Even so, last October I was unprepared for an email that was forwarded to me by a distant cousin, who said, "Claudia - I believe this is your line." The forwarded email said:
For anyone searching for the following names, I have a photo album that has the name R. A. Reed, Beulah, MI stamped in the inside front cover. It is loaded with old family photos including the following people: Herbert Reed (b. 1907, d. 1983), Orville Reed, R. A. Reed, Edith Reed Wolfe, and Maurice Reed. Jeanette Burton and Betty, 1950 on one photo. Ruby and Edith Reed, 1947. The outside of the photo album says, "Kodak, 1901, Miami, FL". Please contact me if you are part of this family.
Well, of course I contacted her - she told me over email and on the phone that her father (a lover of antique shops and garage sales) had bought this photo album somewhere in the South (possibly Florida) about 20 years ago. I gave her my address and she shipped it to me. When I opened the box, there was an incredible treasure - photos of great-grandparents (and other relatives) that I had never seen before.
Most of the photographs in this album are unlabeled, and so it's an exercise in detection to try to puzzle out who, when and where!
So, to formulate another hypothesis, maybe this is a photo of one of Mary Beem Reed's sisters. It could be Alice Maude Beem, born in 1864 and married to Bert John Olney. They had several children, who were about the same age as my grandfather. Hmmm - I think I'll try to track down some Olney descendants to see if they have any (labeled!) photos that we can compare.
And, of course, there is the question of why would a Michigan family have a photo album with "Miami" on the front cover? That's a story for another day!