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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, October 27, 2008
Final Installment: One-Glove Mystery Solved!
Posted by Maureen

I'm doing the happy dance right now! I finally contacted Sue Anderson, the owner of the photo of the four men—two wearing one glove each—featured in two blog posts. Turns out she was on vacation and hadn't imagined the fuss being made over this photo. All she wanted to know was the date of the image and why the one glove. 

In the first post, I dated the image using the postcard back to a time frame of 1904 to 1918. That was the only sure information in the picture.

In the second installment, I reported readers' theories and focused on the gloves. Well, the pieces have finally fallen into place. You're not going to believe it!

While Sue's older relatives were sure two of the men were Lance and Elmore Melson, she wasn't positive because these elderly relatives have been wrong before. They said the two men in the front were Melsons and the men in the back were Wingfields.

Those two in the front are definitely Melsons. Sue sent me several other family photographs that confirm the resemblance. The ears are a giveaway.

Elmore Melson (b. 1896) had two other brothers: Joel (b.1894) and Bertram (b. 1892). I think Sue's family was partially right. Lance Melson would be too young to be in the group photo, but Joel is old enough. It's actually his presence (right front in the group image and below) and age that specifically date the image and solve the one glove detail!

Joel Melson.jpg

Notice the rolled up pants <smile>.

So here goes...
  • Joel dies in 1918 in Oklahoma of pneumonia. The group portrait is likely the last image taken of the 24-year-old. It fits the 1918 period. His brother Elmore would be 22 in that image.
  • Melson and his brothers worked as farmers and weren't very well-off. In Joel's spare time, he also worked as a bronco rider. In the first blog post on this mystery, I suggested the glove was work-related. Since bronco riding isn't something I'm pfamiliar with, I contacted a colleague, Kathy Hinckley (known as the Family Detective), who grew up on a ranch in South Dakota and participated in riding events. She confirmed my theory that bronco riders wear one glove on the dominant hand! Mystery solved.
The men's ties are very Western in style. Kathy made one other comment about something I pondered: Why dress in suits and wear the riding glove? She thought this picture probably commemorated a special event, such as winning at the rodeo. I have no proof of this detail, but the explanation makes sense.
  • There's one more detail Sue helped with—the rolled pants. In the group picture those rolls look like cuffs, but it turns out Joel wasn't very tall, and instead of having his pants hemmed, just rolled them up.  
Sue is amazed at the number of comments and emails about her photo. Thank you to everyone who posted remarks or sent comments. I'm glad we can put the artifical hand theory to rest; Joel had both of his hands at the time of his death.


1910s photos | group photos | men | props in photos
Monday, October 27, 2008 3:28:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
Tuesday, November 04, 2008 2:10:33 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I have been following this mystery and was much surprised to see the names of the men in the picture. If Sue is sure the two men in the front are Joel and Elmore Melson; I am quite sure that the two men in the back are Samuel Wingfield b 1895 and his brother William Garretsmoke Wingfield b 1897 their cousins. Sam and Garret are also the half brothers of my grandmother. Joel and Elmore's grandmother was the brother of Sam and Garret's grandfather. I have other pictures of Sam and Garret that look like the same men. In one of them Sam is wearing a cowboy hat.
Denise Damm
Friday, November 07, 2008 4:31:29 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I had to check to see if you ever found out about the gloves, and glad you found out about it. It is very interesting and how great that another person recognized these individuals also! :)
MK
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