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Your Story: 50 Year Old Mystery Solved

In 1962 when I was twelve years old I found an old photo album in an antique shop while traveling with my mother and father from Ohio to New Hampshire during a summer vacation. As my parents had always instilled the love of photography and history, I was drawn to and fell in love with this leather-bound treasure.  I am grateful that my parents admired my interest and allowed me to purchase this antique family album, so long ago. The original archivist, Sarah Bugbee Yates, had labeled the photos very well (an act that I appreciate even more today than I did when I was twelve). There are thirty individuals, photographed between the years of 1861 -1878 within in this gem.  

Entrusted with this one of a kind cache, I used to daydream that someday I would be able to present these photographs to a descendant, who would hold them dear, but I was never quite sure as a child how I would go about doing this. So I kept the leather album safe from harm and would peruse it every now and then wondering about the stories behind the pictures.  I always decided when moving or going through my possessions not to let it go—not just yet. 

Over the past year and half I have been using to document my own families’ genealogies and have been impressed with the opportunities to share photos and information with others. This week while on vacation, I took a break and began scanning and entering the photos from this album.  

I created a tree on with the information in the album and in records I found. I found it fascinating to follow this family back in time as they had moved across the country from Connecticut to New York, Ohio, California, Alaska, and even South America.  Their ancestors arrived prior to the Revolutionary War and their migration across the country is an amazing tribute to the American spirit.  It is no wonder with all of the mobility that this album was “lost” from the family. 

It appears that the photo album was created and kept by Sarah Bugbee (Mrs. Lucia H. Yates), who was born in 1804 and died in 1884.  Her photo is on page three of the album next to a photo labeled: Lucia Halen Yates, who I discovered on was born in 1804 and died in 1862. Sarah is pictured all in black and interestingly is holding a frame that contains perhaps the photo of her husband who passed during the time period of the Civil War on 13 March 1862.  I am still curious as to the circumstances of his death—a story that perhaps can unfold through further research.   Sarah, who lived twenty years after the death of her husband, must have treasured his memory and those of her loved ones.  She undoubtedly was able to hold them close to her heart in this small, leather-bound, clasped album.  

It was my wish as a twelve year old and remains so now, after saving this album for fifty years, to find the families of those pictured so they might be cherished by their descendants, near and far. I remembering being in a quandary when I was young, as to how I would choose who would be given the album, if I was ever able to locate the families, a task that was also beyond my comprehension.  

With the wonders of the internet and the technology provided by, I realized that my childhood wish could come true.  I, thanks to your service, do not have to decide who amongst the extensive list of relatives would receive the album.  It is now dispersed for members to view.  They will be able to so easily add these 150 year old photos to their own family archives.

I have waited fifty years to see if the family members who use are able to locate the photos I posted and in turn be grateful to Sarah Yates for her superb documentation and love of family. Tonight it finally happened thanks to your “Recent Member Connect” service.  A member from Fort Worth, wrote a message to me that reads as follows:  

"Thank you for the photographs you uploaded. There are several members of my family that you located in the book. What a great find, and again I appreciate your efforts to place them on Ancestry so that history may be passed down!"  

My Childhood wish has come true! Thank you for giving us the technology to virtually take this album to the rightful descendants. From the information from the tree I created, I hope to travel to Darien Center, N.Y. in the near future to donate the album to their historical society or special collections library.  As an educator, I believe that knowledge is of great value, but the willingness and ability to share it with others is priceless.   


Jennifer Cauffield

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