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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Genealogy Gold at the Antique Store

Sorry about my long absence! Time flies when you're busy....

So we were in Michigan for Easter weekend, visiting my family. My daughter had some interest in going to an antique store, and I thought it wasn't a bad idea to check it out either, since there are a couple in the St. Louis/Wheeler area of Gratiot County, where so many of my relatives have lived since the 1850's. I thought I might try my luck in finding some family treasures that found their way to the antique store lineup. I have a number of families where pictures and other items are scarce and their whereabouts are unknown, due to families dying out, estate sales, etc.

Never in a million years did I think I would actually find something. But I did.

I was going through a box of old pictures, the ones where the paper picture is glued to a cardboard back (forgive my ignorance on what these kind of pictures are mind has not retained that piece of information today...). A number of the pictures were identified, some of the names I even recognized from the area, but had no connection to. There were pictures in there from other states as well, however.

Then I came across this one, written on the back was "Hopkins Family." Of course it is, because I actually have a reproduction that a distant relative sent me of this exact picture. The old man sitting in the middle is my 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Hopkins. I couldn't believe it. I let out a quick sigh, and my daughter notices and I show her the picture. Amazing.

Of course now, I'm on a mission. This antique store is divided up into shops, not easily distinguished. Every seller has a certain area, and they pay the owner of the store to sell their stuff there. I scour this person's area, every picture is looked at with keen eyes, and I come across two collateral line pictures, "Roscoe Hopkins" with what looks like one of his wives (he is one of the men in the first picture I found) son of Thomas Hopkins; and "Eugene and Matie Milligan," Matie being a Becker by birth and granddaughter of Thomas Hopkins, her mother Margie Hopkins Becker, and also in that first family picture.

That was all I found. I could not physically identify anyone else and there were no other names that popped out at me. I was grateful to find those three. I had seen, as I said earlier, the large family picture. But the other two were unknown to me.

I just wish I knew their history. How did they come to be in this antique shop?  Luckily, the lady who owned this spot in the store came in before I left, and I was able to speak to her. Unfortunately, she had no idea where they came from. She bought things from estate sales all over Michigan. Dead end there.

Interestingly, this is the family I would most likely find pictures of at an antique store, I believe. The last two children of the Thomas Hopkins family to die, were Roscoe Hopkins and William Hopkins. They had lost their wives, or first wives, at least, and had no children. I was told by a distant relative that at one of their estate sales, people were buying beautiful old pictures in frames, just for the frames, and this distant relative was trying to ask the people for the pictures before they were thrown away. How sad and tragic an end to family treasures. But some how, a few pictures trickled in here and there, and someone like me can even find some genealogy gold at the antique store.

Moral of the story? Never stop looking and never give up, gold is found in the most unexpected places.

Copyright © 2013 Matt Mapes