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5 family-tree photos depicting 2 people, all 1 of a kind


The historical record can tell you a lot about the relationship between two people. Census sheets, death certificates, marriage licenses, property records, last wills and testaments -- all include details that can provide context and dimension to genealogy reports.

But nothing can quite demonstrates the bond between two people like a photograph. Here are five photos from my family tree, each depicting two relatives in interesting poses.

5. Amberous Williams and Ora O'Neal Brown

These two look like they just stopped by the saloon after a long day on the range. Or maybe at the roadhouse after hopping off their Indian Chief motorcycles. I'm fairly sure neither is the case, although I don't know the context of this photo of my 2G uncle Amberous Williams (which I've also seen spelled "Ambrose") and his nephew, Ora O'Neal Brown.

Amberous' sister, Amanda, was Ora's mother. Though they were uncle and nephew, something about this photo tells me they were more like cousins. That would make sense, as Amberous was only five years younger and they grew up in close proximity.

Amanda and Amberous were among nine children of William Washington Williams and Rebecca Caudill Williams. (My great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Williams, was another of the Williams siblings.) In the 1870s, patriarch William and Rebecca purchased a large plot of land and an old Indian cabin near Hoggtown, Ky., also known as Elliottville. William and Rebecca were in their early 20s at the time, and over time, their children also made homes on the property or land nearby. The area came to be known as Williams Branch.

Amberous and Ora were neighbors on Williams Branch, according to the 1900 census, Amberous living in his father's household and Ora in a home owned by his parents, Amanda Williams Brown and Rufus Brown.

Several Williamses much of their lives on Williams Branch, but both Amberous and Ora sought their fortunes elsewhere. Amberous also lived in Lincoln County, Ky.; Scioto, Ohio; and Logan, WVa., where he passed away in 1970.

Ora lived most of his adult life in Scioto, owning a grocery store for a while before working for another. He also worked for a furnace company. Previously, he had lived in Portsmouth, Ohio; Akron, Ohio, where he worked for Goodrich Rubber Company; and briefly back home in Elliottville. He died in 1964 in Portsmouth.

4. Uncle Bill and Papaw

My grandmother Leona Olive Williams Wilson was very close to her seven siblings. (An eighth died at age 3, three years before my grandmother was born.) When her brother Allie Wilburn Williams -- "Uncle Bill," as my mother knew him -- moved to Springfield, Ohio, Leona visited often. In fact, she moved to Springfield to stay with her sister-in-law Geneva when Bill entered the Navy about the time the U.S. entered World War II. That's where she met her first husband, Otis Brooks.

Otis died of complications from a brain tumor in 1944, two days before his 26th birthday. Leona moved back to Williams Branch, and met and married my grandfather, Oliver Wilson, a short time later.

I believe this photo of Bill and Oliver was taken behind Bill's home in Springfield. (I've seen other family photos taken in the same spot.) I don't know much about the context of this photo, either, but I love it because it looks like a snapshot taken in the middle of a really good time.

I've seen other photos of Papaw in a similar fedora, but I think the style statement I like best is the combination of jacket and overalls.

3. Nora Kendall Williams and Rosanna Caudill Parker

My mother describes her grandmother Nora Ellen Kendall Williams as "regal" --always with her hair and dress just so, with an air just a bit more urbane than one expects of a farmer's wife. Great grandmother Williams died when I was 3, so in my only memories of her -- and most of the photos I've seen -- she is an old woman. That's one reason I cherish this photo (a photo of a photo, actually) taken sometime in the 1940s, when she was young. I see the elegance my mother describes.

But this photo is neat for another reason, one not apparent unless you know about Nora Kendall Williams' family history.

Nora his shown here with Rosanna Caudill Parker (1866-1947), aunt of her husband Andrew Jackson Williams. Rosanna the sister of Andrew's mother, Rebecca Caudill Williams, and was married to Benjamin Franklin Parker (1851-1925). I've seen her in other family photos taken on or near Williams Branch.

But Nora and Rosanna share a second familial connection.

When Nora was a young girl, her father, David Kendall, perished in a well-digging accident. Shortly after, her mother, Miriam Lewis Kendall, got remarried, to a man named John Fleming Parker (1874-1933) -- Benjamin Franklin Parker's nephew. Sadly, Miriam died three years after her first husband. Though John Parker lived another 36 years and had a child with Miriam -- a half-brother that Nora remained closed to throughout her life -- Nora went to live with her maternal grandparents.

Nora married Andrew in 1908.

2. Leona Williams Wilson and Norma Williams Trent

I think this is just the sweetest photo. It's my grandmother and her sister Norma. It was taken during a family beach trip in the 1980s -- I can't remember if this was in Surf City, N.C., or North Myrtle Beach -- when Granny was staying with her children in a rented beach house and Norma was staying nearby with her family.

I don't know if anything particularly significant is taking place in the photo, but Granny had a powerful fear of the water, although she seemed to enjoy the beach. I've always imagined Norma taking her big sister's hand to calm her fears, if not the crashing surf, as they wet their feet.

1. Mom and me

This, quite simply, is the day that changed my life forever -- the day Mom and Dad brought me home from the adoption home, when I was just three months old. Mom is sitting in a rocking chair that I think was purchased for the occasion. I can't remember a time when I didn't know I was adopted -- Mom and Dad often told me the story at bedtime.

I know that my biological mother was an unwed 16-year-old in no position to raise me and that my biological father was a redhead. That's about all I know, and although I'm grateful to have been born before Roe v. Wade and to a mother who made a decision to let someone better equipped raise her child, that's really all I've ever cared to know.

I'm much more interested in the stories and history of Mom and Dad's acnestors. Technically, they're not blood, but they're the only family I've evern known or needed.


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