Who Inspires You?

Thomas Matson at work in the studio, back when photography was high tech.

This photo shows my great-grandfather at work in the Reierson Photography studio at 23 S. Pinckney Street in Madison, Wis., around 1916-1919. According to his World War I draft card, he both lived and worked at this address. Thomas Matson was born in Arendal, Norway and came to the U.S. at the age of 12. Thomas was 34 when he married Augusta Olson, a Swede from Minneapolis, which was probably not the most popular choice for a Norwegian, but I get the feeling that Thomas didn’t let the expectations of others deter his path. Sadly, he died of pneumonia in 1928 at the age of 40, leaving Augusta with two young children just as the country was about to plummet into the Depression. Fortunately, Augusta had a degree from the Minnesota School of Business that enabled her to get a good job working for a judge in Madison, thus saving the family.

A relative loaded this photo to Ancestry.com. Through the magic of Framebridge, I was able to have it printed and framed. Now it sits on my desk, where I get enormous pleasure from imagining Thomas using his creative talents in what was then a high-tech field. Do you have an ancestor who inspires you? Do you keep something of theirs as a memento?

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