Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Restored Photo

Okay… so it was not a photo; but was a photo I had taken several years ago, of, what appeared to be a “painting”, of my GGG grandparents; Isaac Catron and Mary Jones Catron.  I posted the my original photograph of this painting yesterday; along with the beginning of my restoration.  I have spent a lot of time working on this today; and below is my original photograph; and my restoration of it.  As you can see; I decided the best way to get rid of the bad stains on the bottom portion of the picture; was to try to re-create (best I could) her dress and his jacket.  I also tried to clone the blue’ish background color.

I’m sure a true professional could do better.  But…. I think this is pretty good for my first attempt at a real restoration.

Feel free to leave your comments and let me know what you think.

Original photo of the painting

My restoration of the photo

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in General Genealogy


Restoring Old Photographs

Well…. it’s been a while since my last post here; and although I have other things I want to post about in the near future; those things will require some real time for me to put together my facts and such.  Since I was “out of commission” (major toothache) most of last week; I have lots of research to catch up on; and less time for my blog right now.  So… I will write about something that won’t take any time for me to research; and; therefore; not a lot of time to write a little about.

In my last post, I told about how an old photo had led me to find the Choctaw ancestors of my girlfriend, Kelly.  I have been intrigued by old photos for many years; since I first began researching my own family history.  I spent  a lot of time talking to relatives; some close relatives; others relatives I didn’t even know.  In doing so; over the years, I was able to obtain hundreds of old photographs of my ancestors and their families.  I have many old pictures of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents; and even some of great-great-great grandparents.  I never get tired of looking at the old pictures.

Over the past several years, I have been able to identify many of the folks in the old pictures; whom I couldn’t previously identify.  I did much of that by comparing pictures.  In many cases, I would notice someone in a picture of a sole person; and compare with people in group pictures that I had of family.  Every now and then, I would realize the person in a picture was the same person found in other pictures.  Since I had names of folks in some of those pictures, I was then able to put a name to other pictures.  Always compare your old pictures; and study them closely.

I have also been able to identify folks in some of the old pictures by showing them to my oldest relatives.  Only recently; a cousin and I went to visit my great-aunt (sister of my grandmother); who has been in a nursing home for a couple of years.  She was able to identify some of the folks in a box of pictures that my cousin had, from her father’s belongings.  It was fun to be able to visit with my great aunt; and to share the pictures with her; bringing back many memories for her.

Although I have often done some very minor things to improve my old photos; I never really knew how to truly restore an old, faded, damaged photo.  I have seen examples of an old photo, which was torn into 4 or 5 pieces; pieced back together; and truly restored, in what appeared to be an absolute miracle.

Since I have so many old photos myself; I decided that I want to “try” to learn how to restore these photos; and really bring them back to life.  I am not talking about the simple things, such as adjusting the brightness, contrast, etc.  I want to learn how to remove the blemishes, scratches, repair tears; and everything else I can; in order to bring the photo back to its’ original beauty and glory.

Early last week, I started “googleing” (Is that a word?).  I found a link to a website that claims to be a “Photo Restoration School”.  Now… I will be the first to admit that this isn’t what most would consider a course study; or anything like that.  However; after looking over the website for a while; and thinking on it overnight; I decided to pony up the small amount of money required to enroll.  For $50 I figured I could surely learn enough to make it worthwhile.

Since I am not associated with this site; and haven’t been able to spend a lot of time on it myself yet; I certainly don’t want to sound like I am endorsing it.  But…. others may want to check it out themselves.  It is at .  You can get a free video tutorial by entering your email address in the appropriate spot on their webpage.  The free tutorial is based on a fairly simple fix for faded photos; but is certainly worth checking out.

The website seems to be based mostly on video tutorials; which guide you through the process to fix various things in a photo.  They use free photo software called “Gimp”.  Gimp is similar to Photoshop; but it is a free, open source software.  You can get the software at

The tutorials on the Photo Restoration School’s site, appear to do a pretty good job of walking your through the steps of various photo restoration processes.  I certainly think there is enough on the website for me to get my fifty dollars worth; and I am looking forward to learning all I can about restoring old photographs.

In conclusion, I am going to “attempt” to attach 2 photos to this post (If I can figure out how), to show a photo which I decided to be my first photo restoration project.  The original was some kind of painting done of my GGG Grandparents.  This was likely done around 1850.  The original was very large; and I had to photograph the original to get a copy for myself.  As you can see (hopefully), I have since cropped the image; and also made some adjustments to bring the color out.  Next, I am going to try to get the “blueish” portion (like that right above his shoulder) all above and around him and her.  It appears to me that the background behind them, was originally that color; and age has probably washed away the blue background.  After I get that done, I will begin to work on restoring the bottom portion of the picture, to remove all of the aged stains there.



Here’s to hoping I can restore my GGG grandparents; and many more.

If anyone else happens to decide to try this also; please be sure to let me know, so that we can share ideas, and anything else we learn.

Hope everyone has a great day!

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in General Genealogy


Old Photos led us on a path to Choctaw Family

A few years ago, my other half (Kelly, received a call from her father.  His brother had informed him that he was getting ready to have their mother’s old house (Kelly’s grandmother) demolished.  He grandmother was Anna Vivian Horr; whose husband was Kinsey Lee Stewart.  Kelly’s grandfather, Kinsey was born 1905, in Texas.  He died in Delaware Co., IN in 1979.  Vivian was born in Delaware Co., IN in 1910.  She died in Delaware Co., IN in 1996.

When Grandma Anna died, her oldest son, John was living in the house with her.  He remained in the house until he died several years ago.  The house had been sitting empty; and was getting run down by the time John passed on.

Before having the house torn down, Kelly’s uncle, Arthur called Kelly’s father, Edwin, and told him to contact Kelly and her sister to let them know the house was going to be torn down; and to give them the opportunity to go through the house to see if there was anything left in the house that either of them might want.  Long story short, I found a very old suitcase in a small bedroom closet.  The old suitcase was nearly rotted.  In fact; when I grabbed the handle to lift the suitcase, the handle broke off of the suitcase.  After I finally removed the suitcase from the closet; I laid it out on the old bed in the room; and opened it up.  To our astonishment; this old suitcase was nearly full of old photographs and documents!  What a treasure we had found.

It took many days to go through all of the old photos in the suitcase; and longer to identify many of the folks in those old pictures.  However; when we were done, we had found many great pictures, which included some of Kelly’s great and great-great grandparents.  Among them, we found pictures of Stella Lorena Butler; who was the mother of Kinsey Stewart.  Stella was born 14 Jan. 1877, in LaSalle Co., TX.  She died in Delaware Co., IN in 1960.  We also found pictures of Stella’s mother; who was Stella Virginia Plummer.

The Plummer line had grabbed our attention; so I began doing some real digging into this family.  Stella Virginia Plummer was born 11 Mar., 1857 in Arkansas.  She married John H. Butler about 1874, in Texas.  Census and other records led me to Stella’s father; who was Joseph R. Plummer.  Joseph was born 1 June 1833 in Mississippi; although I did not know exactly where in Mississippi that he was born, at that time.

At some point, I had found a couple of Stella Virginia’s siblings in Olkahoma; sometime around 1900.  I don’t recall now, what it was; but, something I had found had given me the indication that they were of Native American blood.  I decided then that I should search the Dawes Applications.

A Little About the Dawes Applications

In 1893, the United States Congress established a Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes
(commonly called the Dawes Commission) to exchange Indian tribal lands in the Southeastern
United States for individual land allotments to members of the Indian tribes. More than 250,000
people applied to the commission for enrollment and land, but only a little over 100,000 were

Those claiming American Indian blood went through an application process in an attempt to receive their fair share of land from the Government.  These applications are full of information; and often offer many details about the ancestors of those who applied.

Back to Joseph R. Plummer

Joseph’s wife, Mary S. Plummer; made application in 1902.  “A few” of the questions and answers on her application were as follows:

Q. What is your name?  A. Mary S. Plummer.

Q.  How old are you?  A. Sixty-five.

Q. What is the name of your Choctaw Husband through who you claim these rights?  A. Joseph R. Plummer.

Q. When and where were you married to Joseph R. Plummer?  A. ’54, 10th of October, ’54.

Finding a Dawes application on one of our ancestors; almost always leads to applications made by other family members.  In a Dawes application made by Susan Burton, Kelly’s GGG Grandfather gave a deposition which provided a ton of family history; and tells of his childhood.  Some of the questions and answers in his application were as follows:

Q.  Do you make any claim to Choctaw blood?  A. Yes Sir, I am a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.

Q.  From whom do you derive Choctaw blood?  A. Susanna Graham my grandmother.

Q.  Are you the son of a daughter or a son of Susanna Graham?  A. A daughter.

Q.  What was your mother’s name?  A.  Annie V. Stewart.

Q.  Was Susanna Graham, your grandmother, married twice?  A.  Yes Sir.

Q.  What was her first married name?  A.  Stewart.

Q.  What was her husband’s name?  A. Stewart.  She married my grandfather Stewart.

Q.  What was his given name?  A.  I don’t recollect.

Q.  Who did she marry the second time?  A. A white man by the name of Graham.

Q.  Where were you born, Mr. Plummer?  A.  Holmes County, Mississippi.

Q.  Did you know your grandmother Susanna Graham?  A. Yes Sir.

Q.  Where did you know her?  A.  Why she reared me from my childhood in Mississippi.

Q.  How long did you live with your grandmother?  A.  Why she reared me from my infancy.  She died in 1850.

Q.  Were you living with her at the time of her death?  A. Yes Sir.

Q.  Were you acquainted with all of Susanna Graham’s children?  A. Yes Sir.

Among other things, Joseph goes on to name each of Susanna’s children; including his mother, Annie V. Stewart.  He also names his father; who was also Joseph R. Plummer.  He tells that he knew all of the children of his grandmother; except for his mother, Annie; who died when he was an infant.  Joseph also states that he was born in 1833; and that his grandmother took charge of him when he was 2 months old.

I another application made by one of Joseph’s son; more is learned.  He states that his father’s (Joseph’s) mother was Annie V. Lewellyn.  Lewelly was the name of her first husband; before having married Joseph R. Plummer, Sr.  Frank also tells that his grandmother, Annie V., was half Choctaw.

Frank’s father, Joseph R. Plummer (Kelly’s GGG grandfather), also gave a deposition in the case of his son, Frank Plummer.  In it, he states that his father, Joseph R. Plummer (I’ll refer to him as “Sr.”) was a white man; and that his mother, Annie V. Stewart was a Choctaw.  He refers to his father as a “Yankee, born in Massachusetts.”   We also learn in his deposition that his grandmother, Susanna, was full blood Choctaw; and her maiden name was Brashears.

Joseph continues to answer many questions in his deposition on behalf of his son, Frank.  He tells us that his grandmother, Susanna, died on the 5th day of May 1850, and was about 60-65 years of age.  Thus we learn that Susanna was born about 1775.  When asked if his grandmother spoke the Choctaw language; Joseph answers by saying “Very well; spoke the Choctaw language as well as she spoke the English Language.”.  He goes on to describe his grandmother as having black eyes and straight black hair.

In further questioning about how he knew that these (Susanna and Annie V.) are the same persons as his relatives and ancestors; Joseph answers the with the following:

“Why grandmother raised me from an infant and taught me things about my mother and father and I grew up under that for seventeen years; I was seventeen years of age when she died in 1850 lacking a few days of it, and she taught me all the good I know — reared me from my child hood — and that she was my grandmother, and that my mother died when I was an infant, two months old — Ann V. Lewellyn.”

All of which I have written about today, reflects only a tiny portion of all of the things that we learned about Kelly’s Choctaw ancestors.  Not only did we learn all of this new information; such as Joseph’s parent’s names; and his grandmother’s name.  But; we also learned much about the family.  We learned that Joseph was raised by his grandmother; and did not know his mother at all; she having died when he was but 2 months old.  Joseph seemed to have been very proud of his ancestors; having stated that his grandmother “taught me all the good I know”.  Although not written about here; we had also learned of all of Joseph’s mother’s siblings; and their spouses; many of whom also had applied under the Dawes applications.

Indeed; those old photos took us on a journey that we will never forget.  A journey that led us to Kelly’s full blooded Choctaw, 5th Great Grandmother; Susanna Brashears.


Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Native American


Great time visiting and sharing pictures with cousin

Today, my first cousin, Sherri, (once removed) drove up to my house and spent part of the morning; and most of the afternoon.  She brought a box of old photos that we had so much fun going through.  These were old photos that had belonged to her father; who was a brother to my grandmother.  Although I have quite a few old pictures from that side of my family; she had several that I had never seen.  I was able to tell her who several of the folks in the pictures were; and; working together; we were able to make some educated guesses as to some of the others.  It was awesome seeing photos of my great grandmother; which I had not seen before.  I mean… I have several pictures of my great grandmother.  But, these were pictures of her I had not previously seen.  She also had some pictures of my GG grandparents which I had not seen before; and I shared some pictures with her; of those same folks; which she had not seen.

It was such a great day visiting with Sherri; reminiscing about our parents, grandparents, etc.; and sharing old photos and documents.  Now… we have made plans to go visit her aunt (my great aunt); who has been in a nursing home for a couple of years now.  We suspect that this aunt will be able to shed some light as to who some of the folks we could not identify in these pictures were.

So…. Sherri and I are both looking forward to taking a little trip later this week to visit Aunt Maxine.  I’m sure Aunt Maxine will have a blast going through the old pictures; and, hopefully, some of them will jog her memory a little; and we will be able to identify a few more of the folks in the old pictures.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in General Genealogy


Great Things Found in Civil War Pension

About 3 years ago, I did some research for Carol Yenne (one of the followers of my blog). Her ancestor, David Vance; was a bit of a mystery. We were having a difficult time following David; and finding out about his family.

What We Knew When We Started

When I began this research for Carol; we knew her ancestor, Amos Vance; was the son of David Vance and Sarah Smith. David and Sarah had married in Randolph Co., IN, in 1833. David was found in Randolph Co. on the 1840 and 1850 census records. In 1860, he was found nearby, in Mercer Co., OH.

It was a struggle finding David after 1860. However; once we learned that he had served during the Civil War; I recommended to Carol that we obtain his pension file. I’m sure neither of us were expecting a 299 page pension file! And…. I know that neither of us expected to learn so much about David, through his pension file.

David had enlisted for service, in 1861; in Grant Co., IN. After that; things were very fuzzy. However; his pension file revealed much!  The widow of David; per his pension file, was Rachel. David and Rachel had married in Mercer Co., OH; in 1878. However; David had appeared on the 1870 census; in Madison Co., IA; with a wife, Mary; and 2 small children. Interesting; since David’s first wife did not die until 9 Feb. 1876. Mary; was referred to as “Dena” or “Sardina” in most records.

The depositions given by some of David’s daughters, revealed a lot about David. In October of 1904; David’s daughter, Margaret Vance Rhoads; gave a deposition for the pesnion of David’s widow, Rachel. Margaret states “I am the oldest daughter of David Vance and Sarah Vance. My father David Vance was not married after the death of my mother, which occurred Feb. 9, 1876, until he married Rachel Crawmer. I was present when my mother Sarah Vance died, but was not present when my father died. They were never divorced, although father and mother did not live together for a number of years.”

So…. according to David’s oldest daughter; David and Sardina (Mary on the 1870 census) were not married. Yet; they have children per the 1870 census.

The deposition of another daughter of David’s; Martha Vance Harris; given in Jan. of 1906; reveals much more information about David’s initial disappearance. She states… “I am a daughter of David Vance” etc. etc…” My mother was Sarah Smith when she married him and she was his first wife as I always understood. He was only seventeen years old when they were married and she was twenty three.” “They did not live together after I was eighteen years of age.” (This would have been about 1863). “He had been home from the Army some three or four years when they separated. We were then living in Jalepia (?) Ind.” (Grant County). “I remember the circumstances w ll when he left home. They had had no quarrel at all and were getting along all right. My father played the fiddle and I remember he picked it up and said to my mother that he was going to Ashland to rent a house and she advised him not to take his fiddle but he did so and he never came back. We did not know where he went to and my mother never heard from him as long as she lived. My mother died at Coon Rapids, Ia.” etc. etc. “There was a girl, a country girl in the neighborhood named Sardina Connor who turned up missing at the same time my father disappeared and it was supposed that they had eloped together. That suspicion arose because just a few days before they disappeared he was seen with his arm around her. This woman was a soldier’s widow and she was only seventeen years old. I can’t remember the name of her husband, Connor, but he died in the war. Her maiden name was Cox before she married Connor. I was well acquainted with her. I knew her and Connor in Salina, Mercer Co., O. before they were married and we used to go to school together. After she became a widow she followed us out to Jalapia, Ind. where we had moved and she staid there with her sister, Mrs. Tame (John) Marks.” etc. etc. “My sister, Margaret Rhoads, has been in correspondence with this claimant (Rachel; widow of David) for some years and she has written Margaret that she has heard where father was during the time he was gone after leaving my mother, saying that he was living with Sardene Cox or Connor, and that they had three children, two girls and a boy, and these children were some place in Michigan. I do not know where. I never saw those children, and I never saw Sardene after she was supposed to have gone away with my father. I have an uncle, George Vance, at Blue Vail, Neb. and he wrote me once some seven or eight years ago that my father had been there with a woman who was rather young and he wrote and asked me if she was his wife and I wrote and told him I did not know whether she was or not. As I understood it my father lived there at Blue Vail with this woman some six or seven years. My mother was not dead at that time. If my uncle is alive he still lives there; if not alive his boy, William, still lives there. My father never wrote to me at any time and I never kept in touch with him at all. Sometime after he married, or is supposed to have married this last woman, Rachel, he came to Oakfield to see me and staid two or three days. He did not bring her with him; she had not come from Indiana yet, and he was staying with my sister Margaret at Coon Rapids at the time. They lived there for a while after the claimant came there, a few years and then moved back to Indiana where they lived till he died. Those are the only three woman my father ever had that I know anything about and I don’t know as he was married to any of them except my mother. I know one thing, he was never married lawfully to the first one” (referring to Sardene) “or mother would have received notice of his bill if he had secured a divorce, and I know she never heard anything about him getting a divorce, and I know my mother never applied for a divorce from him.

In another deposition given by David’s daughter, Elizabeth; she states “I have no way of tracing up his history between the time he left my mother and the time he married this claimant (Rachel). I never heard from him and don’t know who would know anything about. He had completely dropped out of site during those years. Well, I had heard talk to the effect that he went off with another woman when he left my mother but I know nothing about that. I believe I heard he went off with a woman named Dene Cox but I never saw her and know nothing about her, who she was beyond that, or who her relatives are, and I do not know what became of her, or where she is now.

What We Learned from the Pension File

David’s pension files also give many details about his various illnesses; and there were many. I won’t try to go into those. But; this pension file provided so much information about David; revealing 3 children whom he had had with a young Sardena Cox; whom he had apparently left his wife and children for, soon after he returned from the war.

David’s pension file also provided us with some great clues as to his early life; and clues as to where to search for his parents. His pension file provided us with information that he had been born in PA and had apparently come to Preble Co., OH, when he was small. We also learned of a brother, George; as well as another brother; whose name was William. We also learned about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance from his wife and children, shortly after the war.

I decided to write about the above in order to point out the importance of Civil War pension files. If you have an ancestor who served; and received a pension; you certainly should obtain a complete copy of his pension. The information provided in these pension files often provides much more than just details about their time in the war; and their illnesses. They often provide tons of family information; with depositions often times, by close friends and family members.

I do hope everyone has enjoyed reading this little bit about David Vance.


Posted by on February 1, 2012 in General Genealogy