Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sibling Saturday – Baby Pictures

(l to r) Agnes (VanderWerf) Katsma, Margaret Katsma DeWitt,
Gertrude Katsma Houtstra, Theresa Katsma Timmer

This blog post is for Sibling Saturday because this photo is of my grandmother and her sisters (and a sister-in-law). Another reason is because a deeper look at the photo itself also reveals information about my mother and her siblings.

My grandmother, Theresa Katsma Timmer (the woman on the right), died in March of 2007. After conferring with our Aunt Marcia who took care of the estate, my sister brought Grandma’s photograph collection back to her house. On a visit shortly thereafter, I went through them. One of the first photographs in the pile was a large 8 x 10 sized photograph of an infant. My sister told me that when she asked, Aunt Marcia said she wasn’t sure who the infant was. I set it aside and kept digging. I was looking for older photographs and pulled a few that I wanted to scan. The photograph of my grandmother and her siblings caught my eye. I set it aside; it was a nice family picture and worth keeping for genealogical value.

As I was getting ready to scan them, I looked at this photo again. It occurred to me that I recognized one of the four pictures on the wall behind them. The first one, closest to my grandmother on the right, was my mother Helen. I knew this because I had looked through my grandmother’s photos with her one year while she was still alive and she had shared this one with me. In the photograph, my mother is about four years old. My grandmother related to me how it was the first photograph they had ever had taken of my mother. My mother was born in 1933 and since the country was in the midst of a depression, my grandparents did not have much money to spend on such items. My grandmother had also shown me a snapshot of an infant in a pram. This infant, grandma explained, was my mother’s first cousin Anna Mae Katsma, born in 1929. It was always said that Helen looked just like this when she was a baby. (This photograph resurfaced among my grandmother’s photos and I was able to identify it because of that conversation.)

Anyway, after identifying that the first picture was my mother, I realize that the next three pictures on the wall were probably my mother’s siblings in order of their birth! There would be Uncle John, then Aunt Marcia and then Uncle Bill born in 1946. Scrambling back through the photographs, I grabbed the one of the unidentified infant. When comparing it to the pictures on the wall, guess who it was? Aunt Marcia, the one who couldn’t identify it in the first place!

This is also an interesting lesson on using internal clues for help in identifying old photographs. The next time you pick up a photograph, be sure to look at ALL the details. You just never know what you’ll discover. If you find something interesting, I’d love to hear about it!

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