Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery Woman

I'm going to shift gears a bit for a minute.

Many years ago, among the old family photos I inherited with my late grandfather's genealogy research, was a photo of a beautiful woman who appears to be African-American descent.  Now, since (as far as I know) my ancestors on that side of the family were pretty much Caucasian Irish Catholic, I was a little puzzled.  I asked my grandmother about the photo and the explanation I was given was essentially that she was "a family friend."  Nothing else.  No name, no relation, nothing.

I came across this photo again while going through my records (trying to get everything organized - still working on that) a couple of weeks ago.  I mentioned it to my mother on the phone last week.  Since my grandmother has had some health issues and she is getting up there in years, her mind is not what it once was.  However, my mother said that she would ask her about the photo and see if she could get any other information out of her.

Here is what I know:

1. My grandfather was adopted in 1928.
2. My grandfather was at the Foundling Hospital in New York City from 1924 to 1928.
3. My grandfather's adopted parents were Walter Gallagher and Ruth Burrows.
4. Walter Gallagher was born in New York in 1902, lived in Hudson, NJ in 1920, working as a telephone installer.
5. Walter and Ruth lived in Ridgefield, New Jersey according to the 1930 census.
6. Walter Gallagher had at least one mistress in his lifetime.
7. My grandfather kept this photo for a reason.

This is the photo:

The photo is rather old, printed on thick stock.  I don't know much about photographs, so I can't date it very specifically other than to say it's old.  There are no studio markings or dates, or anything written on the back.

If anyone can identify this woman, or an approximate date this photo could have been taken, please let me know.  I really would like to know how she fits into my family.

5 comments:

Patty said...

Jeanne thinks this is Aunt Hazel. Hazel was Ruth Gallagher's sister. We think!

Maureen Hartnett said...

The photo looks like it was taken as a senior high school photos by the scrolls on top and bottom. Maybe you could check the local HS yearbooks or records to see if you find this girl represented. Also, her dress is influenced by the Civil War so, that would date the photo as late 1800's.

Maureen Hartnett said...

The photo looks like it was taken as a senior high school photos by the scrolls on top and bottom. Maybe you could check the local HS yearbooks or records to see if you find this girl represented. Also, her dress is influenced by the Civil War so, that would date the photo as late 1800's.

Katherine H said...

Hello greetings. I came upon your blog as I have been looking into unsealing the original birth certificate of my father. Even though none of the search terms pointed to it my father also was adopted from the foundling hospital in 1928 just like your grandfather. Perhaps they were in the same room together!! I want to suggest to you to write them. After my father passed into thousand seven I contacted them and was able to write to them with a copy of his death certificate and a copy of my drivers license and I was sent an inch thick worth of paperwork I would think even if you were unable to do that that whomever is his child out of your parents would be able to get it. From the records that I got from the foundling hospital I was able to find out my my dad's adoptive parents names. Since then I've done a bunch of research and I have even traced down his family in Ireland. My sister is interested in getting Irish citizenship to live abroad as Irish citizenship entitles us to live anywhere in the EU. It's very strange but even though I know their names and now even know where they are from etc. and have their birth certificate New York State refuses to give me an original birth certificate so I have nothing to tie my father to his birth parents and this is a stumbling block to obtaining the citizenship. Both of his parents have been deceased for almost 80 years but still New York State refuses to give me this one piece of paper which would allow us to obtain citizenship. Have you tried contacting the foundling hospital though? I couldn't believe how much they gave me in terms of information about his parents and his adoptive parents and even notes from visits from Catholic charities and what was then CPS to ensure his well-being. Also it's possible the woman in that picture is Irish she does look like she could be Irish. We were all a bit surprised that my father turned out to be 100% Irish because he got extremely bronze quite dark in the summers. I'd love to hear more about where you are in your search I think it's very interesting that we have this little connection of the 1928 adoption out of the Foundling Hospital! Best wishes--Katherine

Jenny Lanctot said...

Thank you, Katherine. My grandfather was able to obtain all the paperwork from the Foundling Hospital before he passed away. Unfortunately, I have been able to get little else accomplished. His birth parents were not named in any of the adoption paperwork, and the Surrogate's Court will not unseal the file. I remain hopeful that New York state will eventually amend their laws to allow descendants of deceased adoptees to have access to those records.

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