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Treasures from the Goodwill: From Pearl to Aunt Abbie and Uncle Edd

Recently, one of the Goodwill administrative assistants entrusted the South Bend Area Genealogical Society with a box of personal items and photos that had been donated at various Goodwill sites in our area. She asked us, if possible, to find family and return what should be a valued heirloom. Well, you know that’s a challenge I could not refuse!

Let’s start with one of the better labeled pictures. The photograph was taken in Cass City, Michigan by J. Maier. On the face, we see a young man and woman dressed in clothes that indicate the early 1900’s. Using a magnifying glass, we can see that Pearl is wearing a ring, but on the second finger, not the third finger where we would normally expect an engagement or wedding ring. Most likely a couple, possibly a wedding or engagement picture but it is possible that they are brother and sister. I have learned not to make assumptions!

Photo Front

The reverse contains a lot of very useful information. In pencil, probably the original notation, we see the picture was taken May 25, 1910 and was given to Aunt Abbie and Uncle Edd by Pearl, age 17. A second (later?) notation in ink identifies the subjects as Pearl and Glenn Silvernail.

Photo back

Going to Ancestry.com, a search for Pearl Silvernail born about 1893 and living in Michigan in 1910 finds census records in Wells, Tuscola County, Michigan in 1920, 1930, and 1940 for Glenn Everett Silvernail born about 1888 and wife Pearl M. Silvernail born about 1894. Now that we know they are a couple and not siblings, a search for marriage records is in order. We find Glen E. Silvernail, age 24, son of Charles W Silvernail and Francis Tyrell married Pearl M Curry, age 18, daughter of Thomas J. Curry and Nora B. Malsbury on Dec 20, 1911. Using this new information, we find Pearl Curry, age 16 in 1910, and age 7 in 1900, living in Wells, Tuscola County, Michigan with her parents Thomas and Nora Curry and brother Lloyd.

Using the children of Glen and Pearl listed in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 census, we now have plenty of information to find a home for the picture, but we still have clues to follow. Who are Aunt Abbie and Uncle Edd? Starting with Pearl’s father Thomas Curry, we see in the 1910 census that he has born in Canada January 1865 and arrived in the United States in 1871. Looking at the 1880 Census, we find Thomas living with his parent and a host of siblings in Wells, Tuscola County, Michigan, but none of those siblings were named Abbie or Ed. Next, let’s a take a look at Pearl’s mother Nora Malsbury for a sister named Abbie or a brother Ed. In 1880, also in Wells, Tuscola County, Michigan, we find William Malsbury age 33, wife Annie age 29, with daughters Norah age 9 and Abagail age 7. Looking for marriage records of Abigail Malsbury with spouse Edward, we find Edward Hatherly age 21 married Abbie Malsbury age 17, daughter of William Marsbury, in Tuscola County, Michigan on 26 February 1890. Aunt Abbie and Uncle Ed have been identified!

Now, it’s time to send this picture home. Looking at Find a Grave, we see that Glen died in 1954 and Pearl in 1978. Searching Ancestry.com for public family trees that include the children of Glenn and Pearl Silvernail as listed in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 census, gives several possibilities. To increase my odds of success, I check the Ancestry profile of the owner of each tree and select one that has recent activity. The first attempt at contact is not always successful, but don’t give up! In this case, the second member I contacted was more than happy to add this picture to their family record!

Submitted by Alice Clark, SBAGS President, president@sbags.org

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