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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, June 27, 2011
Photo Wishes Really Do Come True
Posted by Maureen

There are two success stories this week: an answer for the contest winner and a current connection for a 20th century mystery!

First, there is a solution to the picture of the men dressed like Indians that I covered in Contest Winner Mystery and Contest Winner Revisted. A few people wrote to me and suggested that the men might be members of the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM).

A year or so ago, I enlisted the help of David Lintz of the IORM for another photo. He confirmed my suspicions (and those of readers) that this group of men dressed in loin cloths could in fact be members of the IORM. He sent me a list of the tribes active in Cincinnati from 1851 to 1905. From 1896 to 1902, there was only one tribe in the city: Wyandot Tribe No. 5.  There were two earlier tribes that worked in German and Lintz thought that perhaps Charles Schmidt was once a member of one of them. However, the only tribe that fits the time frame of the picture is the Delaware Tribe No. 20, which was founded in 1866 and remained active until 1896.

If Juliann Hansen's ancestor was a member of the IORM, he would have been eligible for membership at age 21. It's time to take a closer look at those painted faces for her great-grandfather.

contest winneredit.jpg

Lintz thinks that this photo depicts the Degree Team. He told me that there were usually 16 to 19 members, if the tribe had that many, trained in ceremonies. These men held the initiation ceremony for new members and  raided members through the three degrees of the order.

Way back in March, I featured a page from Carol Norwood's mother's shipboard scrapbook in Around the World with Family.  Last week she wrote to me to say she'd made a connection.

Norwood.jpg

Her mother's scrapbook included autographs from fellow travelers, poems and drawings. One of the signatures was from Babeta Hofmeyr, who was on the ship Poelau Tello with Norwood's mother and aunt. Hofmeyr's son is still living and wrote to Carol.  

I'm so happy for Juliann Hansen and Carol Norwood!


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, June 27, 2011 8:14:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, June 20, 2011
    Men's Neckwear in Old Photos (From My Mailbag)
    Posted by Maureen

    In this era of digital imaging, it seems like everyone has a scanner.  That's not entirely true, which is why the submission guidelines for this column, "How to Submit Your Photo" includes a mailing address. You can send me a letter and a copy of a photograph (NO originals, please) and possibly see your photo featured in this space.

    Barbie Clements sent in this picture.

    Clements.jpg

    She found it in her great-grandmother's photos. There's no caption on the back. Her question: "Can you tell me the approximate time period and if he is wearing a preacher's collar?"

    In the 1880s, men wore their ties under their shirt collars.  Tight fitting jackets were the style for men in that decade. While this man's neckwear has the appearance of a clerical collar, you can see part of his tie right above the top button of his jacket.

    Next week, I'll be back with another photo from my mailbag.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | men
    Monday, June 20, 2011 6:54:17 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, June 14, 2011
    Contest Winner Revisited
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about Juliann Hansen's photo of men dressed like Native Americans. It's definitely a mystery. No real breakthroughs this week.

    Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad found another collection of Cincinnati Butcher Supply Company material at the University of California at Davis. A small group of material was donated by the Schmidt family in 2001. Alas...the photos in the collection date from the 1920s to 1950s, too late to be related to the men in the original image.
     
    contest winneredit.jpg

    Juliann's cousin Peggy is also curious about this photo. She owns a copy of an 1890 portrait of the men who worked at the Cincinnati Butcher Supply.

    cbs01 002.jpg

    I studied the two photos and didn't see any faces that jumped out at me as being the same men. A Nov. 17, 1939, article in the Cincinnati Times contained this image with a caption identifying a few of the men. The problem is, the caption was wrong. The middle boy is definitely Oscar Schmidt, Juliann's grandfather.

    So right now there are no answers. I'm back to considering fraternal organizations. The degree of undress in the first image suggests that women weren't present. Too scandalous for their delicate temperaments <smile>.



    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | men | organizations | props in photos
    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:46:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Thursday, June 09, 2011
    The Family Home as Backdrop in Old Pictures
    Posted by Diane

    Before flash photography, candles and lamplight couldn't provide sufficient illumination to take a photograph of a large group indoors. Families often chose to be photographed outdoors, with the family home as a backdrop.

    Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor analyzes two such images on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | group photos | photo backgrounds
    Thursday, June 09, 2011 9:47:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, June 06, 2011
    Contest Winner Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    contest winneredit.jpg

    This is quite the photo problem. Contest winner Juliann Hansen and her family have tried for years to figure out the details in this photo.

    This week I'm going to outline what we know.
    • It was found covered in dust at the Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Co. (CBS) at Elmwood Place in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hansen's great grandfather, Carl/Charles G. Schmidt (1851-1930) established the company in 1886. CBS moved to Elmwood Place in the 1940s. It was a new building, so the image didn't belong to the previous owners of the structure.
    • There were generations of both family- and company-related material stored at the site.
    • Hansen's cousin contacted the Cincinnati Historical Society for help deciphering the picture clues.
    • Last week I mentioned that the card stock dated from the late 1890s to early 20th century, circa 1900.
    • I asked Hansen if anyone in her family was once a member of a fraternal organization. She told me that her father and uncle were Masons, but didn't know about her grandfather or his father.
    The big question is why is a group of late-19th-century men posing bare-chested and in some cases dressed only in loin cloth? 

    An article in Queen City Heritage, a now-defunct publication of the Cincinnati Historical Society, by Susan Labry Meyn, " Mutual Infatuation: Rosebud Sioux and Cincinnatians," (Queen City Heritage, Spring/Summer 1994 issue, 30-48, available online through the Cincinnati Historical Society) sheds some light on the matter.
    • In 1895, the Cincinnati Zoo brought a Cree village to the area complete with actual members of the tribe. They also had a section of the zoo devoted to Arabian, Kurdish, Egyptian  and Armenian families. These living displays were very popular. 
    • Buffalo Bill's frontier show visited Cincinnati in the Spring of 1895.
    • In the summer of 1896, the Cincinnati Zoological Society transported 89 Sicangu Sioux for a display and had them offer western reenactments of famous battles and stagecoach attacks. 
    • Also the summer of 1896, Mayor Gordon Lilly, known as "Pawnee Bill," planned a frontier show with a program called "Cincinnati One Hundred Years Ago" that competed with the Zoo's "Historical Cincinnati" show. 
    cincinnati close-up.jpg

    Look at this close-up of the photo. The men have painted their faces. You can see some light-colored lids in the crowd.  Some of their accessories look like the duplicates you could purchase in dime stores at the time.

    Perhaps this group is just one of the performances held in Cincinnati in the late 1890s.  Photos of the Cree village and the Sioux display are available in Meyn's article, but these men aren't wearing the same tribal clothing.

    It's also possible that this is just a group of Cincinnati men dressed in imitation of the "Indian" craze that swept through the area.

    The final answer has yet to be determined.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1890s photos | group photos | men | unusual photos
    Monday, June 06, 2011 2:48:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Thursday, June 02, 2011
    Question Checklist for Old Family Photos
    Posted by Diane

    If you’re lucky enough to be able to go over family albums and boxes of old photos with a relative, you want to make sure you learn everything you possibly can about the pictures.



    At FamilyTreeMagazine.com, Maureen has put together a list of what to ask so you won't miss any research clues.
     

    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • photo-research tips
    Thursday, June 02, 2011 8:34:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, May 31, 2011
    And the Winner Is? And a Runner-up
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you to everyone that contributed pictures to the Family Tree Magazine Photo Contest.   So many great pictures....it was a tough decision.  I'll be featuring many of your pictures in future columns.

    The winner is (drum roll please):
    contest winneredit.jpg
    Congratulations to J. Hansen!  I'll write more about this picture as soon as I have more details. Here's what I know.  It was found covered in dust in a storage area in her father's company that dates back to 1886.  Can't wait to unravel this one!

    In the meantime, here's another photo submitted for the contest.
    editVanheemsPhotographer.jpg
    Patricia Manwell thinks that this lovely girl depicts someone in her Gawne family.  They immigrated from the Isle of Man to Australia.   A date for this picture would help Patricia figure out who she is.

    • Reddish brown card stock was extremely popular in the 1880s.
    • The design of her dress is a clue. All those vertical pleats were common in the late 1880s.
    • In the mid-late 1880s, studios invested in props to make settings mimic the outdoors. In this case, fake greenery and a "rock" chair.  
    • This little girl sports short hair.  Perhaps it's a clue to a recent illness. Families often cut off long hair when children were very ill.  Long hair was thought to be physically draining.
    There are family history details that I don't have such as when the family moved to Australia.  This could be very helpful.  I wonder if the photographer Vanheems was related to William Henry Vanheems, who taught optics in Australia. Optics is related to photographic lens. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | children | hairstyles | Immigrant Photos
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 4:17:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Wednesday, May 25, 2011
    Clothing Clues in Photos of Male Ancestors
    Posted by Diane

    Women's fashion changes seem dramatic when compared to the subtle differences in men's clothing over time. That's one of the challenges when assigning a date to a man's portrait.

    In this FamilyTreeMagazine.com article, Maureen A. Taylor points out costume clues to look for in photographs of your male ancestors.





    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | men
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 7:56:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 23, 2011
    Scenic Assistance
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you to everyone that attended last week's Photo Detective Live! webinar. Don't worry if you missed it. You can still watch and listen to it online. There's even a free PDF download to go with it.

    This week's photo was submitted as part of our call for images for the contest that accompanies the webinar. (The Photo Mysteries contest concludes this Friday, May 27—here's how to enter.) I'll be featuring these photos and questions in the next few weeks.

    Sharon Woodsum sent in a great set of images. Her family called this photo "Roberts on the Cliff" and believed that it was taken in Wales, home to her husband's grandfather of that surname.



    That's until Sharon spotted this postcard of the exact location.


    Notice the similarities in the background. You can see the lighthouse and the other buildings on the cliff. Now Sharon thinks the family is actually the Emersons of Portland, Maine. It's possible that her grandfather Anthony E. Roberts is in the picture. I'll fill you in on that comparison next week.

    So why did the family go to Nubble Light? It's a beautiful lighthouse and has been in that location since 1879. If this is the Emerson family, they could be on a day-trip to York, Maine, but since it's more than 40 miles from Portland to York and the lighthouse, perhaps the family is on vacation in the area. The date for the photo of this group on the rocks is circa 1900.

    Sharon was lucky to find a postcard view that confirmed the location of the first photo. It yielded a clue that is helping her sort out the evidence in the group portrait.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | group photos | photo backgrounds | unusual surfaces
    Monday, May 23, 2011 6:56:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, May 16, 2011
    Asking the Big Questions
    Posted by Maureen

    I sat with a friend today as she showed me her latest online family history discoveries. It was all very exciting.

    She's worked on this particular genealogy problem for several years. All of a sudden, an unknown distant relative joined an online site and posted family information and lots of pictures. My friend was amazed to see photos of her great-grandparents and some of their children.

    While it was thrilling to see all that new material that solved her brick walls, I couldn't help but look at the photos critically.

    If you find yourself gasping over images of your long-lost relatives, try not to jump to conclusions and accept them at face value. Follow some basic tips for analyzing those images.
    • Remember those captions are not necessarily the truth. Misidentifications happen all the time. 

    • Look at the clues—clothing, photographer and any other evidence in the pictures to see if they add up.
       
    • Is the person the right age to be the named ancestor? 

    • Clothing clues, especially hats, sleeves and ties, are often fashion statements that tell you not just about your ancestor's fashion sense, but can place the image within a narrow time frame.

    • One of the photos depicts a man in a police uniform. This employment tip could help her unlock more family information. Her next step is to contact the appropriate department to try to obtain employment records.

    • Another photo shows a woman in a very expensive-looking fur hat and coat. Family lore claims this woman had financial means. To prove this, I suggested tracking down probate records to follow the money trail.
    Each new picture is an opportunity to find fresh genealogical data. Evaluate the picture sense using the techniques presented each week in this column. It's too easy to accept visual material at face value rather than digging a bit deeper to tell the story behind the image.

    I hope you'll be able to join me this week for my Photo Detective Live! event on May 18, or for one of my new tele-seminars through AskMaureenTaylor.com


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • photo-research tips | preserving photos | props in photos
    Monday, May 16, 2011 3:05:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]