Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday's Faces From The Past: A Success Story!

Today's featured photograph went from orphan photo to a success story in a span of two weeks. As a wedding picture, it moved to the top of the wait list last month, when in celebration of my own anniversary, I dug up vintage wedding photos, and began to share my favorites as part of the Friday series.

Wedding photo of an unknown couple from my great-grandmother's photo album.

As luck would have it, last week, this young couple—proudly displaying their elegant wedding cake— was bumped from the top of the line and replaced by the mystery man post. Seredipiously, in the two week gap, I was able to identify this couple, whose photo I've been staring at for over a year. 

How Did I Do It? Remember my New Year's resolution? I am proud to report that during the first month of 2013, I've successfully sorted and archived all but two old photo boxes. Call it a fluke or good fortune, but another photo fell into my hands during this massive project. Actually, I believe it has nothing to do with fate and everything to do with the importance of organizing and properly storing the photo collections we inherit as family historians. This second photo is from the same wedding, and to my delight, the entire wedding party is in the photo! 

The Wedding Party (click to enlarge)

Some of you may recognize a few of the main characters. Minnie Crane, my great-grandmother, whose memoir I published last year, is front and center to the right of the unknown bride. My grandparents, Morris Bogdanow and Ethel Bogdanow (Bloomfield) are to the far right. Best of mother, is the little girl standing between her two older brothers, grinning ear to ear! My mother was at this wedding! It seemed fair to assume that she assist in the identification task!

The stars were alighted in my favor, and my mother was expected in town the very next day. My only fear was that she looked very young in the picture, perhaps four or five years old, and very possibly too young to remember the event. The group photo did imply a certain prominence of my my mother's family in relation to the bride and groom. Since I did not recognize any one to the left of the groom, I figured they must be his family. Therefore, by default, the group to the right where my mother's family stood, must be the bride's family. But how could they be such close family and I've never seen them before? So, as soon as my mother stepped through my front door, I bombarded her with questions and the photo.

She did not hesitate for a moment. "I remember this wedding!" she exclaimed. "I was so excited, because I was the flower girl for the very first time in my life!" No wonder she wore such a big smile. 
"So, whose wedding was it?" I asked. For a moment, she fell silent, examined both photos closely and attempted to jug her memory. "They were Heintz, I can't remember their names," she stated emphatically!

Louis Heintz was Minnie's second husband. Their short lived marriage (March 11, 1914-December 30, 1951) was interrupted when Louis died suddenly of a heart attack and rendered Minnie a widow for the second time. Louis was not an ancestor I had given much priority to investigating. In another coincidence in this chain of coincidences, I recently came across his descendants when alerted me of a duplicate profile for Louis Heintz. I noticed that they did not have a photo of Louis. I owned a particularly faded black and white image of him. One can scarcely make out his facial features, yet I happen to love this snapshot, since they both look very happy, almost laughing. It took a little work to successfully merge the  trees. Thanks to the magic of the internet, two families, linked sixty-five years ago by a brief joyful matrimony, are now electronically connected. Faded or not, it's better than nothing, and I shared the photo of Louis and Minnie with his descendants. 

Louis and Minnie Heintz (before Dec 30, 1951)
(click to enlarge)
My mom and I scanned the group photo again, and established that Louis was not present. If he had been alive he certainly belong next to his son or daughter at their wedding. In my estimation, if Minnie is standing on the bride's side, then Louis belonged between the bride, Louis's daughter and Minnie. Instead, there is a much younger man, probably Louis's son—the bride's brother—standing in his place. Louis's absence dates the wedding no earlier than 1952. I consulted the Heintz tree on and was able to positively identify the newlyweds as Philip Gradolph and Ida Gradolph (Heintz), from another photo of Ida, Louis' daughter.  

Ida Gradoph (Heintz)

The rest was easy. Minnie Heintz and Mr and Mrs Ernst Gradolph (probably standing to the left of the groom) posted a  wedding announcement in the Houston Jewish Herald-Voice, which is indexed on ancestry. The wedding, took place on June 14, 1953, a year and a half after Louis' death. Few unidentified wedding party members remain staining. Judging from their age, the couple to the far left may be Philip Gradolph's grandparents. The pair standing between my grandmother Ethel and her mother Minnie must be Heintz relatives, possibly Louis' mother and brother? Hopefully the Heintz descendants can shed some light on the matter. 

There you have it! Mystery solved! Shabbat Shalom!


  1. What a brilliant smile the bride has! So glad you were able to solve that mystery. With so many family members in the photo, I'm sure your new contacts will appreciate seeing that!

    1. Thanks Jacqi. I shared it with them! They may have seen these photos before, but their tree doesn't have any, so I think a lot of this will be helpful to them!

  2. Now that you bring up their names, I do remember Ida & Phillip. Id's brother was also named Phil & I spoke with him a few years ago. Ida, I believe was a psychiatrist & she lived in Chicago. Minnie stayed in touch with her over the years. I remember being the flower girl at the wedding & getting in trouble for throwing the rose petals. Moma, as I called her, had a very small house & there were a lot of people at the wedding. The petals were stepped on by the guests & made a mess. I thought flower girls were meant to throw the petals, like in the movies, no one told me till it was too late. Since Moma rarely found fault with me, I remember the wedding! Great detective work Smadar!

    1. I love the story of the Rose petals! Amazing you remember it. You weren't even five years old!


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