I found an old photo on Etsy last year, just before Christmas. It was identified on the back by the name of the child – Florence Gould Tenney. She was just a little over one year old. I thought it would be fun to try and locate living relatives, and re-unite the photo with a family member. So I bought it!
Research showed that she was quite a woman. Born in Rhode Island in 1902, she earned a Ph.D. in soil microbiology in 1928 from Rutgers University, and was head of the chemical process control laboratory at E. R. Squibb & Sons, New Brunswick. She supervised 45 employees in the development of penicillin and other antibiotics. She was married to Robert Starkey, but as far as I can tell, they had no children.
From her obituary, I found that she had two surviving sisters at the time of her death in 1997 – Marion Louise Tenney Atwood, and Dorothy Tenney Handfield. I focused on Marion because I found her obituary from 2004, and it listed the names of her two children – Diane Atwood Pitt and John L. Atwood. These would be Florence’s niece and nephew.
Rather than blindly call either of these people, I decided to send a Christmas card to Diane Pitt, using an address for her in Columbia, Connecticut that was listed on WhitePages. I explained who I was and that I had this lovely old photo of her aunt. I could not be sure if it was a current address, but I hoped my card would be forwarded if she had moved. I never got a response. Either sending it at Christmas was a bad idea, or she never got the card. Or worse yet, maybe she threw it out or doesn’t want anything to do with her old aunt Florence!
I have not tried writing to the nephew, as I’m not sure of his address either. I found that he has a daughter named Courtney Lynn Atwood who married Kristopher D. Waters in Stonington, Connecticut in 2010. But I believe they now live in Rhode Island. In fact, perhaps they all do.
Such social media as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ has not turned up a likely match either, so I’m stuck at the moment unless I want to start making phone calls or sending multiple letters to questionable addresses. Where is everyone hiding?
It is my hope that this blog post will serve as “descendant bait.” Please, help find Florence’s relatives!
Rita Champlin said:
Kathy, what an adorable photo you found. I can’t believe the clothes these children have to wear! Is she related to us (Judges) somehow? I may not be up to speed on any info you have shared. Hope you find someone who would love this photo.
Love-Rita and family
Rita – no, she is not related to us. I just happened upon the photo for sale. I thought it would make a fun exercise in tracking down living family to get the photo back where it belongs. So far, I have not been able to reach anyone! It’s a shame.