Mary Argent Mozingo Sullivan is my husband’s great-grandmother. She was born in 1854 and died in 1929. She was born in North Carolina, but joined the LDS church in her older years, eventually moving to Utah where she lived until she died.
While working on a family history book, I began a search for more information about the Mozingos, beginning with Mary Argent Mozingo. I knew of only two photos that existed of her. One, was a photo of her alone. The other was a group photo with 8 other individuals, most of whom were unidentified. The photo was taken in a park, with lots of trees in the distance and a park bench, on which sat 2 women, one of which was Mary Argent Mozingo. Each woman was holding a baby, with another small child sitting in between. Behind the bench stood four people, two younger ladies in the middle, with two gentlemen, in suits and hats standing next to them.
The man on the left was Mary’s son Henry, and the one on the right was assumed to be her other son, Gary. Mary Argent Mozingo moved far away from her roots, and would not talk much about her family. Because of that, there was little known about her past, or her family.
About the time I began working on the Mozingo family, I uploaded a couple of photos of my husband’s grandmother to FamilySearch Family Tree. One of those photos was of Mary Argent Mozingo’s daughters. Shortly thereafter, I received an email from someone who got my contact information from FamilySearch, thanking me for sharing the photos.
She stated in the email that my husband’s grandmother was her grandmother’s sister. She told me about a trip she took with her mother years ago, coming all the way from Virginia to Utah to visit my husband’s grandmother (her great aunt) and how dearly she loved her. She had never seen a picture of her in her younger years, and so was grateful that I had uploaded one.
From the name on her email, I recognized this lady as my husband’s second cousin, with whom he had communicated before. He found her contact information through FamilySearch. Because I was working on gathering information about the Mozingos, I was curious about her grandmother, another one of Mary Argent Mozingo’s daughters, so I went to FamilySearch to look her up. As her page opened, I saw a photo of her. I recognized this woman as one of the women sitting on the park bench holding a baby, in the photo with Mary Argent Mozingo.
I emailed this second cousin asking if the woman on the bench in the photo could be her grandmother, Loue Sullivan. She responded excitedly that she was confident it was. She then explained that her grandmother had only visited her mother Mary Argent Mozingo in Salt Lake City one time in 1929. Her brother James Henry Sullivan, who was also in the photo, and who also lived in Salt Lake City, had purchased a train ticket to bring his sister to SLC, just before their mother passed away. In fact, shortly after Loue got back home to Virginia, she received word that her mother had passed away. Therefore, she concluded, the photo must have been taken in July of 1929. As far as the other individuals in the picture, she had some ideas, but no concrete information. Then, almost as an afterthought, she said, “Although, Mary Argent Mozingo looks younger in the photo than she would have been in 1929.” That comment got me thinking. Knowing the identity of Loue and Henry, I calculated their ages in 1929, and determined that couldn’t be that old either. The photo couldn’t possibly have been taken in 1929.
James Henry (Uncle Henry) Mary Argent Mozingo’s son, had written a very extensive autobiography, which I read a few months ago. I remembered from Uncle Henry’s book that he had visited his family in North Carolina and Virginia a couple of times, including twice as a missionary to the Southern States Mission. Suddenly, the thought entered my mind (as if someone whispered it) that the photo could have been taken before Mary Argent Mozingo moved to Salt Lake City. With that possibility in mind, I went to his book, and literally opened up to a page where Uncle Henry described a visit with his mother and sisters in July, 1911, in Richmond, Virginia. His mother was living with her daughter Dysena and her family. As he described the visit he mentioned that Loue came to see them too, with “Gertrude and Myrl,” making all of “mother’s” children except Gary, who was back in SLC. Then he says that “Mary made some Kodak pictures.” After discovering this information, I quickly got onto FamilySearch where I could see the names and ages of those people Uncle Henry had mentioned. I was delighted to see that there were photos of each one of them. Through analyzing ages and resemblances of the photos, it seemed a high likelihood that this photo was taken at the time Uncle Henry described in his book.
One mystery remained and that was, who is the other man in the photo? Uncle Henry had mentioned in his book that his brother Gary was in Salt Lake City, so it couldn’t have been him. Then the thought came that Uncle Henry was on a mission and would have most likely had a companion with him. I flipped back a couple of pages in the book and my eyes immediately fell on a paragraph which read, “Elder Elmer Heninger of Logan R.D. #I and I were assigned to Chesterfield County, which is just across the river from Richmond. Elder Wadsworth told me that he felt that I had been sent up to Virginia for the purpose of visiting my Mother, therefore, he had assigned me to that county, in order to afford me the opportunity of visiting Mother often.” Elder Heninger was his companion, and they both knew visiting his mother was not only OK, but expected. I went to FamilySearch and looked for Elmer Heninger, of Logan, Utah. What a wonderful tool FamilySearch is as I was able to search for him and locate an individual of the same name, same hometown, and correct age as was described by Uncle Henry is his book. I anxiously anticipated that there might be a photo of him that would identify him as the last unknown individual. And there it was. It was a photo of him as a young man, missionary age, which bore a striking resemblance to the other gentleman in the mystery photograph.
Using Photoshop, I laid the photographs I had found on FamilySearch next to the faces of the corresponding individuals in the mystery photo. I named the individuals and listed their age at the time, just to make sure it was all reasonable. I can’t help but look back and see a trail of thoughts and impressions that were placed in my mind that led to these discoveries. But I was interested to see what the cousin in Virginia would think. I attached my photo with face overlays and sent it to her, asking her opinion.
The next day she wrote back. With the information I had sent, she recalled that she had some photographs of the day her mother was baptized, which was the same day, or weekend, as that visit of Uncle Henry to Richmond. In the photos she sent, her grandmother and the baby on her lap were wearing the same clothes and the missionaries, both Uncle Henry, and Elder Heninger, were there. The cousin said that the photos were most likely taken at Byrd Park in Richmond, which was only a few blocks from where Mary Argent Mozingo was living at the time. She was sure that all our deductions were correct.
So, after knowing very little about the photograph, we now were very confident not only about the identity of the individuals in the picture, but the date and location, and some details about what was going on in the lives of the family members at the time. It was a little glimpse into history! Those names became individuals–real people with real lives. A photo really is worth a thousand words.
This story was submitted by Laurie Whiting, the wife of Mary Mozingo’s great grandson.