Nameless 'old man photos' have a story you won't believe

Not too long ago, Buckner received an email from a writer, Karen Barnett, in Oregon about some curious portraits she found in a thrift store. She had done some research and identified the mystery man in the photos as our own Father Buckner from more than 100 years ago! Below is an excerpt from her blog about the find:

I wandered aimlessly through the Oregon antique shop until a framed set of three portraits stopped me in my tracks. The man’s ragged beard reminded me of the famous naturalist, John Muir. I glanced at the tag. “Old Man Photos,” was the only description.

I hate seeing orphaned photos. Everyone has a name, a story. As a historical fiction author, I’m distinctly aware of this fact. This was someone’s precious child, father, mentor, or friend. Someone cared enough to take his portrait and to place it in a frame. It hurt to think of him being forgotten.

My son wandered up. I pointed out the pictures. “Do you think that’s John Muir? Maybe it is, and the owner doesn’t know?”

Go to Google. Click “images.” Click on the camera symbol in the search bar. Upload your photo…and presto!

He shrugged. “Ask Google.”

It takes a teen to point out the obvious. I snapped a quick picture of each of the portraits with my phone, but couldn’t figure out how to reverse search it from the mobile device. As soon as we got home, I downloaded the images to my computer and got to work. If it was Muir, I was going to buy them and hang them in my office. If not, then I’d saved myself some money.

I did a reverse image search. It came back with an instant match. Not John Muir. Disappointment washed over me. So much for my bargain.

Then I started reading.

I’d been right about one thing: he was a man with a story. In 1877, Baptist preacher R. C. Buckner had a heart for the broken–particularly widows and orphans. He gathered local ministers and took a collection to start the Buckner Orphan’s Home in Dallas, Texas, now called Buckner’s Children’s Home, which served thousands of children since its establishment. He’s also known for starting a children’s hospital, a sanitarium, a high school and the Dallas Humane Society. (You can read more in this article from The Portal to Texas History).

Did he impact his world? The man memorialized in these so-called “orphaned photos” dedicated his life’s work to serving orphans and was lovingly called “father” by thousands because of his passion.

Read more from Karen on her blog.

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