Have you ever found an old photograph and been so startled by it you just could hardly breathe?
That happened to me quite recently. Although I'm not letting myself get bitten by the genealogy bug yet (because I know I'll become totally infected and incapacitated to do much else), I have dabbled a bit on a website called findagrave. The value of what you can find on it sort of depends on whether a particular cemetery has an enthusiastic volunteer to add data and pictures. But the cemetery where a lot of my mother's side is buried is quite well represented.
Now, let me first explain that I had no idea what this family member looked like before he was 72 years old. He ran away from home when he was 14 (in 1897) and was never heard from again until 1958. The family member is the oldest of my grandmother's brothers. She (Emily Marguerite Fisher) was oldest, then Ben, Lew, and Charlie. This family picture
, taken in 1907 does not include Ben, because he'd been gone for ten years, and it's the oldest family photo I have. (Click the link if you want to read my thoughts on why I think it's remarkable).
So I was cruising findagrave, I think to verify some death dates, and there was a link to Benjamin Smith Fisher's gravesite, with a thumbnail picture- way too small to see details. I clicked it. I'm guessing it had to have been taken just before he ran off. I can believe this boy was about 14 in the picture. But I have to tell you, seeing this took my breath away.
Here's why. You've seen this next picture before, but not your whole life, as I have. This is the formal portrait of my uncle Jacques (Merrill Fisher Rowe), who was killed at age 26. Jacques was Granny's firstborn, my mother's older brother. Wow! Can you say family resemblance?
Here's the thing... it's like looking backwards into a long telescoping mirror. I've always been told I look like Jacques. When Granny started losing it, she began calling me Jacques (just say Jack- Granny liked the odd spelling).
The next picture I'll show you is one I don't like much. It was my 8th grade school picture, and my mouth was all swollen because I'd had braces put on my teeth the day before, but I was usually grinning with my mouth open, so this picture looks the most like the two above.
Now let's back up a few years. I've promised in the past to hunt up these shots, but today I am delivering. The first one is Jacques on the left and me on the right.
Ditto at slightly older ages.
I really, really wish we could go back one more generation. Granny and Ben's mother (Catherine Louisa Hall Fisher) looked not at all like these pictures. I know I have one poor picture of Granny's father. I may have a couple of better ones. I have two snapshots of Ben that he sent when he suddenly got in touch with the family after almost 60 years. I can possibly compare how those two looked when they were older. So now I'm wondering if Ben, Jacques, and I look like Charles Alfred Fisher.
Having this picture of Ben means a lot to me.