Photo of the Day – January 24, 2015

This is a fun photo of my grandfather as an infant sitting on a blanket looking curiously at the kitten next to him. As he was born in November 1924, I believe this photo was taken in late winter/early spring 1925 based on the snowsuit-like outfit he’s wearing. If he was any older, he could double as Ralphie’s brother in ‘A Christmas Story.’

Source:
Charles James Lowry (1924-2007), photograph, taken at unknown location in 1925; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Infant sitting on blanket with dark colored cat. Provenance is Mary Pepperney Lowry to Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 23, 2015

Helen Lowry was my great grand aunt, the youngest sibling of my great grandfather Charles E. Lowry. She was born in Salem, Ohio in 1906 and in 1929 married Lawrence Murphy. She lived most, if not all of her life in the Salem area and died in 1991. This photo probably dates to the early 1920s. Helen would have been in her mid to late teens.

Source:
Helen Lowry Murphy (1906-1991), photograph, taken at unknown location in early 1920s; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Posed portrait of a young woman in a dark top and short hair. Provenance is Mary Pepperney Lowry to Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 19, 2015

This is such a cute family moment, not too different from what Eileen and I have had recently with Brendan. It looks to me that my grandpa Chuck Lowry is about seven or eight months old and my great grandmother is trying to get him to laugh. (As I can’t see that person’s face, I’m going to assume it’s her.) Great grandpa is having a good laugh at the moment. This candid is a nice change or pace from the staged shots I have so many of.

Source:
Charles Lowry (1924-2007), Charles Lowry (1899-1975) and Margaret Pepperney Lowry (1902-1980), photograph, taken at unknown location around 1925; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Family of three standing in the backyard. Provenance is Mary Pepperney Lowry to Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 18, 2015

Once again I have a mystery to solve. I know the little boy on the left is my grandfather Chuck Lowry. He was probably two or three years old at the time; the bobbed hair certainly places this photo before the summer of 1928 when my great grandparents had it cut in favor of a more traditional hairstyle for a little boy. 
The mystery is in identifying the two girls in the photo. I have no idea who they might be. Obviously they are older than my grandfather. Perhaps they are neighbors or cousins? I will add them to the list of people I want to identify. The longer I do this Photo of the Day project, the longer that list grows.

Source:
Charles Lowry (1924-2007) and two unknown girls, photograph, taken at unknown location around 1927; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Three children standing on the steps of a home; two girls wearing hats. Provenance is Mary Pepperney Lowry to Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 16, 2015

The caption simply says ‘Martha’. I have no idea who Martha is. This photo dates from the early 1920s along with many of the Lowry and Pepperney photos in that collection. I checked my family tree and there are no Marthas of a matching age or relation to fit here. I checked the Lowry and Pepperney neighbors from the 1920 Federal Census and again, no dice. Maybe further research will reveal this Martha, but in the meantime, enjoy a photo of her standing on someone’s front porch in a long skirt and heeled boots. 

Source:
Martha (unknown), photograph, taken at unknown location around 1920; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Woman in long skirt and heeled boots. Provenance is Mary Pepperney Lowry to Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 12, 2015

My great grandfather Charles Lowry is looking pretty dapper in a three-piece suit. I can only imagine the color, maybe navy, with a red tie, silver cufflinks, and black shoes. Since the vast majority of the 1,000 Lowry family photos I have are in black and white, sometimes you have to invent the details to add color to life (pun intended). This photo is from around 1921 and was taken in front of the family home in Leetonia, Ohio.

Serendipity in Genealogy – 94 Years and No Longer Waiting…

Genealogy isn’t always about searching for the dead. Often, it’s about finding the living to help solve the mysteries of the dead. This is a case of a random Google search for a great grand-uncle, a pair of DNA tests and, after 94 years, being able to confirm that the man whom we could only ever suspect as the father of William Thomas Crawford is in fact the right guy.

For me, this story begins on August 30, 2014. It was late in the evening; Brendan had already been put to bed. As usual, I was sitting in front of my computer searching away to find the next family gem or lost record. I don’t remember my exact search terms, but I in the process I found this request written on a genealogy forum:

I am looking for the birth father of a William Crawford born in Leetonia in 1920 ,family oral history says that a Ed Lowry was the father,only want information,,about the Lowry family from that area,,1 

I looked at the date it was posted: January 20, 2006. It had been almost nine years since Linda Tritt Crawford wrote looking for information about Edward Lowry from Leetonia. Until I stumbled upon it, this request had gone unanswered.

I promptly sent Linda an email stating that my great grand uncle was Edward Martin Lowry, born in 1896 in Leetonia. Still, I didn’t hold out much hope that I would receive a response. Nine years is a long time without someone changing their email address, losing interest in a hobby or dying. Fortunately for me, Linda was still very much on the search.

Linda’s response the next day reemphasized that family history held that the father of William Thomas Crawford, her husband Bill’s father, was Edward Lowry. Edward and Margaret Crawford, William’s mother, had dated but never married. Since 1920, there has been no reliable confirmation that Edward Lowry was the father.

Linda and I exchanged a few emails and I sent her a link to my website and family photos so she could search through my published material herself. Since I held a possible key to this mystery, I wanted to do what I could to help solve this problem. I had the wild idea that maybe her husband and my dad could take DNA tests to attempt to confirm this relationship. I recently have gained an interest in genetic genealogy and although I want to take a DNA test myself, I knew that my dad would be a closer relative and thus more likely to be a match. If the Crawford family story was true, my dad and her husband would be second cousins. They would share a great-grandfather in Michael Lowry (1868-1949).

I proposed the idea to my dad as well as Linda, who passed it along to Bill. Fortunately, both agreed. I suggested an autosomal DNA test through Family Tree DNA. There are basically three different types of DNA tests for genetic genealogy. Y-DNA tests trace paternal lines from father to paternal grandfather to paternal great grandfather, etc. Mt-DNA tests trace maternal lines from a mother to grandmother to great grandmother. Each of these tests looks at the specific parts of chromosome 23 that get passed from parent to child. An autosomal DNA test, on the other hand, looks at shared genetic material on chromosomes 1 through 22. The more shared material, the more likely you are to be related. This is the perfect test for identifying a cousin relationship.

I bought my dad’s test and had it shipped to the house. All that is required is a cheek swab on a glorified Q-tip. Linda and Bill ordered their test as well. Both tests were returned and then we waited. And waited. And waited. These tests aren’t especially fast. This isn’t like we were just waiting for Jerry Springer to announce, “YOU ARE THE FATHER!” DNA tests can take 4-6 weeks for results so we each expected something returned by Thanksgiving.

Even though it was my dad’s test, I was particularly antsy, checking my account almost every day looking for an update. Finally, on December 6, a little more than 3 months since I first reached out to Linda, we had both tests results. Right there at the top of my results, which identify hundreds of very distant cousins who have also tested, was the name William David Crawford – 2nd or 3rd Cousin. A MATCH!

The result’s page. Click to enlarge.

Naturally, we again exchanged emails and shared our excitement over the match. In doing so, I also learned a little more about Linda and Bill. Today they live outside Cleveland, Tennesee, although Bill grew up in Leetonia and they still have family in the area. One of those family members in the Leetonia area is Bill’s niece Debra Moore, who I’ve also started to exchange family information with. Sadly, Bill’s mother Elsie Crawford passed away on December 7, just one day after we solved the mystery of her late husband’s father.

A portion of the results showing a strong genetic link (the orange part) between my dad and Bill Crawford on chromosome 5. Not every chromosome shows a match, but enough do to indicate a close relative.

Of all of my genealogical discoveries, this has been by far the most important. While it’s great to be able to identify new generations of grandparents back in history, it’s more important to be able to connect with those newly found cousins who share small and large branches of your family tree. In this case, we were able to solve a mystery that had existed for almost a century and finally confirm the long-held suspicion that the father of William Thomas Crawford was my great grand uncle Edward Lowry.