Secret Lovers

blog
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.

Sources:
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

R.J. Terry’s Snap Shot

blogTERRY R J

Born in 1860, in Alabama, Reavis Johnston “R.J.” Terry was named after his father’s mentors.  As a young teen, R.J.’s father, John Taliaferro Terry, lost his father and was taken in by his sister’s husband, Colonel Robert Johnston.  John became a lawyer, like Johnston, and went into a law partnership with the Honorable Turner Reavis.

1925 Mar 7 TERRY RJ Obit The Birmingham News Alabama
Birmingham News (Alabama) – Mar. 7, 1925

blogTERRY R J back
Interesting to note, from a research standpoint, I would not have been able to identify this sitter if the person had not penned “Birmingham, Ala.” after the name.  I would have been looking in the location of the photographer, E.J. Dunshee, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Although R.J. may have lived in Philadelphia at some time during his life, I did not find a record of it.

Sources:
Census records
History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 4, published 1921
Birmingham, Alabama City Directory

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.

Continue reading

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

Save

The Two Wives

John and Melissa Bennett Beck

I picked up this carte de visite, also known as a cdv, at the Markle Antique Mall in Markle, Indiana.  The words John Beck & wife were penned above the sitters’ heads. Based on the wife’s fashion and hairstyle, I loosely date the cdv to the 1870s.

John Beck had two wives…no, not at the same time.  But, two wives meant that I needed to gather as many pieces of the puzzle as possible in order to know which of John’s wives sat for this photograph.

Continue reading

In Mourning

blog-catherine-briel-wymer-front

This is a carte de visite, also known as a CDV, of a woman in mourning.  During the Victorian era, mourning clothes were a display of one’s sorrow.  Note the black veil she is wearing. On the back of the CDV is the photographer’s information which reveals that the photo was taken by Baird on 13 Fifth Street in Zanesville, Ohio.  Based on the photo’s border of two different width lines and the square corners, as well as the fashion, I date this image as being produced in the mid to late 1860s.

Catherine was born in 1836 in Adams County, Ohio, and grew up on a farm with her parents and her twelve siblings.  She married Daniel Wymer in 1855 and they settled in Union, which was about twenty miles from Zanesville.

As with the vast majority of American citizens who lived during the Civil War, Catherine’s life was greatly impacted by the sectional conflict.  She was left to care for their four small children while her husband fought for the Union in 1864.  She lost her brother, Samuel, to the war; he died in 1862, of Typhus, an intestinal infectious disease caused by poor hygienic conditions that were commonplace in military camps.  Samuel’s regiment, the 97th, lost a total of 254 men, and 161 of those deaths were from disease.

Continue reading