Identify your photos

Joan Baxter

A few years ago, Catharine Wilson, executive director of the Greene County Historical Society was given a large collection of very old photographs.

Many were done by professional photographers and were of excellent quality, but there was a problem with each photo. She had no idea who the people were. From time to time, she would place them where the visitors could look to see if anyone looked familiar and eventually even put them in the gift shop in case anyone was interested in acquiring an “instant ancestor.” Eventually the photos were donated for a school project.

Don’t let this happen to your photos. Now that we are asked to remain at home a majority of the tine, this would be an excellent time for you to go through those old photos albums to be sure names and hopefully dates (or approximate dates) are securely placed with the photos. If you are in doubt as to the best way to preserve them, I am sure Wilson will be happy to give you advice if you call the historical society at 937-372-4606.

But don’t stop with the photo albums. I imagine many of you (like me) have old home movies. Obviously they cannot be labeled as pictures, but why not get them out now while you have the time and make notes to go with the film. For instance: uncle Henry is the one with the beard and the red shirt. Or grandmother Smith is the one with the blue dress. Perhaps you can identify the buildings or locations in the photos or even the approximate years the films were taken. That will be a great benefit for future generations.

We all remember our friends from school, but your family will not know who they are, unless you tell them that the lady with the ribbon in her hair was my friend … .and not a relative.

You don’t have to be a genealogist to do this, but future generations will be glad you did.

And then, you no doubt have a collection of slides taken with a conventional camera some years ago. Those can be labeled carefully as well on the cardboard or plastic outer sleeve. Permanent markers will not fade and if you are careful not to touch the slide, this will be a help to your family. This might be a fine time show some of those home movies and slides to the grandchildren.

Many people are searching their family histories these days. Tracing the family histories can be great fun and there are of course, many avenues to approach to achieve success. Labeling your pictures now, while you remember which relatives are pictured, will also be helpful to those who want to learn more about the family.

With the newer digital photography, you can still make a record of the event and the names of those who are pictured. Perhaps if you do a movie of a birthday party, at the end of the filming process, write the date and the names and descriptions of the people photographed on a sheet of paper and photograph that as part of the finished product. Don’t let your pictures become “instant relatives” for someone else.

If you photograph tombstones, be sure to list the name and location of the cemetery and approximate location in the cemetery as well.

For those of you who are feeling the loss of the Reds and the Dragons not currently playing, maybe you will enjoy this reprint from the Xenia Torchlight May 24, 1901:

“Several hundred persons gathered at the showgrounds on Hill Street yesterday afternoon to witness the game of ball between the Bloomer Girls and a local team.

“The Bloomer Girls traveled in their own car and a canvas fence, ten or twelve feet high and inclosing (sic) a large space was erected. But this did not prevent many of the small boys from enjoying the game from grand-stand seats. Convenient trees, roofs of barns and tops of box cars were lined with spectators. The girls wore the bloomer costume, their uniforms being of dark red, black stockings and small blue caps and they were an agile lot, putting up a first-class game of ball and being too much for the local nine the score resulting In favor of the girls by 6 to 14. Fritz Saenger was the umpire and it was a noticeable fact that he stood by the bloomers from beginning to end and where there was the least doubt he showed his gallantry by deciding In favor of the girls. He has forever ruined his reputation as an umpire in this city and when a team of girls come to town again he will be kept strictly out of the game. Lizzie Anderson, the pitcher for the Bloomers, possessed a good deal of skill and could send a ball over the plate and showed the local nine curves that they were unable to master. The girls proved themselves sprinters from away back and slid bases and handled the bat like veterans and clearly showed that they had played ball prior to this season. Ed Cross had charge of the tally sheet and it is hinted that he so far forgot himself at times in looking at the girls, that he forgot to chalk up tallies for the boys and then credited the runs to the girls. Thus far all the boys have been accounted for and it is reliably stated that none of them have left town.”

Over the years, there have been several baseball teams which have thrilled the local spectators.

Shortly after the Civil War ended, baseball became a leading form of entertainment in Greene County. The Cincinnati Red Stockings competed against the Xenia Buckeyes July 4, 1869 at a location which was described as the “new” fairgrounds (on Fair Street). This was the first public event staged at that location.

The Xenia Nationals, the Clippers and the Reserves were all teams which were active in the later part of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Xenia Mohawks played on property near the present Fairgrounds in the 1870s. At that time no baseball mitts were utilized and no doubt the catcher was not well-attired, a ball and bat were all that was necessary, along with a team of sportsmen willing to take on another team while the spectators watched and encouraged each home run. Baseball has been a leading sport in this county for many generations.

Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.