Episode 181 - Of Creoles, Slaves, Spaniards, and French / Tom Perry On Separating Stuck Pictures

podcast episode Mar 05, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David is on the road in Louisville, Kentucky. The guys start by discussing Fisher’s bizarre find of an 1807 church record where all of his ancestors and their relatives seem to be marked with a cross! David then begins Family Histoire News with the story of a woman whose 122-year-old house is getting some very unique treatment from the government of St. Louis. Next, it’s the story of a 99-year-old Dutch woman who just checked something off her bucket list that most of us would never think of. Find out why. Then, a Santa Barbara couple planned their wedding and then learned something very unique… concerning them… about this ancient venue.

Next, Fisher begins his two-part visit with Michael Henderson of Atlanta, Georgia. As an African-American Creole from New Orleans, Michael took an early interest in his family history, taking his lines back to numerous Revolutionary soldiers and branches to several Europeans countries. Wait til you hear about the two century old document concerning his ancestor he found and was able to hold.

In the second segment with Michael Henderson, he talks about the experience of becoming Georgia’s first African-American member of the Sons of the American Revolution. It’s a terrific wrap up to Black History Month!

Then, it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, back to talk preservation. Tom answers a question about what to do if you have pictures that are stuck together. Yes, they are salvageable! Hear what Tom has to say.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 181

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 181

Fisher: And welcome to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of the show is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And I’m very excited about our guest today, on the show for two segments… his name is Michael Henderson. He is of Creole and African-American extraction. And for thirty years he’s been researching his ancestors and has actually found six documented Revolutionary soldiers. And he’s made some history himself. You’re going to want to hear his story. It’s written up in a great book. That’s coming up a little bit later on in the show. And just a reminder by the way, if you want to keep track of the show, catch some of our older episodes, you can do it not only through our podcasts at ExtremeGenes.com, but also through our newsletter The Weekly Genie. It’s absolutely free. We’d be thrilled to have you sign up for it at ExtremeGenes.com. But right now let’s... I want to say I want to go to Boston, but I know he’s not there. It’s David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. You are on the road today!

David: I am. I am in Louisville, Kentucky, at the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Fisher: Now, you’ve recently joined the SAR and become something of an officer, right?

David: I am now the curator for the State of Massachusetts for the SAR, correct.

Fisher: Boy, they put you right to work didn’t they? By the way, we’ve got to work on how you say “Louisville”

David: Louisville.

Fisher: Yeah, they don’t say Louisville there. It’s Louisville, almost like you have a mouthful of something.

David: Well, nobody’s throwing anything at me yet. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, is it true that you’ve been burning the midnight oil looking up relatives again, Fish?

Fisher: You’ve seen some of my late emails and tweets, right? [Laughs]

David: I have.

Fisher: It’s just been amazing. I found this page from a religious record dating back to 1807 in Eastchester, New York. And it showed a whole bunch of relatives on there and many others, all clumped together, which helped prove some of the things that I’ve been trying to put together about one side of the family or another. But, here‘s the weird thing about it David, about one third of the people on this sheet have a cross next to them. Okay?

David: Oh.

Fisher: And it’s turned that the people with the cross are all related, and not just to one family name line that I’ve been looking at, but to the other side of the family as well. It’s almost like they left breadcrumbs for me to work on. And I’ve got two other people around the country working with me on this and we are all blown away, because we’re starting to break down some walls as a result of this one document, so it’s very cool.

David: There’s more than one genealogist losing sleep over this problem apparently.

Fisher: Yeah, I was the last one down last night. I hit it at about 1:30 in the morning. [Laughs] I’m paying for it today.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: All right, let’s find out what’s going on with the Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?

David: Well, I’m going to start in St Louis, Missouri where Charlesetta Taylor, an 81-year-old was given a reprieve. She gets to have her home which was now moved for her.

Fisher: What? They moved the house for her?

David: They did, seven-tenths of a mile to make room for a billion dollar government complex and she fought it, and they paid for the move. And they moved all the electrical and everything, and there her house now sits. This two-story made out of brick was up and lifted and moved. So, who says you can’t take it with you to your new place?

Fisher: I guess she changed addresses basically, right? Same house, different locale.

David: Exactly. I mean it fared pretty well for a 122-year-old brick home.

Fisher: Incredible.

David: Well, you’d think at ninety nine you wouldn’t have to worry about grandma and grandpa getting in trouble.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, in the Netherlands a lady by the name of Annie has something off of her bucket list. She got arrested.

Fisher: What?!

David: According to local police she wanted to experience a police cell from within. An officer shared photos from the arrest on Facebook and it looks like she was having a great time even while handcuffed.

Fisher: Wow! Why would she want that on her bucket list? Maybe she’s done everything else in her life, right?

David: That’s true. I don’t think that needs to be on my bucket list.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I don’t know about you Fish.

Fisher: [Laughs] No.

David: In Alta, California, a story that began back in 1782 when Spanish soldiers and their families travelled out there, there has been a recurrence. This is a recurrence of a family getting married in the same parish two hundred odd years later. Congratulations to Jaclyn Berniard and Josh Briner of Santa Barbara who had gotten engaged and then they decided to change the location of the wedding and decided to pick El Presidio Real Chapel.

Fisher: Okay.

David: Well, here’s a really interesting thing on this. After they booked the Presidio, Josh who’s an eighth generation Santa Barbara resident, learned that his own ancestor Calisto and Feliz first got married in that chapel.

Fisher: Really?

David: They were actually the first couple to be married there.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And this is over 200 years ago.

Fisher: Yes, I think the number is actually 230 and they used the same alter which is incredible.

David: It really is. So, you know people often have to go back to where their ancestors are married. Well, this couple got married where their ancestor was married.

Fisher: Wow!

David: You know, it’s amazing sometimes when you walk into may it be a church, a cemetery, you have that feeling like you’ve been there before, and to find out that you’re getting married at the same place where your ancestor did, but not plan it that way, it’s really strange.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s really a bizarre thing. Of course, the story is on ExtremeGenes.com.

David: It almost makes me hope that my daughters will want to get married at one of the churches, maybe not in England, that will cost me too much.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, down the street where we went to back in the ‘50s. [Laughs]

Fisher: There you go, much cheaper.

David: In a blogger spotlight this week we are featuring Randy Seaver of California in his blog GeniaMusings.com, Randy has long been a fixture in the genealogy community and has always entertained with his blog. It’s both entertaining and informative. On this week’s blog he talks about the most popular databases on Ancestry.com so you can go through the top ten lists from public family trees that has over two billion records, to the 1940 census to US city directories, to the 1930 census. Well, I’ll let you go to GeneaMusings and see the rest of that top ten. So check out a new blog each week and we’ll have a new spotlight for you in next week. By the way, I just want to say if you haven’t taken advantage of American Ancestors offer for Extreme Genes listeners, genies if you use the code “Extreme” you’ll save twenty dollars and you can become a member of the oldest genealogical society in America AmericanAncestors.org brought to you by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston where I’ve called home for twenty four years.

Fisher: Very nice, David. Well listen, have a safe trip and we’ll talk to you again next week.

David: Very good.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Michael Henderson and he’s an African American Creole European. He’s got an incredible story to tell you. It’s coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 181

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michael Henderson

Fisher: And we are back. It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment of our show is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. Of course in recent weeks we’ve been telling you a lot about our adventures at Roots Tech, the world’s largest family history conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in early February, and one of the interesting people I met there was this guy Michael Henderson from Atlanta, Georgia. He’s on the line with me right now. Hi Michael, how are you? Welcome to the show.

Michael: Well hi, Scott. It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me today.

Fisher: Michael has an incredible story where he basically started like most of us do with a little bit of interest, stories from his relatives, to kind of tweak that spark early on in his life and what an adventure you’ve had. Let’s just start at the beginning Michael. How did you get going? What were the stories that you were hearing that made you say, “I’ve got to find out more about this”?

Michael: Well actually, it started as me being a young child having a conversation with my mom. I can remember being about nine years old and we were just basically talking about the various family members and she mentioned her mother’s maiden name, and her father’s surname. But her mother’s maiden name sparked an interest and that started the curiosity that kind of started everything. The maiden name was Matthieu. It was a French surname and I wanted to know more about it and that’s where I got started, right there with being curious.  

Fisher: That’s an African-American with a French name. That’s kind of a different path, isn’t it?

Michael: Well, that right there was part of the whole exploration of mom where did this name come from and how did the family get the surname, because it was on her mother’s side of the family. I’ve been successful with being able to document and trace my ancestry back to a group of individuals known as Creoles here in Louisiana. And so I asked her, I said, “Where did the name come from? Where was it derived?” And I asked her how to spell it because it didn’t sound like the normal English version of Matthew. And we got into this discussion and she mentioned to me that she realized that the family was French/ Creole and they had this French ancestry, ancestral connection. But that was about all she knew. She didn’t know the particulars. But what she told me was that when she was only six years old her mother passed away, and so my mom as a six-year-old child and I as a nine-year-old child, I realized then that was a special moment for me. So that was the genesis of it starting but all through my life I’ve been one of the curious ones in the family.

Fisher: Absolutely. You mentioned by the way you’re in Louisiana because you’re visiting New Orleans. You’re visiting your hometown right now with the family and you’re lucky because you’ve got both of your folks still with you. So I would imagine you’re still collecting stories, yes?

Michael: Last night we had a family gathering here and some of the cousins came over that I hadn’t seen in many, many years. I’m the oldest of eight, but I have some other cousins that came over to see my wife and I, and we just got to talking and some of the stories started coming out and I told my wife, “You’ve got to pay close attention because this is where you get the cream, the gems, and you’re going to find out some additional information that I haven’t even told you yet. So just keep your ears open and be the fly on the wall.”

Fisher: You were talking in your book, you’ve written a fabulous book by the way, incredibly well written for this type of book I will say right now because a lot of people, you know, if they’re genealogists they can get into the book, but I think this book is so accessible to anybody who might have an interest in this. And this is just the history and the sleuthing side of it because you really took this thing back. Interviewing cousins you didn’t even know about. Talk about this unique cousin that your mother introduced you to and what she shared with you.

Michael: Okay. As I mentioned earlier, my mom and I had a discussion about the family, the origins in the family, and when she told me that when she lost her mother at six years old, she being six she said, “Well, I have some other cousins and some other family members I’m going to take you over to. I will have a conversation with that person.” And it just so happens it was the family story and all unbeknownst to me at the time. So she invited us over to her home and we sat down for a few minutes and I shared as much as I knew about the family because I started gathering and collecting. This is much later in life. I told her all the things I was interested in learning, this is what I had to uncover, and was there anything else she could provide me? She gave me three items. She gave me wire diagram of some family members and it was basically a bunch of names generations back. She gave me a picture of my mother’s, mother’s parents’ which was my mother’s grandparents.

Fisher: Wow.

Michael: And she gave me a piece of oral history. And all of this came about through this discussion interviewing this person over a period of a few minutes as we were communicating. But the piece of information was a bit of oral history that I guess she held close to her heart because again, it’s the kind of stuff that you don’t just talk about openly to anyone. And it was part of that family secret that I learned later on. “But they wouldn’t allow us to use daddy’s last name,” and this was a progenitor of this particular family line that I stumbled upon. And she told me, she said, “You know, you’re about to jump into some area that his family don’t talk about very much so be careful as you’re asking various people bits and pieces of information that you come across, but I see the process in which you’re going about you’re really serious about this. But take this along and maybe this can help you further your research.” Basically that’s what kind of propelled me to dig even deeper, to put the names together to find the documentation to clarify some of the understanding or misunderstanding that came about. And the result turned out my discovery my fourth generation grandparents, male and female who lived during the French and Spanish colonial periods in Louisiana’s history.

Fisher: So you have quite a mix then between the Creoles the Europeans that came in, and the black slaves and free blacks as well, right? Talk a little about that because I know you have a very unique story concerning one of your 18th century ancestors.

Michael: Well this story involves a fourth generation grandmother named Agnes. She was born during the French period of Louisiana’s history from 1699 to 1783.She was born about 1758 in St. Charles Parish about thirty miles north of the city of New Orleans. And her relationship with a Frenchman who was born in Marseille, France, wound up in Spanish Louisiana between 1765 and 1770. They formed this relationship in the city of New Orleans and he actually assisted her with gaining her freedom. She was actually manumitted December 16th 1779 after having gone through a year long court battle with her former owner. And it turned out that the Spanish colonial Governor Bernardo Galvez had to sign her manumission document because they weren’t able to come to an agreement. But Spain allowed enslaved individuals to self purchase themselves. And Agnes came up with her money with the resources based on the amount that was set. She came up with that value and was able to get her freedom with the signature of Bernardo Galvez in our French consort.

Fisher: To me the amazing thing was you actually got to find and hold that document.

Michael: Yes indeed. It was a manumission document discovered at the New Orleans actuarial archives here in the city of New Orleans. The actual document is still in possession of the actuarial archives so I was able to get a Xerox copy of it and about an eight page document. Because there was some process there, the process that they had to go through a tribune that was set up because her former owner would not allow her to go free. That document itself held in its pages some interesting dynamics of who all was involved and what actually happened in the final analysis. So that was one of four documents that actually helped me to really understand the story itself.

Fisher: Wow! What an incredible journey this has been. How has this affected some of your other cousins, the people that you’re getting to know better as you age?

Michael: Well, the thing about it, all of them are finding it to be very interesting. This particular cousin that became kind of like the keeper of the records and seals and things like that, she held this information close to her heart because it was a badge of shame. Agnes and Matthew were not able to marry because of the laws at the time and the black code in the law, they were forbidden to marry. So what Agnes did was she took his first name Matthieu and used it as the family surname. That’s how the name came into existence as it derived names locally. But the family surname is Devaux which was from Marseille, France. And the family didn’t know, they always knew that there was a relationship between this enslaved woman and this white European and that was it. And that kept on for five generations until this nine year old kid came along and asked his mother why is the name still Matthieu? Where did the name come from? And again, I was able to uncover the essence of the story itself. But what was most interesting about that entire journey and discovery was what else I found. This guy Matthieu who helped her gain her freedom had a unique part to play in that whole story. I also found out that he was part of the local militia in the city of New Orleans serving under the command of the Spanish colonial Governor Bernardo Galvez who happened to up and be a patriot of the American Revolution. So now I needed to figure out a way to tell the story. How I was going to educate the reading audience that was going to read my story, be given an appreciation for Louisiana history, American history, and how my two ancestors just came together.

Fisher: And yet when I read your book I hear how much you hated history when you were a kid [laughs] just as I did. It was the family history that got me interested in history in general.

Michael: That’s what I tried to express now as I talk to various groups. If you want to get a kid really interested in American history, make them connect American history to their own history. Let them learn about their own individual history and work back to the period of time if they’re fortunate enough to do so, so that history comes alive to them. I was like all other kids. Basically I studied the history, made the grade, but I didn’t really care for memorizing a lot of facts and figures.

Fisher: Sure.

Michael: It wasn’t until I got older when I started to really appreciate the value of knowing one’s history and that’s what I try to capture in my book Got Proof,  My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation, and how that all came about.

Fisher: And as a Naval officer of course, this had to really kind of fill you with a little bit of pride to find that you had ancestors who were part of the Revolution, yes?

Michael: That was also a genesis as I got older I wanted to really trace back my military linage in terms of the males in my family who served in the military. My father served in Korea, his father served in World War I. I came across several ancestors that fought during the Civil War. One I came across that actually served in a Confederate city, then there was several that served at the Battle of New Orleans under General Jackson under the First Battalion of Free Men of Color.

Fisher: We’re going to find out more about this and talk about your Revolutionary ancestors and where that led you, coming up when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.                    

Segment 3 Episode 181

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michael Henderson

Fisher: And we are back, it’s America’s Family History Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And on the phone with me right now from his home town in New Orleans, Louisiana is Michael Henderson. He’s the author of the book Got Proof, My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation. This is an incredible story. For somebody who is African-American, and as we all know, Mike, that is just a very difficult path for a lot of researchers especially when you get back beyond 1870, and the manumission of the slaves at that time. But you have gotten well back into the 18th century through your Creole lines and have found how many Revolutionary ancestors?

Michael: Well Scott, I’ve identified ten Revolutionary War ancestors that served under the Spanish colonial government. And I’ve documented through the Linage Society of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, six. I’m working on four others as I gather documentation and finding the necessary records to compile all that information.

Fisher: And so how’s that been working out for you? You mentioned the SAR. Historically you’ve kind of made your own mark in Georgia, which is where you live now.  Joining the SAR, the first African-American in your chapter, yes, or in the entire state?

Michael: Actually I’m the first African American in the State of Georgia, and the Society in Georgia. It was not by accident, I basically found out when I was getting inducted that I was going to become the first African-American in the Georgia Society, and it was all because I happened to be living in Georgia at the time. My ancestors from Louisiana served Louisiana. And I was really trying to get into a chapter in Louisiana. But I was advised that locally to join a local chapter where I could participate in the various events that go on there. So I’m happy to say that happened all of a sudden and I’m proud to be the first one to become a member.

Fisher: Well, I’m a sure a lot of people would wonder, “How were you received in the deep south, being the first?”

Michael: It was open arms. I haven’t had any problems. It’s like everyone that gets into an organization like the SAR it’s through documented evidence, documenting your ancestral linage back to patriots in the American Revolution. I did just like everyone else. As far as being the first, again there was a lot of curiosity of how could I have done this? Who was the person? Everybody automatically assumed my ancestor was an African-American patriot of the American Revolution. It just so happens that all six of my ancestors that have been documented are white Europeans. So that in itself was a challenge of trying to put that story together through documented evidence, which I was successful in being able to do.

Fisher: That’s incredible. Tell us about some of the ancestors.

Michael: Well, I had this one ancestor from Marseille, France who arrived in Louisiana and happened to be a merchant. Came to Louisiana during the Spanish period and wound up in the Spanish Militia. I’ve located a French-Canadian ancestor who came down from Montreal, Québec, Canada. Born in Montreal, came down to Louisiana and I happened to find him in one of the militias out in St. John the Baptist Parish, about thirty miles north of the city of New Orleans. Two other ancestors that were locally born in St. Charles Parish, one a father and a son were both old enough at the time. They are of a German, Swedish extraction. The father was the German Swedish officer and both sons were officers also and they served in the local St. Charles militia. There was a German ancestor that I came across also that I was able to document through this particular linage. So when I found my bloodline connection to these persons and their participation in service of the Spanish colonial Governor Bernardo Galvez. I went forth to document that and submitted that to the Sons of the American Revolution as a third party and judicator. And everything checked out in terms of my bloodline. And I wanted to get them recognized for their service and participation.

Fisher: Absolutely. And you know you, you’re absolutely right. One of the things that I enjoy about being a member of the Sons of the American Revolution is that you get that third party to validate your research. And I’ve done that with the Society of Mayflower Descendants as well. Because a lot of people can make claims that get passed down the family and then people say, “Well they say that we have ancestors who did this or did that.” But when they can actually prove that and make that proof stick then that’s a really valuable thing to have as far as passing down your family history with confidence. That what you’re giving them is absolutely true. 

Michael: That is so true. That and one of the things to me being African-American, and being able to connect my ancestors of the American Revolution, through the service of ancestors who served outside the thirteen colonies. It gives me a chance to serve as a living memorial to those ancestors. To be able to speak on their behalf in terms of acknowledging the fact that they were there, they participated and this was the service and contributions to this country that our family provided. To make this America the way it is today, in terms of multi rational, multi cultural and it has given me a sense of pride and understand that how valuable that is on an inspirational standpoint.

Fisher: And in time you became the leader of your group there in Georgia, yes?

Michael: Yes, the local chapter that I joined, the Button Gwinnett Chapter of the Georgia Society, Sons of the American Revolution. A couple of years later I assumed the role of the president of that particular chapter. Another first, because again being the first African American in the state. I became the first African American male to assume the position of the chapter president. So again, each one of the things that I do in the organization becomes the first because I’m the only one.

Fisher: Yes, absolutely. And you mentioned before the break that you had an ancestor who fought with Andrew Jackson in New Orleans. Of course the Battle of New Orleans was, boy, a hallmark in the War of 1812. In fact, I had an ancestor that was born on the anniversary, the 18th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. So, they named him Andrew Jackson Fisher.

Michael: Wow, fantastic!

Fisher: Yeah, it was fun to figure that out. When I looked at the dates I went, “Oh I get it, okay!” So tell us about that ancestor and what role he played in that battle?

Michael: His name was Louis Innocent Mathieu, and he was the son of Mathieu Devaux. And as you mentioned, the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 was pretty much the second Revolution that the United States participated in against Great Britain and it culminated here in New Orleans. Matter of fact, in 2015 we celebrated the bicentennial of that battle and I learned of Louis’s participation as being part of the first battalion of Freemen of Color, a company of about 250 almost 260 men. One of two companies, the first and second battalion of Freemen of Color was formed in the city of New Orleans itself. And these men, men of color all free participated under the command of General Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, it’s right at Chalmette, right down the road about eight miles from where I live. That was an interesting discovery. So I had to go ahead and document him and that too led to my being eligible for another linage society, the General Society of the War of 1812. I submitted my documentation on that, on behalf of him also.

Fisher: Well, the book is called, Got Proof, My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation.  He’s Michael Henderson. Where can they get the book, Mike?

Michael: Well, the book is sold on Amazon.com, because also the can purchase at my website at MichaelNHenderson.com.

Fisher: I mean, its great work, very inspiring too, amazing things that you’ve accomplished, over how many years now?

Michael: It’s been over about thirty years now of research, and I’m still into part of researching it and research never ends. But what this book has allowed me to do is actually get to the end part where I was able to get the journey to discovery and the result achieved. So the journey continues on, but this was the result of one particular path that I went down.

Fisher: This is a great exclamation point on Black History month, Michael, thanks so much for your time. Congratulations on the book! I mean, it really is an incredibly well written book and very inspiring, tough to put down. And a good read too. It’s not really overly long. I think people will really enjoy it.

Michael: Well thank you very much for that. Thank you also for having me on your show today.

Fisher: Hey, it’s been great. Thanks so much. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Answering your questions about preservation, that’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 4 Episode 181

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. And this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Super!

Fisher: And we've got a great email question here from Agaraicio. I don't know how to say that correctly, but I'm talking a shot at it.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: So hopefully it works. And he says, "Tom, I listen to Extreme Genes all the time. I think your show is the best. I have pictures that are stuck together." Ooh, I hate when that happens! He says, "One set was left in a glove compartment, the others, I'm not sure what happened. Any advice on how I could separate them, or is this a lost cause?" Oh, that is such a painful thing to hear!

Tom: Oh, it is. You know, there are no lost causes. Everything, you know, can have something done, it just depends what's the best way to do it, but yes, these photos can be saved. You can send them to us or anybody that's a  reputable restorer, and what they can do is, they can make glossy fronts, just like they were brand new again if that's how the finish was.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah! Yeah, there's ways to do it. A lot of people still do stuff by hand. We do it. I know another place in Utah that does it. There's several throughout the country that can do it. But just make sure when you're doing it and you're interviewing people like we tell you, if you don't want to send the stuff to us, interview the people and ask them the right kind of questions. Like if this is their first rodeo, go to a different rodeo, you know.

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly. Now, what happens when a pile of pictures is put in a glove compartment, what causes them to all stick together like that?

Tom: Well, there's a lot of things. Heat can actually break down the emulsion that's on the photo and make them stick together. A lot of times in a car, there's going to be moisture, you know. You could even have a leaky window and there's going to be a little bit of water that leaks in there.

Fisher: Does humidity affect it too?

Tom: Oh absolutely! Water, humidity, all those things are the worst, because what it does is, it makes the photos soft again like it was when it was originally developed. And then what they do when they dry out, they dry out together. We've had people send us in photos that were glued to a glass frame saying, "Think humidity got into there." The photo was soft, which was okay, but then when it dried it became glued to the glass, or in this case, glued to each other.

Fisher: Okay, so what does he do?

Tom: Just looking at the stack that you sent us, I'm guessing you should be paying somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty to a hundred dollars. It’s kind of hard to tell without actually seeing them, but basically, what we would have to do, or any reputable place would want to delaminate them without destroying the emulsion. So usually it’s a water process that's involved in doing that, and then once we get them separated then we have to re-dry them properly, because if we just like leave them on a rack to dry, they're going to curl and look kind of awful.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Then if you try and straighten them out to scan them, then they're going to crack. So what we have is, we have this great, big dryer that's actually chrome, its polished chrome. And so, we put them emulsion side down on those then there's a canvas that goes over the top of them that holds them really, really tight, and then it dries them slowly. So what happens is, the chrome gives them that shiny finish again, just like they do it at a big place, because a lot of people think, you know, they go to a place and watch them do their one hour photos and they see these photos coming out dry, they have no idea what's going on, on the inside, but it’s a wet process. The paper itself is hit with a light, you know, to make it into a positive, and then it goes through a wash bath, all these different kinds of chemicals. And then when it comes out at the end, in those big machines, it goes through a polished chrome roller that makes it smooth and gives it some heat to kind of dry them out, and then they come out pretty much flat, but when we do them, they're really, really flat. And what I'd suggest, whether you send them to us or somebody else, make sure once they're done fixing them, you want to have them scan them at the same time, just in case something between that time till when you would go and scan them yourself, something doesn't happen. And most places aren't going to charge you that much to scan, but even if you have a good scanner, I'd let them do it, get it all done at one place just to make sure nothing else happens.

Fisher: Boy, how big a pile is it by the way? I haven't seen the photo.

Tom: The photo, I mean, it looks like there's a couple of inches thick. There had to have been fifty, possible 100 in there.

Fisher: Ooh! Ouch, painful! All right, thanks so much for the email. And of course, you can always [email protected]. All right, what do we have next, Tom?

Tom: You know what, since we're on photos, let's talk a little bit more about photos for the people that want to DIY it, you know, that are really into doing their own thing, we'll talk a little bit about that.

Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 181

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back. It’s our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and Tom Perry is with us also from TMCPlace.com, he's the Preservation Authority. Tom, last segment we were talking about this great question about what happens when all these pictures wind up being stuck together. You can't pull them apart without destroying them. You gave some good advice about how to somebody to handle that, a professional, but what if you wanted to do it yourself?

Tom: Okay. First, if you want to do it yourself, because you can't afford to have us de-laminate them for you or somebody else, and I recommend you do not try this unless you have a lot of patience and you're really handy with crafts. So what you can do, you can soak them in water for just long enough to allow them to start to separate. Don't like do it, then go cook. You can actually have the emulsion dissolve as well, so you want to really keep an eye on them, keep kind of touching them seeing how they're coming apart, but don't force them apart or you're going to be in the same problem, you're going to actually rip the emulsion off, so you want to be really, really careful. The biggest problem with a DIY project is if you don't have a professional chrome dryer, all your photos are not going to be shiny anymore. And you might not care about that, because you've got to air dry them and there's not that chrome cylinder that's going to sit on top of them that's going to give them that glossy finish. So if you have something good, like some good, clean canvas like you use in crafts to put underneath them, you want to do that. Don't put anything on top of them because again, the emulsion can get stuck to the canvas or whatever it is, then you're actually in a worse situation. So just do them from the bottom. If you want to, you can put like quarters on each corner to kind of help put a little bit of weight on them, but anything they touch, there's a chance they can glue to it. So if you get some quarters or something like that, that will help hold the corners down. But don't think, "Oh, well, if I put some butter on them, then they won't stick."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Don't do that, because that will just make it worse.

Fisher: Has somebody done that?

Tom: Oh, I guarantee, I guarantee. Some of the things that we see in and some of the letters we get, I'm just thinking, "Really?!"

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Tom: You know. We're not all professionals. So, you know, if you have questions, don't ever assume anything. I tell my fourteen year old this all the time. If you think something needs to be fixed, don't just try fixing it yourself. Talk to a professional and have them walk you through it, it may be something really easy.

Fisher: We've got another email here. This one is from Vera, she said, "I found some old slides that I'd like to save and store properly. How do I do that until I'm ready to scan them?"

Tom: That's an excellent question! That's really, really good. In fact, at RootsTech several weeks ago, we had people come up and ask us very similar questions. What you always want to do, your friend is cool, dark and dry that's the best thing to do. Keep stuff in a cool, dry, dark place. If you have a damp basement, you don't want to use a damp basement. Don't put them in your attic, because it goes hot and cold.

Fisher: So this depends really almost on where you live, right?

Tom: Exactly. If you're in an extreme cold place or extreme hot place, you know, you need to put them in a climate controlled place. And as we've said years ago, don't put them on a shelf in your closet if you have a heating duct going either underneath the shelf, along the shelf  or above the shelf, because that will do the same thing. So what you want to do is, you want to get some cheesecloth from a good craft store and get some uncooked long grain rice. Emphasis:  NON-cooked long grain rice.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Tom: So what you'll do is, you'll put this in the little pouch that you've got out of the cheesecloth and then tie it with string or rope. Do not use a rubber band, do not use tape, don't use anything like that, because they'll come apart then the rice will get mixed up. The reason for this is, this is going to absorb your moisture out of the Ziploc bag you have and make them a lot better or if you have those things left over from stereos that says, "Do not eat this."

Fisher: Right.

Tom: The Silica things. They're the same thing. But before you use them, pop them into a toaster oven for about fifteen, twenty minutes to absorb any water out, wait for them to totally dry out and cool down, and then put them in there, either one will work great.

Fisher: Wow! And that will keep them dry. And then you can store them until you're ready to scan it.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much, Tom. And of course, if you have a question for Tom, you can always email us at [email protected]. Talk to you next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: And that is a wrap for this week's show. And this segment has been brought to you by RootsMagic.com. Thanks so much to Michael Henderson for coming on and sharing his incredible journey through the Creoles of Louisiana back to six documented Revolutionary soldiers. Amazing story! If you missed any of it, catch the podcast. Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter, its free. It’s the Weekly Genie, signup at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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