Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stories My Grandmother Told Me

Though my writing and speech tends to be littered with superlatives – the greatest, the most, the best – the truth is, I’m much too wishy-washy to say definitively that I have a favorite of anything.

So, when the glorious fM proposed “My Favorite Photograph” as the subject for this edition of “Smile for the Camera,” I admit to a slight, panic-stricken feeling at committing to a favorite photograph so publicly. I mean, won’t the other photographs be hurt?

So after careful consideration, I came up with the winner. If it isn’t my favorite photograph, it is certainly one of my favorites.

In my family, old pictures are few and far between. The one I’ve chosen was taken in 1899 at a photography studio in Tiffin, Ohio. It is a picture of my grandmother, Katheryne Cecile Lynch and her twin sister, Elizabeth Lucille Lynch.

Katheryne and Elizabeth, born October 4, 1898, were the youngest children of Laura Jane Feasel Lynch and John Perry Lynch. Laura Jane and JP appear not to have been sentimental when it came to naming most of their children. The other children – Flossie, Owen, Elbert, Hazel Grace, and Harry Victor, were not named after family members.

But perhaps because they had lost little Hazel Grace at age 3 or maybe it was the unexpected delight at the birth of twin daughters eight years later, Laura Jane and JP decided it was time to give their daughters family names. My grandmother, Katie was named for her paternal grandmother, Catherine Good Lynch while Elizabeth was named for her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Armstrong Feasel.

Eighteen ninety-nine appears to be the year that they set out for Greer County, Oklahoma. JP’s parents had settled there more than a decade earlier when Greer County was still considered a part of Texas. According to my grandmother they traveled by covered wagon, and she swore as little as she was she had memories of crossing the Red River.

Somewhere, during this time, and it may have been here in Ohio (though I have found no record of it), little Elizabeth contracted measles and died on July 7, 1899. She was nine months old.

My grandmother is the one sitting on the left hand side of the picture, with Elizabeth to her right. It is possibly the only picture taken of the two girls.

My grandmother passed away on March 25, 1990. She outlived her twin by more than ninety years.

Information Sources:
1. Digital Image of PJ Keller Photograph taken Tiffin, Ohio, 1899, supplied by Phyllis Sloan
2 .Photographic Images of leaves of George Washington Lynch Family Bible supplied by Anna Belle Lynch Mauldin
3. Information about Greer County supplied by Dee O’Hara AND
4. Greer County, OK GenWeb,
5. Personal conversations with Katheryne Lynch Hoy Runion

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