Attleboro ‘Angel’ Reunites 19th-Century Taunton Photograph With Rightful Owner
A picture is worth a thousand words, and the mission of one Attleboro woman is priceless. Kate Kelley is the founder of "Photo Angel" and has made it her goal to reunite families with lost and forgotten photographs found in antique shops.
Her latest finding brought her face-to-face with a father and son duo from Taunton, and she tracked down a relative not too far away.
“I’m a schoolteacher, so now I can pursue my passion all summer long,” Kelley said on her way to an antique store. Around May of this year, she and her mother were going through old family photos that previously belonged to her grandparents when they came across several photos of people that were not relatives. Kelley sent them off to the rightful owners, which were family friends of her grandparents that lived in Tennessee. From that moment on, she was hooked on reuniting timeless photographs with their families.
“I would visit antique stores in the past and I was always heartbroken to find boxes of old photographs in a store,” Kelley said. So, she decided to start buying these photos, and with the help of Ancestry.com, would locate the relatives.
Kelley explained that when a person uploads their family tree to Ancestry, she can type in the name on the back of the photo and the correct tree will pop up, allowing her to privately message the person who originally uploaded the tree.
Kelley has sent out hundreds of photos since May, and her latest find was at a shop in West Bridgewater.
It was an old, weathered photo of a father and his son. Both of their names were on the back: William Gordon and his son, William Haslam Gordon. The portrait was taken in England before they immigrated to Taunton, Massachusetts. Kelley began researching and connected with Bill (aka William) Tripp of Connecticut, who was elated over the photograph.
“I am paraphrasing here,” said Kelley, “But when I sent the man the photo he said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m writing a book on the little boy in that picture!’”
Tripp shared with Kelley that he is a “junior” named after his father, who was named after his father, who was named after his, who in turn, was named after his father.
“My name literally came from the man in the photo, my great great great grandfather,” Tripp told Kelley.
Even though Tripp is in the process of writing a book about the little boy in the photograph, this was the first photo he had ever seen of William H. Gordon as a child.
Kate Kelley shares her findings and stories online and is proud of her project, thoughtfully named "Photo Angel," as she continues to reunite forgotten photographs with their rightful owners.