Sunday, April 7, 2013

PLAYING DETECTIVE WITH PHOTOS


      I spend a lot of time staring at old photos, some how wishing the names of the people in the photo will magically become known to me. Yes, I have read those articles on how to decipher clothing and other tell tale signs that will let you know what year/era the photo was taken.  Personally, I prefer the "staring" method.  Look at this photo and then look at another photo.  Do the people look the same?  Would they look the same 20 years sooner or later?   Where is that age progression software when you need it?  More importantly, why couldn't my ancestors write the names on the back of the photos?   Of course, this photo had the names written on the back and I am still confused!

     You see when someone writes "Aunt Therese" and "Aunt Helen" and "Uncle Josef Nebgen", I assumed the Aunts were from the Wittayer family and had no clue who they were.  All I knew for sure was that the man in the 2nd row to the far right was my great grandfather Peter Joseph Nebgen (or Uncle Josef Nebgen).   I knew that the woman next to him was his sister Maria Rosina, even though the photo lists her as Mrs. Haus.

        So, after many stares at the photo, some discussion with Suzanne in Germany and a little research on passenger lists I discovered that my great grandmother and her sister were in the photo, too.  A 1929 passenger list shows that my great grandfather Peter Joseph Nebgen traveled with his wife Theresa [Homrich] Nebgen back from Germany to the US.  Suzanne had already told me that this photo was taken in Germany in 19129 and she had a matching photo.  So, that "Aunt Theresa" was actually my Great Grandma Theresa.  She is in the 2nd row standing to the left of Maria.

        Also, on that passenger list, it shows that Theresa's sister Helen Homrich Nebgen (yes, Helen had married Peter Joseph's brother Nicholas but he had died in 1915)  and her daughter Rose Nebgen Roemer were sailing back from Germany.  This means that "Aunt Helen" is actually my Great Aunt Helen Homrich Nebgen.  She is the lady sitting in the front row to the far right.  I won't even ask where Rose is.  Perhaps, she took the photo.

         I do know the names of the rest of the people in the photo but haven't figured out their exact relationship to Peter Joseph. I'm guessing cousins!  Their last name is Wittayer (Wittaner) -- the same as Peter and Emil's mother's maiden name but I need the connector to our tree (probably a sibling of Peter's mother).  Confused already?  I guess I need to do a bit more "staring" and a lot more research!

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