Well, I’ve done it! I’ve found a living descendant of a subject in the friends album. I haven’t contacted him yet. I’m still figuring out what I want to say.
In the meantime, I’ll share some tidbits from a major clue that led me to the grandson of Ellis B. Wilson (I’m withholding the grandson’s name to maintain his privacy). Over the weekend, I decided to search the Hartford Courant archives to see if I could find Ellis’ obituary (previously, I found his FindaGrave memorial, which provided me with his date of death and the names of his two wives). Other records had confirmed for me that Hartford was the place to search for his obit.
The Courant’s archives delve back into the 1700s. The paper does charge users for anything besides a brief abstract of its older articles, but after failing to find the obituary through other free resources available to me (and resources that I already pay for), I decided it was worth the nominal fee to get the details that his obituary would divulge.
From Ellis’ obit, I learned he was known as “Mr. American Legion Baseball,” having established the American Legion Baseball program in Connecticut. I also learned that he died while on vacation in Treasure Island, Fla.
The obituary named his daughter and her place of residence at the time of his death. This allowed me to find more information on her, which led me to her sons including the one I know still to be living.
I think I’m going to wait until I’ve finished going through the entire album before I contact Ellis’ grandson. I’m still hoping that I’ll find other descendants of other known subjects in the album. This could lead to a dilemma. My original goal was to return the album to descendants of those pictured after I realized that many of the photo subjects belong to the same family. Now, it appears that I may identify descendants of unrelated subjects. I’m loathe to split up the album, at least right now. But if Ellis’ family doesn’t have this picture of him, how I could I not send it to them? Dilemma!
“Ellis B. Wilson, 77, Dies; Legion Baseball Pioneer,” The Hartford Courant (1923-1984), Jan. 30, 1971, p 4: ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764-1985); (http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/advancedsearch.html : accessed 26 March 2011).