Who watches “Auction Kings” on the Discovery Channel? It’s okay to admit it … I won’t tell anyone. It’s one of those guilty pleasures I will “marathon” when my husband is out of town … and sometimes when he’s in the next room. I can’t seem to watch just one. Anyway …
A friend from work regularly attends these auctions here in Atlanta. One day, she invited me to go with her to pick up her bidding number, so we made a lunchtime run to Gallery 63.* While she was picking up her number, I noticed a gorgeous old photo album, loaded with pictures. I could tell that a few had some identifying information, so she offered to bid on it for me. I gave her my top price, and figured I’d never hear about it again. I was wrong. She bid for me and won it. This is the cover of the album – you can see why I had to bid:
My friend and I were particularly delighted to discover that not only was this a beautiful album, it was also a music box. The music box no longer worked, but the concept was very cool, and some quick online research showed that these are out there, and VERY expensive. I got mine for a song – ha! did you see what I did there? Music box? got it for a song ??? I kill myself …
Inside the album was this photograph, leading me to believe that I probably would not have the album for long. It was such specific information, I knew it was only a matter of days before I found this family.
I was technically right, it was only a matter of days … many, many, many, many, MANY days ….
Here’s what I knew, right off the bat: Christian Waage (1818-1866) and Mary (Marie) Waage (1816-1888) were the parents of Herman N. Waage, Henry C. Waage, Anna C. Waage, and Sophia M. Waage, and the family lived in Illinois. The album was almost completely full of photographs, most of which had no identifying information. A few had names – Mrs. Amalia E. Iberg; Ferd Krenzer; Rose Plocher; Ernst Plocher – and one said, “My mother’s family Waages, grandmother, grandfather, Aunt Anna, Uncle Herman, Mother, and Uncle Henry.” Clearly, this had been Sophia’s album at one time.
Inside the front cover of the album was a small notation – “Olive wants this album.” To me, it seemed obvious that I needed to find Olive, to determine whether she ever had this album. Using the names of the Waage children, I was able to determine that Sophia Waage married Franz Plocher; they had at least eleven children who survived into adulthood and had children, including their daughter Emma Louise Plocher, born in 1878. Emma married Ferdinand Krenzer, and they had three children – Orville, John, and Olive … OLIVE !! It’s almost too easy, isn’t it??
Hubris will get you every time. I found almost nothing further on Olive. Beyond two censuses and some city directory mentions up until she was about 20-ish, I found nothing. It was as though she had dropped off the face of the earth. I knew this likely meant she had either died or married, but I couldn’t find records of either event, so I was stuck. I figured my only way to get this album back into the hands of family would be to track descendants of Olive’s brothers. So I did … and I found them!
To make a very long story short, I contacted the living descendants I had located and they were able to give me more information on Olive. She had married, and moved away from Illinois, first to South Carolina and then to Marietta, Georgia. Olive and her husband had a son, and I believe he also had a son. I was unable to find contact information for either of them, but I was given contact information for another cousin who is interested in the family’s history. So I shot off an e-mail and waited.
While waiting for her response, I searched for more information on this cousin. By a complete fluke, I found her name in the comment section of her granddaughter’s blog. I contacted the granddaughter, who was very happy to pass along my information to her grandma, and the album is now headed home.**
It’s going to be hard to let go of this beautiful album. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing it on my table. But it belongs with its family, as do we all. So, to paraphrase Barbra Streisand … “Goodbye, Gorgeous!”
*NOTE: I am not being paid by Auction Kings or Gallery 63 to promote them in any way. It’s just where the story started. Plus, it’s a very fun place.
** NOTE #2: If you are searching for information and photographs on the Waage, Plocher, and Krenzer families, I will be happy to put you in contact with the folks who now own this album.