Uncovered photos help family reconnect

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Old pictures found in boxes in the attic of a city home have led a family to reconnect with their past and current relatives.

When Cathy Dowling DeHimer — who lives in western New York — received a phone call from another relative indicating there were family photos found in the attic of her parents’ former home, she immediately made arrangements to get the items.

The recent discovery began when a Rome resident reached out to city historian Michael Colangelo Sr. regarding boxes of photos — many with names written on the back — and other historical materials that were located in their attic.

So, the first thought was to see if the family could be found and in the search, Colangelo reached out on social media for help.

That worked.

“ … I posted one of the names to my Facebook group (People and Places of Rome New York) and found a member of the family. In turn she found the woman whose parents owned the home previously. And so the pictures were returned” to the family, Colangelo noted.

To those who have bought a home or inherited a family property, “look in your drawers,” he adds. You never know what you will find.

“It is so cool,” said Dowling DeHimer recently, detailing the genealogical loot her family has received. “They were found in my parents’ home. … I thought we had gotten everything out.”

She said the house in question was built around 1859 and had been owned by her family from around 1900 until she helped move her father out about 20 years ago.

Among the re-found objects are photos that include one of her great aunt Agnes Leary (who was a teacher and administrator in the Rome City School District for 44 years) teaching in a Rome City School District classroom; diplomas and degrees for other family members and military service documents for another.

There are family vacation photos taken at lakes in the Adirondacks. There is a newsclipping from March 1963 detailing an aunt and uncle, and their friends, having a winter barbecue at Lake Delta.

In reclaiming the past, the family has reconnected for the future.

She notes that in disseminating the photos and other objects around her immediate and extended family, she has also been able to reconnect with cousins she hasn’t seen in a long time.

There are some photos that will be donated to the Rome Historical Society, Dowling DeHimer said.

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