A Suitcase Full of Pictures

I found a suitcase full of pictures at a consignment store.

“What is inside,” was my first question. It soon became “Who is inside?”

Images: Lost and Found  (Click to watch video.)

I couldn’t wait to meet them.  I couldn’t wait to figure them out and to find out why they were lost.

Four sisters.  Or four cousins?


There was so much. They reminded me of my own family. I had to find out. It was like a big-city high-rise with millions of stories, and I had this suitcase with three generations of stories.

Oh, little child!  Who were you, and who did you grow up to be?

To figure out family groups, I sorted the pictures, which put them in chronological order. Black and whites. Color. Polaroids. Double-prints. And so many more.

People with Names

A breakthrough! The oldest picture I found had names.  Who was Great-grandmother Woods? Was Bryan Woods the baby of the family? Did the suitcase belong to Susie?


So many babies … over so many decades. They go to school. They learn to drive. They honor their elders, and they love their families.

Four cousins. Or were they sisters?

It soon became apparent that the genealogical detective work would be easy but time-consuming. Nevertheless, I started looking at names on the backs of photos. LaVirga Shipman Woods’ name came up over and over again.

Everyone Loves Pictures

Everyone loves old family pictures. Everyone wants to be in “Grandma’s Brag Book.”


But there are so many more places to find our families:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Bibles
  • Military papers
  • Greeting cards

We love … and yet we let go ..

Someone has said goodbye to this family before.

“It’s been so nice knowing you. I hate to see you go. But as you must, my best wishes for your happiness in your new home go with you.”

Where is your family history?

Is your family history in your home or in a suitcase in a consignment store?

Diaries from the 1880s, bought on eBay. Letters, photos, family narratives–someone abandoned them.  Old Bibles, vintage pictures, old manuscripts. The notebook was bought for a dollar.

I had to wonder about my family, and I’ll bet you wonder about yours.

Where are my pictures?

Where is my family history?  Will it be preserved?

I found a family in a suitcase at a store.


Video produced by Lisa Reed, under the academic direction of Shannon Carter, Ph.D.

(c) 2016, Lisa Reed




Vintage Post … from 2 Nov. 2012

Such fun I’m having with my new book of World War I-era real estate listings for North Texas (and other places!). Thursday, I took a long-ish lunch break from the Texas State Genealogical Society conference and drove to the address in one of the 1915 Fort Worth listings. The house is still there! After navigating some road construction and trying to locate house numbers, I found the house.


Here’s the original listing as it appeared in business records of a real estate agency in 1915. The words were written in a thick pencil.


“W.M. Graham, R-4849. Two-story, 9-room brick house. 5 up and sleep porch. 4 down. Modern in every respect. Bath upstairs with toilet. Toilet downstairs. Basement with hot furnace. Gas in all rooms. Hot water up and down stairs. Closet in every room. Two-story brick garage for three autos. Barn for two horses. Lot 80×150 feet. Fronts north and east. Price $20,000. No incumbrance. Will consider good farm close to Fort Worth at around $15,000 or good place not too far from Fort Worth. Will give plenty time on balance.”

While I was snapping photos, the current owner walked up. That’s always an anxiety-producing situation, but he was very nice and interested in the book and the information about the house and the historic neighborhood. He does not live there but offices there now, and is not related to the original owners.

He told me the house was built about 1907. The two-story brick garage is still there but shows evidence (to me, at least) of room for only two autos—arched openings that have since been bricked over. The barn is no longer there. He said some of the rooms had been combined over the years and that the structure was once a boarding house. An iron fence encompasses the property now.

In my mind it is still a beautiful turn-of-the-century neighborhood, even though some nearby houses have been razed, some are overgrown, and some have been turned into apartments. Across the street is a lovely bed and breakfast. This frame building of the same era boasts a cupola and wraparound porch.

After working with the records for so long, transcribing page after page of real estate listings in order to produce the book, it was a delight to see Old Fort Worth come alive to me at the first address I looked for!

The book is Fort Worth Real Estate: Ben F. Allen & Sons Business Records, City Property, 1914-1916, Vol. I, and is available from me by mail at Lisa McKinney, P.O. Box 997, Edgewood, TX 75117, for $30 + $2.48 sales tax if shipped to a Texas address, plus $8 for shipping.