Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Great-grandfather - Photos Discovered!

My Mom cried when she saw the photo you see here. My brother showed it to her on line a few weeks ago. The gentleman is her grandfather – my great- grandfather – a man neither of us had ever seen. He died before my Mom was born. This is a blog about how we came to see this photograph - or more accurately, its a blog about a Cemetery Traveler blog I published in 2012 entitled,  Graves of Lost Siblings.”

The blog was about accompanying my Mom to a cemetery near where she lives in northeastern Pennsylvania to visit the graves of her grandparents. She had not visited the place in fifty years. I wondered why. When we arrived, she sprung the news on my brother and I that her parents had lost three children, all younger than her. Its quite an emotional story, and you’re welcome to read it at this link. However, my current point is the fact that a distant relative came upon the blog about our visit, which led to a family reunion of sorts!

In May, 2015, three years after I posted the blog, my Mom received a letter from a cousin whom she had not seen since they were children (perhaps in the late 1940s). The cousin, Cheryl, was doing genealogical research on her family, the Jones-Stealey family, and came across my blog. She was quite surprised to have found this, simply by Googling the names “Jones” and “Stealey.” The information I had provided seemed to have filled in some gaps in her research. My Mom’s ancestors’ names were Jones and Stealey, all of whom were emigrants to the United States from Wales in the early 1900s.

Elizabeth Maria (Stealey) Jones
The 1932 photo here (from Cheryl’s “Jones-Stealey Family” private Facebook Group) is of my Mom’s grandmother, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Maria Jones (Stealey was her maiden name). My Mom knew her – Elizabeth died in 1959, a year after I was born (I wonder if she ever held me?). What brought my Mom to tears, however, was the photo above of the gentleman in the hat. As I mentioned, this is her grandfather – my great grandfather – who neither of us had ever seen.

His name was Daniel Parry Jones, and he was born May 6, 1881, in North Wales. The boy on his knee is one of his four children – Richard, the eldest. Richard was my grandfather’s brother, my Mom’s uncle. This photo may have been taken around 1910. (As a photographer, I am rather intrigued by the props and background in this formal portrait - I can't even tell what they are! I think you'll agree that it is beautifully composed and rendered.)

I had always been told that my Mom's ancestors were from Wales, but that was all I knew. This new information is fascinating to me. Cheryl’s family research shows that my Mom’s grandfather, Daniel Parry Jones and Elizabeth Maria Stealey arrived in the United States on September 6, 1905, aboard the S/S Majestic. They sailed from Liverpool, England. The couple was married on November 17, 1905, near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (where I spent the first twenty years of my life). Daniel was a coal mine worker, as so many Welsh were at the time. He died in 1920 (more than twenty years before my Mom was born) and Elizabeth later remarried. So the only grandfather my Mom ever knew was a step-grandfather, a Robert Berwick.

The Jones family plot, Evergreen Cemetery, Shavertown, PA

Its interesting that the headstones in Evergreen Cemetery (Shavertown, PA) show that Elizabeth is buried with Daniel, her first husband, rather than with Robert Berwick, her second. But maybe not so odd – Robert is buried with HIS first wife, Pearl! I wonder if that’s standard burial etiquette? The grave markers are all in the same area of the cemetery, by the way, not twenty feet away from each other.

The Berwick family plot, Evergreen Cemetery, Shavertown, PA

Here is a photo (below) from the family Facebook page that shows my great-grandparents, Daniel and Elizabeth Jones, with their four children, Daniel, Elizabeth, Richard, and Mildred. The younger Daniel (at left in the photo) was my grandfather, my Mom’s Dad. It really is awesome to see these photos, which had been pulled out of desks and trunks from all over the world. It gives one a sense of connectedness to the larger human family.

My Great-grandparents and their children
Cheryl has been locating and posting these fascinating images by contacting people in the U.S. and Wales who are descendants of the Jones-Stealey families. She started the Facebook site to share photos and information. We greatly appreciate Cheryl posting them, and thank Dilys and all the other family members who have been contributing to this wonderful family history!

I intend to scan some of my Mom's old photos, and post them on the family page. People do like tangible links to their past. This is a wonderful example of how such things can bring people closer together. Every once in a while one of my blogs leads to something like this and it gives me a great feeling to know I’ve helped in some way!