Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Stories behind old photos

About a year or two ago a couple different cousins of mine emailed me some pictures of some of my ancestors I'd never seen before. Being a bit of genealogy buff I was stoked to put faces to names I'd only seen on a family tree. Fast forward to this year...

Among my Christmas gifts, I received a book detailing the history of the Chateaugay Lake, NY area. Generally this wouldn't be of interest to me... my great-great grandfather, Darius Merrill, was an Adirondack guide who founded the town of Merrill. The story goes that Darius died when he tried to rescue one of his horses that had fallen through the ice.

After his death, his sons Watson (my great-grandfather-- see both pictures below), Charles, and Shep lost interest in running the Hotel that Darius had built and operated up until his untimely demise and sold said hotel to another family (unfortunately I have no photos of that hotel handy at the moment and it burned to the ground in 1979). My Great-Grandfather, Watson P. Merrill built the Chateaugay House which sadly burned in 1908.

And the Chateaugay House:

In May of 1918 my Great-Grandmother Frankie Davis Merrill died. The story goes (as originally told to my older siblings and cousins by my grandmother) My Great-Grandfather, Watson, losing the love of his life died of a broken heart just a few months later in August 1918. My Grandmother, Gladys, who was only 15 at the time was raised from that point on by her older sister, Sadie.

Watson & Frankie

Lets just say learning the stories behind the photos is as big a thrill as seeing the photos for the first time.


St. Dickeybird said...

Nice! I love family history.
I once googled my grandfather's name, and found a pic of him with his rugby team from the 40s or early 50s. I printed it, fixed it in photoshop, and mailed a copy to my grandmother. She was shocked, and very happy.

Snooze said...

That's really wild to be able to trace your family in one area like that. Mine are a bunch of migrants.

Perplexio said...

dickeybird: I absolutely love this stuff! When I was about 17 for Easter vacation my parents & I went to Rhode Island where my father's ancestors had originally settled back in the mid-seventeenth century. It was wild seeing the headstones belonging to names I'd only ever seen on my family tree and reading about them in town/village records and etc.

snooze: That particular branch of my family originally came over in the eighteenth century and settled in New Hampshire. In the mid nineteenth century my great great great grandfather, Paul Merrill migrated from Gilmanton, NH to Northern NY where all the ancestors in the pictures from this post settled, lived, and eventually died.