I fell in love with Green Stanford the first time that I found him in the census records. He was 74 and living in the 1930 household with his son Will Stanford. Family members did not talk about him so his name was new to me. What a cool name, Green. Because of his unique name, I was able to find his father, William Stanford, and trace the family back to 1870.
My second Green surprise was finding his picture on the internet, the day that I was flying to Birmingham, AL to attend IGHR. My cousin, whom I have never met, published the picture on the family web site. Finding a photo is an amazing thing, especially when it is unexpected. The eyes of Green, my 3x great grandfather staring back at me.
I knew that a picture of Will Stanford was available, but no one told me about Green. (Yes I did ask. Just did not ask the right people.) Here he was on the world wide web. Quickly I printed the pictures and packed them with my already bursting luggage and headed for the airport. Looking at the picture of Green and his son Will fascinated me. At the time I was very taken by Will. He looks just like my Grandmother’s brother, Uncle Harvey.
So now I know that Grandmom and Uncle Harvey Lee have strong Stanford features. (Alabama will not know Uncle Harvey without the Lee. Go to Barbour Co and ask about Harvey. They will not know who you are talking about. But ask about Harvey Lee and a broad smile will come across their face. Uncle Harvey was a character.) Uncle Harvey Lee and his Grandfather both have a strong jaw. This is a characteristic that I have noticed when visiting Stanfords in Barbour Co.
Green did not capture my thoughts as quickly, because there was something funny about him, something funny about this picture. I have seen this picture before. It was just too familiar. Maybe someone mixed up a picture of a famous black person with my Green. I showed the photo to a couple of people who pour thru history books like I do. I wanted to see if someone said, oh that is one of the black politicians from so-in-so state. The man in this picture is wearing a nice three piece suit, so he could be a politician, minister, businessman, leader, etc. No one recognized this man in the photo, with the label Green Stanford.
Finally, back in the room, alone, I gazed. Will and Green were now leaning against the mirror. First I gazed at Green, and then I gazed at Will. Will. Green. Green. Will. Why am I having such a hard time with Green. Have I become such a source citation demon that I can not accept this picture and label as fact? No, that was not it. Something else was in play here, but for the life of me….
The next day I was able to come to terms with the face of my 3x great grandfather. I was actually looking at the face of my Mother’s brother. My uncle looks just like Green and he has passed these eyes on to his children. They eyes of Green Stanford were in my house not too long ago, two pair. My first cousin Kevin Toomer and his daughter have carried the eyes of Green Stanford from 1854 to 2005. The problem with the picture is that it debunked a long held myth and that it was just too close.
The long held myth is that we mostly resemble our Grandfather’s Toomer family. The Toomer family is our heart and soul. Our Alabama heritage is new to us. The closeness of the picture is that my tall, handsome talented, 20 something year old cousin was lost to city violence eight months before I found this picture. Maybe it could have made a difference. One thing for sure, he would have loved this picture. I can see his smile now, not just on his lips, but in his eyes too.
The picture of Green Stanford will return with me to Birmingham, AL. in June. He is my inspiration. Finding his picture on the internet has reinforced a few things. Follow the itch. An itch occurs for a reason. Also, most important, what is on the surface is not always easily seen.
You be the Judge.
Click on image to enlarge.
Green Stanford is on the left, and his 3x great grandson is on the right.
Here is a link to view pictures of Kevin Toomer, and his Legacy.com site. Click on the photo gallery to see additional pictures.