In the front room of the house where I grew up were five faded, sun-spotted watercolours signed by Joseph Hanshew.
My mother told me was that he was a distant uncle who travelled to America to be a war artist with the Union Army and these pictures had been brought back when he returned home to die.
As I started to look into my family s history however I struggled to find a firm link to him. Certainly I found more paintings, two portraits buried in the spare bedroom wardrobe dated 1850, and in the tin boxes, mainly full of unidentifiable photos, a hand-written copy of his obituary. In those boxes were other Hanshews. A cutting from the Lady of the marriage of Leola daughter of Thomas the famous American author and the copyright, lodged in the Library of Congress, for a play by Thomas and Harley Merry. There was an advertising flyer for a shoe lasting machine invented by Elisha Hanshew currently in use in America but now offered on the English market. There is also one named Hanshew photograph sent by Joseph Hanshew to his mother but of Elisha.
This is the story of my search for those missing links.