Kinsearching April 4, 2010




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     As we mentioned in the Kinsearching column dated 24 January 2010, labeling photographs is an extremely valuable task. The importance of labeling can be seen in a collection of family pictures bought at an antique store in Amarillo, TX, in 2009. Several of them were taken by J. E. DANIEL in Fort Worth, TX. A search on the internet on 13 March 2010 reveals that Joseph E. DANIEL was a photographer in Fort Worth in the late 1800s – 1900. The rest of the photos do not show where they were taken. Since the photographs are labeled and were kept together as a unit, research on the internet on 13 March 2010 found the website, which turned up data on the families and individuals appearing in the pictures.

     Written on the back of one picture was “Uncle Steve & Aunt Laura Churchman” and, underneath those words, “Mama & Papa Churchman.” Information on the Churchman website shows this couple was Stephen Decatur CHURCHMAN, born in 1855 in TN and died in 1938 in TX, and Laura Elizabeth SPEER (1870 – 1968). They married in 1889 in Lonesome Dove, Denton Co., TX, and are buried in Clarendon, TX.

     One photograph taken at J. E. Daniel’s Fort Worth studio was labeled “Jim Speer, Mama’s brother.” Another photo was labeled “John Speer, Mama’s brother, died at age 16 or 18.” John’s picture was taken at a different Fort Worth studio whose name ended with the letters “hine;” the first letters of the name are missing. The labeling indicates they were Laura Elizabeth (Speer) Churchman’s siblings. From this information, it seems that this photo collection may have belonged to one of the five children of Stephen D. and Laura Churchman.

     A picture of a very young child had “Mona Churchman” written on the back. The words “S. D. Churchman,” “Dove,” (perhaps referring to Lonesome Dove) and “Denton Co.” were also written on the back. Using these details, the Churchman website discloses that she was Mona Myrtle Churchman, born in 1897 in Lonesome Dove, Denton Co., TX, and died in 1979. Her parents were Stephen Decatur Churchman and Laura Elizabeth Speer.

     Little information appears on one photograph, which only states “Papa’s Brother, C.”

     A baby picture has this written on the back: “Ruby Neil Gardner To Uncle Steve D. Churchman (From Laura) – Papa’s Great niece.” The website at divulges that Ruby Neil, born in 1897, was the daughter of Emerson David Gardner and Laura Louella Churchman. She is probably the Laura who sent the picture to her kinsman.

     According to the Churchman website, Stephen Decatur Churchman had a brother, Thomas Calvin, b. in 1853 in TN. A picture of four children is labeled “The Martins, children of Tom Churchman, Steve Churchman’s Brother.”

     This raises the question: How could the Martins be children of Tom Churchman? In this case, a mistake must have been made in labeling since the biographical page about Thomas Calvin Churchman reproduces the same photograph. On the Churchman website, the names written on the front of the picture are given as Mamie, Rufus, Arthur, and Rae, all children of Tom Churchman. Another photograph labeled “Tom Churchman’s Children – Papa’s brother” shows four different children. Both photos were taken at the J. E. Daniel studio so the setting is the same. According to the Churchman website, Thomas Calvin Churchman had only six children, including one who died very young. Although Tom’s daughter Mamie married Meekly Walker Martin, she was still only a child in the picture. Perhaps a relative will recognize the children in the second photograph.

     On the back of the last picture in the collection was written “Hood Churchman, Little Rock, Waten Street, Son of Whig Churchman, brother of Papa’s.” According to the Churchman website, he apparently was James Hood Churchman, born in 1876 in TN and died in 1952 in AR. His parents were Joseph Arthur “Whig” Churchman and Mary Louisa Thomson.

     Due to the labeling of the photographs, much material about the people named in this collection of pictures can be found on the internet. Precious to family members, these “lost” pictures should be back in the hands of relatives soon.

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