Isabella Moore’s Snapshot

bMrs Moore

This cabinet card was a lovely gift from a fellow photo collector.  In addition to the writing on the front of the card, identifying the sitter as Mrs. Moore, a cousin from Nova Scotia, there is writing on the reverse that narrows her identity to Mrs. W. H. Moore.  I’m grateful to the relative who added those initials, as without them, I would not have been able to make a confident match.

Based on Mrs. Moore’s fashion, I date the photo to the late 1880s, and I estimate that she is in her early fifties.  I find just one Mrs. W. H. Moore, living in the North Sydney area, who fits this framework.

Isabella Marian (nee Robertson), wife of William Henry Moore, lived in the province of Nova Scotia all her life.  She married William, in North Sydney, on July 14, 1863.  From the limited census records I was able to view, it appears that William was a merchant.  Three of Isabella’s six children died during childhood: Horace Edwin Moore remained in Canada throughout his life; Annie Moore married Thomas Campbell, a druggist, and they immigrated to the United States in 1897, living in Massachusetts and California; the youngest child, William Henry Adam, came to the US about 1916 and resided in Tennessee and Illinois.

Isabella died a widow, of old age, on November 1, 1921, in the Free Mason’s Home in Windsor.

I added memorials to Find A Grave for Isabella and William, and linked them with some of their children.  My hope is that a relative will come across the memorials, or this blog, and I can reunite the photo with her family.

Census records
Nova Scotia death records
Canada births and baptisms records –

The Undertaker’s Wife

bHOLDER Maggie
Found in a shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana

In 1896, Maggie Estella Holder, 17, married Charles Luther Thornburg, 21, and the couple settled in Farmland, Randolph County, Indiana.  Luther, as he was best known, was a farmer, but had a “hankering” to become an undertaker.  In 1904, he bought the undertaking business of W.B. Meeks, and thus began Thornburg’s career as a mortician.  I’m curious if the following event gave Maggie second thoughts about her husband’s chosen profession.  It seems undertaking could be a dangerous vocation.

1905 Dec 15 THORNBURG chased off The Star Press Muncie IN
The Star Press (Muncie, IN) – Dec. 15, 1905

On the 1930 census, Maggie was listed as working as a beautician in her own shop.  This made me wonder how involved she was in the undertaking business.  Had she helped her husband prepare bodies, by styling their hair?  After all, for some years, the business was operated in the Thornburg home, so Maggie would not have been removed from the day to day operations.

Disappointingly, although her husband received a large newspaper write up upon his death, Maggie’s obituary did not offer much information about her life, other than she was the wife of a well known undertaker, and a member of the Society of Friends, a Quaker (religious) organization.  Maggie died August 22, 1932, at the age of 54, from complications after gallbladder surgery.

Find A Grave
Census records
The Muncie Press, Muncie, Indiana – Feb. 26, 1954
The Richmond Item, Richmond, Indiana – Aug. 24, 1932
The Muncie Evening Press, Muncie, Indiana – Aug. 22, 1932
Indiana birth records
Indiana death records

The Hope of Heaven

bFREY sisters

I fell for this cabinet card the second I saw it in The Wurdeman Studio shop.  The matching dresses, the doll, the girl pointing towards the sky, combined with the fact that the sitters were identified, pushed me to hit the add to cart button.

The Frey sisters, Leah Adda (10) and Bessie J. (8), sat for this photo on June 25, 1894 in Green Springs, Ohio.  I believe it is Bessie who is pointing, as she looks younger than the girl seated.  If we look to Victorian cemetery symbolism, an index finger pointing upwards represents the hope of heaven.  Considering the fates that awaited the sisters, this pose seems eerily ominous.

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Don’t call me Mozart


Harald Fredericksen, and his son, Harold Victor Byron Mozart, posed for this photo, in Chicago, Illinois.

Harald immigrated to the United States, from Denmark, in 1869, and settled in Chicago, Illinois.  He married Hermina Stocker, an immigrant from Norway.  Harald worked as a clerk and bookkeeper.  The couple had three daughters, Ella, Olga, and Dagmar.  Mozart was born January 27, 1885.  When this photo was captured, Hermina was pregnant with the couples’ fifth child, Elmer.  Harold died, aged 56, on July 14, 1903.


As an adult, Mozart went by Harold B., and shortened his surname to Fredericks.  He married Agnes Clancy in 1913.  Throughout his life, he worked as a salesman for an oil company, an accountant, and a commercial traveler for an office equipment firm.  He died July 12, 1945.

Find A Grave
Census records
Chicago, Illinois death records
New York marriage records

Secret Lovers

Sarah Gregory (seated left) and B. Goodell – May 1, 1863

Sarah Jane “Jennie” Gregory first said  “I do” when she was 64 years old.  She wed Theodore A. Collier, 62, in Pontiac, Michigan, on February 27, 1912.  It was his first trip to the altar, as well.  As strange as this late-in-life marriage may seem, what makes it all the more interesting is that the two lived together for 41 years before saying “I do!”

Jennie, working as a servant and housekeeper, moved into Theodore’s home in 1871, when the two were in their early twenties.  He was working the family farm and supporting his mother, Eliza, and his divorced sister, Isadore.

Were Jennie and Theo lovers all those years?  If so, what stopped them from marrying sooner?  Did Theo’s family disapprove?  Theo’s mother died in 1890.  His sister continued living with him until her death in 1907.  If family strain prevented the nuptials, it seems unlikely Theo and Jennie would have waited five years after Isadore’s passing to tie the knot.  Is it possible they had unspoken, romantic feelings for each other, only to become brave enough to profess their love when they were older?  Or, I suppose it could have been a marriage of convenience, either financial or otherwise.  But, I do hope my first theory is the correct one.

Jennie died on December 10, 1917, and Theo married once more to Sadie (nee Owen) Newell in 1919.

Census records
Michigan death records
Michigan marriage records
Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Oakland County Michigan, 1903
History of Oakland County, Michigan; A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests, Volume 2, by Thaddeus De Witt Seely, 1912

Living with Hoboes



I admired this cased ambrotype, along with a smaller, cased tintype (shown at the end of this post), for at least a year, as they sat listed on etsy.  The seller mistakenly  identified the sitter as William Wallace.  He overlooked the next word, which I came to discover was the surname of Hungerford.

William Wallace Hungerford was aged 16 when the above image was captured on January 1, 1861, in Lansing, Michigan.  He was the son of a farmer, Lyman Hungerford, and grew to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Although I’m sure William’s life wasn’t uneventful, it doesn’t appear to have garnered much attention in the newspapers.  That is, until he ran off to live with hoboes.

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A Hell for the Sick


Jessie Calhoun’s cabinet card photo was found in an album that belonged to Jessie Sylvester.  I believe the girls were cousins, as there are shared surnames in their respective family trees.  However, I was unable to find a direct link.

Born in 1867, in Ashtabula county, Ohio, Jessie’s father, Porter Calhoun, was a farmer, and her mother, Carrie (nee Stillman), was a milliner.  It appears that her parents separated when she was a child.  Jessie never married, and from what I can tell, lived with her mother throughout her life.  Both mother and daughter ended up in the Cleveland State Hospital for the Insane, described as a hell for the sick.

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