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Finding Leta - Part 1

As I ended my series on the glass plate negatives, I was so happy that the family in the pictures was identified and so many questions were answered. But the beautiful woman at the window haunted me and I was sad that I wasn't able to find anything more than her name.


Picture courtesy of Paul Holbrook. Used with permission.

I wanted to know who Leta was, where she was from and what became of her after this picture was taken in 1902.

Because this image of her was part of a set of negatives all taken of the Treadwell family, I assumed she was a relative.

This loving picture of her and Laura Treadwell indicated more than a neighborly affection, but some familial bond.

At first, I sumrised she was an older daughter. But no census records of the family list a 'Leta'. Census records also revealed that the mother in the pictures, Laura Treadwell, had given birth to only two children and those children were listed as Gerrie Treadwell and Laura Ione Treadwell. So, who was Leta?

I dug and dug away at the Treadwell family tree. I thought she must be a niece, a cousin or some other relation. I filled in the gaps of the Treadwell's genealogy all the while, looking for Leta. I continuted my search even after my blog series on 'The Glass Plate Negatives' ended. I found Laura's parents, Riley Orrin Whitney and his wife, Ruth Savira Greene.

Pictures accessed on

Riley and Ruth had six children and Laura Josephine was their youngest. I researched the other five children, found who they married and the names and birth dates of their children. I found Sarah Fidelia Whitney, who burned to death with her husband and daughter in their home, I found Francis Emertie, (I loved her name) who died single with no children. But I found no Leta.

I turned to the Treadwell side. I knew that Elberton Treadwell was the son of Lyman Treadwell and Sarah Rogers.

Picture accessed on

The woman on the right in the image above is the grandmother pictured in the plate glass negatives, listed as 'Grandma Sarah', Sarah Rogers Treadwell.

Picture courtesy of Paul Holbrook, used with permission.

I was editing my post on Grandma Sarah when I decided I wanted to know more about her. I think she has a kind face. Where was she living when this picture was taken? As I researched, I found that Lyman, her husband in the picture above, had died young, leaving her a widow at age 30 with two young boys at home. Two years later, she married Edwin J. Forsyth. They had three children together. Sarah died at the age of 82 in 1919.

I was happy to know more about Sarah and was going to go on my merry way, UNTIL... (insert dramatic 'ah-ha' music here) I realized that Sarah's children by her second husband might connect me to Leta. Sarah had William, Charles and Elnora (who died in infancy) with Edwin. These three were the half siblings of Elberton Treadwell. I looked at William first. He married Elnora Fitzgerald and had three children. No Leta. Then I looked at Charles. Charles Burdett Forsyth married Leta Belle!

I'm over the moon. Seeing her name on the screen was such a thrill! So it was Charles in the cameo at her neck and perhaps it was Charles who is seated behind her peeking around. She is the sister-in-law of Elberton and Laura. According to the birth year I found for her on she was a 22 year old newlywed in the picture as she leaned out the window.

I can't wait to discover and share more about Leta Belle Forsyth.

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3 comentários

Julie Jeffery Manwarren
Julie Jeffery Manwarren
30 de jul. de 2019

Thank you! Part 2 will be up on the blog this afternoon!


Fascinating! I so understand your drive to find the answers to these questions. You bring them to life so beautifully too.


Congratulations on another great job of research! This is all great to read and I feel much more appreciative of my pictures knowing these details. I'm looking forward to more of her story as you unfold it. I know how exciting this must be for you to research! And it's fun for us all. Thanks for your work!

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