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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 27 March 2016
Who's Who in an Old Family Gathering Photo?
Posted by Maureen



Last week's column explored some of the identification clues in this family gathering. Heidi Thibodeau thinks it depicts members of the Tibbetts and Hodgson family of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

Bessie Mabel Hodgdon, born in 1877, owned the picture, and it was handed down to her granddaughter (Heidi's first cousin once removed). This photo dates from July 6, 1890. If Bessie were in this picture, she'd be approximately 13 years of age. Only two young women in this picture appear the right age to be Bessie.




They flank this older man who sits in the center of the group. That's a place of prominence. I wonder if they're his daughters or granddaughters. Bessie had a sister Ella, born 1881, who became Heidi's great-grandmother. Their mother died in 1886. Their father, Albert, born in 1856, would be only 34 at the time of this photo, far too young to be the man shown above.

The sisters' maternal grandfather, Noah Lord, born in 1830, would be 60 years of age at the time of this picture. Heidi sent me photos of him (from a private source so I can't reproduce them here). The man in this picture doesn't look like Noah Lord.

Could this man be the sisters' paternal grandfather? Perhaps. I'm going to ask Heidi if she has any photos of him.



Heidi has another picture of Bessie and Ella from 1905, depicting the Tibbetts Family. Bessie sits on the left in the center row, and her sister Ella Hodgdon Tibbitts is on the right.




Let's look at the girls and women side by side. The images pixelate when enlarged due to low resolution.



It looks like the girl with her eyes closed could be either Bessie or Ella. The girl on the lower left is hard to see for comparison purposes.

Given the history of ownership of this picture, the group on the porch in 1890 could be either the Lord family or the Hodgsons. One of the only ways to determine who's who is to compare other photos of any members of those families alive in 1890 to those faces in the big group picture.  It's a process of elimination.

This photo mystery isn't solved but with a little time and research the answer may be clearer. I'm hoping Heidi and her cousins have more pictures for another blog post.
   


Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1890s photos | 1900-1910 photos | family reunion | group photos
    Sunday, 27 March 2016 18:57:20 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 20 March 2016
    Old Mystery Photos: ID Clues in a Family Gathering Picture
    Posted by Maureen

    thibodeau.jpg

    Heidi Thibodeau's cousin found this image in the papers of her grandmother (Heidi's great-grand aunt), Bessie Mabel Hodgdon Hoogerzeil. Bessie was born Jan. 27, 1877. Heidi thinks she might be in this photo.

    A caption on the reverse states the picture was taken by Sprague and Hathaway, July 6, 1890.

    There is evidence to support this date:

    Clothing


    The two women (left and center) in this collage wear the peaked shoulder seams of the circa 1890 period. The children (right) wear striped play clothes popular in this era as well.

    While several women wear dark-looking clothes, they may not have been wearing black. Many bright colors appear dark in 19th century, black-and-white photographs. Popular clothing colors in the 1880s included shades of red, brown and greens.

    Photographic mat
    Chocolate-colored cardstock was commonly available in the 1880s and faded out in favor of light-colored card stock in the 1890s.

    Photographer
    Sprague and Hathaway started their company in 1874 in the Davis Square area of Somerville, Mass. By 1890, the studio was a corporation and they'd moved to West Somerville, Mass. The Smithsonian has trade catalogs relating to these photographers.

    Props
    Look closely at the women in the middle row. They carry fans to help them deal with the hot, humid weather of a New England July. Several individuals look like they're tired of posing for the picture.

    One little girl has her eyes closed.



    If this picture was taken today we'd think she was looking at her phone. In 1890, though, she either fell asleep or blinked. 

    So who's in the picture?  Next week I'll tackle who might be who. 


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1890s photos | 4th of July | family reunion | summer
    Sunday, 20 March 2016 20:40:51 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, 13 March 2016
    Which Grandmother is It?
    Posted by Maureen

    I own an old "crayon picture" and you might, too. They were extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. It's a photo and a piece of artwork. Photographers hired artists to charcoal these oversize pictures, which held a place of honor in a family home.

    Joan Klein owns this one. Her father told her it was his grandmother. The problem is, which one?



    There are two possibilities: 
    • Agnes Almeda Smith Steck, born 25 March 1858 died 08 December 1907 at age 49.

    • Mary Isabella Bruner Gordner, born 28 April 1853 died 15 November 1933 at age 80.

    All of us have at least two grandmothers, a maternal one and a paternal one. Joan's father didn't specify which grandmother he meant. This particular picture dates from c. 1900, when women wore their hair piled on the tops of their head and dresses had high necklines ringed with lace.

    The big problem in identifying this woman is that Joan's great-grandmothers were born within five years of each other.

    There are other things to consider, as well.

    One of my grandmother's died when I was one and I didn't know her.  When people ask me about grandparents, I always talk about the one I knew. Perhaps that's what happened in Joan's family—"Grandmother" could have been the one who lived the longest.

    Of course, there's a chance this portrait was made around the time Agnes died, as a type of memorial.

    The only way to know for sure who's in this picture is to find known photos of Agnes and Mary, or even photographs of the siblings of the women.

    Listening to family stories might help, too. This thin, aristocratic looking woman may have looked very different from the other grandmother.

    I'd reach out to other descendants of the two women in hopes of either hearing tales or finding photos. Someone else in the family might even have a copy of this picture ... with a name on it.


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1900-1910 photos | Drawings | enhanced images | women
    Sunday, 13 March 2016 18:11:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 06 March 2016
    Adding Up the Clues in 3 Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Wanda Allison inherited photos of the McIntosh/Pearson families. Last week we looked at a tintype of this man, wearing Masonic regalia and posed with his wife. Relatives thought the couple could be John McIntosh (1810-1898) and Isabella Rutherford (1806-1894).



    The problem is the couple in this 1860s image is a lot younger than John and Isabella would be in this time frame.

    Notice the pink cheeks, a common way for photographers to add life to a portrait.

    Wanda has two other images that weigh into this puzzle:



    Here's a family-identified picture of John and Isabella in the 1880s.




    And a card photo of Isabella in the 1860s. This woman is not the same person as the one in the 1860s tintype at the beginning of this post. Their noses are different.  


    The nose of the young woman on the left is very different from the woman in the middle.

    So who's in the 1860s tintype? That's the big question.

    Last week I mentioned how her arm resting on his shoulder suggested a close relationship. It's possible that the pair isn't husband and wife, but brother and sister.

    John and Isabella had nine children:
    • John, 03 Apr 1833 - 24 Aug 1896
    • William, 07 Jun 1836 - 23 Jan 1913
    • Christina, 30 Jan 1839 - 04 Apr 1918
    • James R., 03 Oct 1840 - 21 Jun 1924
    • Catharine, 25 Feb 1846 - 05 May 1919
    • Jessie, 25 Feb 1848 - 18 Oct 1928
    • Isabella, 21 Dec 1849 - 19 Dec 1895
    • Jane (Jeannie), 02 Jul 1851 - 02 Mar 1888
    • Elizabeth Bruce, 27 Sep 1854 - 09 May 1930
    Let's estimate that the woman in the tintype is in her 20s, and that the picture was taken in 1864. That means she was born about 1844. This birth date rules out several of the daughters born too late to be the age of the young woman in the 1860s tintype. Any of the brothers could be in the tintype—John, William or James. Certainly the man and woman in the tintype bear a resemblance to John and Isabella, something that could lead descendants to believe them to actually be the older couple.

    Sorting this out involves more research and more photo comparisons. 
    • When do the older children marry?
    • Are there pictures of their spouses?
    • Are there pictures of the children?

    Figuring out who's who is all about finding more pictures. There is a picture of Christina with her younger siblings taken in the late 1880s, but it's the older siblings that will help identify that tintype. 


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1860s photos | men | Tintypes | women
    Sunday, 06 March 2016 15:15:42 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]