Harriet Sanders Capps
Does your mind form images of your ancestors? As you collect their records, learn their history, gather stories; do you imagine a picture of their face?

As I scanned my family tree on Ancestry.com last week, I peered closer at a "hint": the green leaf the website places on an ancestor when new records are found.

The ancestor is my great great grandmother, the one I became well acquainted with while proving my American Revolutionary Patriot for DAR membership. Harriet was the "missing link" I struggled with for almost a year, as I tailed her well-hidden records.

Clicking on the computerized "hint", I was blindsided by a document: my great great grandmother's picture. Harriet Smith Capps, a Civil War widow, descended from a lineage rich with great military history. Both her grandfather and great grandfather heralded honors in the War of 1812 and American Revolution; yet, I suspect she lived a hard worn life, as she was widowed twice during the Civil War.

As I stared at the portrait of Harriet, I felt as though I was looking into her soul and for me, her story changed. The movie of her life that played within my head shifted and I felt as though as I was meeting her for the first time.

Pictures of our ancestors create depth and value to our family tree. Without them, we are left to form our own images as we reach for an understanding of the person. And if you are like me, my mind's imagery is more romantic and attractive than the actual pictures.

I recently discovered a picture of another ancestor: A great great grandfather with an unusually long beard. Several consecutive photos were posted and with each picture, his image grew more grotesque with the white, scraggly beard dangling almost to his lap!

As I ponder the emotion that erupts inside me when I am faced with a picture of an ancestor for the first time, I am committed to share my own pictures of ancestors for others on my family tree. It is a feeling that provides a touch of authenticity and realism.

Preserve your ancestral photos by scanning them to a DVD or utilize a photo shop. Many now specialize in tintype restorations. It is a wonderful gift for not only yourself but also your family.

And If you are a member of Ancestry.com or
other genealogical websites, consider sharing your ancestral photos. I am confident that if you do, they will be given notice by other descendents, providing a touch of reality and authenticity for their own family tree.

Keep searching for answers,