Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Trying to figure out who is who in a photo sometimes takes years.

Here is another photograph I finally, just a few weeks ago (2014), deciphered which was in my Grandmother, Alta Bockhouse's things.

I had copied this picture from her photographs before she died,  some time in the early 1980's. She led me to believe it was her father, William Riley Hastain. Then somehow I lost the copy. And I have not found the negative.

In those days we did not have very good scanners anywhere. I had photographed it using a close-up lens on my camera. A real camera. You know one of those old things that uses film? It was a relatively good camera, with settings for light exposure and shutter speed, and the speed of the film.

When I began to study the life of William Riley Hastain, I began to believe that this could not have been him. This guy is in a civil war uniform, and I just wasn't sure. He seemed too young, born in 1850, and too far away, living in California. Grandma was sure though, but she had mixed up other people, so I questioned whether it was Riley, (that's what my father called him.)

"But who could it be?" I thought , "If not Riley."

Quite a while after  Grandma Bockhouse died, in 1988, my father and I went to visit my Aunt Florence, his sister, and Grandma Bockhouse's daughter, in Washington. I had the picture with me, and I asked her who it was.

"Isn't that the old man?" she said. I thought she meant William Riley Hastain, so I didn't think about it again for a long time.

Last year in June, I decided to write about our Civil War ancestors. I first wrote a little book titled, "Sheriff Shoemaker," about  Dorothy's  great great grandfather.

I got the pension file of Grandma Bockhouse's grandfather. It had a lot of interesting information, so I began writing about him,  Curtis Purinton. This is him with the violin, above. As I read the information in his military file and his pension file, I began to see that these two pictures must be of the same man, so I decided that the Civil War Soldier must be my grandmothers grandfather rather than her father.

I realized that Florence had called Curtis the "Old Man," earlier when she was talking about listening to him play the violin.

Sometimes you may have all the information to make an identification, but it just doesn't all fit together. That's because you are trying to put the pieces into the wrong puzzle. I had been trying to make sense of the picture fitting into William Riley Hastain's life who was my grandmother's father, but instead the picture fit into my grandmother's grandfather's life perfectly.

So that solved that problem, but now I had lost the photograph and this one was the only one I had. We turned the house upside down looking for the negative or the print but with no luck.

The only picture I could find was this bad scan of a print I had, but lost.

I sent a copy of the booklet to my sister in Oregon with the bad picture in it and begged her to scan another good copy for me. She was wonderful. She emailed me a copy, and then she sent one scanned at a store.

Thanks Pat

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