These five cabinet cards were in an antique shop in Auburn, Indiana. Written on the back of one is “Grand Mother Kutcher,” on another “Gramdns,” and yet another “Gran Nana.” Four of the photos were taken in Portland, Indiana. The earliest image of Grandmother Kutcher as an infant has no photography studio markings. Notice the glass baby bottle with a large rubber nipple. And look at the worn shoe soles. Were they second hand or was she doing a lot of walking?
above: abt. 1892
In the above photo, she is holding a zither, an instrument from Austria/Germany that was used specifically to play European folk music. I don’t believe this was simply a prop. It appears, from the metal ring on her right thumb, that she played the instrument.
I once again asked for the help of Ann Longmore-Etheridge , historian and expert in early photography. She dated the family photo below to about 1895, based on the fashion and card mount. Looking at the other four photos, she estimates that the girl’s early years span the 1890s, and placed her birth date (at the broadest) between 1888 – 1892.
The photos were taken in Portland, Indiana. I searched the surrounding area for men with the surname of Kutcher and researched their marriages. I did not come up with any brides that I felt could be the sitter. I even poured over 1900 Portland, Indiana census records, picking out families I felt may match and doing some quick searches. I came up empty-handed. I decided that for now, Grandmother Kutcher would have to remain a mystery. However, my love of the images brings me to share them on my blog even though I have no specific name or history to add to them. I hope you will enjoy them as I do.
above: abt. 1895
Studying the images, you find Grandmother Kutcher wore a necklace in all of the photos. The necklace chain appears to be identical in all except the infant and latest photographs. The locket is the same in the zither photo and the photo with her parents.
In the family photo above, you also may notice that her father is missing fingers on his right hand. I wonder if this was a deformity or the result of an accident.
above: abt. 1900
This photo has just about everything… a big hat, gloves, lace curtain backdrop, and a doll in a stroller! No wonder she’s smiling.
above: early 1900
And finally, we come to my favorite. Why? Cats, of course. I wonder if the girl on the right is a friend or a relative. And whose cats are these? I like to think that the girls brought their beloved feline friends to the Eclipse Studio for the portrait.
If you think you may know the identity of Grandmother Kutcher, please contact me or leave a comment. Thank you!