Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Little Mr. and Mrs. Biggs

In one of my first Sepia Saturday posts, I wrote about my paternal grandparents Acy and Cassie Biggs. Acy (above, around 1949) was the eldest son of his nearly dozen siblings but was paralyzed in a farming accident when he was in his 30s and was confined to a wheel chair for the remainder of his life. Like many families struggling through the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, most of his siblings and his parents -- John and Mattie Biggs below on their wedding day in 1888 -- migrated to California.
The two branches of the family -- the large one in southern California and the smaller branch remaining in Oklahoma -- had little connection during the 70 years after the separation began. Although I met a few of them through the years, most of their names and stories were mysteries to me.

When my mother died in 2004, I got an email from a second cousin who said that he had been building a family website chronicling the history and that he wanted to connect the Oklahoma and California branches. I was the living bridge, a member of the Oklahoma branch who had been living in California for ten years. Slowly, I have had the chance to meet more and more of the California cousins and have learned first hand stories and histories that had been vague memories and legends up to then.

The cousin who contacted me, Mike, has the diligence of a reporter, reaching out to many long disconnected family members, and the site he built is quite detailed and organized. One of the most interesting tidbits is that although I am a bit over six foot two, I am the exception to my namesake, and my great grandfather John stood just under five feet, often referred to as "Little Mr. Biggs". I've since had the chance to visit the neighborhood in Torrance where the family settled. Ironically, one of my closest friend's family settle just a few blocks down the street, having migrated there in the 1940s from China.

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At 6:22 AM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

great photos - love that look on acy's dog!

kudos to your cousin for his research and the website...very impressive!

whoa, under 5 feet little mr. biggs was indeed little!

happy sepia saturday!

At 12:14 PM, Blogger John Hayes said...

Like Mouse, I liked that photo of Acy a lot--& was quite interested in the website. 230 direct descendents--holy smokes!

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Poetikat said...

That is fantastic that your cousin has provided you with such a wealth of information.
I love that wedding photo; it is very restrained, isn't it?

My adopted younger sister is 6 ft. and I'm only 5'4. I used to refer to her as my "big, little sister".

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

mouse - The dog was named Rudi and merits a Sepia Saturday post of his own.

John - Yes, that's a lot of cousins.

Poetikat - My "big" sister and I have a similar height relationship.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Pat transplanted to MN said...

True portraits of that time, the tinting shows well on the post. How interesting for you to begin to learn about family, unexpectedly. Enjoy the stories that put meaning behind the existences...Your cousin really worked at that...

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Pat - I think the tinting on the wedding portrait came years later after the original. Yes, I was lucky to connect with my cousin who has done so much great work at connecting the two family branches.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Martin H. said...

Family history can produce so many threads and coincidences. How marvellous that your cousin has gathered it all up and produced this very detailed website.

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Alan Burnett said...

Wonderful pictures (but that is no surprise, we've grown used to them) and fine words too. I looked at the family website and it is a model of research and recording. It is so important to have this information out there for future generations.

At 6:16 AM, Blogger willow said...

Little Mr. Biggs made me smile. Wonderful Sepia Saturday post, Mr. Thief.

At 6:28 AM, Blogger L. D. Burgus said...

I have the same situation with two sets of family divided in history but we have had no connection.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Martin - I'm glad to have met the cousin and the many other cousins. We are all amazed by similarities between the two branches of the families.

Alan - The website is a free template that sets up all the organization of info, you just fill in the

Willow - Glad he made you smile.

L.D. - It's never too late. It took us 75 years, and it was worth it.


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