|A Picture Without A Frame
Many times old photographs taken years ago end up being unidentified and are often considered of no value because no one knows the person or persons in the picture. But on many occasions, those nameless faces could possibly have a relative who never saw that particular picture, and would be overjoyed to have it end up back with the family once more. A perfect example of how this can happen follows:
Several years ago at an auction in a neighboring town, Ronald Dishman came across an old photograph for which someone had bought the frame but left the picture behind. When he picked up the picture, he noticed that a name had been written on the back, so he bought it to see if he might possibly locate relatives of the lady in the photograph. Several years went by, and the picture got placed here and there, but each time Ronald came across it, it seemed to speak to him. Eventually he did some research and determined that the lady might possibly have family in Allen County, Kentucky. He placed a query on an Allen County Historical Society website where it was seen by someone who knew a family member. Gayla McClary Coates, who turned out to be a great-granddaughter of the lady in the picture, contacted him, and just recently, the photograph was delivered to her. She said this to Ronald in a recent email: “Some people just do not seem to care about their past, but I have always loved hearing the family stories from my grandparents and other older relatives. Thank you so much for sharing.” As it turns out Gayla is a librarian in the Simpson County, KY archives. She shared this information about her great-grandmother, the lady in the photograph, whose name is Vitual Hinton Lyles. Here are portions of her story:
“Vitula Hinton was the 6th of seven children born to Obediah Hinton and Rachel Clyne. She married Thomas Fountain Lyles on 8 December 1871 in Allen County. Thomas was the son of James Manasseh and Elizabeth Stamps Lyles. James Lyles’ home was on the old Franklin Road or Upper Franklin Road close to Trammel Creek. The log home Thomas grew up in is still standing and his parents were buried nearby.
“Thomas Fountain bought a small farm in 1877 just off Highway 100 possibly adjoining his father’s property. Vitula and Thomas had 7 children whose names were: Obediah; Albert T.; James Walker; Robert Fletcher; Emmitt Oscar; George Washington; and Maggie. Maggie died at a very young age and was buried at Walker’s Chapel Methodist Church where Thomas and Vitula were members. While Thomas and Vitula were living at the place they bought in 1877, Thomas’ father, James, lived with them. Apparently, James was hard of hearing and whenever it was mealtime, he sometimes wandered off to the orchard and couldn’t hear the call to come and eat. His grandson, George W., was usually the one who had to go get his grandfather at mealtime.
“Thomas bought a 100 acre farm just down the road from the other place in 1891 where he erected a the large cattle barn with wood from the farm. Their son, Albert, and his wife, Linnie Lamb, lived at the old farm which Thomas sold to Albert in 1912. George W. married Bevie Alice Stamps in 1912, and following the death of Thomas Fountain, George and Bevie became owners of the farm. “Eventually it passed down to his daughter, Georgia Lyles McClary. Members of the Lyles family owned the farm for over 100 years until 1998 when it was sold.
“Vitula died at age 72 on 18 Aug 1920 in Allen County and was buried at Walker’s Chapel Methodist Church on Highway 100. The house she lived in since 1891 burned to the ground in 1922 and most of what the family owned went with it. Thomas and his sons, Emmitt and James Walker and his children were living there at the time, and when they realized it was aflame, there was not much they could rescue. Whether the picture of Vitula was one of the items taken from the flames, no one knows. For that matter, no one knows who owned the picture and when it may have been sold. We know that it was never in the possession of George, Albert or Emmitt. Perhaps some of Vitula’s family owned it and it ended up in an estate auction. We would love to solve this mystery. However the picture of Vitula ended up in Tennessee, we are just grateful to get it back. How lucky that her name was on the back of the picture and that she had a rather unusual name. My mother never knew her grandmother since Vitula died six years before she was born, so she was delighted to see her picture.”
Had this photograph ended up in someone else’s hands, I feel sure this story would have a different ending. Thankfully, that was not the case, and with the help of someone who made the effort to identify her, the long, lost photograph of Vitula Hinton Lyles made its way back into hands of caring and grateful family members.
The vintage photograph of Vitual Lyles was recently presented to family members who had never before seen the picture.