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. . . and when I say “family,” I *do* mean FAMILY.  Not just one photograph, but several were found in an antique mall in Asheville, NC.  Here’s the story.

In April, we were in Asheville, and I made my regular pilgrimage to Lexington Park Antiques.  It is a mall-style antique store, with over a hundred different vendors, all with different treasures.  At this point, my photo reunion skills were still new, and a bit unsure, but I was certain there must be some goodies in this huge place.  I was right.

At one booth, I found a box full of photographs, several of which appeared to be pictures of several members of one family. There were at least a dozen, and most were identified.  I started a small pile and began to marvel at the huge project this was obviously going to be.  Massive!

When I got home and started plugging names into Google and Ancestry, it didn’t take long at all.  In fact, one good afternoon of clicking and saving and highlighting and note-taking turned up all sorts of results.  The central figure seemed to be Weldon Franklin Stark, born in 1882.  A large portrait of Franklin taken in 1938 had a notation on the back that he died in 1939 at age 56.

Weldon Franklin Stark

There were also several portraits and photographs of Elizabeth “Bess” Daughtry Stark, his wife.  Most were from her later years, but this one is from her engagement announcement in 1903.

At that time, I had discovered FindAGrave.com and was excited to find an entry for Franklin that included not only a photograph of his grave, but a mini-obituary.  It was sad to read that he died in a one-car accident on a bad curve between Commerce and Jefferson, Georgia.  Bess survived him by almost 20 years.

One of the photos I found was of a toddler, identified as Susan Elizabeth Stark.

Susan Elizabeth Stark

Susan was born in 1906 in Columbia, SC, married Kaare Espedahl, had two children, and died in 1991.

As I searched various names, the search result kept popping up one website which listed out some of the genealogy of this family, the Daughtrys in particular.  So I contacted the owner of the site, Caite Stevens.  She and I began a series of e-mail conversations about what I had found, and she was able to fill me in on exactly who these folks were, and a little about the family history.  I didn’t tell her about all of the photos I had, just emailed her scans of two or three of them, so we could confirm it was the same family.  Finally, on April 16, I put a package in the mail to Caite, including the ones she didn’t know I had, like this one, of Bess and two of her friends:  Helen McCall of Buena Vista, Georgia, and Ina Carlton, of Atlanta.  Bess is in the middle:

Bess Daughtry and Friends

The photo reunions are so satisfying.  Not in a “pat me on the back” sort of way, but in a “deep sigh … now they are where they belong” sort of way.  These photos don’t belong in my files or in antique stores.  They belong with people who will treasure them and appreciate them.  The faces and names are fine, and it’s great to know them, but it is the life stories that deserve to be remembered.  We aren’t all astronauts or actors or athletes … most of us live very ordinary lives, with little to mark our time here beyond a few official documents and some photographs.  But “ordinary” doesn’t mean “insignificant.”  I love the process of reconnecting these images with the folks who are the result of their ordinary lives.

Thanks for celebrating that with me here.

*And special thanks to Caite for giving me permission to share these photos.  If you would like to contact her, shoot me a message and I’ll put you in touch with her.