But I saved the best for last. The last night of 2009, the last word, one last uncanny coincidence, and, lastly, and most of all, the last word towards righting a long-ago wrong.
In that crushed plastic box were several tintype photos, most with their original leather boxframes, complete with covers secured by tiny hook-and-clasps. I remember finding these when my great-aunt left me her stash of family history (13 boxes worth), but had only given them a quick look, and then somehow unaccountably packed them away in said plastic tote.
Now I have them out, and have identified a college photo of my great great grandfather, taken before he joined the Smyth County Blues in 1861. He is quite the young man, gentlemanly, well-dressed and, like all young men, quite impressed with himself. So we'll leave him there, and move along to the next photo, the one taken several years after the War.
This is actually two tintypes, not meant to sit in this frame together, but placed in next to each other, by someone. Possibly the two tins were taken one after the other, papa holding the older daughter, mama holding the baby. The backdrop is pastoral and looks to be the same one.
This is again my great-great-grandfather. Wander here for his story. He's holding my great aunt Addie and his necktie is crooked, so I imagine she's been playing with it.
The woman could be none other than my great-great-grandmother, Adeline Virginia Magruder. She's the one lost to us all, locked up by her husband in the asylum. The one we had never seen a picture of.
I don't remember seeing these before, so I'm thinking they were in with all the other photos, and we assumed they were of someone in the family, so they were kept. After dwelling on them with a magnifying glass it's apparent it's Adeline, and her husband.
I can't help but wonder who kept that one tintype. The husband who never mentioned her, or the girls who never asked how their mother was? Or was the stigma so great that the tintypes were put away, and the poor woman never brought up out of embarrassment? (and lest we forget, this ignorant behavior was repeated in the 1980's when so many died of AIDS)
Somehow it ended up in a box of assorted photos - her husband, her children, her home, her horses, her dogs. Just one of her.
Welcome back Adeline -only 121 years later, on the last night of 2009.