What a wonderful outdoor setting for a photograph. But, does anything seem odd to you? Look at the way the family members are spread out. I think the most glaring is the empty space next to the father. Why didn’t his son, or his wife for that matter, sit beside him? Is this how the photographer instructed the family to pose? Or did each person choose where they would sit? We’ll never know, but it definitely made for an interesting and beautiful image.
Written on the reverse is “Jordan family, Old Orchard.” The photographer was Whittemore’s Photo Parlors, owned by A. Judson Whittemore, with locations in Salem, Massachusetts and Old Orchard, Maine.
I don’t think I’ve researched a family with as many interesting middle names. The Jordan family consisted of (left to right); Eva Lawrence, Mary Arlene, Robert Montgomery, James Coffin, Tristram Ichabod, Josephine Rochester, and Belle (nee Brooks.) Belle was James’ second wife. His first wife, Nancy J. (nee Dusey), the mother of Eva, Robert, and Tristram, died in 1876, just a couple months after the birth of Robert.
Mary, the baby perched in the pram, was born in September 1884 which enables me to date this photo to the summer of 1885. James and Bella went on to have one more child, a son, John Weldon, in 1887.
With only the family surname and location I wasn’t sure I would be able to make a certain identification. Then I stumbled upon the photo shown below of Robert and John as adults, courtesy of a public ancestry.com tree, and this provided definitive proof that I had the correct Jordan family. The boys may have aged, but their features sure didn’t change!
Tragically, James’ youngest children didn’t get the chance to know their father. He died October 25, 1888, aged 48. I suspect that ‘shock of paralysis’ may have been a term used to describe a stroke. Although, I couldn’t find a reference to support this theory.
Belle remained a widow for the remainder of her life. Out of the girls, Mary was the only one to take a husband. When she was 32 she wed Clarence Kelsea. All of the children lived well past 80, with Robert making it to 98 years old.
Find A Grave
New York Public Library – Wallach Prints and Photographs