From the grave

blog COOK Pat and family

Pat Cook’s family portrait wound up in a sale basket in Archbold, Ohio. While the cabinet card shows a lot of wear, and the mother and daughter on the left appear ghostly pale, the overall depth and detail of the sitter’s images held up well.  The balloon-like sleeves of the daughter on the right helped me date this photo to the 1890s.   And although the boy isn’t sporting the long hair and ringlets that accompanied the Lord Fauntleroy craze of the mid 1890s, his wide, white shirt collar fits the fashion.

As I was preparing to admit defeat that I would never identify this family, I got the answer I had been hoping for…from the grave.

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Until the serpent crossed her path

I picked up these old photos from a wonderful shop on etsy, The Wurdeman Studio.  If you love old things, especially photos and jewelry, take a moment to check it out.

blog HELTON James and HIBBS John

The back of this cabinet card photo reads, “J.W. Helton & J.W. Hibbs, Unionville, Mo, Age 27 & 30.”  James Helton and John Hibbs grew up together in Unionville.  The posing of the two men made me think of a best man helping a groom get ready for his big day. However, according to the ages, this photo would have been taken in 1895.  James, on the left, first married Cerula Caster in 1897 and then married newly turned 18 year old Emma Josephine Severs in 1899.

blog HELTON James and unknown Helton or Hibbs

I believe this second image was captured about 1890.  The man sitting is identified as James Helton, and appears to be in his early twenties.  The back identifies the man standing, only as “Helton.”  James had brothers who would have been 24 and 18 at the time.  However, I think the second man in this photo looks an awful lot like John W. Hibbs.

Trigger Warning: This post contains descriptions of domestic and sexual violence.

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Nevertheless, She Persisted

sm-cleaned-corrected-newkirk-margaret

“Aunt Margret Newkirk” is written on the back of this cabinet card that was found in Auburn, Indiana. The sitter is Margaret (nee Warwick).  The inscription leads me to believe this photo belonged to Maud Kelley, a foster daughter, who lived in the Newkirk home for some years, and who fondly referred to the sitter as Aunt Margret (a variation of Margaret.)

Margaret Newkirk was a daughter, a wife, and a mother.  But, she wasn’t defined by the traditional roles of women in the 19th century. You see, Margaret was a suffragette!

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Killed by the Cars

blog BERGER Emma

On January 27, 1890, Emma (nee Berger) Toomey, aged 26, died after being run over by a train. Almost two years later, on December 23, 1891, her husband, Michael Toomey, was also “killed by the cars.”  It’s believed they were struck because they couldn’t hear the train coming, as both  Emma and Michael lost their hearing as the result of childhood illnesses.

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The Stitching Girl

Annie Hicks Townsend

I picked up this beautiful tintype on etsy.  Written on the back of the pink paper sleeve that houses the image is “Annie Townsend, Mother of Nelle, Henry, Roy.”

Annie Townsend

Having no information about the photographer or location, I looked closely at the sitter’s clothing and hairstyle, and with the help of the 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide, dated the image to around 1872.  The sitter appears to be in her early twenties, so I searched for an Annie Townsend, born about 1850, with children named Nelle, Henry and Roy.  I found Annie Hicks, and she fit the bill!

Annie, born in Nova Scotia, immigrated to the US about 1870 and began working in a shoe factory in Danvers, Massachusetts.  As many young women working in the shoe factories in Essex county, Annie came to town seeking work, and was boarding in a private family’s home.   Also living in Danvers and working in the shoe factory was Francis Henry Townsend.

Prior to 1860, stitching machines in the shoe factories required great strength to operate.  Upon the introduction of steam power, these machines could easily be run by women, and since women required a lower wage, the majority of stitchers were female.

Another shoe factory town in Essex county, just 10 miles from Danvers, was Lynn.  In 1872, a serialized novel, “The Queen City! : or Life in the Shoe Factories of Lynn,” was published in the Lynn Record.   It described the young workers who flocked to the streets on Saturday nights, where, away from the prying eyes of family, they flirted, drank beer and ran wild.

A poem, “The Stitching Girls,” published in the Lynn Transcript in 1869, captured the scene through the eyes and mind of an observer.

When walking on the crowded street,
A lovely lass attracts your eye,
And while you gaze your glances meet,
You smile – alas! you soon will sigh
For Cupid from her beaming eyes,
His shining arrows thickly hurls;
And hard indeed must be the heart –
The pleasing, teasing stitching girls.

…Again you meet her and she plys
And sings and smiles for you alone,
Charmed by her gentle, loving ways,
You hope to call her all your own,
But should you kneel and tell your love,
With cruel scorn her lip will curl:

And you’ll be left alone to sigh:
I’m jilted by a stitching girl.
The stitching girls, the witching girls –
The singing, clinging stitching girls
They break your heart and then depart
The naughty, haughty stitching girls.

Unlike the poem’s author, who it seems was cast aside by a stitching girl, Francis Townsend found love with one.  He and Annie married in 1877 and went on to raise Nelle, Henry and Roy.

Sources:
Census records
Massachusetts marriage records
Massachusetts death records
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark
Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780 – 1910, by Mary H. Blewett, published 1990
Women in Industry Vol. 5, published 1916

 

 

 

Unrelenting Death

Lizzie and Emma Boeckling

This cabinet card was found in a Goshen, Indiana shop and features Lizzie and Emma Boeckling during happier times; I uncovered a sad tale during my research.

Lizzie and Emma were two of six children born to John and Johanna Boeckling  of LaPorte, Indiana.  They were the middle children, with the eldest being Carrie and Albert, and Frank and Hattie, the babies of the family.  Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, took five of them to the grave.  And strangely, Carrie, Albert and Lizzie, the first three to succumb to the disease, each died when they were 30 years old.

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