One example is actually two photographs - one of the Las Animas (Colorado) Band about 1895 and another photo of it around 1910. Their great-grandfather appears in each of them -- but more than that, each picture shows what life was like in that time period.
Their great-grandfather (my grandfather) was Scott Dobbins Sr. He died when he was only 44 years old and my dad was only 8. There are no family stories handed down about him. But these pictures tell a lot.
The Dobbins family lived in a tiny dry-land farming community east of Pueblo, Colorado. The town was Las Animas, and this is the Las Animas City Band. Scott had an older brother named Gaston and he is on the right hand side of the bottom row holding a trombone. Way up on the top row, right, is Scott, who always played a cornet. The Dobbins family were always involved in music.
What I learned is that during this period in our country's history, band competitions were regularly held. These bands traveled to various locations, even as far as to an adjacent state, to complete in very elaborate and ceremonial competitions. If you are lucky enough to be able to find a newspaper story about such a competition your mouth will drop open to learn what lengths the bands went to in order to make a good showing. The above picture came to me from Gaston's son, Percy, back in 1984. He told me at the time that there was another picture in which he himself appeared but he wasn't able to find it. In 2001 I received a copy of that one from Percy's daughter, who had come upon it stored in an old scrapbook belonging to her long-deceased father
This is the same band taken about 1910 or thereabout. And yes, it is Cousin Percy posing in the front. Percy was born in 1902, so I'd guess he's about 8 years here. My grandfather Scott is on the extreme left hand side and his brother Gaston is directly behind him. My own father would have been 2 at this time, way too young to pick up a horn. (He later learned to play a banjo).
I am so pleased to have these photos. One of them reeks of the old west; the other of the early 20th century. Finding things like this and being able to explain them is what genealogy is all about. It certainly is about more than just getting dates and names.