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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, June 15, 2014
Mapping the Places Your Old Photos Were Taken
Posted by Maureen

There are so many layers to a photo identification and interpretation problem. A family photograph is a lot more than just figuring out who's in the image. Each photo tells a story.



This image of billiard players outside a Mulhall, Okla., pool hall appeared in last week's Photo Detective Blog post, and in the in the May/June issue of Family Tree Magazine.

In the magazine, I explored occupational clues in their attire. In the blog post, clues in the picture led to a possible identification based on the rivets in one man's chaps.

This week it's pinpointing the location of the billiard hall. 

Using the Sanborn Insurance Maps, a ProQuest database that's available through many libraries, I was able to locate where these men stood.

Sanborn Insurance Maps are a wonderful resource for anyone looking for more information on a particular building.  You can view the building in context of its surroundings, learn about details in the structure such as the location of staircases, elevators and how larger businesses were heated.  Sometimes there is information on the type of building material. Often, the maps tell you what types of businesses operated in a building and sometimes with a specific business name. (Learn more about Sanborn maps and see an example here.)

These maps are very useful when city directories aren't available for an area or when used in conjunction with city directory information.  The digital Sanborn collection covers the years 1867 to 1970. It's not comprehensive for every city/town or even every block.

There are several maps for Mulhall in the collection, so narrowing the time frame was the first step.



The style of the stamp box, combined with the divided design on the back of this photo postcard, dates this card to after 1907. On March 1, 1907, it became legal to include both the address and a message on the back of a postcard.

The August 1908 Sanborn Map for Mulhall shows that a billiard hall operated at 57 Baty Street.

mullhall billards.jpg

According to the 1910 US census, Yeve J. Cox operated a pool hall in town. This map doesn't list the name of the pool hall's owner. It's possible that Cox appears in the photo above.

There was a surprise on the October 1915 map of the town: The billiard hall was gone, replaced by a moving pictures establishment. At 62-1/2 Baty Street was a photographer's studio. According to Kathryn Stansbury's History of Mulhall, Oklahoma: 100 Yesteryears (Transcript Press, 1988), a  Cunningham's pool hall burned down in 1919. It's unclear if both establishments were the same business.

This information suggests that the photograph was taken between 1907 and 1915. Given what's known about the men in the picture, it's likely closer to 1907.

A lot has changed in Mulhall since these men posed for this portrait. Google Maps shows how many of the buildings on Baty are now gone.

mulhall street view.jpg

Using a combination of historical maps and modern technology brings a new layer of interpretation to Charlotte Flock's family photo.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | 1910s photos | occupational | unusual photos
    Sunday, June 15, 2014 1:03:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 08, 2014
    Western Pastimes: Billiards Buddies Follow-Up
    Posted by Maureen

    In the May/June 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine is a photo of six men standing with billiard cues.



    Two of the men are Charlotte Flock's maternal and paternal grandfathers. Instead of a formal portrait, Flock's ancestors posed during a pause in their favorite pastime.

    On the far left is Ira Willard Mayfield (born Feb. 4, 1872)



    Next to him is Flock's paternal grandfather Michael Schmitt (born Sept. 12, 1871)



    Their clothing provides possible clues to their occupations. Mayfield and Schmitt were farmers. The man in the center wears dress pants and a necktie. He could be a storekeeper. 

    The man to the far right appears to be a laborer, while the man with the cigarette wears very clean chinos and a shirt.



    Their identity is currently unknown. But the man in the chaps provides a clue to his name—there are initials on his chaps, J.T.



    A search of the 1910 federal census for Mulhall Twp, Logan County, Okla., turned up a possibility. It's a really small town, so browsing the census returns using HeritageQuest online (a ProQuest database available through many libraries) didn't take very long.

    The only man with the initials J.T. was John Thompson, a grocery store owner.

    Next week I'll share new information about where that billiard hall was located.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | hats | men | occupational
    Sunday, June 08, 2014 2:12:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 01, 2014
    Costumed Old-Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    Costumed ancestors in photographs often cause their descendants to wonder about the significance of that head-to-toe attire. Cheryl Jackson has one such mystery.

    jackson2.jpg

    She thinks this man is John Hardy Jackson who lived in the Paragould, Green County, area of Arkansas from approximately 1896 to 1942.

    He's part of a group that posed in American Indian attire in front of a sign for a Webster County Fair. According to Google Maps, Paragould, Ark., is about 200 miles from Webster County, Mo.

    Jackson1.jpg

    While the family thinks they have American Indian heritage, I think these men are dressed up for another reason. They could be members of the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM).

    I wrote about a similarly attired group of men from Cincinnati back in 2011.

    Could Cheryl Jackson's ancestor have been a member of the IORM? It's possible. That might be the root of the family lore relating to American Indian ancestry. A DNA test could help establish whether the family in fact has American Indian heritage.

    It's also possible that these men dressed up for another unspecified event at a fair. The poster in the background could place them in Missouri when the photo was taken, or just be an advertisement for a nearby fair.

    The man in the center with the white headdress and the crossed sticks is the leader of this group. Next week I'll examine another photo of Jackson to see if the two men are the same.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • fraternal | men | unusual photos
    Sunday, June 01, 2014 6:59:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 25, 2014
    Daughters and Sons-in-law in an 1850s Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Jim TeVogt owns a copy of this gorgeous image, reported to be three of Horace W. Twichell's daughters and their husbands. A cousin told him that his photo was made from a glass negative in the Twichell family.

    Horace W  Twichelledit daughters  _husbands-Eveline Twichell  Usual Haggerty Devore Irene Jane _Twichell  Will Thomas Cadoo Emeline Twichell  Peter H  _C.jpg

    Could this be:
    • Eveline (born 25 May 1824) married in 1840 to Usual Haggerty Devore (born 1815)
    • Emeline (the twin to Eveline, born 25 May 1824) married in 1844 to Petr H. Conklin (born 1822)
    • Irene Jane (born 1838) married in 1852 to Will Thomas Cadoo (born 1825)?
    There are many questions:
    • What type of image is it, as it was supposedly made from a glass negative?
    • Who's who? Are these the twins with another sister?



    Here's what I see: 
    • All three women wear their hair tight over their ears in the style of the 1840s. It's a very conservative style. The family were Methodist.
    • Each woman Has a flower pinned in the center of the opening of her collar.
    • Wide-necked dresses with short sleeves were still being worn in the early 1850s. Each woman has accessorized her dress with a wide collar tucked at the waist.
    • The center woman wears a wide bow at the waist.  I've seen this in photos of weddings.
       horace twichell daughter.jpg
    • The daughter on the far right wears undersleeves to cover her arms. These tied on the arm above the elbow.

    twichell daughter right.jpg

    Horace Twichell had two other daughters: Harriet (born 1826), who married Daniel Malin in 1845; and Henrietta (born 1831), who married a man named Sulla before 1860. 

    The only sister the family has a positively identified image of is Harriet and her husband, circa 1870. 

    Daniel  Harriet Mallanedit - ca  1870.jpg

    This is not one of the sisters or husbands in the first image. This man has bushy eyebrows and is much older than his wife. There are facial similarities between the sisters, such as the shape of the face and nose. Unfortunately, there are no other images of the other sisters and their families.

    Wedding clues include the presence of the ribbon, the flowers and the similarly dressed women. So who's in the possible wedding image?  It could very well be the twins Emeline and Eveline with their sister Irene Jane in the middle. Irene married Dec. 15, 1852, which is a likely date for the picture. 

    As to the relative's comment about the glass negative, the original for a photo of this era would have been a shiny reflective daguerreotype. Glass negatives weren't available until after 1852, and glass ambrotypes weren't patented until 1854.  Someone in the family may have copied the original and ended up with a glass negative, from which TeVogt's image was made.  



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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1850s photos | unusual photos | wedding | women
    Sunday, May 25, 2014 4:34:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 18, 2014
    Cousin Connections Through Old Pictures
    Posted by Diane

    Never underestimate the power of a picture.  A single photo can connect you with a missing piece of evidence, point you in a new direction or help you meet "new" relatives. 

    Last week's picture brought two women closer together and solved a more than 60-year-old mystery.

    Broderickfront.jpg

    Alice Broderick and her cousin Mary Ellen Gillespie arrived at Ellis Island in June 1906.

    At one time the Gillespie relatives were very close, but as often happens, new generations create distance between cousins. Everyone means to keep in touch, but time and circumstances interfere.

    Anne Hanlon has spent years researching her mother's family history. A few years ago, Anne's sister gave her a letter the family found in their mother's belongings when she died in 1949.  It was from a Mary Rupp, signed "your cousin."  Anne didn't know exactly how her mother was connected to Mrs. Rupp.

    Anne periodically Googled the name "Mary Rupp" to see if any new information came to light. One of these searches led her to Maureen Petrilli's Ancestry.com page. She sent Maureen a message.  One query answered family history mysteries for both women.

    MaryEllenGillespie2.jpg
    Mary Ellen Gillespie Donelan Rupp

    Anne, who owns the above photograph of the two women, thought one of the women on the postcard might be Maureen's grandmother. The details in last week's column verified when the picture was taken. There's a striking resemblance between the woman in Maureen's picture of her grandmother and the seated woman in the postcard.

    Maureen's paternal great-grandmother, Mary Rupp, wrote that letter to Anne's mother. No one knows if Mary received a reply from her cousin.

    Mary Ellen Gillespie Rupp's first husband, Michael Joseph Donelan, (Maureen's paternal grandfather) was crushed to death in a mining accident in Pennsylvania in 1921, just four months before Maureen's father was born. Mary became a widow with four children to support and another one on the way. Once she remarried, the family didn't really talk about her first husband.  However, in the letter to her cousin, Mary mentioned that Michael was born in Galway, Ireland, a fact that Maureen didn't know.

    Anne, related to Maureen through Mary's first cousin, sent her newly rediscovered cousin both the letter and the photo. There may yet another connection between Anne and Maureen: Anne's father's brothers married sisters with the same surname as Maureen's grandfather! 

    Online reunions happen everyday. Do you have one to share?


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | photo-research tips | Reunions
    Sunday, May 18, 2014 4:36:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 11, 2014
    Mothers in Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Who doesn't own an image of an ancestral mother with her children? It seems like everyone has at least one.
    Broderickfront.jpg

    This week's photo doesn't show a mother. Instead, she's referenced in a note on the back.

    Maureen Petrilli's grandmother Mary Ellen Gillespie arrived at Ellis Island with her cousin Alice Broderick in June 1906. They were headed for Alice's sister Margaret's home in Scranton, Pa. Both women were from Eskeragh, Ireland. 

    On the reverse of the postcard is a message: "Give this to Mrs. Broderick Eskeraugh Dooley So from her daughter"

    It seems pretty clear that a copy of this image was meant to go to either Alice's or Mary Ellen's mother. Both bore the surname of Broderick at this point.

    One of the key ways to date a postcard is to look at the back.

    broderick stamp box.jpg

    Stamp boxes are very important. This one shows the postcard was manufactured by the Kruxo Co.  A quick check of Playle's stamp box website provides information on when this style of stamp box was common. Playle's suggests that this design was used about 1907, providing another piece of evidence that Alice and Mary Ellen posed for this picture around the time they immigrated.

    The term postcard first appeared on privately produced cards in 1901; until that point, they were called private mailing cards. Initially only postcards produced by the US Postal Service could use the term.

    In the early years, real photo postcard printers were prohibited from using divided back cards with separate areas for address and message. That changed March 1, 1907. You can read more about postcard history on Wikipedia.

    This particular card doesn't have a divided back. 

    Many of us have postcards in our family photograph collections that were never sent. Maureen isn't sure if this card was ever sent to Ireland or, if it was, how it ended up back in the United States.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | photo postcards | women
    Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:24:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, May 05, 2014
    Texas Photo Mysteries
    Posted by Diane

    This past weekend I was the featured speaker for the Austin Genealogical Society. There were a lot of folks in the audience who weren't familiar with this Photo Detective blog. The big question was: Have I written about any Texas photo mysteries?  

    The answer is yes! Two. I did a quick search using the search box at the bottom of the left hand column on the blog.  

    Three Women  Man on Fallen Treeedit.jpg

    Back in March, I wrote about Jane Bonney's search for the identity of the women in the photo above, in Stories in the Family Album. Could Bonney's grandmother Grace Wickline be the woman on the far left?



    The mystery of this Texas twosome is still unsolved. Are they Confederate Guerillas?  The story was so intriguing that it was the focus of several columns.

    Two Texas Mysteries
     
    Texas Mystery Puzzle—No News

    Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
     
    Texas Twosome Revisited 

    Love the shirts worn by these two men! 

    Now that the attendees in Texas asked about photo mysteries in their state, I'm curious about mysteries from other states. I think it's time for a state by state directory. Stay tuned!

    I'll be at the National Genealogical Society conference this week. Please stop by booth 521 and say hello.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • men | unusual clothing
    Monday, May 05, 2014 7:26:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Sunday, April 27, 2014
    Sleeves Tell the Story
    Posted by Maureen

    Family history mixups happen all the time, especially with photo captions. Vicki Beegle wrote a name on this image awhile ago, but now she's not sure if it's a woman on her mother's side or her father's.  

    It's going to take a little time to sort this out.  In the mean time, I can tell her that there's one detail in this image that pinpoints the time frame when this woman lived: her sleeves.

    Holleman2 Viola Dickerson or bennett.jpg

    In the 1890s, women's sleeves dramatically changed. At the turn of the decade from the 1880s to the early 1890s, sleeves stood up straight from the shoulder in a sharp peak. In the mid-decade, large, oversize sleeves were fashionable. In the late 1890s, small puffs at the upper arm were common.   

    This woman's sleeve is the sharp peak of the early 1890s.

    Holleman3 Viola Dickerson or bennett.jpg

    It's a clue worth watching for. This small detail places this image in the 1889-1892 period.

    Another clue also confirms it's the 1890s: White cardstock mats were a popular choice in that decade.

    The big question is this woman's identity. She could be Viola Dickerson Holleman (b.1846) or Elizabeth Bennett (b.1841). Another photo of the same woman could confirm her identity.

    It's a worn photo with lots of scratches in the surface of the picture. To protect it from further wear and tear, I'd store in a non-PVC plastic sleeve, such as those available from archival suppliers and the Container Store.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1890s photos | women
    Sunday, April 27, 2014 5:28:20 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, April 21, 2014
    Foreign Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen



    This damaged image depicts one family line of Julie Townsend Gontarek's husband. Julie knows the image shows relatives in Poland, but not their identities. There are three possibilities: The Gontareks, Klamsky and Otrasek families all lived there.

    Before she can delve deeper, Julie wants to know when the picture was taken.

    It's a really interesting image. When I view pictures, my eyes dart over all the clues from sleeves to doorways.

    Look at the detail in this exterior doorway. It's lovely: 

     

    This young woman's sleeves suggest a date of the late 1890s, when there was fullness on the upper arm. The addition of plackets of contrasting fabric on the bodice and the cuffs shows off the skill of the person who made the dress.  I think she's pregnant: The longer bodice shows off what appears to be a baby bump.

     

    Mom wears a head scarf commonly seen on women in rural regions of Poland and other European countries. Her dress has detailing on the upper arm as well. Her long bodice is a little out of date for the late 1890s.



    Her little girl's clothing is typical for children: hair bows and short sleeves, which suggests warmer weather. I've seen a variety of clothes worn in rural regions both in the United States and overseas. Sometimes women would make clothes using older patterns, reusing older clothes and updating their fashions by adding sleeves or collars.  All the clothing worn here looks to be in excellent condition. 

    Both the mother and the girl shown above photo wear necklaces bearing crosses, which indicates their faith.

    The clothing clues in this image were confusing until I took a closer look at the men. Their collars date this image: Those starched, high-necked collars were popular about 1905. In particular, the man on the left wears a rounded-edge collar, common from about 1905 to at least 1915. 



    Men wore a wide variety of ties in the early 20th century, from long, thin knit ties to wide silk ties, as well as bow ties.

    This photo is full of family history clues:
    • The young girl leaning toward her mother appears to be around five years of age. If the picture dates between 1905 and 1915, then she was born between 1900 and 1910. I'm leaning toward the earlier end of this time frame.

    • The young pregnant bride looks like she'll be having a baby within a few months.

    • All of the individuals depicted could be relatives, but they also could be a collection of friends and family.

    • Who's not depicted?  Did someone in the family own a camera or did a professional take this image?
    I'd love to know the occasion for this photo.  Everyone is dressed up for a special event.  I'm hoping that these details help Julie figure out who's who and a reason this image was taken. 
     


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | children | Immigrant Photos | men | unusual clothing | women
    Monday, April 21, 2014 7:08:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, April 14, 2014
    Donating a Piece of History
    Posted by Maureen

    Now that Yvette LaGonterie knows that the mystery photo discovered in her grandparents' house doesn't show her family members, she asked me for advice on donating the image.

    The man in the family portrait LaGonterie found is Rev. George Frazier Miller, one of the founding members of the Niagara Movement, the predecessor of the NAACP.

    This is a question I'm asked on a fairly regular basis.  If you decide you'd like to pass on a photographic bit of history, first find an appropriate facility. Yvette wondered if she should donate the image to Howard University. Rev. Miller graduated from Howard.

    It's a good idea to call a library, historical society or archive first to see if it would be interested in your donation. So I called and spoke with woman who works with prints and photographs at the university. She would love to have the photo in the university collection, but there's a gift process that's pretty typical when an organization considers accepting donated material:
    • Staff would like to meet with Yvette, either over the phone or in person (if she's in the area). It's important to discuss all the details of the prospective gift.
    • Archivists and librarians want to see the condition of the original.  This can also be done virtually using a scan of the photo.
    • The next step is for the library to draw up a deed of gift that outlines everything discussed.
    • Once the parties sign the deed of gift, the university receives a copy and so does the donor.
    It looks like Yvette's picture will have another home. <smile>  Have you ever donated items to a historical or genealogical society?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | photo news
    Monday, April 14, 2014 4:27:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]