Reuniting Photos with a Family Member

A Reader's Perspective: Reuniting Photos with a Family Member

by Cindy Barnhart of Lake Kiowa, Texas, 2015

“For anyone who is interested in collecting the family history, to have someone like you delivering a photo treasure, is like winning the lottery without even buying a ticket. I am glad that you are able to help Ted. He is a lucky person.” That very nice quote is from Ross Brand, the individual who played intermediary in my story.

Last summer I came across a collection of old photos and memorabilia in an antique store in Gainesville, Texas. Most of the material was not identified, but a few photos and cards had names written on the back.

Two pieces in particular caught my eye--a beautiful memorial card for Andrew Rempp, who died August 22, 1895, age 62, and a photo labeled "Dan Rempp and wife Susie."

The collection also included several photos labeled "Wright," with people named Warren Roy and Pluma. One, which I thought was taken in the 1880s, was embossed with the words, "Majestic Studios, Waterloo [Iowa]," and showed Warren Roy as a little boy. I purchased a number of photos and decided to see if I could connect them to a relative.

I started with the Rempp family, as I thought it was an unusual surname and I felt I might have enough details for a successful search. I found the death of Andrew Rempp on Ancestry.com, which gave the location as Montezuma, Poweshiek County, Iowa. I also found the marriage of Dan and Susie Rempp. Thinking that Andrew and Dan Rempp must be related, I searched for Andrew in the census. The 1870 census showed Andrew, a native of Württemberg, living in Mendon, Adams County, Illinois, with his wife Catherine and nine children: Samuel, Mary, Anna, Malinda, William, Daniel, Kate, and twins Andrew and Christopher. Daniel, born about 1867, was Andrew's son. I found a connection between the Wright and Rempp families with the marriage of Riley Wright and Mary Rempp (b. abt. 1861) in Illinois in 1879. The 1900 census showed the couple in Kendrick, Greene County, Iowa, with three children: Warren R. [Roy] (b. 1881), Pluma (b. 1886), and Lawrence (b. 1888).

I searched public trees on Ancestry to find researchers interested in the Rempp family and started messaging those tree owners. A man named Ross Brand answered and wrote that although he was not closely related, he knew the family and would be glad to help. I first scanned the memorial card and photo of Dan and Susie and sent them to Ross, and then mailed him 29 photos.

Several months later I received a grateful email from Ted Rempp of Utah. The photos were all of his family--a great-great-grandmother, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins! Andrew and Catherine Rempp were Ted's great-great grandparents. Ted's father was able to identify everyone in the photos. No one knows how the material ended up in Texas. The woman in the antique store said photos and family memorabilia typically come from storage lockers, and the one with these photos came from somewhere in the Midwest. Ted was thrilled to receive this material, and I found it very rewarding to "rescue" these photos and connect them with an interested family member.