Several Branches Short of a Full Tree

A Genealogy & Family Tree Blog

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Garrison Smith Welch

Whether you descend from one of these surnames or are just interested in genealogical adventures and stories of discovery, welcome!

Mysterious Dactylogram


ONLY SINCE THE 1890s has fingerprinting become a useful means of identification. That is not to say, of course, that no one had fingerprints before then! In fact, I have reason to believe that I have the thumbprint of either Garrison Smith Welch or his son, Peter Bevelhymer Welch (my 2x great grandfather).In a previous post, I wrote about a geography book owned by Garrison S. Welch. His faded ink signature and date are on the first page: “Garrison S. Welch’s Book, January 14th, 1857.”


Garrison would have been 26 years old, when he wrote that, assuming it was he who wrote it. Several names are written in the book, including George and Peter B., Garrison’s two sons. Another inscription, however, has intrigued me. It’s practically indecipherable, but it may be Peter’s monogram in ink, which possibly may be read upside-down or right-side up. And what is more, it’s written next to an inked fingerprint! Of course, I don’t know whether it’s Garrison’s or Peter’s or George’s or even Garrison’s brother, Robert M. Welch, whose name also appears. Whatever the case, the style of the thumbprint is not spiral or arched; rather, it is just like mine—looped.

Without any way to verify whose print it is, I know that the book belonged to my father, who got it from his dad, whose father, George Hamilton Welch, gave it to him, and onward two generations more to Garrison. Even to believe that I am touching the very prints of my forefathers feels meaningful, even mystical, as if I am transcending time and space to connect with my forefathers.