Have an Ancestor Encounter!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A picture is worth a thousand words

My family members have the photography bug. My great-grandfather took pictures with glass negatives in 1900 and set up a developing studio in his basement in Washington, DC. He left his collection of glass negatives that depict visits to the family farm of his future wife while they were courting which is a treasure for the family history.  

Great-grandmother on her father's farm while courting great-grandfather, 1904 Hugh Roberts

There are pictures of pigs and chickens and miles of white-washed fences all captured and passed down through time. Some of the photos in this wonderful collection are scenes of rural Dorchester County, Maryland giving a view of the area's rich agricultural heritage.

Farm laborers in Dorchester County, MD 1904, Hugh Roberts

His passion for capturing life onto film was passed on to his daughter who stood on the shed rooftop in 1919 to capture an image of their new home on the Chesapeake.

Deale, Maryland home purchased in 1919, Ella Roberts Miller

Grandmother had a camera attached to her body and captured family grouping at every event we can remember. At a cousin's wedding in 1997, the new groom was thrilled when he believed the photo session was over after several poses.  All the rest of the family giggled as we knew photography would go on throughout the day. But today as I sift through the albums that she passed on to me I am no longer full of mirth but of gratitude, for she not only took the photos but labeled and organized thousands of shots which  I am in the process of digitizing to pass on through the family.

My mother inherited the photography DNA but turned her camera to stained glass windows depicting iconography and stories in churches meant to teach or inspire through symbolism and rainbows of color. She earned a master's degree at a Pennsylvania Seminary and began a lifetime of presenting slideshow lectures throughout the east coast depicting her research.

Church window photograph used to teach lessons, Doris Miller Bowman 1976

My favorite place to photograph is our ancestral home on the Chesapeake. Sunsets, sunrise, eagles, osprey, family members who visited, and of course the water are all caught on film to cherish this beautiful place and the family who abided there. 

Sunrise at Cedar Point, 2015 Carol Kehler

Whether your photographs are family group portraits, images of the family homestead, beautiful local scenery, or gorgeous artifacts like stained glass, pictures enhance our stories and are sometimes truly worth a thousand words.