Breathing new life into old photos since 2012.

Tag: 52 Ancestors (Page 1 of 3)

52 Ancestors, No. 26: Aunt Ceil, and the Life of a Family Photo


As a young girl, my mother discovered in a closet a plaque that eerily bore her own name, Celia Anflick, along with birth and death dates. It was a metal plaque that my mother described as the sort of thing one might see hung in a mausoleum. Of course, the plaque was not my mother’s memorial from a past life. Rather, it was a memorial to an aunt whom my mother would never meet.  Continue reading

52 Ancestors, No. 25: Denis Graham, a Link to the Past

Graham - Boland - New Cathedral

Because this website, and the business it represents, are image-oriented, I try to have some sort of stimulating GIMP work at the top of each post. The cost of this self-imposed policy is that many fascinating family history stories will go overlooked—unless I manufacture some visually stimulating way to represent the story.

Having recently made a bit of a breakthrough on today’s features ancestor, I wanted to write-up here what I had found. I don’t have a photograph of him, though, so I had to get resourceful. Here before you is the grave of Denis Graham, who was the uncle of my great-great-grandfather, John C. Graham. I’m not really one to doctor gravestone images, but since I recently picked up a few new tricks, I thought I’d see how far I could take them.

In this image, I’ve attempted to remove the rain-induced dampness in the original photograph to present the gravestone as if it were dry. The results were middling, in my opinion. Had I attempted this project for a client, I would have given it more time. Since I’m already a week overdue on Ancestor #25, I figured I’d post what I have and move along. The hardest part of this project is putting life back into the engraved flowers. There wasn’t much left in them after removing darkness of color.  Continue reading

52 Ancestors, No. 24: My Father, Gregory


Mother’s Day is my clue that Father’s day is not too far away, and I have to come up with some offering of roughly equal market and sentimental value. I feel pretty bad when I don’t come through, but my Pop is pretty easy-going, and helps a lot with occasional and unintentional gifting inequalities. For example, this year, I had published my mother’s tribute on time, on Mother’s day. My father get’s his tribute on the Tuesday after Father’s Day.

Why? Well, this weekend my father was helping me puzzle through some tech stuff that might improve my standing for a job I had interviewed for. That kinda needed to get done. That’s one of the great things about my dad: If you come to him with any sort of puzzle that needs a solving, he’s happy to help. He really invests himself, too. His interest is genuine. It’s as if his success relied on mine, or whosoever’s he happens to help.  Continue reading

52 Ancestors, No. 22. Peter Staaf: A case study in interpreting picture labels


Today’s subject is my great-great-great-grandfather, Peter Staaf. This is my grandmother’s great-grandfather, that is, my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s father. Peter was the immigrant ancestor of this line. I found his passenger list on, which led me to his hometown of Sterbfritz, which is right in the heart of Germany. He left that place and arrived in Baltimore on the sixth of May, 1854, with his wife and daughter, both named Margaret. He settled in Butler County, Western Pennsylvania.

Clem Schreiber Letter


The Staaf family line is the only one I’ve been able to trace back to the motherland, several generations prior to the emigration. This was thanks to a great stroke of luck, in the first place, and then the diligent efforts of a professional genealogist who happened to live right in that area. I learned about Mr. Clemens Schreiber in 2009, when I happened upon this web site that provided his contact information. He happened to live in Schlüchtern, which is a drive of mere minutes from Sterbfritz. Mr. Schreiber happened to charge a very reasonable fee: $7.00 for a family group record. At that price, I purchased the whole Staaf line by mail, going back to 1613. Mr. Schreiber told me that the line of Peter’s wife, Margaret Lotz, went back even further, to about 1450, and asked if I was interested in purchasing that as well. I did not have funds to purchase all of that at the time, but I’m glad to know that information is available.  Continue reading

52 Ancestors, No. 21: Clyde C. Kitch, the Man Who Gave All

Clyde C Kitch

Today is Memorial Day, a time to honor the fallen soldiers of the United States military. I must say that I’ve been fortunate not to have too many military veterans who never returned from duty. There have been a few, but they are generally distant in my family tree. My paternal grandfather, I believe, had a cousin who died in combat, as did my maternal grandmother, I believe. These are lines that I have not yet fully investigated, and they will receive their due consideration in time. Today I’m honoring a man even more distant in my family tree, but one for whom I happen to have a photograph to show you. The photograph comes courtesy of’s scan of Bloomsburg State Teacher’s College’s 1935 yearbook. The man is Clyde C. Kitch.  Continue reading

52 Ancestors, No. 20: Julia Corr Graham, a Proper Lady

Baby Julia Corr Sample

Here is another of my earliest attempts at photo restoration—a “Throwback Tuesday”, if you will, from early 2012. Looking back, it turned out okay. I posted it as I fount it. What you see is what you get. On the left, the baby’s face had some sort of darkness across it that seems like it shouldn’t be there. A little digital wizardry, and poof! Bye-bye darkness. A little contrast boost, and there you have it. Not bad.

Young Julia and her sisters, Helen (standing) and Mary (seated).

Young Julia and her sisters, Helen (standing) and Mary (seated).

This is an image of my great-grandmother, Julia Corr, when she was a wee babe. She was born in Philadelphia on October 6, 1904 to John and Julia (Foley) Corr. John was an Irish immigrant who built a successful wool recycling business from the $1.25 he brought with him to the New World. The elder Julia was the daughter of Irish immigrants Edward Foley and Mary Mahoney. After the elder Julia died of stomach cancer in 1906, baby Julia and her siblings were raised by their stepmother, Mary (Comey) Corr.

Young Julia Corr was the baby of the family. Her eldest sister, Mary, was about seventeen years her senior. Julia also had these other siblings: Helen, John A., another baby Julia who died in infancy, Edward, and Joseph. Like her descendants, Julia grew up in Philadelphia, but enjoyed summers by the Jersey Shore: Atlantic City, I believe, in her case. Julia married my great-grandfather, Joseph on April 10th, 1928. Their original marriage certificate is the only one I have yet to see.  Continue reading

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