Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Glass Negative Project: Putting Names with Faces

By Lori Osting

We are very lucky that some of the glass negatives in the Asbury Wilkinson collection do have names on them. Some, including the one Civil War soldier image, have names scratched into them. Others have a strip of white paper attached at the top of the glass with a name written on it in pencil. Even those images that have a name can be difficult to identify if the name is hard to read or cannot be found in the census.

One of the images with a legible name is this one, with the name "George Zaun" clearly written at the top.

After searching through records on, I believe George was born in 1857, the son of Rudolph and Catherine Zaun. In the census, Rudolph listed his birthplace as Hesse Cassel, which was a state in the Holy Roman empire, now a part of Germany. 

Rudolph was a butcher in Jeffersonville, Clark County, Indiana. Their son George married Mary Elizabeth Kimmerle on 10 October 1878 in Clark County. Like his father, George was a butcher. In 1880 he and his family were living in Danville, Vermillion County, Illinois. In 1900, they were living in Afton, Union County, Iowa, where Mary operated a boarding house.

George and Mary had five children: GeorgeAlva, Ethel, Clyde, and Paul. The family is buried in Los Angeles County, California. Like so many other families of their time, they spent their lives migrating west. If you are a descendant of this family, please contact us! We'd love to verify George's identity and learn more about him.

Based on the historic documents I was able to find, it doesn't look like George Zaun ever lived in Decatur County, which could mean that the photographer was working in Clark County when this photo was taken, perhaps around 1870, or that the family did live in Decatur County for a very short time between the censuses.

As we continue to digitize and research these photos, we will share what we learn. We have secured the funding needed for the restoration and scanning of the collection, but we are still $236 short of the amount we need for the archival envelopes and boxes that we will use to protect and store the original negatives. If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to the library with "Attn: Lori Osting" on the envelope. Our address is: Greensburg Public Library, 1110 E. Main St., Greensburg, IN 47240. You can also donate via Paypal (under "Gift Fund Donation"); make sure you include a note that the donation is for the glass negative project. If you have any questions, please contact Lori Osting at the library. 

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