Finding Lodie & Don

I am always inspired by the lost-and-found-photo stories in the genealogy community, when a simple upload to Family Search or Facebook connects a photo found in an antique store or yard sale to the subject’s present-day descendants. I love thinking about how many times the photo may have changed hands over the years before coming full circle and finding its way back home. But more than that, I love thinking about what the odds must be of a photo making it back to the subject’s family, and I wonder if I’ll ever have such luck one day.

My grandfather was an only child, and he inherited all of the family photos after his parents and grandparents passed away. One day, we took the box of family photos and Bibles off the dusty storage shelf, spread the photos onto the kitchen table and scanned and labeled each one. Gramps remembered everyone in each photo; that is, everyone except for the family we found in an old Swedish Bible. The photo depicts a young mother with her two children–a daughter and a son–posing in a photography studio. On the back, in pencil, someone has written, “Mother Lodie Don,” and I have yet to come across these names in my family tree.

My guess? The trio were likely family friends of my Peterson ancestors, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how this photo found its way into the Peterson’s Bible. I’ve spent the past few years searching for the trio and their descendants, using every combination of names I could think of. I’ve searched for “Lodie Don,” perhaps the mother’s name; for Lodie and Don, the two siblings; for Charlotte or Leota, with “Lodie” as a nickname; for “Lottie,” thinking the writer may have mispelled the name; and for Donald, with “Don” for short. I’ve combed through the census records in Dunkirk, Fredonia and Pomfret–the towns in which my Peterson ancestors lived–for a potential match, but still no luck.

That is, not until last week, when I happened upon a Swedish American family living at 4 Forest Place in Fredonia, New York in 1930. The parents, Charles and Victoria Taylor, had four children–Lottie (b. 1912), Marjorie (b. 1913), Donald (b. 1916) and Kenneth (b. 1922)–making the couple slightly younger than my Peterson ancestors. Victoria was a naturalized citizen from Sweden, and Charles, an American, was working as a mechanic in an auto garage. Lottie, aged 18, was a dining car waitress, and their son Donald, aged 14, was still in school.


If any of you are photo detectives, what do you think? Have I found the right family? What proof do I need to establish a connection? Can you date the photo? Is a four-year age difference between “Lodie” and “Don” likely, based on the image? And, most importantly, how can I find their descendants? I would love to hear your lost-and-found-photo stories and would welcome any advice you may have. This has been a brick wall at the back of my mind for years now, and it’s my dream to reunite the photo with Lodie’s or Don’s long-lost family. Until then, I’ll just have to keep searching–maybe I’ll find that we are related, after all.

25 thoughts on “Finding Lodie & Don

  1. I love that you are looking to reunite the photo with family .. so many would simply discard it. How about looking for a local paper in that area, or an historical society, or a school to see if their children enrolled and if so did they finish their education in the area… If Charles was a mechanic, maybe a local auto club would know of him and his family… The family you’ve found seem to fit the photo…good luck with it.
    I do like the new look of your blog, just keep forgetting to say so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Local newspapers make so much sense–I should’ve thought about that one, they’re my favorite source to check when researching my own family. And a local auto club is genius, as well. Thanks for the advice!

      And I thought it was about time for a change–have you seen My Descendant’s Ancestors’ newest Genealogy Blog Party? This month’s theme is “Tune Up Your Blog,” so that’s my inspiration. I’m really glad you like it; I love it right now too!

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi~ I do not see a four-year difference between the children, that would be my first red flag it is not the family. I think you’re on the right track, keep researching your family, where they lived, checking families around them on the census’s. One of my hobbies is purchasing lost photo’s and tracking the descendants to return the photo’s. There are quite a few FB pages that deal with this, I belong to one called From Shrubs to Trees…it’s fun to unravel a mystery – you’ve been bitten by the bug!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Every time I go back to the photo, I alternate between seeing a four-year difference and thinking that “Lodie” is too young. I’m just confused, honestly!

      I haven’t joined that Facebook group, but I’ll go ahead and send a request now–thank you! This is my first attempt at reuniting descendants with a “lost” family photo, and it’s tough! More power to you–I don’t know how everyone does it.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. The Brown’s are a good lead–you’re AWESOME! My great-grandmother and her siblings were born in the 1910s; I’m not sure about the clothing styles in this photo (that’s not my area of expertise!), but I was guessing these children were born within the same decade–or maybe hoping is the right word to use. I’m not related to the Brown’s as far as I know, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t cross paths–that just means I have to find the connection! I was thinking it could be a work connection, but it looks like Melvin Brown worked at Brooks Locomotive Works, as did almost ALL of the men in Dunkirk/Fredonia/Pomfret…except my great-great-grandfather. I’ll have to map out the towns again and figure out what the names of each street were changed to after the 1910 census was taken–maybe they were neighbors; I’m going to figure this out!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been guilty of not labeling photographs myself because of course I’ll remember who that is twenty years from now. Of course I’ll remember where that was thirty years from now. Well, the time has passed, and I don’t remember!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great!! The most frustrating things I’ve dealt with in genealogy is finding the photos with people in it who you have know clue who they are. Some photos I’ve found, even if they don’t have labels, I can tell they belong because they look like other family members. But I’ve got a whole pile of photos of a guy named Bill Brown and no one has a clue who he is or was! We’ve tried to look him up and have had 0 luck. I’m pretty sure he’s not related but just a friend of my distant family. Then I found a photo of a whole family and not a person looks familiar and none of my family can identify. It’s a beautiful photo and it’s a shame their family doesn’t have it instead of me! There are no names and really no where to start on identifying them.

    Good luck on your search,
    Erin M.

    Liked by 2 people

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