After my mom died in the fall of 2013, I found this tintype of Martha in the photos my parents had kept. My dad had written a little bit about his family, but Martha died before he was born and he knew nothing about her past. He quoted part of an old note of my grandmother's saying "She was a beautiful woman, but she had no liberty to express her personality. She could not read. She was gentle and sweet in her disposition and did as she was told."
(i'm pretty sure Grandma Effie would never have called herself a feminist, but she was one all the same. My dad used to talk about a job his dad had in the 1920s. When my grandfather felt called to preach, my grandmother took over the job. For half the salary. Because she was a woman. Even though she was now the breadwinner. She never got over the injustice."
After I found the tintype, cue months of obsessive Ancestry.com searches. I spent week chasing a Martha Jane Bond born in the same year, but it turned out she wasn't my grandmother. On the other side of the country, a woman was researching her husband's relatives from the mid-1800s - including a family named Bond. Thanks to Ancestry's DNA tests and a lot of joint sleuthing of places and names, DNA and records, it seems very likely we share great-great grandparents.
I'm not sure why, but it's very satisfying to have solved this 15-month puzzle.