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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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

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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 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.

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She carried an umbrella

I picked up this cabinet card from The Wurdeman Studio.  If you enjoy beautiful antique photographs and other bits and bobbles, you can check them out on Instagram or visit their Etsy shop.  Be sure to read the how and why of the shop.  Here’s a little teaser… “It all started in Mrs. Wurdeman’s Store when I was five.”

Emma Sager’s life was just getting started when it ended in 1894; at age twenty-five she died of consumption.

1894 Feb 1 SAGER Emma OBIT Darlington Record Darlington Missouri Pg 1
February 1, 1894, Darlington Review
INTRO small version1894 Jul 14 TB ARTICLE The Sacred Heart Review newspaper Boston
Sacred Heart Review, 1894

Tuberculosis, also known throughout history as consumption, scrofula, TB, and the white plaque, was highly contagious and killed many, being especially dangerous to those living in large cities and those who lived in poverty. (I realize that not everyone is interested in reading about disease, but if you would like to learn more about the history of tuberculosis, you will find a link in the sources at the end of this post.)

I also came across the newspaper article on the right, published in 1894, that may be of interest to some.

Emma and her eight siblings grew up on a farm in Gentry county, Missouri with her father, Edward, who immigrated to the US from Germany when he was a young boy, and her mother, Susanna (nee Gearheart). When she was twenty, Emma’s mother died and I imagine much of the responsibilities for the household chores, as well as the care of the younger siblings, may have fallen upon Emma and her older sister, Mary, who was also single.  However, four years later, in August of 1892, Emma was one of the teachers in attendance at the teacher’s institute in Stanberry, Missouri.  If her obituary is correct, this is about the time she fell ill.  Whenever someone dies young, I ponder about their life and Emma is no different: Did she finish school? Fall in love? What hopes and dreams were extinguished too soon?

Sources:

Census records
Find A Grave
Sacred Heart Review newspaper, Boston, July 14, 1894
University of Virginia Historical Exhibits- Early Research and Treatment of Tuberculosis in the 19th Century
Ephemeral New York – Tuberculosis Windows
Edward Sager’s obituary from the Boynton Index, Boynton, Oklahoma – June 27, 1919
Darlington Review newspaper, Darlington, Missouri

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A feather in her cap

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This cabinet card was found in Niles, Michigan. The girl in the feathered hat and fur coat is Minnie Sheets.  Her father, Jacob, who immigrated to the US from Germany in 1853, owned and operated a dry goods and general merchandise shop in Ligonier, Indiana, where he sold clothing, carpets, groceries, boots and shoes, and even offered custom tailoring.

Minnie’s grandfather was a shoe dealer.  I suspect that as a result of her family’s businesses, Minnie had access to all the finest clothing and accessories that a girl could want.  What she lacked was a mother.  In 1875, when Minnie was two years old, her mother Lena died, leaving her to be raised by her father and her maternal grandparents, Minnie and Peter Sisterhern.

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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