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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, April 29, 2013
Further Clues in the Connecticut Photo Mystery
Posted by Maureen

Last week I introduced a photo mystery from the Derby (CT) Public Library with links to archaeological excavations. The big question is: "Who's in this photo?"

Let's look at some of the evidence in the picture.
  • The shed is of unknown use. A higher-resolution image might reveal what's inside the door. There appears to be items piled up. I'll wait for a clearer image to share that with you.
  • An elderly woman stands in the front yard. The front door is to her left.

    Freemanclose-upt.jpg
  • Nancy Freeman lived in the house from the time of her marriage until her death in 1895. She has a cane in her right hand and a hat in her left. She wears an apron over her dress.
freemanhouseedit.jpg
  • A ladder against the house suggests that she's having shingles replaced. The workman left his coat and hat draped over a pole. 
FreemanHousephotographer(2).jpg
  • Do you see the shadow on the grass?  This is the photographer. I'm working on verifying a caption on a copy of this picture. It contains the name of the photographer.

The Freeman house is built on a hill. Behind the house the land drops off. Archaeologists found some of the foundation for the shed, but not enough to be able to determine its function or size. They found poultry wire on the site, which confirms stories about Nancy raising turkeys to support herself.

I'll keep digging for new data.  


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

  • african american | props in photos | women
    Monday, April 29, 2013 10:05:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, April 22, 2013
    A Piece of Connecticut History
    Posted by Maureen

    FreemanHouselibrary(2).jpg
    Photo courtesy of Derby (CT) Public Library

    Could this woman be Nancy Freeman, widow of  Roswell Freeman, who was one of Connecticut's "Black Governors"? That's the big question, and this query has a lot of pieces.

    Janet Woodruff, an archaeologist with the Archaeology Laboratory for African & African Diaspora Studies at Central Connecticut State University, sent me this photo for analysis. Dr. Warren Perry, Prof. Gerald Sawyer, Woodruff, and students and volunteers have been conducting archaeological excavations at this homesite since 2010.

    Photographs lie at the intersection of history, genealogy, family history and even archaeology.

    The tradition of the Black Governors dates back to Colonial Connecticut. These individuals were elected by members of their communities. The Connecticut State Library has an interesting online article and bibliography.

    Roswell and his father Quash were both Black Governors. This property may have been willed to Roswell when his father died. Roswell married Nancy (possibly Thompson) in 1826 and they had 13 children, although records have been found for only nine.

    The elderly woman pictured stands in her front yard (the front door is next to the ladder). Behind her is a shed. Archaeologists aren't sure of the purpose of that building. 

    I'm trying to answer several questions about this image. Next week, we'll look at a few of the details. There is more research to be done, so watch for updates to this story.


    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

  • african american | house/building photos | unusual photos | women
    Monday, April 22, 2013 9:40:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, April 15, 2013
    Old Photos: Are These Sisters or Family Friends?
    Posted by Maureen

    A few weeks ago I featured Jim Cat's picture of women seated on the stoop in front of their house.

    Cat2.jpg

    He recently wrote to tell me more about the women in the picture. His grandmother Mary Florence Filichia Catanzaro was born in Chicago on Feb. 18, 1894.

     cat3.jpg

    Mary had four sisters: Rose (born July 1892), Jennie (born 1900), Virginia (born circa 1902) and Constance (born circa 1906).

    Based on the style of the women's dresses and hair in this image, and a tentative date of circa 1910, only the oldest sisters, Rose and Mary, could be depicted here. The other sisters would be too young.

    If this image was taken at mid-decade, about 1915, the hairstyle of the woman seated second from left would be outdated, but not necessarily those of her companions. By 1915, Jennie was 15. If she's posed with her older sisters here, she'd be the youngest member of this group.

    Clothing and hairstyles changed radically in the second decade of the 20th century. By 1920, many women had shorter hair and wore loose-fitting dresses with shorter hemlines than in recent years.

    Assuming two of these women are sisters, the other two are likely friends. Despite the grainy quality of this type of tintype it should be possible to determine who's who by comparing later photographs of the sisters to this image.


    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 | women
    Monday, April 15, 2013 2:47:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, April 07, 2013
    Mind-Bending Photo Mystery: Part 2
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about Pam and Art Crawford's family photo dilemma. With both the Crawford and Jones families claiming this couple as their relatives, it's a pixel puzzle.

    crawford2.jpg
     
    This week I'm tackling the costume clues in the image.

    crawfordtie.jpg

    Men's ties and collars can help pinpoint a date. This man wears an all-over patterned tie. The design has a slight diagonal pattern, which suggests it's from about 1930. The points in the collar look longer than a middle-pointed shape, which suggests it might be a 1930s style called the "California Collar." Clark Gable popularized it.

    crawfordcollar.jpg

    Lace collars were very popular in the 1930s. Around the woman's neck are pearls. Simulated pearls could be bought from the Sears catalog for approximately 95 cents. It's very difficult to see due to the shadows in this picture, but her dress has a soft flouncy sleeve. 

    crawfordglasses.jpg

    Both husband and wife wear round glasses. Round shapes were common in the 1920s, but thin metal frames were also still available in the 1930s. Since they probably didn't change glasses very often, it's likely these are from the late 1920s.

    The circa-1930s date eliminates Thomas Jefferson Jones and Mary Jane Williams from consideration. Mary Jane died in 1916.

    When comparing their faces, I noticed that the husband looks older and more frail than his wife.

    This couple could be Art's grandparent's Nathaniel Crawford and Lois Viola Henley. Nathaniel died in 1937.

    The big questions remain: How did Pam's grandmother come to own a copy of this image, and why did she identify the couple as Thomas and Mary Jones?

    Extensive family research by the Crawfords has yet to reveal an answer.


    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

  • 1930s photos | men | women
    Sunday, April 07, 2013 5:19:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, April 01, 2013
    Mind-Bending Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    crawford2.jpg

    Isn't this a nice picture?  It seems so innocuous. Yet this picture is BIG photo mystery that has a couple puzzled: I met Pam and Art Crawford at last month's RootsTech conference. Using my iPad as a voice recorder, I interviewed them about this picture. You can listen to the recording here.

    Pam's grandmother gave her the image in 1975, in the family photo album. She was told it was Grandma and Grandpa Jones. Pam's grandmother was alive at the same time as the couple depicted, so she would have known them.

    Thomas Jefferson Jones was born Nov. 8, 1843, in Christy Twp., Laurence Co., Ill. He married Mary Jane Williams in Lawrence Co. in 1865. Mary Jane was born May 4, 1850, in Covington, Kenton Co., Ky., and moved to Lawrence Co., Illinois as a child.

    Thomas died March 1, 1934, and Mary Jane died Dec. 24, 1916. Both died in Bonpas Twp., Richland Co., Ill.

    Here's the mystery:
    A few months ago, Art's cousin started a Facebook group, "Descendants of David Crawford." Art joined the group and saw this photo, identified as Nathaniel Alpheus Crawford. When he showed it to Pam, she said, "I know that photo!"

    Nathaniel Crawford was born Oct. 21, 1861, in Summerville, Chattooga Co., Ga. He married Lois Viola Henley in 1891. She was born May 27, 1871, in Georgia. They both died in Chattooga Co., Nathaniel on Sept. 13, 1937, and Lois on Aug. 4, 1956.

    Obviously there are multiple mysteries:
    • Who's really in the photo?
    • How did it end up in both families?
    • Is there a relationship between Pam and Art's family?

    It's a real stumper. Let's start with the picture: It's a 20th-century photo—after World War I, based the design of the woman's collar.

    I'm off to the library to figure out the rest of the clues and double-check a few things. I'll be back next week with more details.


    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 | 1920s photos | men | women
    Monday, April 01, 2013 3:47:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]