One of the things we take the most for granted today is the ease with which we can capture lasting images of people, places and things that are important to us. When working on genealogy, one of my greatest frustrations is not really being able to picture in my mind what my ancestors looked like or the world around them. I am fortunate to have a lot of pictures from my mother’s side of the family and a few from my father’s, and social media and online genealogy forums have helped make it easy to share images with others. This will only take me so far back in the family tree, though, since photography as we know it did not even come about until nearly the middle of the 1800s.
I’m a very visual person, and while working on a family history of the McGallagher line, I was frustrated by how little information we had on the progenitor of the McGallagher’s here on the Gulf Coast, James Henry McGallagher. We know who he married, where he was born, where he died, who his only son was, and that he was a sailor. That’s about all we know of him. While working on the profiles of his son, grandsons and great-grandsons, I was fortunate enough to have several images of them. It occurred to me that some of them had a very similar look, so I decided to play around with these images in Photoshop and was able to come up with a fairly decent composite image that may have been what James looked like. I added a low resolution image of a seaport of the era to the background and now I have a visual reference for this GGG-Grandfather from whom my mother got her maiden name.