Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A picture is worth...a thousand hours of internet research!

I have spent many, many hours over the last few years searching for my great-great-grandmother, Mollie Ella (Moore) Wall.  I mean, I know exactly where she is...buried right next to her son - my great-grandparents, James Alver and Lovie Mae (Rowe) Wall. 

But I wanted to know WHO she was.  I've learned quite a bit, and that is a story in and of itself.  But I had never been able to find anything about her prior to her marrying my great-great-grandfather, William.  She had to have parents, right?  So who were they?

I had a couple of pictures of her.  Well, I didn't, but other family members did.  In fact, my cousin, Tim, had a picture of her hanging on the wall of his guest bedroom that I determined should be rightfully mine.  After, all - I was the one spending all this time looking for her!  (Needless to say, he didn't agree!)  But nothing gave me any more information about where she came from or who her family was.     

Until one day, I got a message through ancestory.com from a lady out west in New Mexico who thought her great-grandmother, Joanna (Moore) Lambert, might be a sister to my great-great-grandmother, Mollie.  She had some pictures, which she attached and sent to me that indicated the connection, but what sealed the deal?  THIS picture...

On the back, it indicated that this was Mollie Wall(s) of Eclectic, Alabama, sister of "Joanner" Lambert.  First of all, I love this picture, because, well...look at it!  What's not to love?  A family is standing in front of their cabin.  They've drug out a small table and a lamp.  Why?  Who knows.  The son is in overalls, probably just having come in from working in the fields.  The mother is holding a Bible.  They are standing miles apart from one another.  The cabin is pretty Spartan, and the surrounding landscape is fairly barren.  Yet, they seem to be posing, proudly, for this picture, probably taken by a travelling photographer.  So, yes, it's a pretty cool picture.  But want to know why I REALLY loved it?  Because it is a copy of the same one hanging in Tim's home.  They one I had coveted!  They also shared with me other pictures of Mollie.
Picture of Mollie taken in Montgomery, Alabama, probably in the early 1920's.
Mollie (left) with her sister, Joanna, and her brother-in-law, C.B. Lambert.
Probably taken close to 1930 in Oklahoma.
I made friends with that distant cousin from way out west, whose name happens to be Claudia, and we began to correspond by both email and phone.  One day, while she was visiting one of her cousins in Oklahoma (where Mollie's sister, Joanner, had relocated), they called me and asked for my address.  It seems they decided that the pictures Mollie had sent to Joanna really needed to make their way back home.  These gracious ladies sent me a whole packet of pictures including the one above!  I was able to glean a lot of new information about Mollie from the material I received.  All because a stranger saw the family information I had shared online and thought it was the missing puzzle piece for their family story.

Here are some of Mollie's descendants at a Hilyer Family Get-Together last April at my parent's home in Tallassee, probably less than five miles from where the priceless picture of Mollie and her family was made.  (From left to right - my brother, Jon Hilyer; my cousin, Paula (Hilyer) Rees; my daddy, Billy Hilyer; me, holding MY picture of Mollie and her family; my uncle, James Hilyer, holding Tim's picture of Mollie; my cousin, Tim Lawson; my aunt, Alice (Hilyer) Beam and my aunt, Dale (Hilyer) Jones.)
The mystery of Mollie is far from being solved, but just having these pictures makes her seem more real to me.  It makes me want to keep searching to find out more about her life.  I hope that some day when I'm gone, my great-great-grandchildren will want to learn about that crazy old "Prissy Missy" who loved to look at dusty and faded old pictures, listen to all-but-forgotten stories and traipse through over-grown cemeteries.  In order to make it a lot easier for them, I'll keep all my records backed up on my computer.  If I can just find a thumb drive...
I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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