Saturday, March 20, 2010

You Never Know Who You Might Meet At the Flea Market

I love the flea market!   This time of year we have a local, very large one, open on Saturday and Sunday till about 2:00pm.   Today it was beautiful and I decided to take a ride over there.  I don't go looking for anything in particular, just to get out for a bit and enjoy the weather looking at other people's junk...  today I found a treasure.

I've ALWAYS loved old books - something about them attracts me and theres a gentlemen who sells them (along with other ephemera) every weekend.   I visited with him several times in summers past and this year he was there again with this piles of books and papers and boxes of post cards.   Turns out he buys most of this stuff at estate sales and just imagine what else he gathers...  family photos!   Now, I've never seen a box of them at his stand before so I was excited to see this addition to his wares and quickly began searching through them, all the while my heart was breaking for the families that these items were removed from.   He came over and struck up a conversation, remembering me from summers past and we began to talk about the photos and how sad it was that they weren't where they belonged.

While we talked, I was very glad to know that when he obtains scrapbooks, diaries, and other sorts of family history that appears to be "gathered" he keeps it together.   Many of the sellers remove all the items, preferring to get a couple bucks for each photo.   He told me about letters that he transcribed for a local library over the winter months and other things that he's been working on.    While we dug through the photos together I noted a few had names on them, and mentioned to him that there are websites that can be used to reunite these photos with potential family members.  "Oh really?  Do you do that sort of thing?"    I explained to him that while I have a great interest in family history, sadly no I had never reunited any photos with their right families.   He turned to me and handed me a picture of a girl "See if you can find her family".   Who?  Me?  Really?   I hesitated a moment but decided I would give it a shot.

Now, this isn't the best part of this story.   While we were talking I asked him if he had ever done any research into his own genealogy.   He tells me his last name and my chin hit the ground...   same as mine!   So, it's my married name and I have only researched my husband's family back about 5 generations and I had much work to do, but I know that they were in DC in the late 1800s..   same as this guy!   Unbelievable!  Needless to say I'm going to research this family a bit further and I will meet with Dave again in coming weeks while he works his table at the flea market.      

Now on to my little project girl.  Yes there is a name, and a address and even a date on this photo.   I know that DeadFred is one avenue to reunite photos with families, but my concern is that the family actually has to be looking for her!     So I opted to try Ancestry first, hoping that I would find her in a tree.  Turns out I did find a tree that includes her and I found her in the 1920 census, the same year this photo was taken.  I could confirm her age, the address written on the photo and get info on her parents which I compared with the information in the public tree - I had found her.  I have reached out to the tree owner via Ancestry and I'm hopeful that they can tell me if Emma had any descendants (none are listed in the tree) or if there are further descendants of her parents.   Hopefully I'll hear back from them.
Written inside the folded flaps that cover the photo:
Emma E. Zoll
63 Dahlgren
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Graduated Jan 28, 1920
Age 13 Years


  1. cool story! beautiful photo. Keep us updated on how your research on this goes.

  2. Excellent work! Hope you are able to return the picture to the family and that Dave and your husband turn out to be related! (P.S. - I love flea markets, too.)

  3. That is an amazing story! I hope the picture finds it's family. Perhaps you and Dave can strike up a "working relationship" for this kind of thing. Keep us posted on the possible family connection!


  4. WQW! What a wonderful story. I hope you are able to find her family.

  5. I hope you are successful in finding a 'home' for the picture. I look forward to flea market season here in Michigan, I have to wait until the weather warms up to find any around here.

  6. Isn't that graduate in the photo lovely. I hope you find her family, too and that you find that you are related to your new flea market friend.

  7. Jim Zoll29/9/12

    I was just surfing the web for Zoll Ancestors and stumbled on your Blog. I have a great aunt Emma Zoll so your article really caught my eye. I don't believe the girl in the picture is related but what a great story. At least it is another Zoll whether related or not.