Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mom's Old Photos

My Mom (left) and my former sister-in-law with my first niece (baby in center) at my one room efficiency furnished apartment in Coatesville, PA - 1964 
This is the only color photo of have of that apartment and that ratty couch that I never sat in - I would like to think that my niece would be interested in this picture but she has very little do with me and I don't know why - tis a mystery but this is a fabulous photo

When we (my brothers and I) moved our Mom out of her house in October of 2009 to live with my brother John in Greenville, South Carolina, I took that opportunity to take the few photo albums she had in her storage chest.  Unlike my friend Larry, whose Mom had hundreds of photos neatly organized in photo albums, my Mom's collection of photos were haphazard at best.  The two good photo albums she had I had given to her for a Christmas long ago.  Most of my Mom's photos were loose, mixed in with her receipts and other papers that usually fill those stuffed kitchen drawers of so many homes.

This is a picture of my father Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. proudly displaying a crop of his tomatoes.  This photo captures his playfulness (which I inherited) and that famous tattoo he had on his left arm which always impressed me - 1967

I am in the process of sorting these photos and scanning the best ones to my computer for eventual posting to my Facebook account.  The main reason I have a Facebook account is to share old family photos with extended family.  I am quite sure that when I depart this dear earth, whoever cleans out my last residence will throw out my albums and boxes of photos.  After all, who would want old gay Uncle Ronnie's photos,  Especially all those photos of me and my friends and my so-called "gay lifestyle?"  I'm not being cynical here friends but just realistic.  Nobody wants those photo folks, believe me. Once I'm gone you can be sure whoever cleans out my personal belongings will make sure those photos never are seen again.  

This is a photo of my handsome younger brother Isaac Walter Tipton, Jr. (husband of woman in first photo in this blog and father of that baby) - 1967

In my previous life I used to work in a bank trust department.  I remember oh so well those times when my boss and I would clean out the bank vault and he would ask me to throw out old family photos that were left over from some long forgotten estate.  I especially remember one incident.  The photos belong to a maiden aunt who never married.  The photos were all taken in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  She was the great aunt of one of my best friends.  Instead of throwing the photos out I asked my friend if he wanted them.  He said "What would I do with them?"  He had absolutely no interest in them.  None. Nada.  Sad.  I didn't throw the photos away but instead kept them.  The following Christmas I he invited me to his family's Christmas dinner.  While there I got to talking to his cousin and I mentioned these photos and told her that no one wanted them.  She said she would take them.  Oh I felt such a sense of relief because I knew that sometime in the future someone would appreciate those photos.  However, she is also a "maiden aunt" so I wonder what will happen to those photos when she dies.  Perhaps I shouldn't worry about it.  

This is a photo of my father Isaac, Sr. and his second son Isaac, Jr. - 1967 - the only two blondes in our family

So here are some of my old photos which probably don't mean anything to most of you but to me they are priceless because they capture a period of time that can never be replicated.  

Three "Isaacs" - Isaac III, Isaac, Jr. and Isaac, Sr. (and "Pepper")
Below are some really old photos that had I not rescued several years ago they would have been lost forever.  The first photo was taken in 1910 at the Hadfield farm.  The Hadfield family (my Mother's line) was assembled celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of my great-great grandfather Thomas and Sarah Hadfield.  Both of my great-great grandparents had immigrated from England through New York in 1864.  This picture is of my great grandfather Randall Hadfield and his wife Belle Donely. My grandfather George Hadfield is the tall  dour looking 13 year old boy standing in the back in the middle.  I found this picture quite by accident while researching my Mother's Hadfield line.  Shortly after I found this picture, the woman who had the picture died.  She loaned me her pictures so I could scan them.  I returned her pictures and I don't know what happened to them.  The woman who loaned me these pictures was the daughter of one of the little girls who attended this family gathering.  

Randall Hadfield and Family 1910 - my great-great grandfather

The picture below is the only one of my Mother and her brothers taken when she was a young girl. It was taken at their home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Downingtown, PA.  My Mom often told me that her brother tore the head off of her doll that is pictured.  She said that was her only doll.  Oh how many times she told me that story.  I rescued this picture from the bottom of her dusty storage chest shortly after she moved to Greenville, SC.  

Betty (my Mom), George and Randall Hadfield - 1927
I am so glad that I was able to rescue these pictures and that they will be around forever now that they are on the Internet.  

Ethel Darlington Hickman Hadfield 1896-1925
My grandmother
This is a picture of my maternal grandmother who I never knew.  I never knew my paternal grandmother either.  Yep, I grew up without knowing a grandmother.  I found this picture through my grandmother's sister's nephew, Will Weaver during my genealogy research. I have yet to meet Will in person but I have e-mailed him and talked to him on the phone.  My grandmother died from complications of childbirth when my mother wasn't even two years old.  The only picture my Mother ever had of her mother was the one below.

This is of the George Lincoln Hadfield family.  My Mother is in this picture but you can't see her because she wasn't born yet but she is in the belly of her mother.  You see, my grandmother was pregnant with my Mother but was hiding her pregnancy behind my Aunt Grace, her oldest daughter.  The year was 1923, before posing nude and pregnant (a la Demi Moore) was fashionable on the cover of Vanity Fair.  This was the only picture my Mother ever had of her mother until I found the earlier picture through my cousin Will. 

I hope you all enjoyed this little excursion down Memory Lane.  I always do when I am sharing old photos.  However, I do feel sad knowing what will probably happen to the original photos when I'm gone.  Maybe someday there will be a family member who isn't so caught up in their day to day life and who cares about family history and will rescue Uncle Ronnie's photos.  Maybe.  

My grandfather Hadfield and grandmother with her sister and her husband (The Weavers) - 1916


  1. Anonymous11:40 PM

    Oh my god, Ron!!!! Such a treasure trove! How awesome can this be? TOTALLY!!! I have scanned a whole bunch of my family photos. I have a big boxful sitting behind me.

    This stuff is historical GOLD. It belongs in museums. I am posting my family pics on my personal website.

    Peace <3

    1. Jay,

      I think these old photos are a treasure trove too. You would be surprised at how many family members and people in general care nothing for them. So sad. So much history in these photos. I have a whole box of photos that my cousin Randy (who just died unexpectedly this past Sunday by the way) found in his Mother's attic after she went into a nursing home. Almost all of the photos are unidentified. His mother probably knew who there were but was too late by the time he found the photos because she had full fledged dementia. It's a shame because the photos were all taken from 1860 to 1890 in a professional photo studio. They are someone's relatives but we will never know now. I'll post them in a future blog.

      Before I die I'll give them to the Downingtown Historical Society or the Chester County Historical Society. I don't know if they want them though if they are unidentified. So sad. So much history lost through negligence.


  2. Ron, those are excellent pictures. Really struck by your mom and sis-in-law demonstrating proper sofa sitting in 1964. I was a Boy Scout that summer camping at Valley Forge. We could go back in time and wave hello. Also must congratulate you on saving and finding a place for those photos in the lapsed lockbox. That was a good thing you did.

    1. Geo,

      Yes, my Mom and sister-in-law were demonstrating proper sofa sitting for women weren't they? Now days most women sit spread legged. I was around Valley Forge in 1964. We used to go to church there for awhile, Reverend Pennlington. Did you know him? Best pastor I ever had. Never put the usual church guilt trip on me. Only preached good things. I always felt good when I left his service.


  3. Ron,
    There are lots of places interested in old photographs including university archives, state archives, and even historical associations of towns and cities. The city of Downingtown, PA might be interested in having them for their archives. The Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill has many family collections of documents and photos. The NC State Archives in Raleigh has collections and is now in the process of collecting family Bibles. The Pennsylviania State Archives may be interested in the original old photos and/or the digitized photos. Once you finish digitizing them, you should contact some of the resources to find out their interest. They may be interested in collecting them now as you go through the process of digitizing them. I also suggest that you upload as many as possible to your genealogical blog. Who knows, some Tipton descendant in the future may be searching for them.

    1. Good advice David. I am in touch with a man who collects historical items, including photos for the Downingtown Historical Society. I have been sending him some of my digitized pictures which he has published some in his weekly newsletter. I think I will donate all my old photos except my personal, gay themed (boyfriends and such, which I seriously doubt he would be interested in) to him and the Downingtown Historical Society. And yes, I am uploading as many photos as I can to my genealogical blog which is "Tipton Tales and Trails." However, I spend so much time posting on this blog I haven't had much time to do that. I better get cracking.


  4. Ron,

    Interesting. So much familiarity or similarity in these old family photos and my own. In the photo of the Randell Hatfield & Family 1910, there are a couple of older people in the background. Do you have any idea who these people were? Where was this taken?


    1. Lar,

      That photo was taken at the Hadfield farm house on Hadfield Road in East Brandywine Township. The house is still there and is now a rental. The last time I saw it there were garishly colored plastic toys outside the house which seemed so incongruous with the house. I doubt if the renters know the rich history of that house. The woman in the background was from England and a friend of the family. Her name was "Biddie" or something like that. That's what Helen Hadfield Thomas (the lady I borrowed the photos from) told me. I don't know the gentleman's name. I have other pictures that I scanned. I wish I had scanned all the photos she had but I thought I would to it later. Of course she died soon thereafter and I don't know what happened to her photos.


  5. old photos connect us to the past. the people were so sad looking, the manner of dress (esp. on the women), the hardship of life in the early 20th century.

    I like david's suggestions above. also think about contacting the chester county historical society; they may have some interest.


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