Heirlooms and Artifacts

The Players:

Walter Munson Hatch was born August 10, 1802, in Glastonbury, Hartford County, Connecticut to the proud parents of William Chamberlain Hatch and Jerusha (Deming) Hatch. In 1813, William took his wife, three sons, William Talcott, Milton Deming and Walter Munson, and mother, Deborah (Chamberlain) Hatch, from their home in Connecticut to the Village of Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York. It was here in Warsaw, that the Hatch family would become pioneers to a new community and leave an accomplished and indelible mark in American history.

Unknown Faces:

Back in 1975, I was looking through boxes of my mom’s family memorabilia. While investigating the contents in one of the boxes, I noticed a pair of intriguing photographs. The two images were of a stately man and woman, dressed in their time-period finest. The couple looked like they had stepped out of the movie, Gone with the Wind, and into my picture frames.

These images are not your typical family snapshot or Polaroid. The two pictures are under glass and encased in an unusual plastic-like material frame, and to view the image you must tip and tilt the picture sideways to make out the incredibly sharp details. I had never seen this type of photograph before.

I asked my mom if I could have the pictures for in my room. Her response: “I don’t know who they are, why would you want pictures of people you don’t know who they are?” I shrugged my shoulders and told her “it was a ‘neat’ kind of picture and I liked the clothes the man and women were wearing.”

In the long run, she let me keep the pictures. I kept them out for a long time, until my two children were born. I knew their little fingers would not benefit these old pictures, so I put them away…for the time being. When I became interested in genealogy, one of the first things I did was to bring the pictures back out. I suspected there was probably a family connection, after all the pictures were kept with the family memorabilia my mom had inherited from her parents and her aunt.

In 2004, my Uncle Bob showed me an heirloom picture (more so an illustration) of Walter Munson Hatch, along with two photographs of the Hatch’s family farm located in Warsaw, New York. It was quite sometime before I connected the picture Uncle Bob had showed me of Walter with my two pictures. It was a thrilling moment when I put 2 and 2 together and realized Uncle Bob and I both had images of the same man, Walter Munson Hatch! Walter’s bold profile had gone from being an unnamed image to an image of my second great-grandfather! After thirty some odd years, I can confidently say the intriguing photographs of the stately unnamed man and woman are actually a daguerreotype1 (pronounced da gurro type) photograph of Walter and his wife, Sally Sherwin.”

Heirlooms and Artifacts:

Family history and genealogy can be uniquely integrated into a story of a lifetime when you take ordinary family facts and weave them together with family heirlooms and artifacts. History is usually written about famous individuals like inventors, politicians, religious and military leaders, presidents and discoverers, but the true history of our country comes out of the efforts and experiences of ordinary individuals that make up the family unit.

True history, essentially family history, is recorded in love letters, diaries, post cards, and travel journals. It is remembered through photographs, wedding rings to retirement watches, handkerchiefs, decks of cards, a giant pink conch shell used to call the farm hands in for lunch, mining ventures and a handmade violin. It is documented through deeds to property, driver’s licenses, family Bibles, high school year books, and report cards. It is celebrated at the family dinner table, at graduations, and weddings. Family history isn’t taught in school and yet it holds the most significant lessons we can experience and learn from. We learn who we are today by looking back at where and who we came from.

1 Morris, Andrew J. Dating Old Photographs, 1840-1929. Edited by Halvor Moorshead. New York: Family Chronicles Publication, 2004. “The Daguerreotype (1839-1860) uses a polished, silver plated sheet of metal, and once seen is easily recognized by its mirror-like surface. The plate has to be held at the correct angle to the light for the image to be visible. That image is extremely sharp and detailed. The Daguerreotype fell out of favor after 1860 as less expensive techniques supplanted it.”





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