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Old Photographs and Little Histories

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There’s just something about antique shops and their piles of old toys. Ancient appliances that don’t make sense to us anymore. Bins full of rusted out farm tools. Stacks of dusty books. Boxes of damp-curled photographs. To me, these are the memories left behind by the generations before us. I find things that look like the things in my grandparents’ home, and things that predate even them.

I’m most particularly drawn to the photographs. They capture certain moments in time that meant something to someone at some point in time. My collection has grown tremendously since I started collecting, and one day I’ll put them all together in an album (or two).

On my latest excursion, I found a striking portrait of a woman (pictured above). Her face looks so kind, vastly different from a lot of photographs from the time period. The back of the photograph is labeled “Edna Lawrence, Ellington, NY ’98.”

So I took to Google to see if I could find out something about her:

Her full name was Edna Belle Lawrence, and she was born in 1879 to Francis Z. Lawrence and Elizabeth Wight Lawrence. She had one older brother named Wight Lawrence.

Edna went to school in Fredonia where she studied the classics, and then attended Ellington Free University from 1898-1899 and was doing post-graduate work there.

She became a teacher and taught at Frewsburg Union School in 1902.

By 1911, she had met her future husband, Thomas Dick Mack, and they married in 1913. They had two children, and eventually moved to Thomas’s hometown in the 1940’s. Their address was 1515 E. Concord Ave, Orlando, FL. (The house has unfortunately been torn down and turned into a parking lot, otherwise I would have included a picture of that.)

Edna died in 1963, and Thomas in 1970. They are buried together in Orlando.

And all of this from one little photograph that was very important to someone at some point in time.