When I sat down to write this today, I had selected a photo weeks ago and popped it into #335’s folder. It’s no yawning koala bear like the prompt image for Sepia Saturday, but for whatever reason, the drowsy look on the faces of this couple was the first thing in my mind when I saw the prompt photo. Sometimes you just go with the feeling of a photo instead of going deep into the finer details. So, I opened up my WordPress new post editor and got to work, thinking I should probably do some research on who these folks were before putting up another, “Hey it’s a great photo, but I have no idea about the people!” sort of post.
Yet again, Sepia Saturday leads me to filling in some gaps on the family tree. Extended, adopted family tree, but I now have a clear connection to these folks that I didn’t know about before!
As you can see on the back of the photo postcard is written, “Mr & Mrs Bob Chilton.” It doesn’t look like Olga’s writing, so I’m guessing this is the handwriting of Jessie (Battin) Powis, my 2x great-grandmother. This photo has been on my radar for a while since the name isn’t familiar in the family or from the area in general. I had tried to do a little research a while back, but came up kind of empty since Bob Chilton is a common enough name and I had other photos with more of a lead to work on. I logged into Ancestry.com and tried to see if I could find a death certificate for a Bob or Robert Chilton since I have to assume he lived near my 2x great grandparents in Clearfield County, PA. BINGO! I found a death certificate (Ancestry.com link) for Thomas Robert Chilton who died in Ginter, Clearfield County, PA on 18 September 1938. His parents are listed as Benjamin Chilton and Sarah Ann Powis. Sarah Ann Powis. And he was born in England.. Hannng on a minute!
My 2x great-grandfather is Alfred Powis who was born Alfred Jackson on 26 April 1859 in Walsall, Staffordshire, England, and came to the USA in 1872. Alfred’s biological mother didn’t list his father’s name on his birth certificate and Alfred shows up on the 1861 census as a “Visitor” with Thomas Powis and Margaret Collings who apparently adopted him and brought him over to the USA. Thomas Powis’ parents were Thomas Powis and Sarah Ferriday.
Getting back to our dear Mr. Bob Chilton. Bob Chilton’s parents, as listed on his death certificate, were Benjamin Chilton and Sarah Ann Powis. I managed to find a marriage record for Sarah and Benjamin for 26 Mar 1849 at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England listing Sarah Ann’s father as Thomas Powis (Ancestry.com link). Well, that’s good enough for me. I already knew from a census rcord for Thomas Powis the younger (Alfred’s adoptive father) that he had a sister named Sarah Ann, so the pieces fell neatly into place. To seal the deal, there was even a passport application online (Ancestry.com link) with a photo of Thomas Robert Chilton which absolutely without a doubt matched my photo.
As for Mrs. Bob Chilton, her name is Hannah Elizabeth Fry. Once Bob’s story fell into place, I found her Find A Grave entry giving us her birth/death dates and parents’ names.
If that left you with your head spinning, here’s a screenshot from Ancestry.com to show the relationship. Remember that Alfred J Powis is my 2x great-grandfather and while his parents are not his biological parents, they adopted him and cared for him, so his adoptive family factored into his life likely more than his biological family ever did.
Whew! So how’s that for a long post?! In poking around on Ancestry.com, it looks like lots of other members have Bob as having died in 1913, but I don’t think that’s correct at all. All it takes is one person to post an erroneous fact, then it slowly cascades through other trees as people save it to theirs without fact-checking. I have a pretty high degree of certainty that I have everything correct here since all my pieces fit together well, plus, it would make sense for Alfred to have a photo of his (adoptive) cousin who lived nearby. Anyway, that’s that, and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself for having sorted out this mystery today!
EDIT 9:04 pm EDT: Turns out, I have even more evidence this is the right guy! I found this (ancestry.com link) 1871 England census showing Thomas R Chilton living with Thomas Powis, Margaret Collings and Alfred Powis. So, there you have it! The boys definitely spent some time living together and probably had a closer connection than I thought at first!