All Dressed Up With Someplace To Go

Windmill Craft Market in Penn Yan, N.Y




This summer I visited the Penn Yan Craft Market which is located in the Finger Lakes region in New York. They had vendor after vendor selling all types of handcrafted items that took more talent to make that I could ever hope to have. Along with all these fine items was a robust farmer’s market. As I was going from booth to booth and in one building then to the next, I sighted the display shown below.


Lost pictures. All of us should try to return a lost picture to the family it belongs to.

I started to look through the box of pictures and found one with the following inscription written on the back, Byron Duckwall Charley Duckwall’s son. It was clear to me that Byron did not need to be an instant relative for some unrelated family he had to find his own family. The picture below I believe was taken for Byron’s high school graduation.

I was able to trace Byron family very quickly on where vast amounts of information were found. Byron was born in 1916 in the state of Indiana to a family that was doing very well for its self. The 1920 U.S. Federal Census shows his father Charles was furniture merchant and they had two live in servants at home. In the 1930 Federal Census Byron’s father was now a civil engineer doing surveying for the county. His mother also had a job listed as a hack driver for the public schools. No servants were listed for the family. Perhaps due to the Great Depression that was just starting. According to Byron’s army enlistment records, he entered the service during World War 2 in July of 1942. He was married and had four years of college. I also noticed many pictures of Byron shown on at various ages. I also saw one picture the same as I had but it had writing across the front. I found several family trees that listed Byron. I was able to send out six emails and waited to see who would reply. I received three replies. One person said they did not have Byron in their tree while another person said they would think about it and let me know if they are interested. It has now been well over a month, and I have not heard back. The third reply explained how they are related and would “love” his photograph. I did ask them if they knew how his picture could end up in a box in New York when as far as I could find out he did not ever live in New York. I also asked if they had any stories about Bryon they could share. I made this request twice and never got any information except a mailing address for me to send the picture. The picture has been mailed, and I hope they are happy with it.


Mr. Byron Duckwall son of Charles and Mary Duckwall.


We all should do this when we get a chance. I know if someone was to find a picture of my ancestor and send it to me that I would be very appreciative. All this cost me was a dollar for the price of the photograph and just a little more for the mailing. It did take a little time to track the family down but to be honest; I enjoy that.



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44 Responses to All Dressed Up With Someplace To Go

  1. Luanne @ TFK says:

    Thank you for doing that! I’ve tried a few times, but unlucky more than lucky. The post I did about the Annigje Haag photo frustrates me because I would love to have something like that land in my lap but the person whose tree has her on did not even respond!

    • Totally agree and the same experience Luanne.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Same with me. Sometimes the people are really thankful and happy to get the item. Then other times I have been told just to go away or to throw the item away. Most of the time the reaction is somewhere in between the two extremes. But boy would I do a happy dance if someone found an old photograph of my family and offered it to me.

      • Luanne @ TFK says:

        It’s so hard to understand. Even if I didn’t want it for myself (hahaha), I would certainly think of others close to me who might want it. As generous as genealogists tend to be, I am amazed sometimes that people can be so selfish when they aren’t interested in it!

      • chmjr2 says:

        It is beyond my understanding. I have seen over the years so many family pictures and heirlooms thrown away without any thought to who would want them, their history, or what they truly mean to the family history.

      • Luanne @ TFK says:

        People have told me stories about relatives throwing out boxes of “old stuff” like photos and documents without even waiting to ask them if they wanted them. It seems like a hostile thing to do, if you ask me!

      • chmjr2 says:

        I agree it is a very hostile or uncaring thing to do.

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Been there also…

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Some people are not interested in dead people. They are missing so much.
    “C’est la vie!”

  4. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Luckily I found Dennis Lagasse IV who was interested, and he shared so many old pictures with me.

  5. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I was able to identify 8 out of the 13 men on this picture. Dennis II is on the left with the white hat. His son Dennis III is in front. All of Dennis III’s sons are there also: Harry, Harvey, Napoleon Levi, Philip, and Joseph. Hector Lamothe is there. He married one of Dennis III’s daughter Ida Lagasse.

  6. I love success stories when finding photo’s with names we can trace to a relative. Always a little disappointed when they don’t share the same passion with the find. Still, a job well done!

  7. You are such a kind and generous man! What a very thoughtful gesture!

  8. What a great thing to do. I always find it a bit sad to find such a box of photos and wonder who the people are. Shame the recipient of your find could not have shared a little more, but I think you must have made them very happy.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Some people do not share much or do not trust you. With the way things are today who can really blame them. I do think they were happy to get the photograph.

  9. We are truly kindred spirits. I have had some success with finding relatives. The one that endeared me the most was being able to return a photo to the daughter of the woman in the photograph. It was Kinga’s confirmation photo and her daughter had never seen it. I cried happy tears to know that she was able to have the photo in her possession. I do post photos on my website in hopes that relatives can be found.

  10. GP Cox says:

    It was very kind of you to take the time to research and return the photograph. Our ancestors are part of what we are today.

  11. KerryCan says:

    That’s very cool and kind of you! We should all write the names of our people somewhere on the photos–I have so many pictures without names . . .

  12. Amy says:

    That was a wonderful thing to do. It’s a shame the relatives weren’t more appreciative.

  13. Peter Klopp says:

    What you did is very commendable. The photo is a classic representing a time when photographers created great portraits. Thank you for the wonderful post written by a true genealogist!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Peter you are too kind. I do agree that the photograph is from a time when people took the time and effort to have these great pictures taken. I wish I had more like this for my family.

  14. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Great job!

  15. higginsmj says:

    Great job tracking down the families. Pity they weren’t as keen as you were. I am in a different position as I have been fortunate to have wound up with a great number of photos from my uncle and grandparents home. Sadly though, there is no indication of who they are! So, I have a great collection of ancestors which I can’t trace. It is such a pity. I think all the relatives who might know who they were, have passed on.

  16. Shamwest says:

    It is a kind thing to do. Another thing that is sad for me is when I see women’s beautiful handwork in a thrift store. I have bought quite a few pieces.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I can see how the photographs and the handiwork you buy are very much the same thing. Both are family heirlooms that have gotten away from the family.

  17. I am glad one person responded. It is sad when photos end up like that. I think our genealogical work is an asset we should consider when planning our estate. If the family is not interested is there a way to bequeath the work to a society or library?

  18. Spyro says:

    What a great effort on your part. Like others, I think they may have been very happy to receive the photos, but maybe could not or would not articulate. A really nice thing you did. Thank you – Spyro

  19. What a cool service. I would love to help reconnect someone with a lost family photo. I was able to do so in a different way with a cousin. Her father died when she was a young adult and his father died when he was a child. She had never seen a photo of her grandfather and very few of her father. My great grandparents were photographers and my great grandpa was the brother of her grandfather. I went through my boxes of photos, found several, scanned them again for myself and then mailed them to her. What a joy to share something so precious and rare for her. But now, I will have to keep my eyes peeled for lost photos. ❤

  20. Averyl says:

    It’s a wonderful gesture and deed that you’ve done and do.

  21. YES, YES, Y-E-S! “Lost pictures. All of us should try to return a lost picture to the family it belongs to.” AMEN.

    ALL of the photos my mother collected on we seven children; she & my father early inn their marriage & before; a trip to the Ozarks to meet my father’s family; her own Norwegian & British parents & family; a wealth of photos that filled an old-fashioned “chest freezer,” were lost to water damage in the garage of a cousin, none of us children even aware he had them. Makes a person want to sob, holler, sob.

    I have to think Luanne hit it spot on the mark above where she commented, “….relatives throwing out boxes of ‘old stuff’ like photos and documents without even waiting to ask…if they [are] wanted… It seems like a hostile thing to do, if you ask me!”

    WONDERFUL post, Charles. I’m sharing on my Facebook!.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for sharing on your Facebook. This is something I try to do and write about from time to time. I started to do this with boxes of pictures and papers my wife and I gathered when we cleaned out their home of many years. We were able to return many photographs and other items to many people. I have a few more pictures I am working on at this time, and may be able to write about them soon.

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