Today’s post is not only about a new mystery photo I just discovered. It’s also a reminder to double-check anything possibly related to family history before throwing it out. You never know what might be hiding within unless you check thoroughly.
From about the mid 1970s to the late 1980s, my father and grandparents accumulated a number of faux vintage photos and frames. I don’t know whether they were fans of the style or whether that’s just the way that the stores they frequented marketed their frames. In any case, they accumulated piles of these that I later inherited and am still going through.
What I mean by ‘faux vintage’ are generally stained and sometimes artificially distressed oak frames with matted black-and-white or sepia-toned prints behind glass. And to add a layer of realism, my grandmother and father were both heavy smokers for periods of their lives, so the glass and frames were coated with a nicotine patina that made them look like they had been hanging in an old house for decades. But when you turn over these faux vintage frames, their modernity becomes a little more apparent. Relatively clean cardboard is held in place by shiny staples that were hastily and asymmetrically placed during mass production. Remove the cardboard and you find that the antique print is just a modern print on thin, glossy paper.
As part of my New Year’s resolution to organize all of my family history materials, I’ve been going through and organizing boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous material I’ve been given over the years by family members to preserve.
This particular photo was one of two photo postcards that were mixed in with relatively recent photos from the 1980s and 1990s. I suppose that the person who gave them to me had a photo drawer and just put these much older photos in with everything else.
In any case, the photos were labeled by my grandmother, Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman and were apparently originally given to her mother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew. One of the photos was labeled “Loraine McCrea,” and as I have several photos of Loraine, I recognized her as Loraine. No mystery there.
Today’s post is about a photo album that’s intrigued me since I first saw it about four years ago. I’ve shared a couple of the photos from the album in previous blog posts, referring to the album in which I found them as an album that probably belonged to my great-great-grandfather Frank Scott. The album itself is quite fascinating and is filled with photos from the 1920s of a well-to-do couple named “Roland and Flo” who apparently liked to travel quite a bit.
The photo album presents a comfortable but curious mix of people from two distinct socioeconomic strata. The first group includes my known Scott relations (my great-grandmother Gertrude Scott Askew, her sister Cassie Scott, her father Frank Scott, and his second wife Lois Lanudge Scott)—poorer folk working multiple jobs to make ends meet and living in rural Wadena county, Minnesota. The second group appears to center around the couple named Roland and Flo—an apparently well-heeled and well-traveled couple.
But who were Roland and Flo? Until last week, despite having records on over 13,000 people in my family history database, not a single one of those people was named Roland, and none of the women named Flo or Florence were possible candidates for Flo in the photo album. Continue reading →
My adoptive great-great-grandfather Lewis Black took on the air of an almost mythical ancestor when I was young. No one I’ve ever known knew Lewis personally (he died in 1901), but everyone seemed to know things about him and have things inherited from him. There’s no question he was a real person—I’ve got loads of research to back that up—but I’ve started to wonder if everything I’ve seen and heard about the man can truly be traced back to just one man—Lewis Black.
I started to suspect this a couple of decades ago, when any question I had about the original owner of any of several heirlooms from our Kansas roots was met with the same answer: “I’m pretty sure that belonged to Lewis Black.” And then came the photos. Continue reading →
I wrote my first post on this mystery photo two and a half years ago. Thanks to my grandmother’s memories, as well as a great find made by my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers in a set of family photos now in her possession, I can now declare the case closed on this mystery.
This mystery photo was actually identified last Fall, but the preparations, anticipation and excitement of becoming a new dad led to me setting this blog aside for several months until just a couple of weeks ago.
In the first post of this series, I presented a mystery—two photos of an older man that had alternately been confidently identified as both Arthur Webster McMurry (1854–1917) and his father Luke Robinson McMurry (1825–1913). At the end of that post, I was still not sure who the man really was, but was leaning towards him being Luke McMurry.
Right after I published the post, a couple of inconsistencies became apparent that now make me fairly certain that the mystery man is indeed Luke R. McMurry.
Until last week, I thought I knew what my great-great-grandfather Arthur Webster McMurry (1854–1917) looked like throughout his life. But then Katy McMurry showed me a photo that I could have sworn was of Arthur W. McMurry later in his life, relaxing in a rocking chair.
There was one problem, however—Katy said that this person wasn’t identified as Arthur W. McMurry, but rather was his father. According to Katy, my great-grandfather Frank Ross McMurry (Arthur W. McMurry’s son) identified the photo as being of his grandfather Luke Robinson McMurry (1825–1913), not of his father Arthur. Well, dang.
This post is about a man who was either part of our family or was close to our family, but I don’t know exactly who he is. I have at least eight photos of him (one additional photo is uncertain), and nothing is written on any of these to help identify him. I’m hoping that someone reading this recognizes this man or has additional photos of him, perhaps even some that may yield clues as to his identify.
While working on a future post about some of the earliest family photos I’ve seen, I had a revelation that I’d like to share with you. One of the most exciting discoveries that I can make when going through old family photos is finding a photo of an ancestor for whom I thought no photos existed. My 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace Scott (the subject of two previous posts: here and here), is one individual whose face I figured I’d never have the chance to see. He was born in 1842, he went off to fight in the Civil War at age 20, he caught tuberculosis two years later in 1864, he was discharged a year later, and he lived only five more years, dying of tuberculosis in 1870 at the age of 28.
I had no photos of Horace Scott that I knew of, and I didn’t expect to ever find any, although I figured I’d keep looking just in case. Continue reading →
Another as-yet-unidentified photo I got from my grandmother’s house while helping my family get her old home ready for sale. This one is of two children and a doll. I’m not good with estimating ages, but I’d guess that the boy is somewhere around 3–5 years old, and the girl is 8–12 years old. Let’s see if we can figure out who they are. Continue reading →