A reunion of the McAllister sisters

I recently found two copies of a photo that I’d like to share with you. This photo captures the reunion of the McAllister sisters in their later years. These sisters are among the thirteen children born in Ontario, Canada, to George McAllister, a frontiersman who immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland, and Mary Gordon, from Donegal, Ireland. The McAllister girls grew up as poor, hard-working women, and difficulty of their lives comes across in this photo, despite their brave comportment.

One of these sisters (second from the right in the back row), Margret (McAllister) Scott (1872–1910), is my great-great-grandmother, the first wife of Frank Scott (1869–1937). Margret died a month before her eldest daughter (my great-grandmother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew) turned 13, so memories of her in my family are very faint. These photos of her and her sisters are two of only three photos I’ve so far seen of her.

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Victor and James Yapp: Easy Riders

This photo is just too good not to share. My step-great-grandfather, Frank Black (1878–1958), had a sister, Ida May Black (1865–1942), who married James J. Yapp (1852–1917). James and Ida had a son named Victor Everett Yapp (1885–1976). In today’s photo, Victor and his father James can be seen posing on an early vintage motorcycle.

The photo itself is a glossy paper print measuring 5.1 inches by 7.1 inches. The print is mounted on a decorative bluish-gray matte. The matte measures 7.9 inches by 10.0 inches. The darker blue lines on the matte are lightly impressed into the matte.

There is no indication of the photographer or his studio.

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Lewis Black’s Civil War discharge paper, part 2

Today’s post continues my earlier post on the rediscovery of Lewis Black’s Civil War honorable discharge certificate. The discharge document dates to 1864, and was fairly frequently used by Lewis (to collect the final bounty and a supplemental bounty for his service, to secure travel back to his home town, and presumably to aid in getting himself the medical assistance he required for his war injury), and then by his widow, Ruth, in securing her widow’s pension.

When I presented this yesterday, I did so quickly and didn’t present any details or analysis of the document. In today’s post, I’ll take a close look at the discharge document to see what I can learn from it.
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Lewis Black, armed and ready

Today has been a very good day for me, in no small part because I’ve found the second of two items that I’ve been looking for over the course of the last several weeks. As I’ve been inventorying, scanning and rehousing our family history collections, I’ve noticed that two of my most cherished items had gone missing. I wasn’t too worried, because I realized that the reason I could not find them was probably related to the fact that they had been carefully packed away to keep them from harm. But where?

As I was writing today’s earlier post, about the first item I found, I had a vague recollection of where this other lost item was packed away. I went to look in the few places that matched this memory, and there it was—a tintype of a mid-19th century teenager (probably my step great-great-grandfather, Lewis Black) with a pistol stuffed under his belt.
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Lewis Black’s Civil War discharge paper, part 1

Today’s post will be a short one, mainly to celebrate having located one of my most cherished historical documents—Lewis Black’s 1864 honorable discharge from service in the Civil War.

As one of my most cherished documents, I gave it special attention and protection when my grandparents gave it to me nearly two decades ago. Because it was segregated from the rest of my family history collection, I lost track of where it got packed in our last move. My wife and I made a concerted effort yesterday to go through every place it could be yesterday, and we found it in the penultimate container we searched. We were sore after eight hours of searching, but elated!
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Mystery photo #3: Loggers with peaveys

Today’s post will be a short one, as this photo is for the most part a mystery to me. If you think you can add anything to what I know about this photo, please let me know in the comments section!

This photo comes to me from my mother, who in turn got it from my grandmother, Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman. It’s a photo of two men with peavey hooks on a wooden bridge over a river with floating timber. They appear to be taking a break from their job of guiding the logs down the river. My guess is that the photo is from Minnesota, that it dates to the 1890s, and that it pictures someone from either the Askew or Scott families.
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Civil War era photo album, part 2

In part 1 of this post, I introduced a Civil War photo album that had been owned and put together by Lewis and Ruth Black, sometime around the Civil War or just afterwards. The album has spaces for 24 photos, and 23 of these spaces are filled with cartes de visite photos.

In order to determine when, where, and why the album was put together, I carefully removed each of the contained photos and scanned each of them, both front and back sides, to look for clues. In this post, I’ll present the resulting scans and will try to determine who these people are, and when and where the photos were made. Continue reading

A Civil War photo album, part 1

A couple of years ago, along with a boxful of other family history items from the Black, Edel, and possibly Shearer/Scherer lines, my father passed on a 19th century photo album filled to capacity with what appear to be Civil-War-era photographs.

The album has spaces for 24 photos—cartes de visite, to be precise, or CdVs—and all but one of these spaces is filled with a CdV. Several of these CdVs are mass-produced images of Civil War military leaders, but the rest appear to be photos of family members and/or friends.

I’d like to show you the album and then try to determine who is pictured among its pages, when the album was created, and who might have owned and/or created the album. This post will serve as the record of my research efforts towards answering these questions. Continue reading

Haunting mystery girl, part 1

A few years ago, my father drove down from his home in Washington state with several boxes of family memorabilia. In a box with other items that were almost certainly from the house of Frank Black and Catalina (Edel) Black, I found a cased image of a haunting young girl. As I’m currently reading a book about identifying and dating old photographs, I thought I’d use this image of the young girl as a practice case.

Who is this girl? When was the image made? Does her awkward pose hint at this being a post-mortem photograph? I don’t yet know whether I will be able to answer these questions, but this post will record the initial portion of my research on the photo with an aim of providing at least provisional answers to these questions. Continue reading

Joseph Askew’s 1875 homestead (part 1)

Yesterday all I knew of the location of Joseph Askew’s homestead was that in the spring of 1875, immediately after arriving from Gosforth, England, via Liverpool, New York, and Duluth, Joseph claimed his homestead about five miles east of Wadena. This evening I learned exactly where his homestead was, after finding his 1882 homestead certificate in the U.S. General Land Office records.

In this post, I’d like to share my findings with you—both the homestead certificate and the location of the Joseph Askew homestead.

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