31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 7


31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 7: Version 2.0

I’m taking Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs.

Day 7 – Tell the Story of a Photo…

Day 7 has arrived and I’m excited – this is a favorite of mine… telling the story of a photo. I began Family Photographs… and their stories several months ago just for this very reason.

When I look at a photo, I see so much more than what my children see in looking at the same photo – that is what prompted me to begin telling their stories. Every photograph has a story – which needs to be told.

Family history of names and dates is important, but it’s the photographs that often tell the real stories. And the more I study the family photos now, the more I see. Often I discover things now that I never took the time to study before, and each time I see something new…. well, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Receiving a new family photo makes me more excited than unwrapping my birthday gifts, unless it’s a genealogy related item.

My mother has been the story teller… with the voice, and she tells me I’m the writer. Actually she says she’d rather do anything but write, but I’m thankful she’s told me the stories behind many of the early photographs she has passed to me. I find that the more I look at a photo, the more I discover hidden gems things hiding in the background. Recently in scanning several of my mother’s “small photos”… as I call them, I discovered just that.

In scanning the “small photos'” my mother saved, it was this one of her best friend that caught my eye… something was hiding in the background. Now most people would look at this photo, and say, “well what’s of interest?” But too me, I was looking more at the background… there were the very fields my grandfather farmed, there was his barb-wire fence he strung, but what really caught my eye was in the distance, and it truly was a gift to me. There was my grandfather’s barn – the very barn he milked his cows in –  where he stored his bales of hay – and the very one I played in. I had always hoped to find a picture of that barn, but who would have thought in those days to photograph a barn – but today I would! Even though it’s way in the distance, and not the clearest of photos – I treasure it! That’s one of the reasons you need to go back through your photos and study them, dissect them, write their story – only “YOU” can tell that story.


This photograph is of my grandparents, Edgar and Ola McKinley. Granddaddy always wore a hat, it’s hard to remember him without one. He probably wore it around me so I wouldn’t “bop” him on the head – mama tells me that he always liked his hair brushed to relax and after coaxing me to brush it one day… well instead of brushing I bopped him on the head with the hairbrush.

On this day, I’m assuming Aunt Lena (his sister) might have been there as she had a camera. Mama says that she encouraged grandmama to dress up with a hat and let them take her photograph on Leroy’s horse Pat. It was probably the only time grandmama attempted to ride her. Now I’ve seen this picture many times, and always looked at the main subjects, but my eyes went to a different subject recently…. there was granddaddy’s Model T I’ve heard so much about.


My first thought was on this photo was, when did Granddaddy Bryan get a goat – never saw the cart either? I never remember seeing a goat at his house – maybe it was a neighbors? The boy is my first cousin, Robert Bryan – he always spent weeks there in the summer and I guess being a boy, enjoyed more fun than I did. I never rode or even saw this goat cart, and there was also a go-cart he had there – that I never saw or had a chance to ride.See why being a boy was more fun!

What I see in this photo that brings me fond memories is granddaddy’s car shelter – my favorite place! Under the shelter was a sandy floor with the two sides connecting all the way around in the back. That sandy floor was the best for “doodle bugging”. If you’ve never taken a small stick and circled ’round and ’round while saying…. “doodle bug, doodle bug, come out, come out, your house is on fire”… well then you need to go find a doodle bug hole! I have no memories of ever finding a doodle bug, but I had lots of fun entertaining myself under that shed.

Also in the photo are the very sling back chairs that I have photos of my parents sitting in with me. Those chairs were Daddy’s favorite spot for a nap, especially after one of grandmama’s  southern Sunday meals. Granddaddy’s fields can be seen in the distance behind the shed and over to the right are tall posts that was part of his scuppernong (grape) arbor. Unless you’re from the South, you’ve probably never even heard of this grape, but there’s nothing sweeter. The best way to enjoy scuppernong’s is to just stand under the vine arbor and eat yourself silly! Whenever I go home today, I always stop at a road stand and buy a pint of them, but the taste is never as I remember – why is that? Because I’m not standing under the arbor!

The door in the center of the shed was his tool room and when my father lived there, it was his TV repair room. People often brought their broken TV’s to him for repair. When no one was looking, I’d sneak in there being nosy and play with his vise until discovered and told little girls had no business in there. See… being a girl never got me into places that my cousin could go, and never be told that he couldn’t play there.

There was so much to look at under that shed, and it was also nice and cool on a hot summer day. Grandmama saved her canning jars there on shelves and I even found a few nice old candy jars one day… and she gave them to me. If you were in the back part, you could hide and not even be seen, but of course if I was out of sight for too long, they found me! I think Grandaddy kept his sweet potatoes piled high in a dirt hill back there… and I dug them all out for him one day; I though I was helping!

If I didn’t tell you all this, you’d look at this photo and just say, “oh look, a goat cart.” But there’s more to this photo beside the goat cart – that I never rode!

I hope I’ve peeked your curiosity to open your family album and tell a few stories! I know I will be telling more stories, especially on my next vacation with my mother, as I’m bringing the family album home to show her again. I’m sure she will remember a new story to tell me.

Click Here For More 31 Days to Better Genealogy


© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Daily Writings and funnies.... Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 7

  1. Lyn Smith says:

    I find myself looking at photos and what is around the people. I’ve asked questions but received few answers. Guess, like you say, no one thinks of the surroundings, just he people.
    I think I’ll take another look at some pictures and see if I can remember more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael Dyer says:

    Excellent advice: “go back through your photos and study them, dissect them, write their story – only “YOU” can tell that story.” Now if only my ancestors would have done that with their photo collections… Too many will remain unknown, I fear.

    Liked by 1 person

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