Guilt Over an Old Photograph

Jordans 1897
Home of David Jordan 1/2 mile west of Monteith, Iowa. Family picture taken 1897. L-R: Collis Jordan (son of David), Peter Jordan (son of Frank), David Jordan, Emelia Moore Jordan, Fred Jordan, Laura Jordan Goff (Georgia Goff in front), Floy Jordan Cowden (Jennings Goff in front), friend Millie Ann Crawley, (Wayne Goff in front), Lottie Jordan Anderson, Cora Jordan (Leora Goff in front), Herb Cowden, Sherd (Milton Sheridan) Goff, Merle Goff, Nate Anderson (Lottie’s husband), Floyd Jordan (son of David), and James Jordan (son of George “Cooper”).

Since I’m the family historian, and also the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the (well, you get the idea), after Grandma Leora Wilson died in 1987 (at age 97) and Mom, Doris (Wilson) Neal, in 2015 (also at age 97, all the old pictures, clippings, and mementos ended up with me.

Grandma had peeled this old photo from the cardboard backing, making it especially fragile. But, on the back, she’d also written all the names. How to share this precious photo with people who’d care?

Facebook solved that problem. I started a cousins’ FB page, where I shared all the old pictures and stories.

But I knew there were people out there who descend from others in the picture, so I started a Historic Guthrie County, Iowa Facebook page. Now with nearly 1000 members and two more admins, the page sorta runs itself, with members sharing old photos and stories with the rest of us.

Counties3 (2)

Leora (Goff) Wilson also lived in Audubon County, where she graduated from Eighth Grade. I also have those clippings and stories, so started the Historic Audubon County, Iowa Facebook page. There aren’t as many members, but old photos get shared there regularly.

When I notice someone especially interacting on one of the county pages, I’ve asked if they’d be interested in helping administer the page. Not much to it–okaying people who ask to join, and periodically changing the photo at the top. I already knew a couple of those who said yes, but two more I’ve met at historical programs in Dallas County, easily recognizing them from Facebook.

I couldn’t find a Dallas County (Iowa) History FB page, so started that one too. Dexter, in the southwest corner of Dallas County, is where the Wilson family spent difficult Depression Era years, so that where I’ve been able to share some of their stories from this website. I “copy” the URL of a story, then “paste” it where it says, “Write something.”

If the story is something a wider audience might enjoy, I’ve shared it on the popular Forgotten Iowa FB page. For stories from WWII, there are several Facebook pages that welcome those.

My stories usually start out here on my website, collected by categories (Books & Authors, Depression Era, Dexter (Iowa) History, Growing Up on a Farm, WW II, etc.), but from there have been shared across Facebook pages for a wider readership. Especially since it’s still hard for me to get out much, I’ve really enjoyed the feedback.

And to think it all got started because I felt guilty owning one fragile old photo.





    • What’s fun is to hear from those whose ancestors used to live here, putting some context to their own old photos and sharing stories with the rest of us. I have a redemption story I need to share that happened on one of these history pages–a man who’d been terribly lonely as a child connected with another who’d been kind to him and poured out his thanks right there. Two others who knew them chimed in, saying they had no idea.

  1. You might not get out much, but you are certainly a mover and a shaker. There must be many family members who are grateful for what you are doing – SO much better than leaving old photographs in a cardboard box!

    • What’s even more fun is that the next generation is getting involved! My cousins’ kids have wanted copies of their great grandmother’s memoirs because of what’s been shared in the “cousins'” Facebook pages. Yes, I’ve typed that up and added photos to be able to send out copies.

  2. I belong to a Facebook group on Perry County, Arkansas history and am finding ever so useful. Since I was wishing for groups like that for other areas where I have family history, maybe I should start some like you did.

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