The Finlay Family

Finding Our Ancestors, and Sharing Their Stories

Our ‘Relative Race’: Treasures Untold

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Our Relative Race: Treasures Untold

During the month of June, we took our family on a cross-country road trip. 1 RV. 9 people. 17 days. We included many family history activities along the way. (For more about how I prepared for our trip: Preparing for Our ‘Relative Race’)

One of the first stops on our 5000+ mile, epic road trip was to visit my dad and his family. We haven’t been down to visit him at his home for over a decade! Amid many fun activities together, I asked to carve out some time to look at my dad’s collection of genealogy photos and documents. On an afternoon when most everyone was napping or watching a movie, we headed out to my dad’s storage unit, where he dug out (of a full but organized unit) a couple of storage boxes with genealogy-related materials.

I assumed that most of the materials would be the same photos and documents I made digital images of a decade ago on my last visit. I wanted to take better images (with much better technology than a decade ago) of those same items. Was I ever glad to be wrong! He had many materials I had never seen before, many photos I didn’t know existed, many original documents, even a book (not widely published) that I had been itching to get my hands on. As I sorted through, I noticed that it seemed he received most of the research and photos from his Aunt Hannah, who felt very close to her Cherokee heritage and collected many materials related to that. I had always regretted not contacting Aunt Hannah to obtain copies of her research before she passed. I wasn’t sure what her husband had done with those materials after she died, and was so relieved to find that we had not lost them!

My husband documented my genealogy joy

After a quick perusal through the boxes, I set up my Shotbox and began to make digital copies of everything in my dad’s collection. My dad, while happy to share what he has and knows with me, has no desire or time in his life right now to pursue genealogy. He found it so amusing to hand me stacks from the boxes and watch me enthusiastically exclaim over them and even do the occasional, literal, genealogy-happy-dance. Thanks, dad! Glad I can amuse you!

Partway into our project, dad offered to let me take all the materials home if I could fit a box into our RV somewhere. He decided I would probably do more with them than he would (which would be just putting them back in the storage unit). I happily, gratefully agreed to MAKE room in the RV. Clothes? Food? Who needs them? Genealogy materials…. They always have room!!

I will be sharing in depth about many items from the collection in future posts. I haven’t even closely examined the whole collection yet! For now, I will share some of the highlights from the collection:

This negative disk was part of the collection. I have yet to research where I can take this to get prints made. There is no indication of when, where or who is in these photos.

One of the most interesting, (strange?) finds was a packet with a thick strand of auburn hair. It was labeled with a generic “my mother’s hair”… (Who are you ‘my’? And who was your mother?), so I am not entirely sure to whom the hair belongs. I think it is most likely great-grandmother, Bessie Stevens Barton’s hair, though.

Label on packet of hair

Thick switch of auburn hair

My happiest happy-dance was over a trio of original photos of my great-grandfather, Arch Miller Corn, Sr., his sister, Ola Susan Corn, and their cousins, Mary and Sudie Davis. They are beautiful portraits of these individuals as teens or young adults that I had never seen before. All of these individuals are from my Cherokee side of the family.

Arch Miller Corn Sr.

Ola Susan Corn

Mary and Sudie Davis

Another happy-dance may have occurred over the original documents in the collection. There are several, and I have yet to closely examine and add them to my genealogy database. (But can’t wait to do so! If only summer would slow down….)


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