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The Parkes Project - part 5

This post is part of a series. To read earlier entries, go here.

With my friend Ashley and her little girl in tow, I went back to the antique shop where it all began. The owner had put aside the box of pictures for me and I was delighted that there were 15 more photographs that he felt certain came from the same house as the five Parkes photographs I had purchased from him earlier.

At this point, I knew the family was important and I wanted to preserve as much of their memories as I could, even though I hadn't found the answers as to who they all were or located any descendants yet.

The antique shop owner sold me the last of the pictures he had from the estate. From what I could gather, he did estate clean outs and these photographs were in a box from the house. Although he wouldn't acknowledge where the house was located or who his client was, I felt sure it had to be connected in some way to Jessie Imogene. Given the fact that one photograph had written on the back, 'To my dear granddaughter Jessie Imogene', it wouldn't have been given to anyone other than Jessie.

I knew from Jessie's husband's obituary (from March of this year) that Jessie had children still living. Her husband remarried after her death and had more children. I am more determined than ever to return the Parkes images to the family. I am going to keep digging and hope to find living relatives.

Ashley was wonderful to have along for the ride as I verbally processed everything I was thinking. It was such a beautiful day and her little one was so good and a delight to be with!

The antique shop owner said that he checked to make sure that the photographs weren't given to him by mistake with the other things to be sold. He confirmed that the person didn't want the pictures. Perhaps they didn't know who these ancestors were. Perhaps they weren't a blood relative, so this line of the family didn't interest them or hold value to them.

In a future post I will give tips on what to do if you come across old photographs. I'll also share how to identify and date old photographs.

At the antique shop, the owner told me that there were also daguerreotypes that were from the same house and that the last name 'Parks' was on some of them. ( No 'e' ). My interest was peaked immediately. Although the daguerreotypes had been sold, the antique shop owner said that he knew that one of them was a picture of the blind preacher of Wiscasset, Maine.

Daguerreotypes were common during the 1840's - 1860's. The image was printed on polished silver plates and then protected beneath glass, often a brass frame and what was called a preserver surrounded the picture and fitted in a case to protect it.

When I got home I conducted a search online for the Rev. Freeman Parker. I found several 'blind preachers' but only one from Maine. Rev. Freeman Parker was known as the 'blind preacher of Dresden' and he married a woman from Wiscasset, Maine. I knew it had to be him. Born in Barnstable Massachusetts on July 13, 1776, he attended Harvard and began his ministry in Dresden. He later preached at Wiscasset, Maine where he died in 1854. He married Rebecca Rice of Wiscasset in 1804 and they had at least six children.

I wondered if there had been any connection between the Parkes family and Rev. Parker or the Parks family in the daguerreotypes. It had to be more than a coincidence. I was so disappointed that the daguerreotypes had been sold and I couldn't view them. Then I remembered that I had found the antique shop online to confirm the address for my second visit. They had a Facebook page and on that page they posted new items for sale. The owner really loved this collection of daguerreotypes. I could tell by the way he spoke of them. Maybe he posted pictures of them?

Guess what? He did! My hunch paid off!

The pictures above were posted on the antique shop's social media page. I was thrilled!

By this time I had pulled my sister in law, Valerie into my research adventure. She was a huge help in the hunt. Valerie and I got to work and found anything available online on this new 'Parks' and 'Parker' family. We already knew that Rev. Freeman Parker (lower right corner) had married Rebecca Rice. From there, we quickly built a family tree.

Some pictures were labeled, and some were a guess based on dating and comparison to other pictures found online. There are two daguerreotypes that we still can't identify. But they look similar to others in the family so we are quite sure they belong together.

I was so thankful for Valerie's mind and the ability to toss ideas around and share information even though she lives in another part of the country. We still have more questions than answers, but it's been such a fun family to research!

I have all the other photographs from the antique shop to try to match up with Jessie Imogene's ancestors. I went from five images to twenty-eight images to research in one day!

I still don't know how the photographs I purchased or the daguerreotypes are connected to the Parkes family, if at all. But with the same last name (sans the 'e') and the antique shop owner's testimony that he believes all the photographs came from the same house, I know there is probably a connection. I just have to find it!

It's the thrill of the hunt! The past is calling and I must go!

To read part 6, go here.

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