Putting a face on William White

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for this lol I know…Im prob the only one THIS excited about being able to interview Joe Mullins, but Im going to share anyway :dance:

A little over a month ago I found an article detailing the development of an interesting news story, well interesting to me. It was titled “Newfound descendants of boy in iron coffin gather Smithsonian unveils image of what orphan would have looked like” written by Carol Vaughn for the Delmarva Daily News.

Right away I was fascinated since this seemed to combined two big interests to me, genealogy and forensic anthropology. The article tells the story of the search to identify remains buried in Virginia over 150 years ago and long forgotten until they were accidentally dug up by utility workers and turned over to the Smithsonian.

You can find Carol’s article
HERE

Captivated, I immediately began searching out more information and found a few other news articles on the subject and immediately posted everything I could find on my genealogy forum because it was just too awesome not to share. I mean what genealogist in their right mind wouldn’t just love this? How many times have we sat and wondered what some ancestor we are researching looked like and this person’s family was going to know.

Thanks to someone else on the forum who found the following article I was able to get a little more information on the processes that had gone on, you can find that article  HERE

And I also found a write up on the Smithsonian’s website about it. This was all great information. But, yes there is always a “but” with me, it didn’t tell me the things I was really wanted to know and the geek in me was screaming out to be fed more information. It was like I have been given a hundred calorie snack pack when I wanted the whole box of cookies. So I began a quest, I’m sure some people are familiar with this kind of quest, the kind where you sit on every search engine you can find to find more information. Unfortunately, I had found just about everything there was on it and was coming down from a big research high when I had a brilliant thought!

I would write to Ms. Vaughn and ask her if there were any more details that maybe my googling skills could not find!! I was so proud of myself at that moment. I emailed her using the contact information from the first story I read and asked the “is there more” question. She politely emailed me back and suggested I might contract Deborah Hull-Walski at the Smithsonian to see what she might tell me.

I learned a long time ago, the worst that can happen if you ask someone to help you with something is that they say no, and I have gotten to do and see some pretty amazing things in my life living by that. So here we start the quest….little did I know how difficult it was going to be to track down contact information for Ms. Hull-Walksi, I should have known though, as much as I research, that I never find what I’m looking for the first go around and it took me the better part of a morning to find an email address for her online that didn’t bounce back as undeliverable.

Basically what I was looking for was pictures of the facial reconstruction from beginning to end. One of the newspaper stories had a picture but it wasn’t all that great and I wanted more.

I was not really expecting to hear back from her, she is after all a very busy woman with a position at the Smithsonian, but I had to try. So, on December 18 2007 I sent her an email detailing what it was I wanted and why and you could have knocked me over with a feather three days later when she answered me.

Unfortunately she did not have what I was looking for, but told me who I could contact that would have it, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Now, I was really hesitant to bother them, they do very important things and in my mind what I wanted was very very trivial in the bigger scheme of things, but the devil geek on my shoulder would not let me pass this opportunity up and Ms. Hull-Walski assured me it would be ok to contact them, but once again I had to find the contact information on my own. Joy of joy’s a googler’s life is never dull.

Looking at the website for NCMEC I finally decided to use their media email address and fired off another missive of what I was looking for and why and two days after Christmas I got a response. No, response is an understatement, because what I got was so much more. Not only did I get a picture, I was told that it could be arranged for me to actually speak with the people in charge of the facial reconstruction.

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in two things that I never really thought I would get a chance to be involved in, the first was going on an archaeological dig and the second, watching a facial reconstruction and this was as close as I was going to get to the reconstruction or so I thought at the time.

I had to think quickly because there was no way I was ready to talk with them, I needed to get my head together so that I didn’t sound like some giddy high schooler when I did talk to them. Luckily, I could use the holidays as an excuse and explained to the person that emailed me back that I would get my thoughts together and get back with her after the holidays to set up a time and she said that was fine, just to let her know when I was ready.

…..If you would like to read the actual interview, please visit the discussion thread. You do not have to be a registered member to access it.

I hope you enjoy

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