At one point in my life I had this one terrible boss, but if he taught me nothing, he taught me the saying; “to assume makes an *ss out of u and me”. Why do I bring this up? Well when my grandparents; Harold and Gladys Thompson passed away I was given some of the family photos. At the time I was told that three of the photos were of my great grandparents; Lily Shannon and her husband John Robert Thompson.
Years had passed and I’d occasionally looked at the photos but then a few years ago I read some books about genealogy and photography. In the books they spoke about looking at photos for details that might provide additional clue for your family history. It was at that point that the saying “never assume” came to light.
May I present the three photos. All three pictures, I was told were of my great-grandmother Lily.
The first photo is of; Lily Shannon and my grandfather, Harold and the last picture is of Lily and John Robert Thompson with the two boys (Harold and Norman). The middle picture I was told was Lily and John Robert.
First of all I knew that my grandfather; Harold was born out-of-wedlock in 1907. Although my grandfather never knew who his father was I’d found a birth registration listing his father as Godfrey Myrtle. I also knew that Norman was born in 1911 and he was John Robert’s son. So sometime between 1906 and 1911 Lily and John would have come together. But clearly the middle photo is at a much younger age so they may have known each other earlier. I knew for sure that it was John Robert in the photo by his distinctive ears but I was starting to have some doubt about the women in the photo. Then I started researching John Robert and found that he’d married Elizabeth Ralph in 1893 . In 1894 they had a daughter; Henrietta Pearl Thompson. Then I noticed I had another photo of an (until then) unidentified child with the same photographers name on it as on the photo of the younger couple.
It was all starting to come together. Then I took a better look at all the women in the photos and I notice the noses aren’t quite the same and neither are the eyebrows.. and that’s when I realized that I was assuming what I’d been told was fact. In my families defence they probably never thought to ask either; they had done the same thing as I had.
So the lesson learned is to always check the facts yourself. It’s great when people help you and provide information but sometimes they don’t know what’s fact and what isn’t.