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May 16, 2012

A Photograph Brings Life to an Ancestor

Jack Schulze with parents
Recently my youngest son was given a photo of his grandfather Jack with Jack's parents.  That doesn't sound too exciting but it is. No one in the family knew much about Jack's parents. All we knew was that Jack's father was either Otto or Oscar Schulze and his mom was Harriet.

Years ago I asked my son's father to ask his mother about the Schulze family. Since she divorced Jack in the 50's we weren't sure how accurate or even truthful her answers would be, but it was better than nothing. Jack was long dead and there was no one else to ask. All she could remember was the surname Dewhurst and she wasn't sure if that was Harriet or someone else.

So my hunt began. We knew the family was from Germany originally but settled in Yorkshire England at some point. Searching the online records wasn't as simple as I thought it would be and I couldn't be sure if I had the right man since we weren't even sure if his name was Otto Oscar or Oscar Otto. The family lore was that Jack, whose name was Jack Otto, had been given the middle name Otto after his father's first name. And that this was a tradition in the family so if Jack's father's middle name was Oscar, that meant the next generation back was a man named Oscar (something) Schulze.

Then I remembered a small stationary box that my father-in-law Jack had in his possession when he died.  We'd put it in the attic and of course forgot all about it.  Inside I found the death certificate for his father. Question One answered  - his father's name was Oscar Otto Schulze and he died in 1942 at the age of 58. Armed with an approximate birth year I was able to trace Oscar and find his parents, as well as his marriage to Harriet Dewhirst in 1908.

We've never connected with any other researchers. Oscar and Harriet had only one child - my father-in-law Jack.  Oscar was one of nine siblings born to Henry George Schulze and his wife Mary, but I haven't found anyone else descended from any of them. So it was a thrill for my son to be given this photograph which shows Oscar Otto Schulze (1884-1942) and Harriet Dewhirst (1887-?) The families lived in Halifax, Yorkshire England and my next quest is to hopefully find Harriet's death and send for her certificate.

Slowly but surely we are putting together my son's paternal lineage for him and his children. Since his father died when my son was only 13, this is a very meaningful journey. And this photo brings his ancestors closer, giving a face to what was just a name and a few dates.


The Grandmother Here said...

There is no end to this game. Always another blank to fill in. And isn't it fun?!!!

smytttie40 said...

I totally agree that a photo brings life to an ancestor. We have been searching for a pic of my g-gram for years and no one seems to have one or if they do, they don't know it is she. She left my g-grandfather after the last child was born so I am supposing the photos he had were destroyed or burned in a subsequent house fire. If anyone reads this and knows of Esther LONDRY and may have a pic of her, leave a message please.

Kenneth R Marks said...

I agree about how important photos are. The photos and the stories are much more important than the dates that us researchers spend a lot of time on. The biggest FRUSTRATION is the relatives that have old boxes full of photos and documents in their garage or attic and refuse to collaborate. And you know that there are jewels in those boxes.

Jana Last said...

How exciting! Old photographs, as well as those old documents, etc. hiding in attics or elswhere, are real genealogical treasures. Congratulations on your awesome finds!