Pernicious Anemia

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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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The Best Deductions

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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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The Dressmaker

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Abt. 1895

Here is another cabinet card from the Pinney album, which I found in an antique shop in Fremont, Indiana.  This image was not identified, but upon researching the family some years ago, I was pretty certain I knew the name of the sitter, based on the fact that she was the only female cousin found living in East Jordan, Michigan who fit the time period.  Recently, I discovered photos shared on a public ancestry tree and now I can be certain that I’ve matched this photo with the correct person.

Laura Mabel Pinney’s family moved from Arcade, New York and were one of the early settlers of Jordan township in Antrim County, Michigan.  In 1873, when she was about one year old, and her brothers, Herman and Howard were six and four, her father, Curtis, purchased a 160 acre parcel of wood land that he cleared and where he built a 16 x 24 ft. log cabin.  Her Grandmother Pinney, a widow, lived with the family.  Her mother, Marion (nee Beebe), knit long woolen socks and mittens, sewed rag rugs and clothing for the family. And when a school house was built, her mother acted as teacher for the first year.

When Laura was fifteen, her parents built a nicer frame house on the homestead that was completely finished and even had running water, courtesy of a nearby spring piping water into a 20 gallon tank in the pantry.  What a joy that must have been!

Laura worked as a live-in housekeeper during her early adult years, later becoming a dressmaker.  I wonder if she designed and made the dress she is wearing in this photo?

Laura and her brother, Howard Curtis Pinney, came down with pneumonia in 1911 and both succumbed to the illness within a couple weeks of each other.  She was just 38 years old.

Sources
Census records
A Brief Account of the Pioneer Settlement of a part of Antrim County, by Allison Pinney
Michigan death records

Love on the Run

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Clara (nee Farr) Heard on the left

I found a sandwich bag full of black and white photos from the 1940s and 50s in a little shop in Allen, Michigan.  At one time, the photos were in an album, as evidenced by remnants of the black paper pages clinging to the back.  A handful of the photos contained writing on the back, and only one revealed a full name, an 8th grade school photo of Clara Farr.  The good news was that Clara was easy to spot in many of the other images, which helped me to eventually piece together the story behind these family photos.

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Frank & Edna Farr seated and Roy & Clara Heard on the far right

In this post, I am sharing the photographs of the family taken during a Christmas get together.  Clara’s husband, Roy Heard, appears in the photos, which leads me to believe they were taken sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as the two were married on June 11, 1948 in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Frank and Edna Farr standing; Lester Farr on the far left; Clara (nee Farr) Heard seated, turned looking at the camera; Roy Heard seated to her right.

And what better way to begin, than with the story of Frank and Edna Farr, Clara’s parents, as my discovery of the photos resulted in solving a decades long family mystery that surrounded the couple!

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