21 March 2013

Mystery photos - Solved?

Remember these folks from a past post?

This is the photo I had the Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor take a look at. She was able to approximate the date of the photo and judge their approximate ages. It wasn't enough for me to even make a guess at who they were though, as I wasn't even sure they were actual family members - no identifying marks on the back of the photo. It came to me as a framed print, so I figured it had some importance to someone in the family.

But now, I think I know who they are. While looking into the Dikeman family (my grandmother was Mildred Russell Dikeman) on Ancestry.com, I came across Julia Dikeman - whose photo I have with identification on the back in my collection. 
Julia Dikeman b. 1866 dau. of Henry Botsford Dikeman and Emily Camp
(She is my 1st cousin twice removed according to Ancestry.com)

I didn't know where she fit into the family, but I did know she came from Newtown, Connecticut. I didn't really know much about the Newtown family members before yesterday, but I do now - at least enough to make possible identifications of people in photos and explain some of the photographs in my collection. 

On a whim, I clicked on the search the web link found on the lower right hand corner of a person's profile page. This time it brought me to a book in Google Play Books - "Newtown's history and historian, Ezra Levan Johnson" prepared by Jane Eliza Johnson The Historian's Life Companion. Newtown Connecticut, 1917.

What an interesting book! It covers the history from the first settlers to 1917. Freeman Oath lists, businesses in town, churches and groups. My mother is listed in the Dikeman genealogy. Oh, yes! Genealogies of some prominent families - I found a slew of relatives. I'm still unsure of all the actual relationships, but I was able to connect people in the Dikeman family bible with other families from Newtown; the Tyrrells, Fairchilds, Botsfords, Sanfords, Curtises and even Platts (!) 

The single best feature of the Newtown book for me is the photographs. I think the gentleman and lady above are Silas Norman Beers and his wife Sarah Nichols Beers. There is an etching of Silas N. Beers who looks very much like a younger version of the gentleman above. Silas Beers was an architect who worked on the fourth Church edifice in 1870. Mr. Henry Sanford was on the committee with him. I'm wondering if that Mr. Sanford and my Elizabeth Ann Sanford are related? It might explain why we had the pictures of the Beers and this man:

There is no marking on back of the photograph, but he bears striking resemblance to the Rev. Newton E. Marble D.D. in the Newtown book. And here is the church:

This was marked on the back "Church at Newtown"

I believe with a bit more careful reading of the Newtown history I will find some more answers. What a gift Google Play Books are - I downloaded this book for free. Now, I know my job isn't finished yet, I still need to find vital records for these folks, but what a wonderful starting point I now have.

I also am looking forward to later in the year when I will take a trip to Newtown to see where my Dikeman family lived, and find out more about the area. 


  1. Hello. Just stopped by after reading about your blog on Geneabloggers. Love the title & look of your blog. Wish we had some shared surnames! Colleen

  2. Welcome to Geneabloggers! I've been a member for about six months. It is a great blogging community.

    Regards, Grant


  3. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist: http://www.indepthgenealogist.com/

  4. Sally, yes, I totally agree about the benefit of Google Books. There are some wonderful books on local history tucked away amidst all the addresses on the Internet. It is really a goldmine to find a book such as the one you mentioned. And the photographs those books sometimes contain! Definitely help make those mystery connections seem so much clearer.

    I found your blog today, thanks to a mention in GeneaBloggers. I heartily agree with your introduction: about being "more curious about the individuals than adding more people to the branches." Glad to have found you! I look forward to reading more.

  5. Hello,
    I learned about your blog via Geneabloggers.
    Reading it, it struck me that both the Dikeman and the Beers name sound very Dutch. Being Dutch myself, I was very much interested. I also have a blog with many genealogical subjects. One of my posts shows a survey of foreign genealogical blogs/sites showing Dutch origin surnames. The URL is http://www.patmcast.blogspot.com/2012/05/dutch-ancestors.html. The idea is to try and establish contacts between people who have an interest in the same surname. There are numerous cases in The Netherlands where people emigrated centuries ago without leaving a trace in Dutch archives. With my blog I try to bring Dutch and foreign (mainly US/CAN) genealogists together.
    Therefore, I like to have your permission to show your site in my a.m. blog.
    I look forward to your reaction!
    Kind regards,
    PS In Holland Dikeman is written as Dijkman.


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