Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mysterious Monday (In a MAJOR way!)

Okay, genea-peeps, I really need your help!

Earlier today, I got a voicemail from a cousin of mine in Louisburg.  Actually, she is not a blood relative, but one of those cousin-cousins that we all have.  She was the "adopted" daughter of my real cousin, Geral Yarboro Sargeant, who passed away in 2006. 
Anyway, this cousin, whom I'll call "M", called to let me know that her son (who I didn't even know existed) would be contacting me soon because he'd come to town and gone through some of the pictures that belonged to my cousin Geral, and he'd scanned some of them.  M told me that her son is developing an interest in family history, and that she'd shared with him that this was my thing :), so she'd given him my number so that he could contact me and share the pictures he scanned.
Now, mind you, it had crossed my mind some time ago that my cousin Geral's home, which has been left untouched, probably holds some family history treasures for me.  After all, she was born in 1916.  Her mother was my grandfather's sister, and Geral also would have known my great-grandfather, Calvin (her grandfather) when she was a child.  I have made a yet-unanswered request to visit the property myself, but I'm still awaiting permission to do so.  But, none of that is neither here, nor there... tonight, I was given a gift, and I'm doing the almost happy dance!
Why the dance, and why the almost, you might be asking?  Well, just as M said he would, her son did call me tonight.  We had a good chat, during which he shared with me that he had, indeed, scanned the pages of my cousin Geral's photo albums, and that he would be sharing the photos with me!  I was (and am) so excited, I could hardly contain myself as I began question him about the pictures.  He told me that he didn't think any of the pictures were from slavery times, but he guessed that that oldest of them might've been from the early 1900's.  Immediately, I began to wonder there could be pictures of my great-grandparents, Calvin, Sr. and Pricilla, or of my grandparents, Calvin and Anna?  Pictures of any of my ancestral family members would be great, but if there were any of my direct grands - well I'd just be beside myself!
Before we hung up, I told my new-found cousin (who I'll call, "Cousin F") about my blog and my online trees.  He has already joined ancestry.com, so I gave him the usual warnings about not going too fast, and being careful to verify that he has the right folks before just adding them to his tree, etc., etc.  We also discussed the various spellings that he will run across for family names.  Before hanging up, I begged him to just send me at least one picture tonight, as I knew that I wouldn't get any sleep thinking about this.  And he did!
Cousin F sent me a scanned copy of a photo album page that had four (seemingly) unrelated photos on it.  (Cousin F had mentioned that he was told that these pictures were randomly placed into an album during the time that my Cousin Geral was ill.)  The top photo is the one that I'm most excited about, and which I am reaching out to the genea-community for help with. Here it is!

As I said, I can barely contain myself!  Sadly, none of the pictures that Cousin F found were labeled, and his mother was not able to identify the people in most of them.  But THIS fabulous photo, which I'm guessing is of four gentlemen who worked for the railroad, is one in with I think I might possibly be looking at my grandfather, and possibly some of his brothers!  The three tallest gentlemen all look like my father and brother in different ways, but the second one (without the band on his arm) looks almost exactly like both of them!  Even though I don't have any history of my grandfather working for the railroad, I'm not ruling it out.  Also, I guess I could be wrong about them being railroad men, but the "Southern" on their lapels seems a dead give-away.

There were three other pictures on the album page.  One was of a man standing alone, another was a large picture of a school of children, and the other was of a kitten.  I will feature these pictures at another time.  (Well, probably not the one of the kitten!)

Okay, genea-folks.  This is a Mysterious Monday that I'm sure some of you can help with.  I'm all ears (well, eyes)...lol.  What say you?


The photo in this post is the property of the owner.  Please obtain permission before copying or using for any purpose by contacting yarsan@aol.com.


  1. What a great fine. Of course the Southern Railroad was a big employer in the south. There's even the Southern Railroad Historical Association. They do not have the employee records, but lucky for you, the railroad kept pretty good records.

    Especially for African Americans if you were employed by the railroad, you often stayed with them until retirement. Great job and benefits. However, some decided to do go to war. But, I would definitely do a surname search using the Railroad Retirement Records. Some are microfilmed. Some of the employee records have pics with each employee. This would be the best luck.
    You get to have a whole new career, trying to id some of the photos. But it's all in the fun of it!

  2. Renate, I cannot help you, but, just had to stop and tell you how excited I am for you. That photo is so well preserved, and you have some great research days ahead of you. It will be fun and frustrating, but, ohhhhh, what a trip it will be! I'll be watching for updates!

    ohhhh, and ENJOY!!!!

  3. Thanks so much, everyone. I think it's a pretty sure thing that the gentlemen were Pullman Porters. Now, I just need to try to use those uniforms to try to isolate the potential date range that the picture was taken.
    Also, I'd like to thank Yvonne and Darlene for the following comments, which I am copy/pasting from my email notices from Blogger, since, for some reason, they keep being rejected every time I try to publish them!

    From Darlene at www.mycoloredroots.com

    Congratulations on what has occurred even this far! I have one suggestion only because I have an uncle who also worked for the railroad. I didn't know this until I found his SSN. So if your folks also had a social security number, check the SSDI and their SSN may specify that the SSN was issued by the Railroad Board as was my uncle. RRB SSNs are those starting with a 7 or maybe 715. My uncle's was 715-10-6815. From here, I will also follow up on Kathleen's suggestion to check the Railroad Retirement Records for Uncle John's info. Good luck!

    And from Yvonne:

    What a wonderful photo! I know exactly the excitement you're feeling, and I can't wait to find out when you find out if it is your grandfather!

    Thanks again!

  4. What a great find. I keep hoping that pictures of some of my great grandparents will surface. I've never seen those uniforms before, so can't offer any assistance. I hope you get some good leads based on the photograph.

  5. Thanks, Mavis. I'm looking forward to using a little of my time off for the holidays to research this further!


  6. i can't help you either, but that is an absolutely wonderful picture to have!

  7. Renate,
    what a great find and just in time for Thanksgiving...something to be grateful for indeed!