Images of people, communities and events of bygone years are few and far between, making them all the more precious today as we strive to instill a sense of history in our youth and the generations to come. Many of our loyal readers have recognized this need and have submitted old photographs to Downhome magazine from their personal collections. Scroll through to see these images for yourself and take a walk down memory lane.
Here is a picture of my sister, Beverley, who was born in St. John's. She had ringlets as a little girl and I always told her that this picture was so cute! The picture was taken in the 1940s.
Family Secrets - Searching for my Grandmother's Father
As an avid family history researcher, I love nothing more than digging though old photographs of generations past. There is nothing like finding that gem of a photo featuring your grandfather smiling back at you as a young man, or finding a ... click to read moreAs an avid family history researcher, I love nothing more than digging though old photographs of generations past. There is nothing like finding that gem of a photo featuring your grandfather smiling back at you as a young man, or finding a photo of your great-grandmother holding her baby daughter (your grandmother). Another part of researching family history that makes me squeal with delight is uncovering the first and last names of my many many times great-grandparents. But a very frustrating part of family history research is when you hit a wall and cannot uncover that desperately sought after surname.
One such frustration exists with my grandmother's father. I have been interested in my family history since I was a child and I was always fascinated by my maternal grandmother's parents because she was adopted.
My grandmother was born in December 1925 and three months later she was fostered to Eli and Emma Foss. She grew up in Salt Pond (now Embree) believing that Eli and Emma Foss were her parents. When she was about 16 years old she was told the truth about her birth but sadly she was told after her birth mother had passed away. She was told her birth mother's name, which was Susan "Susie" Porter from Porterville. Susan was the daughter of Caleb Porter and Susannah Porter (nee Cole). Susan's own mother died when Susan was only three months old of TB in 1903. Caleb remarried Sarah Ball a year after his first wife's death and had many more children.
Susan Porter was an unwed young woman in 1925 and was most likely forced to give up her child (my grandmother) because being unmarried in those days was quite taboo.
Susan later married Samuel Butler from Samson's Island in 1931 and had five children with him. Susan's last child died along with her in childbirth in 1942.
My grandmother was not able to meet her birth mother and she was angry at her adoptive parents for waiting until Susan had passed away to tell her the truth about her birth. She quickly got over it though and because she had such a loving upbringing she decided to not seek out her father, nor did she ask questions about who he was. She felt quite strongly that the Foss's were her parents and that was the end of it.
Lovely right? But to a passionate family researcher like me, I wanted to know who her "real" father was. I wanted my questions answered. My earliest memory of questioning my grandmother about her "real" parents was when I was 10 years old. She told me that she had been told that an Albert Fudge was her father. That name always stuck with me because as a child the name Fudge just sounded funny and awesome at the same time. Over the years my grandmother has heard other names like Fred Downton and David Wheeler.
I have looked into these names and both Albert and Fred were Susan's age and lived in and around Porterville in 1925. Fred Downton has been linked to my Grandmother's half sister Nina Swackhamer who was born in 1927 to an also unwed Susan Porter. Aunt Nina was also fostered to another family but that is a whole other story in and of itself. She did however seek out my grandmother after both women were married and had children. As for David Wheeler, well he poses a bit of a problem, as he was only 15 years old at the time conception would have taken place. I am ruling him out for the most part.
I have been doing some further, you might say, extensive detective work. I have been comparing the 1921 census to the 1935 census of towns in and around Porterville highlighting all the potential men who could have fathered my grandmother, depending on age. I compared names that appear in each census. Since no census exists for 1925, I can assume that if they are in the 1921 census and the 1935 census then there were around in 1925 and therefore could have fathered my grandmother. Of course there are many unknown factors, such as men who moved in and out of the area and may not have been captured in one of OR either census. I also have to consider the men that do not appear in the 1935 census but do appear in the 1921 census. I have to assume they died or moved to a different town, so I have to research them to try and cover where they were in 1925. Were they alive in March of 1925 (when conception would have happened)? Then of course, there are men who may not have lived in and around Porterville but had come by boat for one reason or another and took a fancy to Susan. In any case, I realize this is a needle in a haystack investigation. But I am nothing if not determined.
I am also aware that anyone who may know the actual identity of my grandmother's father is long gone. But my hope is that maybe someone shared the story, kept a journal or perhaps someone may still be alive today (in their 90s) who knows this story.
I would love help figuring out this mystery that has been haunting me for 32 years and more importantly I really want to tell my 86 year old grandmother, Stella Cull, who fathered her.
If anyone has heard stories about this or knows someone who is still alive that may know something about this, please contact me at 818-470-0444 or email@example.com.
Picture of my Dad, his two brothers and brother in law fighting the fire that wiped out Bonavista Bay area back in 1961. I was only 6 years old but still remember being put in the back of a truck, and along ... click to read morePicture of my Dad, his two brothers and brother in law fighting the fire that wiped out Bonavista Bay area back in 1961. I was only 6 years old but still remember being put in the back of a truck, and along with more children from Dover we had a rough ride to Glovertown. That's where we all stayed until the fire was put out. I can still recall what I was doing that day. I was on the beach in Dover emptying my shoes with the sand and water that was in them. For more info call me at my number and maybe we could get some stories about the fire of 1961. Look at the licence number on the plates. ... Hide full submission
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166 Newfoundland Regiment, WWII - Where Are They Now?
A picture of WWII veterans from Newfoundland, the 166 Newfoundland Regiment. I would appreciate it if you would put it in the Downhome. Where are they now? I have remembered some of the names.
Back row from left to right:
... click to read moreA picture of WWII veterans from Newfoundland, the 166 Newfoundland Regiment. I would appreciate it if you would put it in the Downhome. Where are they now? I have remembered some of the names.