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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, November 26, 2007
Mourning Photograph?
Posted by Maureen

This week's picture comes from the Photo Detective Forum. This is used by folks who want their pictures analyzed for this column, but you can also post a photo-related question.



Alissa Booth wrote that someone crossed out the original caption, C.C. Smock's wife and wrote Mother. A little girl stands next to an elderly relative, and Alissa wants to know which is the wife and who's the mother? Is it the older woman or the little girl? Alissa thinks her father changed the label when he was identifying photos to give to his children and now she's confused.

From researching census records, Alissa knows C.C. Smock's wife, Mary Amalong, was born Oct. 10, 1855, and his mother, Sarah, was born about 1831.

The key to identifying the women in this photo is the date. The girl's dress with it's ruffled yoke suggests this picture was taken circa 1900. Her grandmother's dress is simply styled without the full sleeves of the late 1890s, and further confirms the time frame.

If this were C.C. Smock's wife, Mary (born in 1855), the older woman would be approximately 50. If it's Smock's mother, she'd be approximately 70. The latter is a more likely fit for the identity of the woman. She looks much older than 50, with a full head of white hair and knarled hands. Notice her handkerchief tucked into the waistband of her dress.

She's dressed in black as a sign of respect for a deceased family member. It could be her husband or another close relative.

The little girl could be her granddaughter, but given the fact that this little girl was born in the 1890s, it's probably her great-grandmother or even great-great grandmother. It all depends on when her parent's birth years and their relationship to the family matriarch.

Alissa's Dad wrote Mother probably referring to the little girl, but that still leaves her with another mystery—who wrote the original caption?

P.S. Don't forget to look at the comments for Ancestral Vacations. I've added some new details.

1900-1910 photos | children | women
Monday, November 26, 2007 2:39:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 19, 2007
Abraham Lincoln sighting!
Posted by Maureen

An amateur historian is credited with a historic discovery. John Richter found a previously unknown picture of Abraham Lincoln taken at Gettysburg. The image was where everyone could see it--on the Library of Congress website in their prints and photographs catalog.  You can find other pictures of Gettysburg by using that as a search term in the catalog.

This past weekend newstations and websites were abuzz with the find. Is it real? Judge for yourself then add your comments to this blog. Take a look at the story that WGAL.com posted on their website over the weekend.  Is it a picture of Abraham Lincoln on horseback on his way to give his Gettysburg address or just another fellow in a hat and beard. It's time to sound off!

Remember that Lincoln was there and that news accounts mention his procession. Other pictures of that historic event place him in the crowd but you can make up your own mind.  I'm still analyzing the evidence!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Monday, November 19, 2007 6:30:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 12, 2007
Ancestral Vacations
Posted by Maureen

Two things drew me to this picture. First, the owner sent me wonderful background information to tell the story. Second, it’s proof this blog has an international following: Kathryn Larcher submitted this photo from her home in France.


There's no mystery about the relative depicted. Kathryn knows the last woman in the middle row is her maternal great-grandmother, “Mom Battle” (Mary Clement Crawford Battle). When Mary’s husband died in September 1909, instead of staying home, she traveled in Europe.

mom_battle_gap_dunloe_detail_tag.jpg

Here, she poses for the camera in the Gap of Dunloe, Ireland. This photo comes from a family scrapbook—one probably created by Mom Battle herself. 






Kathryn would like to know when the picture was taken. The numbers on the lower right side of the picture, 51.2.8.10, elaborate that detail. I believe the first number is the photographer’s notation for his 51st picture, but the last three digits are clearly the date.

Using the European method of notation, Mom Battle had her picture taken on the second day of August, 1910. Her black attire, including hat and coat, supports this date. Victorian mourning standards required widows to wear black for the first year after a husband's death.

Centuries of visitors have marveled over the natural beauty of the Gap. You can read more about it in Black’s Guide to Ireland (1902), available through Google Books.

A documentary, Trip Through the Gap of Dunloe (1903), probably boosted tourism in the area. A key stop on the immortalized tour was Kate Kearney’s Cottage, with its legendary history of spells cast by Kate herself, followed by food and drink. Visitors could then hire a horse-drawn conveyance to take them through the Gap and back. Today the cottage still offers refreshments and tourists can still take a horse and buggy.

Kathryn also wondered who else is in this picture. I have a question for her, “Did Mom Battle travel alone or with a companion?” A traveling companion would've been along for this ride. The rest of the folks are just fellow travelers, such as the young honeymoon (perhaps) couple cuddled up in the second row.

This is a great photo of a woman who decided to enter the next phase of her life with a sense of adventure!


1910s photos | group photos
Monday, November 12, 2007 5:00:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, November 05, 2007
The Plane Truth Revisited
Posted by Maureen

Last year I wrote about Jacqui Marcella's photo of two couples standing in front of an airplane in The Plane Truth. I'm revisiting a few of my older columns to see if I can discover anything new about those pictures. When I looked at this 1920s image I thought, "Why not?"  Imagine my surprise when a closer look at some of the details revealed that this simple family picture was a historically significant photo!


The couple on the left are Jacqui Marcella's grandparents, Arthur and Theresa Henschel, but the couple on the right are a mystery. I initially assigned a timeframe of 1926 to 1930, but this "fresh look" narrowed that even further. Take a close look at the T to the right of the second couple. It holds the key to this image.

I searched some of the links I recommended in the original article, and found an exact match! The T is part of the name of the plane, the Smiling Thru. If you look closely, you can see part of a G behind the man on the right. Compare this photo to the photo I found on the Wichita Photo Archives site—the plane's name in that picture is the same font as the T in Jacqui's picture.


The Smiling Thru was the first corporate aircraft in America, owned by the Automatic Washer Company. The name came from the company slogan, "Buy an automatic washer on Monday and you will be smiling through the rest of the week." 

For company president H.L. Ogg, it was a corporate office in the sky with dictaphone, telephone and lavatory. His secretary typed letters while they flew around the country. Strip out the office equipment and the company could use it to deliver washing machines.

The Automatic Washer Company bought this plane from Travel Air in 1929,  then sold it in 1934. Based on the clothing here and the aircraft's history, Jacqui's grandparents probably posed for this portrait in about 1929. The history of the plane also suggests the other couple might be associated with the Automatic Washer Company. I know the man isn't Ogg, but perhaps its another representative.

Jacqui thought of this  portrait as a family picture, but its actually a piece of American history, since very few pictures of the Smiling Thru still exist. You can read more about it in an article in the Newton (Iowa) Daily News.

By the way, Jacqui, please send me your new email address. I was unable to contact you to provide this update on your photo.

1920s photos | group photos | men | photo backgrounds | women
Monday, November 05, 2007 2:51:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]