Sunday, September 15, 2019

Charming Old Photos Tell Us the Family Story

Eugene H Rogers- Sign painter by trade, fine art painter by avocation
When I look at the old photos that people add to their trees, I can often tell so much about the person by looking at the expression or the body language. But what fascinates me are the really old photos where the pose is not a formal portrait in a studio, but something that shows a bit about a person's profession or home life or surroundings. 

Eugene didn't make his living as a fine art painter, but there's no doubt from this photo what his hobby was. Aside from the paintings, I can look at his clothing, the chair, the brocade wallpaper and the bare wood floor and tell something about the studio where he worked. I can also date this from 1880-1890 based more or less on the things I see.

Daisy Tapply Schaefer and her husband George
This picture show my grandmother's elder sister Daisy with her husband in a very early model of some sort of car. The very early Henry Ford Quadricycle was similar. From the clothes, I would say after 1900 but before 1910. She married George in 1902. 
Clyde Merton Keene- grocer
This is Clyde Merton Keene, whose grandmother was one of my Farrar relatives. I like that he is pictured in his grocer's apron complete with stains. I didn't notice until looking more closely, that he is in a wheelchair. Probably a story there.
Sidney Douglas Farrar
Sidney Douglas Farrar, another of my Farrar relatives,  played first base for the eight seasons for the Philadelphia Quakers and later for the Philadelphia Athletics. The left one is a studio shot, but the right photo is a real gem complete with a player in motion in the background.
Violet Louise Baldry
Violet Baldry was the half sister of some of my English Tapply relatives. My guess is this nurse's uniform dates from some time in the 1920's.
Helen F Harrod practices what she teaches
This photo obviously came from a newspaper article about Helen F Harrod. She was a music instructor at DePauw University.
Isaac Estill Harrod
Isaac Harrod lived and worked for the railroad in rural Kansas. This was a studio shot, but he's wearing his everyday clothes and I just love the dog in the picture. You get a real sense of him as a character in this photo.
Marie Tapply with Warren on her lap
This is my Aunt Marie, Bob Tapply's wife. I'm told this was taken in the old Tapply home at the top of  Pearl Hill Road. Again, look at the old stove, the china breakfront and the clothes. It gives this informal photo real character.
Francis Braedreck Rogers family
Here's the Francis B Rogers family in front of their home. Not only do you get a good look at the house, but each person in the picture is doing something a little different. You have the two children in front of the fence with their toys, the man by the steps reading, the couple posed by the hammock. I count no fewer than thirteen people in this clever photo. Rogers was my cousin through the Aaron Rogers line.
Belinda Cooke aka Sr. Mary Columbia
I have fewer photos from the Cooke side, but these two are gems. First my cousin the nun. A formal photo but in her full habit with what looks like a wreath of flowers circling her head.
Cooke home in Clooningan, Sligo, Ireland
This is the Cooke homestead. My guess would be in the 1920's. Again you get a sense of the place. Look at the thatched roof, the whitewashed walls, the bicycle propped by the gate. It's a little slice of a moment in time.

When we share our family histories with people who aren't passionate about genealogy, I think photos like these bring history alive- especially for the very young. I can think of a million questions a young person might ask when looking at these photos. What a teachable moment! And don't forget to document anything you might know or might have heard about the photos in the family album.  
If this topic interests you, check out Maureen Taylor's website here.

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