Joel Lyman Raymond

Posted by Donna on 10:34 AM with No comments

There are so many branches in Jason’s family tree, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who, who’s related to who, who married who, and on and on and on.  While most of my genealogical research has focused on the Brock trunk lately, every now and again I’ll veer off and shake some of the other leaves to see what falls out.

With more and more information on line very day, it’s getting easier and easier to do genealogical research from the comfort of your kitchen table. And date is great – tax records, census records, vital records, they help to build the timeline of these relatives’ lives - but photographs are still the Holy Grail.

I’ve expounded before on the concept of instant ancestors. Wander into any antique store and you’ll find a box of them – discarded cdv and cabinet card photos, shiny black and white photographs from the 1920’s and 30’s – none marked or identified, save for a photographer’s mark or handwritten date.  Their story will never be told, these smiling, but nameless families and friends, waiting to be adopted, but more likely bound for some crafter’s or artisan’s table to become a piece of altered art.

While I can't imagine why people would discard family photos, I guess I can understand how the anonymity of an icy glazed, sepia tinted woman or somber child perfectly posed against a fringed armchair may not hold the same appeal for everyone. Sadly, the photographs most attributed to the people in my family trees are headstones. While the person may leave this Earth, the headstones remain in perpetuity, a record that they were here, but not of the life they lived, but that's exactly what they are meant to do.

A photograph is a gift, and the other day, I got one. I received a message on with a link to a family photo. One of the great things about Ancestry is the sense of community, and the concept of paying genealogy forward while you're looking backward. Wayne, from Washington state, sent me a link to his tree and a picture of Joel Lyman Raymond, Jason's 3x great grandfather on his grandmother, Mabel's side. Seems Wayne's wife, Carol is a direct descendant of William Greenleaf Raymond, Jason's 4x great-grandfather, and while cleaning out the attic, she came across several old family photos, including the 1912 photo of Joel.

Joel Lyman Raymond was born on March 2, 1816 in Hinsdale, Massachusetts. Until now, he was data – the son of William Greenleaf Raymond and his wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) Freeland. The family lived in Tiogoa County, NY and in 1837, settled in Bingham Township, Potter County, Pennsylvania. Joel's first wife was Jane Searles, who died in 1838, shortly after they married. His second wife was Lydia Matilda Grover, the daughter of David and Lydia (Lyman) Grover. Joel and Lydia had 8 children – Jane (Jason's 2x great grandmother), Minerva, Harriet Louise, William G., Pauline, Ruth, John and Grace. By and large, the family remained in the Potter County area, and many of the Raymond ancestors, including Joel, Jane and Lydia, are buried in North Bingham Cemetery.

On one of our motorcycle jaunts, Jason and I ventured out to Potter County, visited the North Bingham Cemetery where I took dozens of photos of the aging headstones, inscriptions fading into oblivion, and with it, the memory of these ancestors. But now, thanks to Wayne and Carol, Joel Lyman Raymond has come to life; snow white hair, the straight jaw covered with a closely cropped beard, eyes alert and thoughtful, every inch the family patriarch at the age of 96 in his velvet jacket, buttoned vest and striped trousers.

A picture is definitely worth a thousand words.