Monday, November 11, 2013

From the Archives: Finding Grandfather

Recently, Mary Beth Ragsdale was searching for a Christian Brothers College graduation photo of her grandfather, Frank C. Byrd. Her mother had previously owned a copy of the 1904 class photo, but she lent it out and never got it back. Mary Beth’s relative Nancy Lanigan, Director of Development at CBHS, stepped in and contacted CBU's O'Donnell Archives.

We were able to locate a 1904 class photo, but Frank Byrd was not listed in it. From a scan we emailed her, Mary Beth identified her grandfather standing in the middle of the back row. The young men look a little young for college grads. Based on the age Frank would have been in 1904, we calculated it must be a high school graduation photo. Until 1963, the high school was still connected to the college.

As for Frank Byrd, Mary Beth told us the following,
"I never met my grandfather. He died when my mother was only 9 years old and her brothers, Frank and Bill Byrd were 7 and 6. He was only in his 30s when he contracted pneumonia and died. That was, unfortunately, before penicillin had been discovered.
He was a cotton broker at Earle Cotton Company, 12 N. Front Street, when he died.
He was born August 16, 1885, so this was most likely a high school graduation photo. I don't know if he attended college at CBC or not.... All 10 of Frank Byrd's grandchildren appreciate the help [CBU] has provided."
Thanks to this inquiry, we identified the portrait as a high school graduation photo and named one of its subjects. Mary Beth also plans to donate a copy of Frank's 1904 diploma to the O'Donnell Archives.

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