regal in Spokane, WA.

Mary Brown Young Costello, April 1988 in front of her home on Regal in Spokane, WA.

Last week, I read a post over on PastSmith that really resonated with me.  She has a few photos that are presenting potential relatives that she hasn’t been able to connect to her tree.  She has some interesting clues that may very well lead her somewhere.  She posed the following question:

Have you ever had to start midstream, so to speak, in research? This is the first time I’ve tried to connect someone to a person in my tree without starting with something concrete. It’s a little disconcerting!

I immediately thought of Maggie Douglas.  Her’s is an interesting research story.  I’m going to tell it parts.  Today?  Part one, an introduction.  Here goes…


That photo up there is my spunky great grandmother Mary Brown Young Costello.  She was born in Scotland and at the age of seven she, her mother, and her three living siblings left Scotland to join their husband and father in America.

Mary lived the remainder of her life in Montana and Washington State.  I have always had so many records about her that I was not particularly concerned with her immigration and travel records.  I knew when she arrived, where she lived and so on.  Well a few years ago I revisited the information I had on Mary and decided it was high time I gather the rest of the records I could.  That meant immigration and travel records were a must.  I found this: Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.  Original data: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

You can see Catherine Young, age 36, with her four children Catherine, Mary, Alexander, and George.  As it turns out I wasn’t nearly as curious about this record as I should have been.  I made three big rookie mistakes – at first.  Mistake one – I found this and quit looking for other travel documents.  Mistake two – I thought this was the whole record.  Mistake three – I didn’t read the whole page.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Mistake one – Later, I had gained more knowledge and learned that there could be multiple travel records.  I needed to look for records from the port they left, the port in which they arrived, the Ship Manifest, and the Border Crossing record – they arrived in Quebec and crossed from Canada to the US.  Not to mention there is the possibility of a passport application, a passport, a naturalization record and probably others I don’t know about.  Each of those records has the potential to add new information.  Lesson: Don’t quit looking when you find record number one!  I’ve gone on to find two more so far.

Mistake two – Ummm, there’s this little thing at the bottom of the page.  It’s totally familiar to everyone.  We see them all the time and I apparently ignore them.  It’s an arrow.  A small little thing inviting the reader to click on over to the next page and see what is there.  Guess what?  What was there was page two of the document!  Page two, that added more information.  Page two that made me realize Maggie Douglas existed.  Here’s page two: Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.  Original data: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

On page one, Catherine is listed on line 18, she is also on line 18 on page two.  On this page we learn that Catherine was traveling with $500 and that her passage was paid by her husband.  She and her children were traveling to James Young who was living at 829 Placer Street in Butte, Montana.  And here is where mistake number three comes in.  Let your eyes glance upward and see that whoever is listed on the line above Catherine is traveling to her cousin James Young living at 829 Placer Street.  What now?

I noticed that little fact a few YEARS after I originally found this record because I didn’t click to page two and I didn’t read the entire record.  Lesson:  ALWAYS check for a page two, and three and so on.  Read the ENTIRE record.

Back to Maggie.  Reviewing both page one and page two, this is what I know about Maggie Douglas:

  • Maggie Douglas
  • Age 26
  • Female
  • Widowed
  • Housewife
  • Able to read and write.
  • Citizen of Scotland
  • Race – Scottish
  • Last permanent residence: Clydebank, Scotland
  • Nearest relative in Scotland:  Brother-in-law D J Muir, Dock Street, Yoker
  • Final Destination:  Butte, Montana
  • She had a ticket that she paid for herself.
  • She was either traveling with $100 or $1,000.  You could convince me of either.
  • She had never been to the US before.
  • She was joining her cousin James Young who lived at 829 Placer Street in Butte, Montana.
  • She answered no to the next several questions – she wasn’t a polygamist, anarchist, cripple and so on.
  • She was 5’7″, dark complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, no identifying marks.
  • She was born in Clydebank, Scotland.

Once I had read through the record, I was completely stumped.  I had no Maggie Douglas in my tree.  No D J Muir in my tree.  No idea how Maggie and James were related.  Where on earth to start?

I was faced with doing exactly what PastSmith was talking about – I was being forced to start midstream.

To be continued…



Photograph Showcase: Precious in her Polka-dots

My Grandma, June 27, 1936, Great Falls Montana.

My Grandma, June 27, 1936, Great Falls Montana.

Isn’t my grandmother darling?  I love her little shoes and socks.  And that dress!  I think it is very sweet.  The collar and buttons are lovely.  But her eyes.  I would know those eyes anywhere.  Even in black and white.  I love her, I am blessed that she is still living.

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Answer to “Who Is On That Swing?”

Estelle Duval on swing

Estelle Maffit, Montana

I originally posted this photo with the comment that I wasn’t sure if this was in fact my great grandmother Estelle.  At the prompting of a reader I reposted the photo with some additional images to compare.  In that post I listed facts and photos but did not share my thoughts.

You, my wonderful readers, all believe this image is in fact Estelle.  Thank you for the input.

Now, my thoughts.  When the photo loaded in the original post, I was surprised.  It was the largest I had seen this photo so far and I was struck with how different Estelle looked from all of the other photos I have.  Something about it reminded me of her older sister Hi.

Then, as I gathered other photos and looked at their faces carefully I drew the same conclusion that you all did.  I believe this sweet photo is of Estelle.  I think the things about her face that caused my initial surprise are the way her brows are scrunched and the roundness of her cheeks.  The brows are likely scrunched because of sun.  Her rounder face is probably attributable to her younger age, position of her head and the lighting.  And of course, Estelle and Hi are sisters so they are bound to favor each other in different positions and settings.

Thank you for weighing in.  And thank you Deborah for prompting me to share.  It was a good exercise.  I drew my own conclusion, kept it to myself and then got oodles of confirmation from each of you.  Thank you all!

This small photo that I have loved well, will continue to be a treasure I can attribute to my great grandmother Estelle.