It is week two in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s writing challenge. This week’s prompt is Favorite Photo.
“That’s should be easy,” I thought, “as I have tons of pictures. With 3,649 images in my family tree, there’s bound to be a photo or two that would qualify as a favorite.”
But when I started digging through the files, I soon realized that the vast majority of these pictures are source documents, headstone images, maps, sketches/pictures of buildings, and paintings/drawings of famous ancestors. Only a small fraction of my family tree photos are of family faces.
So, I began sorting through the “people” pictures. Most of those photos are of living family members. Unfortunately, because of privacy and personal security, I never make those pictures public.
Not that this would matter, because many of these family photos were captured by my mother, who did her darndest to document every single moment of our childhoods. (I swear that I can still see spots in my eyes from all of those flashbulbs she used.) Anyhow, flashbulbs aside, although Mom was an enthusiastic photographer, she was, I am sorry to say, an abysmal one. My mama couldn’t take a proper picture to save her soul. In the majority of our family photos, one or more of us is blinking, looking hungover, and/or missing a head or feet or are bisected—half of our bodies outside the edge of the picture. And when you throw in the horrid 70s fashion faux pas that Mum made us wear, well, you can imagine how dreadful those photos are.
Anyhow, when those photos were pulled from the pile, what remained were slim pickings indeed. No worries: Less is more, right? However, after an hour, I still had not narrowed down that paltry pile to just one favorite. Yep, I loved ’em all.
Picking a favorite picture was not gonna work for me, but I still needed to make a choice. What to do, what to do? After much thought, I decided that I would choose the “oldest” personal photo that I had attached to my family tree.
So, without further adieu, please allow me to introduce y’all to Ezbon (Esbon) Rose Cole, my 4th great-grandfather. Dear ole Ezbon is one of my brick wall ancestors. Although I do know that he was born in Pennsylvania on 26 November 1810, I have no clue who his parents were. This is why, seven years ago, I started digging for Ezbon’s roots.
That super-sleuthing allowed me to unearth this amazing photo of Ezbon found in the book, Images of America: Hightstown and East Windsor, written by Peggy S. and Frank J. Brennan, Jr. Although this book did not reveal my 4th great-grandfather’s parents, it did provide me with some details about Ezbon’s life of which I had been unaware. For these insights and this much-loved photograph, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, Peggy and Frank, for showing me my ancestor’s face:
EZBON R. COLE (1870s)
For many years the only undertaker in town, Ezbon (1810-1882) operated the Cole Funeral Home. Married in 1836, he was the father of four sons, one of whom, Charles E., joined him in his South Main Street [Hightstown, New Jersey] business. At his father’s death, Charles moved the business to a location between the Baptist and Universalist churches on Main Street. Ezbon, a forty-year member of the Baptist church and a Democrat, “who voted for principle and not men,” had years before his death prepared a plain but substantial metal casket for his remains. (Richard S. Hutchinson)