Episode 480 - The Civil War Letters Found in an Attic and What They Revealed

podcast episode Nov 06, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David shares his recent family reunion experience. Then, he talks about the living children of Civil War soldiers who are still around. Hear who they are and who their father’s were. Having trouble reading old handwriting? You can soon take a course on it! David will explain. Also hear about the passing of another Pearl Harbor survivor, and a library book that finally got returned… 93 years later… and more!

Next, Fisher visits with A. C. “Carl” Ward in two parts. In part one, Carl tells the story of what happened to him as a boy while exploring his grandparents’ farmhouse in North Carolina. It involves secret staircases an attic and a sea chest full of Civil War letters and journals!

In part two, Carl talks about how his discovery changed the course of his life, finally leading to his publishing of a book about what the letters told. Carl will explain how he wrote his historic novel.

Then, David returns for Ask Us Anything.

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


Segment 1 Episode 480

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Oh, have we got a show for you today! We’ve got a great guest coming up here in about ten minutes, as they all are. His name is Carl Ward. And back when he was 12 or 13 years old, in his home state of North Carolina. He was working on his grandparent’s farm and started snooping around the farmhouse, went up into the attic through some secret stairs, found some stuff in a trunk and you won’t believe what it was. And you will not believe how it’s changed his life, and he’s written a book about the whole thing. So, we’re going to talk about the discovery in the first part and then how he has written this as a historical novel in the second part, something I think we can all benefit from for anybody who has ever considered writing some stories about ancestors. It’s going to be great to talk with Carl coming up here in just a little bit. And right now, it is time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts because David Allen Lambert is growing impatient waiting to get on to talk about whatever he’s been doing. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.

David: Hey, am I the right caller?

Fisher: Oh stop, stop. Those days of my career are over! [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Well, this weekend I had a great time. I’m usually looking for ancestors. I was kind of hanging out with them in a way. I was over at my cousin’s house for a time. You see, we don’t call it a cookout in my family. You know, there’s a time over at Uncle Tom’s house, you going to go? So, we had a time this weekend that included the last living sibling of any of my parents.

Fisher: Oh!

David: My 88 year old Uncle Jackie Van Buskirk, his lovely wife my Aunt Leona, and my Aunt Jerri Lambert and I got a photo of the four of us together and also with all my cousins.

Fisher: Nice!

David: We reminisced and we’re talking about things back in the 1930s and my uncle turns to me and goes, “You know more about what happened a long time than I do. I’m going to listen.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, that was really fun. By the way, I read a really interesting story. A couple of years ago we talked about Irene Triplett, who was the last veteran’s daughter who had a pension.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: It made me think and it’s kind of one of those itchy and you can’t stop scratching till you have the answer. But was she the last child of a Civil War veteran?

Fisher: Right.

David: And the answer is, no, because there are two still living. They’re both descendents of Union veterans. One of them is William Pool. He is 98 and he lives in Missouri. His dad Charles Pool was with company D6, West Virginia, volunteers during the Civil War. And the other one is a daughter, Emogene Horton, in Arkansas. Her dad was Jackson Carol of Company M Second Regiment Arkansas Cavalry.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And he is one of the veterans of the Civil War who still has a living daughter. So, it’s a son and a daughter still left. The Confederacy decedents do not have anybody they claim. The last descendent of a Confederate veteran was Calvin Crain of Roanoke, Virginia, who died about three years ago.

Fisher: Wow! Isn’t that amazing? You think about that, the Civil War ended 158 years ago. So if you take 158 years and add that to the end of World War II, we’re talking about like 2103, might be about the time we lose the last child of a World War II vet.

David: It’s unbelievable. Children of World War I veterans are probably still very plentiful on this planet

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, I have some sad news. I probably mentioned before Pearl Harbor veterans that have passed, but I always had one in the wings. Now it’s my dear friend Horace Hamilton of Caldwell, Texas. He was a 17 year old sailor aboard the USS Phoenix when December 7th, 1941 occurred. We just lost him at 99 years old.

Fisher: Wow!

David: I was hoping he’d hang in there till he was 100, but he’s gone home and now he’s with his wife.

Fisher: What a good long life and we’re so grateful for his service. What a day to live through.

David: He was always on Facebook. This person could not get away from the computer, always messaging people. He was a dear old soul, or Old Salt, as he called himself.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, you know, I love reading old handwriting, but not everybody's the best at it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, I just happened to see that NGS, National Genealogical Society has a current course that you can sign up for. It has 10 modules on reading old handwriting. If you're a member of NGS, the price is $75, non members pay $100.

Fisher: Now, do they have a $300 course on reading doctor's handwriting?

David: Oh, that would be even more expensive. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, I would think so.

David: You know, sometimes reading things can get out of hand. How about a book that's overdue. We've all had one or two, but one that's nearly 90 years overdue?

Fisher: Ooh!

David: That was finally returned to a public library in Westchester County. The Larchmont Public Library said they received a package from Virginia that was this overdue book. And it was first published in 1925. So it's been out of circulation since 1933.

Fisher: And then there was a $5 fine on that book, but the Larchmont Public Library in New York, they waived the fee. So that was good. Five bucks over 90 years actually is probably a pretty good deal.

David: Exactly. It's probably more than what the book actually costs. And it's probably what you could probably buy the same book on eBay today to replace it.

Fisher: Yes.

David: You know, I always miss my mummy, but archeologists have found them for me, all of them, dozens of them. Yes, mummies, not as in my mummy. These mummy dearest’ are from an ancient cemetery in Egypt. They’ve even uncovered “The book of the Dead.” Year, the 3500 year old cemetery has The Book of the Dead, Papyrus, and it has hundreds of archaeological artifacts, including ornaments and amulets and stone wooden coffins containing mummies. So, I always say if they're going to dig me up years from now, I better put something interesting in my casket with me.

Fisher: Boy, no kidding. Isn't that something? They just keep finding these things. And all of them are so interesting. It makes me always think, why can't I be there to see something like that?

David: I would have loved to have been there when they opened King Tut's tomb.

Fisher: Right.

David: Maybe not.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s true.

David: Well, that's what I have for this week from Beantown. And just remember, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, we welcome you to save $20 on membership by using the coupon code Extreme on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right, my friend, we’ll talk to you the back end of the show as we answer listener questions with Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Carl Ward. He's from North Carolina. He had quite the experience when he was about 12- 13 years old, sneaking around his grandparents farmhouse. You’re going to want to hear what he found, how it affected his life. And the book he has written about the experience coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 480

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Carl Ward

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. You know, all of us start in family history at different stages in life, and some of us get going real early, like David. He started at seven years old. I didn’t get into it until 26. But my next guest had quite an interesting discovery when he was like 12 or 13. He’s Carl Ward. He’s retired military in North Carolina. He’s written a book based on his discovery back when he was just a kid and it’s a discovery that’s changed his life. Carl, welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you here. We want to hear all about this.

Carl: Thanks so much Scott. I really appreciate it, and it’s exciting to pass it along.

Fisher: So, you were 12 or 13, where were you, what were you doing, and what happened that changed your life?

Carl: It was on the family farm at the time in southeastern North Carolina. Between my 12th and 13th birthday, as usual I was packed up with my suitcase and sent to the family farm to work, as was required of all of us youngsters through the summer. And during that period on a Sunday afternoon when everyone was resting, the brief time they had the opportunity to rest on a family farm. I was 12 years old and I had to explore. I happened to crawl through a closet, found another door, went up a set of staircases into a dusty attic and suddenly discovered a sea chest, a rather large one. And when I opened up the sea chest it was filled with bundles of letters with ribbon, tobacco string, twine, and also found nine journals in the bottom of the chest. It was all from a soldier and his wife corresponding during the period of 1861 through 1864. 

Fisher: Wow! What a discovery. And so you’re a kid, you’re on the family farm, who owned these at this point in your life? This was your aunt, your uncle, your grandparents?

Carl: My grandparents actually. And in fact, I discovered whenever I approached my grandmother about it, my grandmother said, “Where have you been, boy?” Whenever I was describing what I had discovered. So, obviously I was not supposed to be in the family attic.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Carl: And at that time she said - and I had asked for permission, “May I read the letters” May I read the journals?” And she said, “Sure.” So over the next several years, a lot of my free time, I use that term loosely, on the family farm, I was reading letters and making notes, even at that age, so by the time I was 16 I had read every letter and I had made lots of notes that I could in fact use in the future.  

Fisher: And how many letters were there, Carl?

Carl: 154.

Fisher: Oh my gosh, and you could read old handwriting from the 1860s when you were just a teenager?

Carl: It was without a doubt the most difficult effort simply because it was in the most beautiful script handwriting you could ever imagine.

Fisher: Hm hmm.

Carl: No person today would be able to read those letters, simply because of those scrolls and the turns and the twists. It was beautiful handwriting. It actually was. But yes, I could read it, and over the years gotten very proficient at it.

Fisher: Now, did you wind up owning these things eventually? Did the grandparents pass them along to you?

Carl: My grandmother told me never to tell anyone where the chest was and what was in it. She said that’s something we don’t share with others. That was the ‘war between the states’ as she would phrase it, and we don’t like to talk about that. They should be left alone since they were no longer with us. 

Fisher: So did you wind up owning them eventually?

Carl: No, unfortunately not. Probably about 28 years later, the family farm literally burnt to the ground.

Fisher: Oh no!

Carl: I was actually deployed at the time and when I heard the news my first reaction of course was, “Is everyone okay?” but my second phrase was, what about the attic? And they said no, unfortunately it was literally gone.

Fisher: And then the other question would be to you is had you transcribed all these things by that time?

Carl: I didn’t have the transcript. And of course, you’re talking about a period where having printing done or digital files things of that nature were unheard of.                                                                                                                                                                                            

Fisher: Right.

Carl: So as a result, everything that I was doing was handwritten notes, “On this day, he did this” or whatever.

Fisher: Hm hmm.

Carl: Or, “She said this” and sent a letter back to him. All of that was pretty much handwritten notes over the years. And I went back to that most of the time. Actually, in the book, each chapter ends with one of those letters essentially being transcribed as part of that.

Fisher: Wow! Well, thank goodness you did that. I mean that‘s all that survives of those things.

Carl: That is correct. For me, it was a great personal tragedy. But obviously for historically purposes alone it was heartbreaking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Fisher: But this really impacted your life too as a kid, right? It was on your mind a lot as you moved into your teen years. And you wound up in the military and I would assume this had a lot to do with it.

Carl: Thank you for that. I appreciate it. And the real idea is yes. If I read the letters and I tell the story, I will tell you that there are four themes that come out throughout.

Fisher: Okay.

Carl: And that’s always family first, courage to defend your family, have the integrity to know what is right, and then finally, your faith.

Fisher: That’s beautiful. And to be influenced by somebody who lived generations ago, 160 years now almost, that’s pretty impressive. And I would imagine you pretty much feel like you know these people better than anybody alive today.

Carl: I dare say, you can’t help but feel sorrow at the right time, excitement at other times, and then you recognize this is how to live a life properly, as an example. They were very articulate and very literate, believe it or not, simply by using the family bible as their text. And in fact, how they developed sentences, paragraphs, thoughts, and they were using a slate tablet. And the mother, the matriarch of the family, actually was teaching classes to the younger children as early as four, five, and six years old. By the time they were teenagers, they were very literate, able to read, write, and communicate.

Fisher: Interesting. So, you’re talking about some young adults I assume, around the 1860 era? Let’s just talk about who these characters were, where they were in life, how many kids did they have, and what were they writing back and forth about?

Carl: Well, first of all, David James Ward is the central character. He’s the young soldier. He’s actually 28 years old at the time of his enlistment in May of 1861. He goes through his basic training, if you will, at Camp Crabtree, North Carolina, which is a very popular shopping mall and area in the Raleigh Durham area. He goes through a period of learning what it means to be a soldier.

Fisher: A Confederate soldier.

Carl: Absolutely. And at the time of his enlistment, he was receiving $20 in gold as a bonus to enlist. Remember, at this time North Carolina didn’t even want to be seceding from the Union. They were the last state to secede. And the last thing they wanted to do was get involved in that war as a family. It was almost unanimous. So, as a result, he goes through the trials and tribulations. In the meantime, he and his wife are communicating. By the way, they had only been married four months before he walked away. During the course of the war over the next two years, you’re seeing the adventures in a hurry. The letters that we used for material actually is talking from her view point what’s going on with the family farm, by the way, it’s over 1100 acres at that time. It’s massive. And there are four different Ward families together and they work collectively to in fact operate their farms together. And there’s about 45 people, including young adults, that are working those farms so it’s my natural heritage to always go back to the family farm to work there in the summer.

Fisher: So that’s just been going on for generations on end?

Carl: Absolutely.

Fisher: Do you still own some of that land, your family?

Carl: I don’t. There is one member of the Ward family on the old property, but it’s probably less than 10 acres on it now.

Fisher: Hm. [Laughs] Yeah, I would imagine they probably sold off a lot of that for development at one point it became more valuable.

Carl: Well, between 1863 and “65, the Confederacy and the state were in fact levying taxes so heavy, as a result they were having to sell land to in fact pay for the taxes. And as a result, they lost it. Reconstruction post Civil War saw them lose a lot of land for the very same reason. 

Fisher: I’m talking to Carl Ward. He made quite a discovery back when he was a kid, 154 letters in a chest on the family farm, dating back to the Civil War. What was the date of the last letter Carl, the final letter?

Carl: The letter is actually dated July 3rd, 1863, a very significant date in the Civil War.

Fisher: Now, is this because he was killed in action?

Carl: Yes. At a place called Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Fisher: Hm hmm. Yeah, wow! What a story. And so from this of course you have gone forward and created a book. It’s not something you did throughout your whole life because you were busy yourself in the military, but your military background which was inspired by the letters then gave you an education by which you could write a book, a historical novel about this. We still have a few moments here. We can talk about how that got started and then we’ll continue on.

Carl: Well, my son, who’s 46 now, was always urging me, after telling him about the letters and he’d seen a lot of my notes and my research materials over the years, he said, “Dad, you have to tell this story.” And I kept delaying it and delaying it, as my wife says, I’ve retired 15 times.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Carl: And as a result, I never quite had the time to put it all together. And it wasn’t until the last 12 to 18 months that it really became a project I was pushing forward on.

Fisher: All right, let’s hold it right there and we’ll continue on with segment number 2 here in just a couple of moments and talk about how you took this information from letters that no longer exist but from your notes, and then put together a book and kind of filled in the facts with some fictional stuff because a lot of people will consider doing the same thing in their own families. I know I am. And we’ll talk more about that coming up in five minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 480

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Carl Ward

Fisher: All right back on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, talking with Carl Ward from North Carolina. He's a military man became one in part because of a discovery of 154 Civil War era letters in a chest found in an attic, a hidden attic, on a family farm back when he was a kid. And Carl, let's talk about this book you've been writing because I think as much as we're interested in the book, and what it has to say I'm also interested in the process of how you take the facts that you glean from these letters, which ultimately burned while you were away on deployment yourself as an older man, this has got to be an interesting thing for you because you weren’t by profession a writer.

Carl: You are correct. I don't believe I ever claimed to be a great writer. Although, I had some teachers early in my life in high school that turned me around and convinced me I could do it. But the letters became a pivot point. Every time I seem to go to an assignment in the military, or was visiting a location, I suddenly discovered myself on a battlefield. Or I discovered there was a North Carolina Museum of History where I could find unbelievable amounts of data specifically related to my family member, and where they were during a particular time, like the Civil War. The army was also kind enough to send me to the combat Studies Institute. And there I learned how that could be turned into not only telling a story, but being useful if you were in the military actually conducting operations.

Fisher: So, it gave you a certain amount of expertise then to tell your ancestor story as you've written it just because of your own background.

Carl: Absolutely. As I moved through suddenly, things that I read in a letter came to mind. I would jot a personal note down somewhere. And as my wife would say, the yellow sticky somewhere. And that yellow sticky became a critical point where I can identify this would be a good place for this to fit in the story.

Fisher: Sure, yeah, absolutely. You think about it constantly, as I've been working on a similar thing about a whole different situation. But you know, the question, I think that comes up for anybody thinking of writing, I guess you'd call it historical fiction. How do you separate the fact from the fiction and how do you tie things together in a way that keeps it interesting?

Carl: That's a great question, and I'm going to do my best to answer it. The reality is, I wanted to be as straight forward direct to real facts as I could be, while at the same time placing the human condition inside of those facts. Every one of the names mentioned that it's either a casualty or dies throughout the war, in this story, are real people. And I think it's just a way of saying I understand the laws and what you gave, and I want to make sure you're remembered. So, as you go through the roster of people who are killed or wounded throughout these battles, these people are actually identified almost to the exact injury or the way they were killed, not for the glory aspect of it, not certainly not written that way, but to ensure that that person was recognized for what are gave.

Fisher: Yeah. Now you obviously work in some conversations there. And part of it I assume you glean from these letters and the notes you took from them back in the day. But you had to make up some of the conversation as well, right to kind of tie things together?

Carl: Absolutely. I think one way to look at it is the letters actually tell a story about the condition of the farm. All of that is feedback that’s telling you what's going on the home front during that period. So that was easy to glean. If you go to the museums, if you read books from some really outstanding authors regarding civil war, and politics, and social economic issues of the day, it was really easy to do that not to mention, you could go to historic artifacts of newspapers and articles of magazines of that day, all of that was readily available. So putting the words into the mouths of some of the characters was easy to do, primarily because of the letters. These were things they were talking about.

Fisher: Well, and I'm sure the letters kind of introduce you to them in a very personal level, and so that you really came to feel that you knew them. One thing I've noticed, as I've been working on a project similar to this, is that I find that the characters actually take on a life of their own, and they write their own story as you go along. You know what I mean? You just kind of feel what they would do or say, under certain circumstances.

Carl: Oh, totally. I can attest to the fact that there were many occasions where I knew exactly what James Ward was thinking at that moment, as you were walking across a battlefield or across a river, or whatever the situation, between his journal and the letters, and he made it very clear. Today we did this. I had trouble finding fresh water to drink, you know, things of that nature. It's easy to imagine what the conversation was like.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, I bet. And so that's kind of the grout between the factual tiles, right? It's the fiction that kind of ties it all together. But that's the best way to connect those things. Otherwise, it's just a series of facts.

Carl: Agreed, totally, the best way I can describe it is, I've had several ladies read the book, and they have all told me there's at least three to four places where they're in tears. It's not that I'm trying to draw the tears out. But there are moments where you just go, I feel for this person. So it's easy to capture the emotion of the moments, both for Anna Wallace, the wife and James the husband, and what's occurred. In addition to the letters, there's an epilogue at the end of the book. And it really kind of binds, if you will, all of these real historic people and, and the events that occur, and how all of those turn out in the end. And not least of that is my direct has a child he has never seen met, or even knows about until just before he dies.

Fisher: Interesting. It's fun to hear somebody finding so much joy in putting together something about their ancestor when you finally have the time, right. And you can do it well, because you have the original sources still at your fingertips because you were so diligent in making notes at the time before they were lost. And tell us about where people can get this book.

Carl: Well, certainly America's favorite Amazon has it on sale, if you'll look for AC. Carl Ward from the author's perspective. And if you look for the title for $20 in gold, a story of the Civil War, it's available there. And by the way, they have an audio version, where a gentleman by the name of Paul booth does the narration. And he's super. They asked me specifically would you like to do it and I said, no lord knows not with my voice.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Carl: And they said, well, what would you like? And I said someone like James Earl Jones, that deep resonate baritone with that slow talk or someone like Shelby Foote, the famous writer.

Fisher: Oh, he was great.

Carl: Yeah, fantastic. They got Paul, who is probably the perfect person that could have done it. And he does a superb job. I'll have to admit, I got teary eyed just listening to it.

Fisher: It had to be an interesting experience to hear somebody else reading your words that you wrote about your ancestor.

Carl: It was emotional, obviously. I could almost anticipate the moments and where you would begin to lose it and it happens. So he did a super job. I'm very proud of Paul.

Fisher: You know, what a time we live in here. I mean, who could have imagined that pretty much any of us can write a book now and make it available on Amazon and go out and promote it or do an audio book. I mean, this is not the way it was even 20- 30 years ago.

Carl: Oh, totally concur. It's phenomenal. This is not my first book, by the way, but it's certainly one that I'm most proud of more than anything. And it's the family history, the ability to do that. Now, I've got promotional tours and places to go and sell books. And I'm meeting lots of really great people. So that that's been phenomenal just to be able to share those stories.

Fisher: Well, great experiences. AC. Carl Ward. Carl thanks so much for sharing your story. It's a good one. And it's a real good example for all of us how we could create stories around the materials that we happen to discover, maybe not when we're kids, but anywhere along the line, whatever the sources may be. Thanks so much for coming on.

Carl: Thanks so much, Scott. I really appreciate it.

Fisher: All right. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 480

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, genies. Welcome back for another round of Ask Us Anything where David and I attempt to tackle one of your questions. And this one comes from Pete in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And David, he writes, “Guys, I recently found a picture marked only with a Cincinnati address in 1939. I don't recognize the person in the picture. Is there any way to figure out who lived at that address? It is a mystery to me. Pete.” All right, Dave, what do you think?

David: Well, you know, I've used the Library of Congress website in the past, because they have a listing of the crisscross directories that are available.

Fisher: Crisscross?

David: Well, crisscross, basically what it means is, normally your directory is alphabetical, ABC, but you can also look it up on the crisscross directory by the address.

Fisher: Ah, so this is like the reverse white pages, right?

David: Right. And they go back to about 1925 and there’s one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And if you Google Search, Library of Congress crisscross directories, you'll come across a list of dozens of them. Or there are actually hundreds of them. There's all sorts of places all over the country, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Ohio, in fact, has two from 1938, two from 1939. But then you’re going to fast forward to 1966. But, it's a great match for what they're looking for. So you can look at these, the Library of Congress has many of them online. And also you can go to places like Ancestry.com, where you can find city directories in their US city directory collection. So, when you do that, you'll have the address, look it up, see who that person is and you're right in the cusp of the 1940 census, which you still need to search by name.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And that would be a great way of determining who this person is in the photo.

Fisher: Isn't that fun when you run across something like that! I have a bunch of them in my own collection that doesn't have any names on it, but it does have an address. And it's like, okay, what? Why? Why just that? So, that's kind of a unique photo.

David: Right, and exactly. And I guess the thing that I would have to ponder, is this the address of the person in the photo or where they want someone to mail the photo? And did they tell the photographer? So, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? So, if it's not a family member, you know and you find the name on the city directory of Cincinnati. Is that a name you recognize? But don't stop there. Look for them in the ‘40 census, the 1950 census, both of them are on Ancestry.com. And see if later generation names might make sense. Maybe there's a cousin that has the last name that's going to jump out at you when you read it on the directory.

Fisher: That's interesting. You know, Cincinnati people, and I lived there briefly in the late 1970s, they'll often shorten the word Cincinnati to Cinti, C I N T I. So, I'd love to take a look at Pete's picture and see if that's how he recognized it and if he already knew that that was the case. Otherwise, it might be a real head scratcher.

David: You know, the other thing you can use is Newspapers.com. Plug in the address.

Fisher: Yes, that would be an ideal place to go. Yeah, and see if somebody is in there. That's great. And you know, I've found a lot of news stories on ancestors that way, because for some reason, the technology does not always pick up their names. Or there's some other reason it doesn't pick up. But if you put in the address, that's how I found that article where my great grandfather took out the ad, because he lost his fireman's badge in 1856. His name was plain as day. But for some reason, the technology didn't pick up the name, but when I put in his address that brought that story up. So, there are all kinds of things you can use for this situation and for finding stories.

David: Oh, yes. 600 Harrison Avenue on the Boston papers that I searched, I wanted to find my great, great grandfather and found out that a man was shot in his kitchen in 1898. Gave me about 40 newspaper articles down the road, a court case and all that. So, you know, I just wanted to figure out where the building was, not to dig up all that dirt.

Fisher: Well, there you go. You’ve got crisscross directories, Newspapers.com. There actually is a way that you can use these tools to help solve your mystery, Pete. So, thanks for the question. We have another photo related question coming up next, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 480

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right back for our final segment of extreme jeans, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David over there, Fisher over here, and we’ve got Ray Lynn from Pocatello, Idaho with a question, “Fish and David, I recently found a bunch of old photos in a box. And it looks like from the 1920s. It was hidden behind a wall that we found when we remodeled. Any idea how we could identify the people? This was not from a time where we owned this house, and they are unmarked.” Aha! Another photo mystery, Dave.

David: Well, you know, Google Images is amazing now, because you can search on yourself and find your doppelganger.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But it's also good for searching on old photos and find matches of the same photo elsewhere on the internet. Now, not every photograph that's from every attic is online, but this is kind of a quick way to start.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Identifying what's on the photograph, the photographer may help you a little bit. At least knowing if the photos are from the same community which your stuff was founded.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Because it could have been that the family moved there from Wyoming and settled in your town later on and just happened to bring their old family photos and plump them there.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

David: Dating photographs. I mean, looking at some of maybe the videos that are online for looking and determining the age of a photo, which is fairly common to do on now. There's plenty of YouTube and how to. I know our friend Maureen Taylor the photo detective has published plenty of articles out there in a lot of the genealogical journals. So, you could tell what a cabinet card is versus a Carte de visite, versus a tintype versus daguerreotype. So, that will help you date the age, which may in its own right help you tell how long they've been in there. Also what the container is the pictures are in. Is it in a wooden box? Is in a cardboard box that had dog food in it at one point in time?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, then you can kind of gauge how long they've really been sitting in there.

Fisher: Well, she says.

David: What are your thoughts on it?

Fisher: She says 1920s, and I would assume that's just kind of based on how people are dressed there. I kind of go back to the last question. It's like, all right, well, who was living in that house in the 1920s? Was it the owner? Was it a renter? Obviously, this would kind of predate some of those crisscross directories you were talking about. But once again, we go back to Newspapers.com, right, and do a search for that town. And maybe you can come up with some names, and then go to, say, Family Search, or Ancestry, maybe even My Heritage, and see if you can find photos of those people that match the people in the pictures that you found behind the wall. I mean, that's kind of how I would go about it.

David: Yeah, that's true. And the other thing is, do your own house history. Look up your address and find out who's living there in, say, the 1940 census, the 1930s, the 1920s.

Fisher: Yep.

David: The 1910 census. And then you can see what families are living there. But then you can use Ancestry.com and look for yearbook photos of the kids that are in the census, and then wait. Now you automatically have a name, a connection with the town and a dated photo.

Fisher: Yeah. And a connection with the house, which is perfect. So yeah, there are ways to go about this. And I think actually, David, there are harder things than what is being described here, don't you think?

David: I think so. And I think that the walls are speaking to you. Just have to do a little bit of genealogy on the history of the families that once walked the floors of your home.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Not just in the walls.

Fisher: Yeah. And you've talked about that many times before, house histories. They're really interesting. It's fascinating to know what has happened in the home that you're living in at some point in the past. Well, David, thank you so much. We are out of time. And thank you as well to Ray Lynn for the question. David, we’ll talk to you next week.

David: All right, until then, my friend.

Fisher: All right. And thanks once again to Carl Ward our guest today talking about his amazing Civil War discovery and the book that resulted from it and how the whole thing changed his life. If you missed any of it or want to catch the podcast, of course, you can find us on Apple Media, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. We'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!






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