When I moved into our rental home in September 2008, I was determined to have this wall once more. I had something similar in our home once before, but it had been a few years. From this hall sits my office, where I can actually sit at my desk and see many of the portraits hanging there.
These photographs range from one of my sister-in-laws family taken in December 2008, to a rare photograph of my husband's great-great-grandparents taken about 1860.The large portrait you can see closest to the camera, is taken about 1870. It is of my grandfather and his siblings with his parents, my great-grandparents. Grandpa Bean is a very young boy in this portrait, having been born in December of 1866. It is one of only two known portraits of my great-grandparents, William and Margaret [Perkins] Bean.
There is a rare portrait of my great-grandmother Josephine Benzel Dreher 1865-1932], with her mother Wilhelmina [Lambrecht] Benzel [1835-1924], along with Josephine's daughter, Florence [1885-1946] , and her first born daughter, Mildred [b.1913]. It's a lovely old 4-generation view, taken in 1913 when Mildred was a newborn baby.
There is a wonderful portrait taken of my grandfather when he was studying to be a Lutheran minister. He is a very young man here, holding an open book on his knee. I treasure this portrait, as it it exactly as I remember my grandfather, with book always open and studying. He passed that love of studying on to me. I am never without at least one book being read or studied, and most often have two or three going at once!
Then there is the first portrait made of my parents together, one month after they were married, taken in January 1959. They are both in military uniform. Dad was in the U.S. Navy and Mom in the WACs [Women's Army Corps]. They were both stationed in San Francisco, California when they met and married.
There's a beautiful portrait of my mother-in-law, Betty [Rotge] Custer [1930-2003] taken when she was a sweet 16. She was such a beautiful girl!
There's an old wanted poster of my husband's first cousin - four times removed, John Wesley Hardin. Yep, the old west gunslinger was first cousin to my husband's great-great-grandfather, Jim Clements, who is pictured on the wall twice. Unfortunately, Jim was a bad boy just like his cousin. He met an equally sad fate.
There's a beautiful portrait of my paternal grandparents, John Monroe Bean, Sr. [1866-1954] and Mary [Faudree] Bean [1897-1975]. Unfortunately my grandfather died before I was born. He is probably the one ancestor I would have loved to had sat down with and discussed our genealogy. Fortunately for us, he passed most of what he knew on to my Dad, who was born in his old age [Grandpa was 71 when Dad was born]. So he was able to sit down and talk often of his ancestors with Dad. Even after picking Dad's brain over and over, there is much he doesn't know. So, I would have loved to have spoken with Grandpa about our family! And my beautiful Grandma is in that portrait [taken about 1945]. Quiet and reserved, I wish I had been more appreciative of her when I was a kid! She taught me more than most people ever realize. It was Grandma who first taught me to cook, [although Mom likes to pretend it was she who taught me!] I miss Grandma so!
This wall means more to me than I can ever explain. Although I'm sure many of you researchers will understand! I feel more than just kinship with these people. There is a connection that goes beyond words. A bond that ties us together beyond blood and bones. Genetics isn't even a part of the equation. Perhaps because I know the intimate details of these lives. I live them daily as I am researching!
I AM these people. They ARE me.
Isn't that what genealogy is all about? I'd like to think so, at least.