Back in the Saddle

1313906_76897595After an incredibly long hiatus, I am feeling the pull of my ancestors again.

It’s been three years since I’ve last posted anything genealogy related, but now that my two year old is a little more independent, I find myself itching to do some more digging around my roots.

For my birthday in February, my husband got me a new ancestry subscription AND a DNA kit! I’m hoping to get those results in a couple of weeks, and am so  excited to see what gems that information holds.

In the mean time, I have transferred my old blog from blogger over here to wordpress, and will be doing a lot of tweaking. I’m noticing several missing pictures and broken links. So bear with me, as I shake off the cobwebs and get this blog up and rolling again. I hope to reconnect with some distant cousins I had met on this journey, and possibly meet some new ones.

More Weekend Photo Restoration

Tackled a bit more of a challenge this afternoon, while watching NFL. This picture did not have names on it, but I am pretty sure it’s my grandma, Nellie, and her sister, Darlene. I chose it because of the tears and mold stains. It was a small picture, just a little over 1in, but I scanned it in at 300dpi, and then resized it to a 4.5x6in picture (I was afraid to go larger, as this picture was already pretty grainy.) Fortunately, the photo had a plain background, so to save time, I cropped it out entirely, and replaced it with a canvas photoshop background. There are few details I am not totally happy with, but this was a two hour project… with a little more time, I think I could be really happy with the results. But alas, it’s bedtime, and I want to post it! So here it is:


Photo Retouching and Colorization

As I said in my last post, I’ve been getting re-interested in restoring some old family photos. I’ve started pretty simple, and am working my way up to a very badly damaged photo of who I believe is my grandmother’s cousin. Today, I played around with a lovely photo of my grandmother, Nellie Joyce Tomblin Cummons. I will show you three versions of the picture, 1) my original scan, 2)cropped to 8×10 with black and white levels adjustment and blemishes removed, and 3) a colorized version of the photo.

(resized, b&w adjustment, blemish removal)
I’m always torn between color and black and white photos. I love black and white, it softens features and gives everything a romantic feel. Sometimes, however, I forget that although pictures were black and white, life very much happened in color! When I started working on this picture, I only noticed Gran’s lovely white dress and strappy shoes. It was only when I started to colorize the photo that I realized her dress was not indicitive of the time of year the background suggests. I noticed the bare trees, the empty fields, and the leaves around her feet. So, I created a color pallete of fall colors from this picture on flickr to try and recreate an accurate background. What do you think?

Reach For The Stars!!

I’ve been recovering from some health issues the past week, and spent lots of time looking through old pictures and such. I found this one of my dad (the one with the hair dryer – thingy on) and my uncle, Steve (the one holding my dad at gunpoint), and it just makes me giggle everytime I see it. It reminds me of something off A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out!!”)
 Anyway, I played around with some simple color adjustments in photoshop. A while back I had gotten pretty good at photo restoration, but like so many other things, I get sidetracked and things get put on the back burner. I hope to work my way back into some tougher projects… I have several photos that need serious work, and maybe someday I’ll be able to offer my services to other genealogists.

Grandma’s Treasures

My last blog post was on April 9th. In it, I stated that grandma was doing very well, and we all hoped she’d be home from the nursing home soon. As it turned out, the only time she left the nursing home was to go to the hospital, and there she passed away on April 18th. She had suffered for the past two years, and we were glad for her sake, that when the end came, it came quickly. We held a beautiful memorial service for her, a celebration of life, with many of her children and grandchildren singing her favorite songs. Then we drove 4 1/2 hours to “take her home” to her the place she was born and raised; the place she wanted to be laid to rest.

As weeks passed, my mom and I began going through grandma’s things, (she had lived with my mom and stepfather for the past year, when she wasn’t in the nursing home) and oh, the treasures we found! While putting away her “underthings’ we ran across her marriage certificate from 1947, that she swore she had lost! We discovered pictures in recipe boxes, newsclippings stuffed into nooks and crannys. Each of these items was like a little kiss from grandma, and slowly helped to heal the sadness of our loss. I miss you grandma, but am so glad your suffering has ended!

(This picture was among our finds… the first picture I’ve ever seen of grandma’s mother-in-law, my great grandmother, Vernon McFann Malone.)

A Little Help from "Big Nuts" (Evans of Jackson County, Ohio)

Friday evening, I spent a couple of hours with my maternal grandmother at the nursing home she has been in the past two weeks (we are all hoping that she will be able to return home soon.) We’ve chatted in the past about her family, but grandma really doesn’t have a lot of memories outside of her immediate family. We have especially been lacking when it comes to her father, Harvey Evans, and his family. Harvey died when grandma was a teenager, and she did not know who his parents were. I’ve tried looking up his name, and what few details I had, but the Evans name is big in southern Ohio, and I was always reluctant to say for sure that the Harveys I turned up were indeed her father’s family.
On Friday, I asked her again if she happened to remember any of her dad’s siblings, or perhaps any cousins that she had, and we managed to get a little gem! She told me about her dad’s brother Elmer (Big Elmer) and his son (Little Elmer). Grandma used to run Malone’s Bar in Oak Hill, Ohio and she told about the time when Little Elmer came into the bar and said, “I don’t know if you know this or not… but we’re cousins!” She also recalled another time when Little Elmer was entering the bar at the same time she was throwing out dirty cleaning water, and she dumped it on him.
Then, with a twinkle in her eye, my 80 year old grandmother told me one other little tidbit about her cousin, “He had a nickname, you know… they called him Big Nuts.”
Armed with that little bit of information about Little “Big Nuts” Elmer, and more importantly, Big Elmer, I got online and added a sibling to my Harvey Evans search parameters. And whaddya know… I think I found him!

According to this 1900 census:
Name                   Relation     Birthdate         Age    
Evans, George      head          May 1840       60
     Mary A           wife           Apr 1848        52
     Elmer             son            Feb 1887       13
     Pearl               son            Feb 1887        13
     Harvey          son            Jul 1890           9
    Warren            son            Feb 1895         5

I think I’ve found my great grandfather, and his parents as well! My next little discovery will confirm my suspicions… Harvey’s death certificate.

I don’t know how I’ve missed this document in previous searches, but sometimes there’s no explaining how things come together like they do. However, it confirms that George and Mary Ann were indeed Harvey’s parents, so at last I have a line to follow… and it’s all thanks to “Big Nuts”.

I’m a Winner!

I’ll share more information as I am able, but I just had to share the news that I just won a one year pro account at!! I have entered so many contests, and never have I won a single thing, so I am absolutely ecstatic right now!

In other news, I haven’t blogged properly in a while, but it’s that I haven’t been busy! I am currently compiling all the information I have gathered on the ancestor of my obsession, James Hamilton Cummons. I am organizing, confirming sources, and building a timeline. My hope is to get a clear picture of the gaps I have in his story, and hopefully get some direction on filling in those gaps.

I am super excited right now, because next week, I am going to visit my Papaw for his 77th birthday, and I am taking an extra day off work to go digging around Cabell County, West Virginia, the place where James settled and raised his family. I have never been to a courthouse or genealogical society to do hands on research before, and that was one of my genea-goals for 2011. If anyone has an advice, direction, or encouragement… I would love to hear from you!