Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: Descendants Discovered

On Friday Dec 6th, 2013 I featured Charles Coff as my Friday's face from the past. Charles Coff was not a relative of mine, but his beautiful portrait alongside a family group photo were prominently displayed in my great-grandmother's photo album. My only clues were an inscription on the back, dated 1917 which described his "deep friendship" with Minnie Crane, my great-grandmother. "Deep friendship" seemed to be a code word for their courtship, as Minnie, in her memoir describes multiple suitors during her glory days of being a young single woman in Hartford and New York City. The group photo of the Coffs, dedicated to Minnie by Charles, suggests that she knew and was probably friends with his family as well.

Through last winter's post, I was hoping to return these vintage photos to Coff descendants. It seemed very likely that the Coff family no longer owns copies of these photos or maybe they have the photo but can not identify the people in them. Since they are scanned and included in my records, I felt happy to send the originals to a family member who might want them. As part of the earlier post, I did a bit of research about the Coffs, but lost track of them and their whereabouts after 1919 and found no descendants.

Charles Coff with arms around his sister
Sophia Coff (identified by her granddaughter). The
other three man in the photo are likely
also Coff siblings. One is probably Samuel.  
Last week, to my amazement, I received a comment on the post from a Coff descendant (who goes by the online name, Doctorbak). She is the granddaughter of Sophia Coff, the woman in the photo with her brothers. Recently, Doctorbak came across a photo of her grandmother Rose (who died before she was born) with a young man, probably her husband, back in Russia. Doctorbak and her siblings realized that they never knew Rose's husband name. On a whim, she googled Rose Coff and what she found was a link to my blog and a history of her family's early years in Hartford. Doctorbak never met Charles Coff nor any of Sophia's siblings.

This is the first time that thanks to the power of google, my blog has successfully found a home to an orphaned photo. Though this not the first time people researching their family history have connected to me through google and my blog, it is the first time that I am able to solve a photo mystery in this manner and return the photograph, along with some genealogy research to a family. One of the advantages using blogger is that google gives high priority to these posts in their search engine. Labeling (or tagging) individuals mentioned in a post, is a tool I use to increase the online visibility of these ancestors. If you are a blogger and do not label your ancestors, I highly recommend you start doing so. It works!

The Coff descendants were looking for the name of their great-grandfather, husband of Rose Coff. I believe it may be Moses, since Rose is listed as widow of Moses in the 1914 Hartford City Directory. More research would need to be done to prove that indeed Moses was the man in their photo, but thanks to the Friday's Photo From the Past series, they are now one step closer to identifying their mystery man and to find answers to many more family history questions they didn't know they had.

Happy Friday everyone!


  1. That's a great story Smadar.

  2. Thanks Jimmy. I'm working on another post for next week, which I think you will really appreciate!

  3. I am amazed and thrilled to learn more about my family's legacy. I appreciate the work that you do Smadar. Thank you.

    1. You are so very welcome! Keep me posted if you learn more about your ancestors.

  4. Wonderful story, Smadar. Thanks for sharing.


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