This post was composed for the 7th Edition of Smile For The Camera ~ A Carnival of Images
John Ralph Austin, age 18 months. Lowville, New York, 1898. Digital image. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.
My great-grandparents, John Ralph Austin and Therese Rose McGinnis were the first people to get me interested in genealogy and the history of my family. Growing up, I would hear stories of who my Dutch ancestors had arrived in New York during the 1660s.
But while the stories were always interesting, and always seemed to be embellished with each telling, it was the albums of photographs which captivated me the most. The photo above is of my great-grandfather and was taken at a professional studio in Lowville, New York where he was born.
I never saw this photo while my great-grandfather was alive but only after he had died in 1976. My great-grandmother gave this and others to me since she probably felt that I would be the one most likely to preserve the memories and keep telling the stories as they had.
John Ralph Austin was born on January 31, 1896 in Lowville and would be the last of the five sons of William Dence Austin to die, on April 20, 1976. Being the second youngest, I imagine that his outfit - which many today might call a "gown" - was passed down from his oldest brother Maurice Ira Austin who was born in 1890. With his blond hair, posed on an elaborate Victorian style over-sized chair, little did he know that 100 years later he would leave behind over 200 descendants across five subsequent generations.