Thursday, June 16, 2016

Genalogical Journey: Cousin Bob (Part 2)

"Which photographer is that, Bob?"  My Great-uncle Jim and Bob's grandfather were first cousins so perhaps he was going to say, "Jim Sullivan, the newspaper photographer."  Instead he said, "Timothy O'Sullivan, that Civil War photographer."  Now I had the same story, unprompted, from three different branches of the family.  I told Bob about "the book" written about O'Sullivan and mentioned a newer one the Smithsonian had put out a few years ago.  Through the magic of Amazon, I sent him a copy.  ( He already had "the book" by James Horan.) 

In a subsequent email thanking me for the book, Bob floored me with the following, "I have a similar photo of O'Sullivan on brittle, albumen paper."  That photo, like the one of Timothy's sister, Ellen, was in our family for over one hundred and fifty years.  My theory was that Timothy sent it to his parents who were our ancestors' aunt and uncle.  As they (sadly) outlived their children, our ancestors inherited the photos or more likely, were charged with the lovely task of cleaning out their house and kept the photos. 

Bob emailed me the photo he had and I recognized it from yet another book, by Joel Snyder titled American Frontiers The Photography of Timothy O'Sullivan, 1867-1874.  Again, through the magic of Amazon, I sent him a copy of that book which explained more about the photograph on page 14.  Photographed by fellow photographer, Alexander Gardner, it was taken in 1868. 

Cousin Bob's photo of Timothy O'Sullivan in 1868 by Alexander Gardner

Bob and I then corresponded about other family members.  He sent me information and stories about our family tongue twister, the relatives with double Sullivan ancestry.  See if you can follow this:  Elizabeth Sullivan became Elizabeth Rogers upon marriage.  She had a daughter Elizabeth Rogers who became Elizabeth Sullivan upon her marriage.  Lizzie, as she was called, had a son named Frank after her husband also named Frank.  Lizzie and Frank met at the Hippodrome Theatre in New York City where they both worked in show business.  Frank was an actor.  Their son, Frank, Jr. was in WWII and then went to California to earn a PhD in paleontology from Berkeley.  He then moved from Carmel, California to Oklahoma to work for the oil companies.  Frank had three sons, but through his wife's obituary, I found that they had pre-deceased him.  The obituary mentioned a granddaughter, Megan.  She seemed to be the only living relative from that branch of the family.  Could I find her?  I wasn't even sure of her age.  If she wasn't an adult, it would not be appropriate for me to contact her.  Would her mother want to answer questions about her daughter's father's side of the family?  My attempts to make contact with her were close but not on track.  I placed a request on my Find A Grave page next to her grandfather's memorial.  One woman wrote back but had outdated contact information.  The letter I sent was returned undeliverable.  Further attempts to correspond with this contact went unanswered.  This was not looking good.  I so wanted to get in touch with Megan because Bob's grandfather George, was friends with Frank who was his cousin.  Bob had photos and legal documents I wanted to share that mentioned Frank and his sons.  We will get back to that part of the research story  shortly, but now we will take a break to hear about Cousin Vera, Frank's aunt and Lizzie's sister who was also in show business in Vaudeville and Burlesque.  It turned out that Cousin Vera was my link to making contact with Megan's branch of the family. 


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