Mary Alice Dalton, granddaughter of Zebulon B. Coffin

Mary Alice Dalton, tintype

From the time I was very young, my mother would tell me that I looked like Cousin Alice when I pouted and talk about how Daisy (her nickname) would pout to get her own way.  And then she would stick out her own lower lip to show me how I looked.  There was an old picture, actually a tintype, of Cousin Alice as a little girl with her dog.  I was intrigued by the clothing and hair.  And I wanted to know more about her.  Where was she now?  Had I ever met her?  Would she ever come visit us?  Who were her parents?  And on and on.  My mother knew most of these answers and was happy to tell me. This was my father’s family and she had been trying to understand the complicated relationships for a long time.  There were secrets, things that were never spoken of.  And there was a pride in belonging to the Coffin family.  While she didn’t talk about the secrets until I was much older, she did explain the relationships.

There were also two very old photograph albums, with thick rigid pages with openings into which pictures had been slid.  She knew who some of the people were but not all.  And she could tell me stories about some of them.  They were all part of the extended Coffin family in southwestern Ohio but some of them had actually gone and lived in Argentina for a long time.  How exotic!  For a little girl growing up in the middle of Indiana this was all intriguing.  How could I not be interested?

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