I’ve said this before, but the first time you see a photo of a relative you’ve been researching for years is an emotional thing. It’s like finally getting to meet the person… except you’re related to them… and they’re dead, so it’s got this bittersweet aspect to it. Couple that with the fact that, sometimes, you never even dreamed a photo of them existed… and you have a great recipe for a teary and moving moment.
My cousin Tom Forrest sent me an email last night saying that he’d gotten together with his first cousin Pamela Burrell Antoni. Apparently, Pam had been holding out on us a little, because she had quite the treasure trove of old family photos. Tom sent me four, all of which are just incredible. I’m going to post them here with some background on each photo. Tom says more are on the way, so I’m very excited to say the least.
First, some background. Here is the five-generation family tree of my grandmother, Mildred Jean Forrest (1915-2006). You can click to enlarge this:
As you can see, my grandmother’s mother was the much beloved Lulu Maria Cairns Forrest Whitney Bailey Coutermarsh, a real pillar of my family about whom I have written previously. Here, for example: Recollections of Lulu Maria Cairns. Lulu’s parents were Samuel Robert Cairns and Helen Maria Nason. Helen died in 1912 at the age of only 48, and I didn’t know any photos of her existed. Yet here is one that Tom got from Pam:
It seems to have been taken about 1885, when Helen was in her early 20’s. She looks strikingly like her daughter Mildred to me. Something about a slight sadness in the eyes.
My 2x great-grandmother Helen Maria Nason was born in October of 1863 in Skowhegan, Maine. Her father worked in Skowhegan while she was a young girl, then the family moved to Missiquoi in Québec, Canada where she met her husband Samuel Robert Cairns. They were married on 29 Dec 1886 in the Bedford Methodist Church in Bedford, Québec, Canada. Samuel worked as an “Inspector” at that time. Helen died on 24 Apr 1912 in Westmount, Québec, Canada [Westmount is actually an “enclave” of Montréal] at the age of only 48. She was buried in Ormstown, Canada, the home town of the Cairns family, which is just south of Montréal on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. I have very little detail about her life, so this photo is a great thing to have.
The next photo is of the entire Cairns family, taken about 1906. It shows my great-great-grandparents Helen Nason and Samuel Robert Cairns [1862-1941] with their daughters Lulu and Mildred as young women.
The next one really shocked me when I opened it:
This Helen Nason’s mother, Lucy Gilman Folsom [1835 – 1916]. She was my 3x great grandmother. Lucy was born on 27 Apr 1835 in Fayette, Maine to Charles Taylor Folsom [1808-1886] and Elizabeth E. Judkins [1808-1886]. She lived in Fayette during her childhood, then she married Ruel Nason [1832-1889] in Wayne, Maine about 1856. Ruel was an axe-manufacturer and I’ve written about the work of the Folsom and Ruel families in the skilled-metal trades before. Lucy and Ruel moved from Wayne, Maine in 1860 to Skowhegan, Maine in 1870, to Missiquoi, Québec, Canada in 1881, to Bedford, Québec, Canada in 1886. Unfortunately my grandfather Ruel died there from pneumonia on 29 Feb 1889. Lucy, now a widow, moved to Newport, New Hampshire where she is in the 1900 census living with her brother-in-law Stephen Farwell, her sister Ann’s widowed husband. Lucy died on 18 Jun 1916, and is buried with her husband in the Elkins Cemetery in Elkins, New Hampshire. It’s funny that I never noticed the Mason symbol on the gravestone until just now.
Finally, Tom sent a photo of Lucy Folsom as an older woman, taken around 1915. I like the dignified feeling of this one. It feels like a woman looking back at a long and full life. She seems lost in her memories.
As usual, many thanks to my cousin Tom Forrest and to Pamela Burrell Antoni for these incredible photos!