Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On the Shelf--somewhere . . .

This is Main Street, Springville, Utah.  The picture had to have been taken prior to 1914.  I know this because the man standing on the left is my great grandfather, John H. Patrick.  He is standing in front of his blacksmith shop.  With the advance of automobiles, John knew the end was coming for blacksmithing.  He and his wife Lura, took their one year old firstborn along when they went to look at a piece of land in Spanish Fork Canyon, and through the Homestead Act, they acquired "The Ranch" as it is known in our family. The blacksmith business was sold, and the building and its contents moved to another location. The son carried up the canyon was born in 1913, giving a cutoff date.  John H. worked the ranch in the summer, digging hundred of holes for fenceposts and clearing the land. In the winter, he would return to Springville, and continue to work as a blacksmith in those months.

Alternatively, this picture represents a variety of genealogical resources. 

The larger building on the right housed the photo studio of George Edward Anderson, and he is the photographer responsible for this image. Below his studio is a store called "The Golden Rule"--the precursor to JC Penney.  George Edward Anderson photographed much of Utah County-both street scenes and portraiture.  Thousands of his photographs are in a searchable digital collection available online through BYU.  You can type in a family name or location and possibly find your Utah County ancestor, their home, or place of business.  I have found several. 

Now, we have always had a copy of this picture--just not a very good one. Our copy was cropped and "stepped on" by being reproduced many times through the years.  I wanted a better copy.  It turns out this particular photo was NOT in the digital collection. 

A friend from Springville with an ardent interest in history makes it a habit to attend the local Historical Society meetings, and to browse their archive of photos and newspapers.  I asked him to keep a "lookout" for this picture.  Upstairs from the Historical Society is the Springville Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) Museum. They also have an extensive collection of photos, life sketches, and pioneer artifacts. It was in their collection that my friend found this much improved copy.

If your ancestor came to Utah during the Pioneer Era, chances are that you could find something relevant to your genealogy in one of the small town DUP museums, or even in the newly renovated State DUP Museum in Salt Lake City.  Research is encouraged, and volunteer assistance is available at each location.

Not to be overlooked is the resource of friends and family. I had visited the DUP myself, and somehow not found this. The more people who are in on your search, the better your results will be.

Many photographers donated their negative plates to local universities.  Additionally, your spinster great aunt who hoarded all those papers, photos, and journals ?  She might have donated them to a college or municipal library.  They could be just sitting there, waiting for you . . .