Mattie’s Snap Shot

blog HOLMES Mattie

Martha “Mattie” Kennedy (nee Luney) Holmes was born in Ireland in 1874 and came with her family to the United States as a young girl.  In 1894, she married Dr. William Wesley Holmes, who was 30 years her senior.  After William’s death in 1913, Mattie worked as a traveling and home nurse.

I’m not sure when Mattie died.  She was living with her sister, Edith Cole, in Yonkers, New York in 1930.  The last trace I found of her was in 1936 when she was still in Yonkers, but living on her own at 472 Hawthorne.

Sources:
Census records
The Denison Review, Denison, Iowa, February 12, 1913, – William Holmes’ obituary
Yonkers, New York City Directory 1931 and 1936

 

Alive and Well

Lora Peirce Cooper in box

Most of the time, when someone is selling or sharing photos of an antique photo brooch, it’s described as mourning jewelry.  This find is proof that not all of these pieces were mourning objects.  The sitter for the photograph encased in this Victorian pin was Lora (nee Peirce) Cooper.  Writing on the inside of the box dates the photo to 1875, when Lora was 26 years old. 1875 is also the year she was married to Morris Cooper.

Small BLog PEIRCE Lora top of box

The good news is that Lora was alive and well long after this photo was taken and after this beautiful piece of jewelry was created.  She died, aged 77, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she lived her entire life.

A couple interesting family tidbits:  Her parents were Quakers, also known as The Religious Society of Friends.  Lora’s maternal grandfather, Asa Walton, also a Quaker, was a founding member of the Clarkson Anti-Slavery Society, and he, along with his wife, Mary Taylor, were conductors of the Underground Railroad.  In 1838, the couple aided runaway slave, James Williams, who fled from Maryland.  According to a family member on ancestry who had contact with the current owner of the Walton farm, a small hidden room behind a wall in the barn was discovered during remodeling.  The room was well disguised and only accessible via a small trap door.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, by R.C. Smedley, 1883
The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations, by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Life and Adventures of James Williams, a Fugitive Slave, 1873

Love and Sympathy

Funeral Flowers

Throughout history, flowers have been used at funerals and memorial services as visual expressions of love, sympathy, and respect.  This cabinet card is so beautiful that the lack of identifying writing didn’t stop me from adding it to my collection.  I also didn’t let it stop me from attempting to figure out who these flowers mourned.

I began the hunt by researching the photographer, Crosby.  According to the Directory of Early Michigan Photographers, Crosby operated a studio in Otsego, Michigan for a short time, about 1895.  I looked for Jims and James who died around that time in the Otsego area, and came up with six possibilities:

James Henderson died July 17, 1894
James Hopkins died April 7, 1895
James Rogers died April 25, 1895
W. James Monteith died July 29, 1896
James Hunt died July 29, 1896
James Duncan died June 9, 1897

I studied the photo for more clues.  Among the flowers, other than the name, there is an arrangement that reads BROTHER.  I find this significant.  It led me to believe that Jim was a single boy or man, or at the least, that he did not have children.  Why?  If Jim had been a married man with children, I would expect to see a floral Father arrangement.  If my theory is correct, this leaves only James Rogers, as all the other men were fathers.  I am in no way asserting my deduction as fact.  But, I feel it’s a pretty good bet.

James Rogers died of consumption at the age of 23.  He was single, and according to death records, he was the manager of a newspaper.  I hoped to learn more about him from an obituary, but upon contacting the Otsego Library, I learned that they have no newspaper records available from 1895.

Sources:

Census records
Directory of Early Michigan Photographers by David V. Tinder, published 2013
Find A Grave
Michigan Death records

 

Davie’s Snap Shot

Davie Palmer
This photo was found in a shop in Defiance, Ohio.  The name Davie Palmer is scrawled on the back.  The photographer was Pinder in Garrett, Indiana.

David Palmer was born in 1875 and lived in Richland township, a small community near Garrett.  He worked as a railroad section hand, never married and died, aged 45, of sudden heart trouble.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
World War I Draft Registration

 

 

Pernicious Anemia

blog-weishan-mathilda
This cabinet card was found in the Pickers Paradise antique mall in Niles, Michigan.  Not only was the sitter identified as Mrs. Tillie Gregory, but the date of May 31, 1895 was also noted.

Mathilda, “Tillie”, spent her childhood years in Canada with her German born parents, Charles and Sophia (nee Shatz) Weishan.   In 1884, just 15 years old, she married Charles B. Gregory in Ogemaw County, Michigan and had a son, Walter, the following year.  It’s unknown how long Charles stuck around, but in 1898 Tillie filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion.  At the time, she was working as a domestic to support herself and and her son.  Soon after the divorce was granted, she married Alfonso Clark, a mechanic and shoe maker, who was 27 years older than her.  However, that union did not last and she married Henry C. Thielecke Jr. in 1906.

Tillie died, aged 45 years, of pernicious anemia, a disease in which the body lacks sufficient vitamin B12 and cannot make healthy red blood cells.  It causes fatique, muscle weakness and stomach upset, among other ailments.  Some suspect that Jane Austen and Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from pernicious anemia.

Sources:
Census records
Michigan marriage records
Michigan divorce records
“What an Affliction”: Mary Todd Lincoln’s Fatal Pernicious Anemia, by John G. Sotos
Jane Austen’s Last Illness, published in the British Medical Journal, 1964

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Sophia’s Snap Shot

Not every photo find yields a fascinating, or even a slightly interesting, story.  This isn’t to say that the sitters led uneventful lives.  It just means that I’ve not had the pleasure of discovering their full history.  This is the first in my Snap Shot series, which will showcase those photos from my collection.

Sophia Germann Schmid

Look at the table detail in this carte de visite.  The sitter is Mary Sophia (nee Germann) Schmid.  The photographer was J.F. Rank & Co. in Van Wert, Ohio.  Sophia was born in 1855 and shares my birth date of March 5.

Sophia Germann Schmid cdv back

Sources:

Census records
Find A Grave
State of Ohio death certificate

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The Best Deductions

blog-brown-c-w-and-l

These were some of the first old photos I picked up when I began collecting.  The green and dark brown cabinet card mounts are especially attractive and I love how crisp and richly saturated the images have remained after more than 130 years.

All the photos were taken at the same studio, Mast, in Marshall, Michigan, but only the photo of the couple has writing on the reverse.  The youngest girl is wearing what appears to be the same, or a very similar, necklace as the woman.  While I typically do not buy photos without some attribution, the previous observations, as well as the fact that the girls look to be either sisters or the same person, led me to purchase all of them, as I wanted to keep the photos together.

blog-brown-child-2blog-brown-child-1The notations on the back of the couple’s card have something that I’ve come to relish in a find…a date.  I quickly realized that photos with dates, even if they have no name, are a wonderful thing to have in a collection, as you can put the sitters’ fashions, hairstyles, and accessories with that moment in time. There are many wonderful guides that provide tips for dating photos in this manner, and I often refer to my 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark when looking for clues, but, having actual examples in my own collection is priceless to me.

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