When you get started with a hobby like this, you have no idea how many very interesting people you will meet. As an amateur genealogist, you would think I had learned by now that everyone has a story, but it seems I’m still surprised every time it happens.
Back in the fall, I picked up three interesting pictures at a flea market. Meet Elmer F. McClelland, Mrs. Jenny McClelland, and their daughter, Elma McClelland.
I figured the names were just unusual enough that I might be able to find something, and I was right. I won’t bore you with all of the research details, because the story of these folks is way more interesting than any description of me clicking away on a computer. Suffice it to say that through information I found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, with some help from Google and some archived newspaper articles, I found one of the sons of Elma McClelland.
Elma married Leslie Ernest Eichelberger in 1919 and they had two sons, William and Robert. It didn’t take me long to find that Robert had died in California in 2009. Other information indicated that William had died in Denver in 1981, so I set out to find their children, in hopes of finding living descendants of Elmer McClelland. What I found was that William is not dead – surprise!
Bill Eichelberger is a lively 91-year-old living in Denver with his wife, and they have been active in their community, making a difference for seniors in a significant way. I hope you’ll take some time to check out the website for the organization they helped to found, A Little Help (see below).
I contacted A Little Help in hopes of finding information on Bill, and they forwarded my e-mail to him. We began communicating and I confirmed that Bill’s mother was indeed Elma McClelland Eichelberger. So I packed up the photos and sent them off. With a few exceptions, this tends to be the point where my contact with descendants of all of these “orphan photos” ends, but Bill was willing to share a little of his family’s story.
Elmer McClelland’s father, Joseph, and his family moved to Colorado in 1873, and Elmer eventually began working for the family newspaper, The Fort Collins Express, with his brother and father. Elmer worked for different newspapers in the Denver and Ft. Collins areas, and he retired with his wife, Jenny, to their farm south of Ft. Collins. Elmer and Jenny had four children, Henrietta Maria, Helen Jane, Elma Frances, and Joseph Simpson McClelland.
Elma married Leslie Eichelberger, whose family came to Pennsylvania from Germany in the early 1700s. Elma and Leslie married in 1919.
Over the years, the Eichelbergers lived in Topeka, Wichita, and Honolulu, and young Bill attended college in Colorado, eventually making his permanent residence there. Bill has children and grandchildren, all of whom are curious as to how photographs of their great-great-grandparents ended up in a box of photographs in Atlanta, Georgia … we’ll probably never know.
I, for one, am glad those pictures showed up here in Georgia. Bill has been such an engaging correspondent and willing to share as much of his family’s story as I want to hear, all of which is fascinating. He has given me permission to use his name and these images, in hopes that other McClellands and Eichelbergers may find the information useful, and maybe even make contact.
Sometimes you make someone’s day … and sometimes you make a new friend. How fortunate am I to experience both !!!
Best hobby ever ….
Don’t forget to check out A Little Help, in Denver: http://www.alittlehelp.org/