GenealogyEnterprise Genealogy: Discovering “Lost” Pictures admin 0 Comments April 27, 2022 Tweet I hope that my stories allow you to look differently at family photos and discover new clues to provide insight into your family. As a child, my father’s family was working to carve a life out of the piney woods of Vernon Parish in an area now known as Fort Polk, Louisiana. A small dog trot house occupied part of the land they lived on. Between 1940 and 1945, The United States War Department took possession of privately–owned land to develop what is now known as Fort Polk. Approximately “300 families were displaced from their homesteads and had to rebuild their lives. Livestock and crops were left behind as well as the loved ones in family cemeteries.,” according to the Fort Polk Family Heritage Project. Many families suffered during that era. But they were held together by the good times. My father experienced many moves back–and–forth from Louisiana to join other family members in Arkansas to pick cotton during harvest season. Their sharecropper existence was a hard one but also one of happy experiences. After my Maw Maw Calhoun’s passing, I was fortunate enough to learn more about this part of my family’s life when I happened upon a set of negatives in her house. There were no printed photos to go along with the negatives, but holding the thin film to the light allowed me to see images of people that had been preserved over time. Hesitant, I sent my newfound treasure off to be developed. The pictures that were returned had never been seen by my father, and he was just as elated as I was to see himself as the 10–year–old boy who use to work hard in those “cotton fields back home,” as said by American folk and blues singer, musician and songwriter Huddie Ledbetter. The memories flowed, and I learned more about my father’s life as a young child. The stories were rich with emotion as Daddy fondly talked about his parents, sweet potatoes and school days. He also shared a wonderful story of how the community gathered in my grandparents’ yard to listen to the 1938 boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, as they had the only radio in the area. They had wired it to the truck battery to accommodate the crowd that had gathered in their yard. Watching my Daddy imitate the boxing moves he had seen through the eyes of a young boy brought me great joy. Another set of “lost” pictures were discovered in some old letters that my Uncle Amos had written home during World War II. I had the letters in my possession for many years before making the time to read, organize and preserve those keepsakes. Amos wrote of general happenings of navel life and always ended his letters with “Mama, don’t forget to pray for me.” As I opened a letter dated October 3, 1941, pictures fell onto my lap! I looked at the photographs to discover a young sailor on leave on the beaches of Honolulu. Scanning the pictures allowed me to clarify and zoom to see Diamond Head in the distance. I was overwhelmed. Reading my uncle’s letters and finding the pictures had provided a path to a relationship with Amos that I had never known. Those newfound pictures to me are priceless, and I am sure that many await you as well. Shake old books where people used to stick treasures, search genealogical sites where other family members may have posted from their collection, and never cease looking. What was once lost will someday be found and be a treasure to cherish.