The Journey of the Letters, #12

That photograph. Not the one of me I just posted, from our trip to England this past fall. I’m talking about the copy that Betsy Billingsley at The Signal House handed me. I couldn’t identify the people in the photo at that time.

Years later, however, after some painstaking research into old tax and deed records that Melody Kokensparger and Theresa Robinson at Family Matters Genealogy Research did on my behalf, I discovered that the Wylies probably did not build The Signal House. They did own the lot, but in the early 1860s, they sold it. That was probably when The Signal House was built. 

The house that the Wylies owned was probably the house up on the hill behind The Signal House. That house, the one on the hill behind, has an older brick portion that could well have been the one pictured in the background of the photo. 

It finally all made sense. The bricks that the family genealogy noted as being used to build the original Wylie house could well have come from the southern part of the lot, since it was vacant at that time. The estimated age of The Signal House by a restoration specialist as being in the late 1850s or early 1860s also fit this explanation. 

Now, even more confirmation has come with the this last batch of letters and the drawings of family members that Byers did in his letter to his sister Belle. One of Byers’ miniature sketches looks remarkably like the younger woman sitting on the steps of the front stoop in the photo. And Byers’ caricature of an elderly woman who looks suspiciously like a witch strongly resembles the older woman standing between the two men on the stoop.

The people on the stoop probably are my ancestors. The younger woman would be Byers’ mother Eliza, my great-great grandmother. The older woman would be Eliza’s mother Sarah.

That leaves the two men in the photograph. I have some ideas about their identities, too, which I’ll share in the next blog.


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